From the late Ricky Jay to the not-so-great Gob Bluth, it’s impossible not to love the characters who populate the world of magic — though this dispatch from the triennial World Championship of Magic might test your limits. The only place on Earth where the answer to “trick or treat?” is always “both.”

Winning FISM requires more than merely fooling other magicians: It demands a new technique, a compelling story, a hilarious twist. And so some performers wove narratives at times surreal and poetic. One Japanese magician romanced an empty shirt that somehow wrapped her in its arms. A 15-year-old German student who goes by the name Magic Maxl dueled with a soft-boiled egg that seemed to come alive while he pretended to get ready for school. Others opted for simple, self-deprecating humor. “I spent two thousand dollars to be here,” one French competitor deadpanned, munching fistfuls of potato chips while pulling the four queens from a messy pile of facedown cards with inexplicable ease.