This is the first of a series of articles which will be devoted to stunts, gags, jokes, bits of business puzzles and simple magical items which knowledgeable and sophisticated magicians tend to disregard completely because they fail to realise the potential value of such material when performed for laymen.
Such items are useful as 'ice breakers' enabling the performer to assess the mood of whatever group he happens to be part of, and to decide whether or not to proceed further. Using this approach when you feel the urge to do a few tricks enables you to retire gracefully should you find the prospective audience unreceptive. Those readers who have not previously used this kind of material on laymen may be surprised to find more entertainment can often be obtained from these simpie items than from more pretentious effects.
The material in this series will have more appeal to readers who desire to entertain lay persons than those who perform for other magicians. The latter will probably regard most of the items as 'old hat' but even they must almost certainly be asked to show a trick outside the magic scene on occasions, when a wellknown (to magicians) simple stunt will be more appropriate to the situation than the more sophisticated material in their repertoires. Some of the items may be considered 'kids stuff' but it should be remembered that children are people and like to see tricks furthermore they can be used as 'icebreakers' enabling you to arouse the interest of any adults who may be around and thus providing an opportunity to 'entertain' them also. For the commercially minded the possibilities-of paid engagements arising from such a situation are obvious.
As the title vaguely implies this article deals with objects used by smokers and what better to start with than a favourite of Ken Brooke's who probably knows, and performs more of this type of material than anyone we Know. This knowledge and experience together with his approach and attitude towards magic enables him to extract the maximum amount of entertainment from material which the average magician tends to regard as being of little worth. Why this is so could form the basis for another article, so to the effect.
A cigarette is placed onto the table arid the tips of the thumb and forefinger are positioned near the ends of the cigarette. Keeping the tips of the two digits on the surface of table move them away from the cigarette, which, after a few failures follows the hand as if drawn by magnetic attraction. The secret is one you all know. You merely blow on the table just in front ofthe cigarette. Without the proper 'build up' this stunt is hardly worth a mention. It is the business prior to the effect taking place that intrigues the spectators and keeps their attention on the hand and cigarette and away from the performers face.
Place the cigarette on the table, rub the tips of the thumb and forefinger on your coat sleeve as you patter to the effect that you are generating 'magnetism'. Place the hand in the position as shown in the sketch and move it away a few inches — nothing happens. Repeat the rubbing, this time more briskly, and again nothing happens. Remarking that the cause of failure is probably due to the suit not being of the right kind of material so you try on the sleeve of someone else or a nylon stocking if a ladies leg is handy. Finally the 'magnetism' works and the cigarette follows the hand. The tips of the thumb and forefinger of the other hand are next rubbed on the successful material and the cigarette again follows the fingers, this time in the opposite direction — towards the performer, a stooge supplies the motive force.
The foregoing presentation indicates an approach towards performing impromptu close-up magic wherein the spectators are involved in the action. The performer instead of performing 'at' or 'to' his audience performs with them. The mere act of touching someones coat gives that person a feeling of involvement which spreads around the group as tests are being made on the clothes of others as he searches for the right kind of material. Having created a favourable intimate
rapport with the audience one is then able to proceed to show further tricks if, and only if, it is evident that they would like you to continue.
It will not be possible to 'build up' all the items appearing in this series to provide the amount of entertainment obtainable from the above, but as it is intended to list all known stunts etc as well as some new ones in order to make the project a valuable reference work for close-up performers who can often utilise even the most insignificant bit of business into something which they will regularly use either as a part of a routine or just to break the ice.
Vic Allen who frequently works the Icebreaker which appeared in Pabular Vol. One, No. Two (one of the few impromptu mental type effects possible with cigarettes) follows with the not unknown bending cigarette. When writing 'I Know' on the packet moisten the lips so that when the cigarette is placed in the mouth a small amount of saliva goes on the wrong end. After showing the prediction correctly put the cigarette in the mouth, right end this time, light it and after taking a couple of puffs hold it with both hands, fingers at the ends, and bend it U shaped. Anyone else trying will assuredly snap the cigarette in two. It is possible tQ bend a cigarette in similar manner by rolling thin tissue paper around it and twisting the ends.
Vic also sent the following which would effectively bring the routine to a close especially if the cigarette used is a borrowed one. Perform any sleight in which the cigarette is apparently put into the left hand but retained in the right. This latter goes to jacket for woofle dust and comes out with cigarette in closed fist, and holding it over the left hand crumples up the cigarette letting the tobacco trickle out as woofle dust. Finally show the left hand empty and wait for the audience to catch on.
More next issue, still with cigarettes.
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