TNB Night Owl–The Magic of Dan Witkowski

Maasdam Swiss cheese. Photo by Arz.

It’s week two into quarantine and the movie watching in our house is stranger than ever. I’m trying to balance my taste for the strange with the reality that our kid could walk in on the viewing at any moment. This has led me down some strange rabbit holes.

Remember when you could mail in in box tops or proof-of-purchases for special prizes? One super special prize was THE BIG G CEREALS PRESENTS THE MAGIC SECRETS VIDEO (1987) or, as one EBay seller states STRUNG OUT RABBIT LOOKING FOR TRICKS (note, do NOT use this title when Googling. The results will not be what you are looking for). He’s not wrong, though. The video starts out with the Trix rabbit jonesing for the cereal. He hears there’s a truck load of Trix headed toward the local theater. The twitchy rabbit bolts down in disguise only to find they weren’t Trix but Tricks–magic tricks.

What follows is an hour of revealing how magic tricks are done for the benefit of two children who are desperately trying to fake enthusiasm for all the things the magician keeps “hidden in his lap.” The bee from the Honey Nut Cheerios explains what props you need for the tricks. Count Chocula, Frankenberry, that leprechaun from Lucky Charms, and other mascots make appearances. Their costumes look cheap, like city park mascot costumes that hadn’t been washed since two season ago.

It really has to be seen to be believed:

This led me down a different rabbit hole. Who was the magician featured? He was pretty good, and the only one who seemed to work up a professional level of enthusiasm. Dan Witkowski. Not only was he a professional magician, but also founder of MagicCom USA, an advertising consulting group that helps corporations add “magic” to their marketing. Not only was MagicCom responsible for producing the General Mills video he starred in, but also personally responsible for what has been deemed the Worst Superbowl Half-Time Show Of All Time.

Witkowski was able to convince the NFL to let him prepare a magic-centric production for the 1989 Superbowl Halftime. They agreed, but they were also working with Coca-Cola, who was looking to use up a 20,000+ surplus of 3-D glasses left over from a failed attempt at a MOONLIGHTING 3-D episode. What resulted was Elvis Presto, an Elvis-impersonating magician, performing The World’s Biggest Card Trick. The whole production was plagued with technical issues, a star that quit with days to go, lip syncing issues, and more. What was left was a rare bird that overshadowed the actual game in infamy:

Question of the night: what’s your favorite breakfast cereal?

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