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“No one is forcing you to do the material on this video.
You do this stuff at your own risk.
If you do it right, you could win beer.
If you do it wrong, you could end up with a broken jaw.
Please drink responsibly.”
There are three DVDs in the Modern Con Man Collection, out September 15th from First Run Features. The first is How To Scam Your Way to Free Beer, the second is Poker-Night Games, and the third is Workplace Pranks. The first, Free Beer, is OK. I can see pulling some of these stunts on my friends at the bar. There is a cue ball trick that could be fun, and an upside-down match bit that I plan to use next time I’m at Tail Gators for our football day. But the “pick-up lines” that show up between the scams are absolutely dreadful, and on my worst day I would never be caught dead using any of them. The weakest of the three is Poker-Night Games. I will not be using any of these tricks the next time I’m at a poker game with my buddies.
The reason I won’t be pulling any of these scams on my buddies is that they pre-suppose that many things might happen. First, I will be bringing my own, already-marked deck of cards. Second, that my friends would be willing to let me shut down the entire poker game for a one-one-one poker showdown with just one person. And third, that I could somehow manage to pick ten cards, ten specific cards out of the deck, and use those in this one-on-one showdown. I find it very hard to believe that I could make any of these things happen in any way, at any time. Maybe my buddies are way too serious about their poker. Or maybe they’re normal and no one would ever let me do any of these things.
The thing about The Modern Con Man Collection is that the whole thing feels so dated. When I was about eight years old, I had a scam of my own. I was always the slowest kid in the schoolyard. And I would tell faster kids that I would race them to the opposite fence for a quarter. They would take me up on it, beat me easily, and when they came for their quarter I would say “I said I would race you, not that I would beat you”. I rarely got my quarter. Todd Robbins has a bunch of “scams” that rely on a similar principal – the idea that the way things are worded is more important than actually doing something cool. His peanut scam, his shot glass scams, in fact just about every bar scam, relies entirely on this principle. I was done with this principle when I was nine years old.
In fact, I would have really enjoyed this box set when I was nine years old. But if Todd Robbins sat down beside me at a bar, or a poker table, or in the next cubicle today, I would find him obnoxious, silly, and I would ignore him long before I actually participated in his scheme. I would find him really irritating, and I would not be friends with him. That being said, I find his DVDs strangely compelling. I am curious about the next scam. I want to know what his next bet will be, the next con. Most of them are, truly, lame. The only DVD that could possibly work is the Workplace Pranks one, because people are really bored at work and might respond positively to such silliness. But I wouldn’t count on it. I could be the most hated person in the office come Monday morning.