Last week, my friend Tim (@thecobblr) posted a link on Twitter to a YouTube video of two boys, Michel and Sven, trying to replicate the magician’s tablecloth trick — with somewhat mixed results. As videos go, it was a little giggle. But I noticed it was actually the fourth take in a series of multiple attempts and, since they were short, I watched them all. And after I watched all the videos together, it struck me that watching the failures in sequence made for a much better delivery of the punchline of the last video.
Just like telling a joke, the art of storytelling is in the setup — providing context so the audience has a better appreciation for the ending. These videos aren’t even in English but, string them together to provide context, suddenly we don’t need to speak Dutch to appreciate what the boys are trying to accomplish.
And suddenly, I’m very grateful that I don’t use tablecloths.