Comedy Magic

(Continued from last month).

Assuming that you have all the necessary articles to hand—the faked red hanky, the faked white one, the miniature reel of thread prepared as explained on Page 76, the faked matchbox containing a few matches, the long taper and rubber band, and, of course, the candle in its holder we can proceed to the:—

"HOLE IN ONE' SET-UP

Take the red spotted hanky, and tuck it into the outer breast pocket, so that only the white corner shows and it therefore passes, for the time being, as the usual white handkerchief.

Draw the table trap over to the left (as you stand behind the table) take the faked white hanky by its centre, allowing the four corners to hang down, and deposit the hanky on the trap so that the 'pointed' centre is towards the audience and almost touching the front edge of the trap. According to the size of the trap, if the four corners reach over on to the table, then they will have to be folded over towards the front. Place the reel of thread on the hanky near the "point" of centre with the loose end of the thread pointing forward, and move the trap over to the right thus enclosing the faked hanky and thread reel in the 'bag' as shown on Page 76.

The candle and box of matches should be on the right hand table also, towards the front edge, and, with the taper fixed to the right forearm with the rubber band, we are all set.

(1) Borrow the gentleman's hanky, using any gags which suit you, and having secured the hanky, take it by its centre, allowing the four corners to hang down (just as you did with the faked one) lay it across the trap and fold the corners over, if they overhang the back edge of the said trap. Do not bring the right hand away from the table, but, immediately, with the left hand, take up the candlestick, show it and place it down, take up the matchbox, show it and place it down. During this 'fiddling' with the candle and the matchbox, the right hand moves the trap over, thus substituting the hanky for the faked one. See (2), page 74, last month's article. Do not be afraid of this brazen move, and whatever you do, DO NOT LOOK AT THE TRAP. Let the eyes rest on the candle stick and matchbox you are showing, and by the time the trap is pulled over to the left, pick up the candle and transfer it to the left hand table, following this with the matches.

"LONG BURNING MATCH"

(3) Now comes the comedy with the matchbox, and it is entirely up to the performer as to the amount of laughs he can obtain from this. After one or two attempts to obtain a match from the box, it is then transferred momentarily to the right hand, as though to examine it more closely, and the left hand pulls the taper down the right sleeve and into the right hand. Taking the box again in the left hand, attempts are made to obtain a match, during which, the right fingers work the taper past the finger tips and thus into view. Affecting surprise at the appearance of a match in the right hand, the end is struck on the box (see 3).

(4) Again it is entirely up to the individual performer as to what comedy can be got from the long burning match. Sufficient excuses and bits of stalling have been given under (4) and no doubt the performer can invent others as he becomes used to the routine.

(5) Point to your own hanky protruding from the breast pocket, at the same time working the taper out from the finger tips, so that what appeared to be a mere match now becomes obviously, a taper. Light the candle.

(6) Discard the taper after blowing it out. Extra comedy can be had at this stage if one of Max's Fairy Light Tapers is used, and this can be given a 'striking end' just as easily as an ordinary taper. Finally placing the taper on one side, turn to the right to take up the 'borrowed' hanky. Do this by taking it below the centre in the right hand, gathering the hanky as much round the thread reel as possible. Place the whole into the left palm. Set the centre alight and allow it to burn until very little of the faked piece is left. Remember that this was tacked on with a loose thread.

LOOSE THREADS"

(7) At this stage you 'pretend to notice something' and this something turns out to be a white thread. Actually you secure the end of the thread which was used to tack on the faked piece and this thread is first pulled away and dropped on the floor. Immediately following this, the end of the thread on the reel is secured and pulled upon and the length of thread drawn away seems endless. You appear to become tired of pulling out thread and pause for a moment, as if to rest then resume the pulling. Laughs will come alright. When the thread ceases to run, grasp the 'ring' of white material which should remain from the faked piece, after the burning, and manage to break it so that in pulling it from the fist, it comes away as a long piece. Drop this on the floor also, and commence to tuck in the damaged centre of the hank, at the same time palming off the empty cotton reel in the right hand. Display the hanky as explained in (7).

" KEEPING A PROMISE "

(8) Reiterate what your promise was as regarding your own hanky, and as you gather the burnt hanky together, take it in the right hand and lay it on the trap, AT THE SAME TIME PULLING OUT YOUR OWN HANKY WITH THE LEFT HAND. The fact that this turns out to be a red spotted one and not a white one at all will bring laughs, and you, in turning to the right, will inadvertently (?) allow the red hanky to hang from the left hand AND ALMOST TOUCH THE RIGHT HAND TABLE TOP. This gives the necessary cover while you place the damaged hanky (and the palmed reel) on the trap and then move the latter over to the right, thus bringing into view the actual borrowed hanky, ready for a later stage in the effect.

Go through the actions of burning the red hanky, just as you did with the white one, and having put out the flame and displayed the hole in the centre, take up the white hanky, bunched in the right hand, and wrap it inside the red one. Make the necessary mystic passes and commence to unfold the red hanky. AS SOON AS YOU SEE A PORTION OF THE WHITE HANKY. GRASP THIS AND ALLOW THE RED ONE TO FALL ON THE TABLE, AS YET, UNDIS-PLAYED. (9).

(9) Allow the white hanky to open out fully, from which it will be apparent that you have succeeded in restoring (?) it to its normal condition, and you then turn, confidently, to the table and pick up your own red one. Register dismay as you open it out to find that there is still a large hole there, and finally, tuck it into the breast pocket, so that the white corner is left protruding and with the consoling comment that "no-one will ever know", you proceed to the next effect.

" TIMING "

So much for "Hole in One". As will be seen, timing is the most important ingredient, timing as to when to change the trap. With a little experimenting, it will soon be apparent that, any small misdirection with the left hand, IN FRONT OF THE TRAP, will be sufficient cover for the small movement made by the right hand in moving the trap, and even if a movement of the right hand is suspected, such suspicion will be quickly disarmed, for the position of the hanky appears to be unchanged after the move. I can heartily recommend such a trap for all type of exchanges upon a table top. It is entirely up to you to try it or forget it. If you try it, I am sure you will like it. If you forget it, then I'm equally sure you will regret it.

"COMEDY CLIMAX"

Now we come to the climax of the Comedy Act and it may be at once apparent to the reader that the said Act only consists of three effects, sufficient, say, for a ten minute act. Please, however, do not overlook the fact that I have previously given a number of effects which can easily be sandwiched in between the three being described as a Comedy Act, that is, if the performer wishes for a longer act.

In the April issue I explained the "Perverse Chinese Rings", and the "Perverse Egg Bag", while in the May issue we had the "Silly Silk Symphony". Any of these may be used to extend the act, but PLEASE, not all of them. Whatever else you do. do guard against the temptation to pull out your act too far. There is a limit to how much an audience will stand, even of GOOD Comedy Magic, and if you do go beyond the limit, then you might as well don a Chinese robe and call your act "On Tu Long!" Leave them laughing—AND WANTING. Besides, by not using all the items given you will have something in reserve, for a change of programme on a future occasion.

VANISHING BIRDCAGE"

1 hope I may be forgiven for saying this, but 1 do earnestly believe that one will have to make a wide search to find a Comedy Effect which is so highly suitable for a FINISH for a Comedy Act. It has Comedy, it has Situation, but, most important of all, it has CLIMAX. The end of this effect is definitely, not only the end of the effect, but also of the act, the performer being left in such a ludicrous position (and condition) that it is just impossible for him to go on further. It is the END OF THE ACT, and sells itself, as such, to the audience, in no uncertain manner.

However, to quote a well-known Music Hall Act. "Let's Get On With It". Just imagine YOU are in the audience, and this is what you see. At the conclusion of his previous effect, the performer calls attention to a Bird Cage which reposes upon a table, up stage and slightly to his left. He explains that he is about to present the famous Vanishing Bird Cage Illusion, one of the most difficult feats in legerdemain, etc., etc.

The cage is seen to be slightly larger than the one used in the usual run of things, and is brightly chromed, or painted in gilt or silver. This

IS going to take some vanishing ! The performer himself seems a little surprised, not at the cage, but at its contents, for he hastily lets down one side of the cage and removes a scrawny chicken. A live hen, or chicken can be used, if one can be sure that it will remain perfectly still during the preceding part of the act. If livestock IS used, then the cage could be covered until needed. The chicken or hen, is scooted into the wings and the performer returns to the cage.

Standing beside it, he appears to be doing a little bit of fiddling about until, finally he turns to face the audience, holding the cage in his left hand and well out to the left side of his person. Now it becomes apparent to the audience that the cage WILL vanish alright, but, in a fashion, for attached to the cage is seen to be a glaringly white rope, of extra thickness. THIS ROPE PASSES BEHIND THE PERFORMER, ACROSS THE STAGE AND THROUGH THE WINGS ON HIS RIGHT !

Apparently unaware of this the performer commands the cage to "One—Two—Three—GO!" But nothing happens ! With a sneaky glance to the right wings the performer again gives the command. but again, nothing happens! Now the performer becomes alarmed, and for the third time he shouts the words "One—Two—Three"—but the word "GO!" he screams deliberately into the right wings !

The audience now sees a slight movement of the rope, then there is a short sharp tug, but the cage does not vanish. Instead, the rope is seen to fly into the wings, TAKING WITH IT THE PERFORMER'S TROUSERS, and he is seen in the ludicrous stance of holding the bird cage, dressed only in his coat and vest and short white pants. The performer is dressed thus, of course, and not the cage. It takes a brief moment for the situation to dawn upon him, and, just as the curtain is drawn he makes a hurried dash to the wings, to re-appear a moment later robed in a dressing gown (the louder in colour and design the better) to take his well earned applause. That, I think you will agree does spell "Finish" to a Comedy Act!

I hope I have again whetted your appetite, and, I'm sorry to say, that is how it must remain for another month, for Max will not allow me all the space I could use. The explanation, what there is of it, will bear waiting for, so until next month, may I sign myself off as,

Yours Magically,

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