propose to describe here is one of my most guarded "little" secrets, a ploy that creates a surprising (and thoroughly calculated) turn of events, long remembered by audiences. I use it in my presentation of Alan Shaxon's "Confabulation"1. It can be employed with any effect in which the change in a spectator's pocket is divined or predicted, but it plays best as part of the final element in a series of predictions or divinations.
The idea is quickly explained. At the point in the presentation when I reveal my prediction of the amount of change in an audience member's pocket, the amount is ivrongl My prediction is for a penny or dime more than the spectator finds. I pretend to be quite surprised by this small discrepancy,
'Marketed some years ago by Ken Brooke.
and ask the gentleman to count his change again—which only results in his confirming the previous count.
At this point I act as if I am rather confused, but eventually I regain my composure enough to recognize the problem. "Sir, your dry cleaner must be an honest one, because they put back the change they found in your jacket pockets. Please, check all of your pockets." When he does he eventually finds a coin in the outside breast pocket—a coin that brings the total of his change to precisely the amount you foresaw!
The secret lies in a small amount of pre-show work. During the buffet or cocktail hour that precedes my show, I circulate among the guests and take the opportunity to load a penny or dime into the opportune breast pocket of a gentleman. Actually, I ensure against problems by loading the pockets of at least three men in the group. Thus, if one of my "loaded pockets" walks off and can't be found during my performance, I have several others to fall back on. And on those occasions where I prefer not to mingle with the group before the show, I have my partner, Bernd, do the loading for me.
I urge that you try this little "bit of business". Just one performance will convince you of its power. It may be just a presentational touch, but it is a hair-raising one that guarantees a tremendous hand.
Was this article helpful?