Effect 28 Finger on the Pulse

A spectator joins you on stage. You sit facing the audience and the spectator takes your pulse with one hand. With the other hand, they tap a glass or tumbler with a pencil in time with your pulse.

You breathe deeply, more and more slowly. Steadily your pulse becomes weaker until it stops altogether; the spectator stops tapping the glass. Your breathing stops.

Moments pass. Your pulse remains stopped.

Suddenly you take a massive breath of air and your pulse starts again. Your eyes flicker open and your return, slightly dazed, to normality.

To prepare this effect, take a large handkerchief or scarf and tie a knot in the middle. Then tie the handkerchief firmly around your left arm so the large knot rests in your armpit.

By bringing your upper arm gently in towards your body, the knot presses against the inside of your arm. This pressure stops your pulse. Releasing the pressure allows your pulse to return. It will take some practice to get the knot size and positioning right for you.

To take your pulse when practicing, use the first three fingers of your right hand. Place them along your left wrist just behind the thumb, with right hand thumb on the back of your left wrist. In performance, you should direct the spectator to take your pulse in the same way.

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