Remember that the program chairman is asked to provide a package of

coffee cups with lids? You check with her before the show and ask her if she got them. If she didn't, no problem because you had the foresight to bring your own. Just give them to her to hold until you need them. But the best-case scenario is when she does bring them. You reach for the package to check the cups out; just making sure they'll do. You immediately hand them back to her but not before you take the opportunity to nail-nick the top cup through the package. This allows you to apparently never touch the cups during the show. She won't think anything about the brief time the cups were in your hands as you checked them out before the show.

The lids are important. The lids are vital. The lids are your safety factor that prevents the participant from moving the marked cup off of the scalpel! With the scalpel safely hidden within the cup and sealed in place with the lid, it's not likely that the person mixing the cups will crack apart the lid in order to exchange the cups. It just doesn't occur to people to do this. If some son-of-a-bitch did take the cup apart, you'd hear the ruckus and know immediately that he was trying to mess you up. If you prefer, you can have the lids taped down so the participant can't take them apart.

Of course the blindfold is one of many that allows you straight-ahead or down-the-nose vision. I prefer straight ahead (the Annemann rolled handkerchief version is my favorite for this routine) so I can keep an eye on the person mixing the cups, just in case they may try to make trouble.

Now all that's left is to smash the safe cups one by one with the flat of your hand.

This is a very strong routine —perhaps too strong. Just ask yourself this question:

Is danger entertaining?

Imagine this: You're sitting in the audience after a nice dinner and the entertainer has been amazing you for the better part of an hour by reading your thoughts. You like him; he seems to really enjoy what he does. Then, he pulls out a scalpel, blade, or sharp spike and reminds you of what it's like to be cut open. While this sort of effect is similar to Russian Roulette, most people have never been shot and can only imagine what it's like. Besides, the gun only has blanks which can hurt you, but not as bad as real bullets.

But a scalpel! Everyone has been cut at some point in their lives . . . the memory lives on. You remember the time you reached into the cutlery drawer and stuck your self in the palm of the hand. The accident with the weed trimmer — that one cost you six stitches! Oh my —what if this idiot messes up and runs that thing through his hand? Is this something you really want to do to your audience? Will everyone think it's cool and macho, or will they be sick with anxiety?

On the other hand, this is a routine that will make them sit up and pay attention. If you act confidently the audience will be nervous but not anxious. When playing for younger, more boisterous audiences this piece can make your reputation.

Choose your venue well!

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Understanding Mind Control

Understanding Mind Control

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