Sid Caesar in early 1950s – Carl Reiner, as an airport reporter, is interviewing Sid Caesar as Professor Von Houdinoff, an expert on magicians.
Reiner: As I understand what you’re trying to explain, your book is saying there is a connection between the illusions of magicians and what happens to people in real life. Caesar: You got it.
Reiner: Give me an example.
Caesar: Hans Schnorkel, a Frenchman. He vas vorking on a trick mit a shark. So he got this 2,000 pound tiger shark und he put that shark in a tank mit over a million gallons of sea vater. Und then he stood on the side of the tank und he had himself handcuffed, behind his back. There he vas, mit just a bathing suit.
Und then, Hans threw himself into the tank mit the shark. And soon as Hans hit the vater, the shark spun around und started svimming slowly, slowly toward Hans. Und Hans, he just stood there in the tank and looked the shark right back in the eye.
Und then, all of a sudden, the shark just rolled right over on his belly – und ate ‘im.
Reiner: He ate him? What kind of illusion is that? Caesar: It’s a very good illusion. But you gotta do it right. Don’t start off rehearsing mit a shark. You start mit a guppy, a goldfish, a nice herring, a piece of salmon is not bad – Don’t get crazy mit a shark right away.
Reiner: That’s an interesting story. How does it apply to real life? Caesar: You don’t make the connection? If you start out too big, you could get yourself eaten up.