a few more laughs at this point since it appears that the magician has grabbed at the only available straw. The spectator reaches into the envelope which he has held all along and removes the nameplate with "WILLIAM" his name on it to which the magician replies, "By George, I think he's got it!"
This routine is a lot of fun not only to watch but also to perform. Obviously, the method is very simple which means it's easy to vary it according to the conditions you normally perform under. Obviously, you have to know the spectator's name before the show. I normally pay close attention to who is talking to who about whan. Next to talking about themselves, people love to talk about other people. Being alert pays a lot of dividends when performing this routine. The only other thing to worry about is the switch. I use the simplest one that I could think of. To begin with, I coated all of the nameplates with tan mailing tape. This smoothes their back so that they will slide easily and without catching. Don't spare the pennies, buy first quality tape. I have "William" (the volunteer's name) loaded in the envelope at the beginning. When I remove my tag from the stack, I also remove the loaded envelope. I pretend to blew the open end of the envelope open. (I've found this works much better than trying to blow the closed end open.) Because of the enclosed license plate, the envelope remains closed. Then, I pretend to place "George" into the envelope, with the plate actually going behind the envelope. (That is, behind the envelope, on the side away from the audience It's more effective that way.)Then I take the envelope and tuck the lower end into the outside breast pocket of ny jacket. I leave about three fourths of it protruding. When this is done, the plate behind the envelope slides all the way down into the pocket and out of sight. This is why I put the tape on it--to keep it from getting caught. Immediately after this has taken place and as an afterthought, I remove the envelope only and say that I would rather the spectator hold it.
This simple switch works because there is apparently no advantage to switching anything at this point. Why would I do anything "fishy" with the prediction while I still don't know the guy's real name. You can arrange a more complicated switch if you wish but this one works for almost all occasions.
There is at least one other opportunity for humor in this routine. If I knew that the volunteer is going to have a good sense of humor, I will try to pick a bald one. Then, as I'm thumbing through the nameplates at the beginning trying to decide which name to "predict," I hold up the plate with the name "Harry". I pause as if concentrating to allow the audience to see the name. "No...I don't think this really applies here." You can use personalized stuff like this or you can change some of the jokes at the beginning to match your set of license plates. Finally. I like using the license plates because of their novelty. You can use regular nametags or nameplates if they are big enough to be seen by the audience. Remember, if they don't see the names, they won't understand or appreciate the trick.
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The Trapdoor is written, illustrated, published, edited, and copyrighted by Steve Beam. The views expressed in this issue are not necessarily the views of the one who wrote them.
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