Another "Booktest"—but this time we choose to find more than a word. From any one of the four Volumes in The London Telephone Directories— one subscriber is selected and via the media of mindreading—you discover their Name, address, Telephone exchange and correct number! There are no forces.
The method is an application of a time-tested principle. Basically so simple that people just don't think of that—when in actual faqt, it should be one of the first things that come to mind as an explanation. It "has been used in many shapes and forms in Vaudeville, so much so—that one professional Lady produced and maintained a highly successful act—using the very same means as we use in this test. Aside from using the principle in Vaudeville —it finds its application even today—in Broadcasting and Film Studios.
Essentially, this is a Stage effect. In a moment you will see why. Your apparatus consists of two large slates, three volumes of Telephone Directories with another three duplicates and these should have different colour covers— so that any one chosen can be identified at a distance with ease. Nothing more is needed—with the exception of chalk and a table and chair.
The chair is placed to one side of the stage—fairly near to the footlights. The table, centre stage—well back near the backcloth. Three directories are ready on the table along with one slate and your chalk. In the wings stands an assistant and she has a slate, chalk and the duplicate books.
Any person is invited on to the stage. Having greeted them, seat them on the chair and take the three directories and give them to him. Tell him to have a look at them and then choose any one. Stand nearby his chair and take away the two books which he does not want. Return to the table and place the books there. Because the books are coloured (as they always are nowadays) your assistant can tell immediately from what two are left in sight—which directory has been chosen by the spectator. The assistant is in the wings at the same side as the seated spectator but cannot be seen because the volunteer assistant has his back to the wings. She selects the duplicate book to the one he chose.
Now to play safe and enhance the presentation—making the choice of subscriber obviously free of trickery, we ask any audience member to call out a page number say between One and Five hundred. (If the numbers have to be limited to the selected book—tell them what range they can choose from). Take your stand near the centre of the stage where by appearing to look at the seated spectator, your eyes can travel past him to where you can see your own assistant. From his point of view it looks natural—and likewise for the audience.
Holding your slate and chalk ready, repeat aloud the page number called by the audience and instruct him to turn to that page. As soon as he finds it—hurry him so as to avoid delay, say, "and $ow we have three columns as with every telephone directory—will anyone please call out—first, second or third?" If several people call at once, don't stand for any tomfoolery, point to one lady and say "Madam, everybody wants to have their mind read—let's leave it to you—which one shall we use?" Whatever she says— repeat it loud (to your assistant) appearing to instruct the seated spectator. Finally, the exact position of the subscriber—same thing again, have any number say under thirty called and tell the spectator to count very carefully to the chosen line.
When he has it, tell him to think hard of the Subscriber's name—appear to concentrate during which time your eyes roam to a slate held high by your assistant in the wings. On that slate in bold letters—she has chalked the name of the subscriber. As soon as you get it—write the name boldly on your slate and tell him to call out the name. Show your slate as correct. Do the same now with the address—but when it comes to the Exchange and number, we finish slightly differently. Explain that names and places are not so hard to transmit or mindread, they have personal connections which , makes it fairly easy—but what is hard is to deal with a few random numbers— like, for example, the Subscriber's Telephone Number.
Whilst you are making this explanation, your assistant has time to chalk the Exchange and 'phone number on the back of her slate—and hold it up again for you to see and memorise. A discreet cough signals her that you have it, so she now disappears from view in the wings.
The spectator is instructed to look very carefully at the Exchange and 'phone number. To memorise them—then to lay the book still open, face down on the floor (this is in case he forgets). He comes to centre stage where you stand. He goes to one side of your slate—and you stand the other. Each of you hold the slate with one hand and write with the other, starting when you call "go".
For your climax, you have the correct Exchange and Number written boldly on both sides of the slate. However, since you are going to be left with a spectator on stage, it would be as well to routine this effect into the programme—where your next trick will need another spectator to help, if you want to close on this effect—you must get rid of the spectator before you show the writing. To do this, have two slates and each of you write on them. This having been done, take the spectator's slate and hold it in your right hand and your own slate in the left. Thank the spectator and ask him to take his seat and then turn his slate first to show what he wrote —followed by yours. Stand near the table when you do this—so that having shown the two slates—you can discard them quickly ready to take your final bow without an armful of props! One must think of everything.
The important points to remember with this routine are:—Talk loud when you call back the selected page number, etc. . . .giving your assistant a good chance to check up accurately. Give her time to do her share of the work— in other words learn some patter and reserve patter for emergencies. See that there is sufficient light in the wings to illuminate her slate for you to read. Use soft chalk which does not talk (i.e. white Artist Crayon) just in case the spectator should hear some scratching going on behind him. A mere glance at the slate held by your assistant will be enough—let your glance sweep the theatre—passing the wings en route when you see all you have to see. Don't stand and glare into the wings, it is not necessary.
Finally, you must always be ready for a mistake. It's no good thinking you will deal with that misfortune when it occurs. Suppose you write the name "Williams" and the spectator tells you "No" . . . this is how we deal with it.
First, never show your slate and what you have written before you have told him to call out loud the name only of the subscriber. If it should be wrong, say "I thought that's what you would say—because you are thinking about the wrong person! Can we have a check please—page number 179 was chosen—have you got that correct? Good—and it was the First Column— right? Then we were told the third one down—well are you still sure it is Williams? No? Well what is it? "Wintergarden"—that's better—now we know who we are talking about! (show your slate with Wintergarden). On the re-check your assistant likewise makes sure she is right—although doing it often, she shouldn't be wrong. However, if she has made a mistake she rubs out the name and writes now the Correct address instead. This signals you to get out of that one! "Right you say the name is Williams—good, now on this slate I have written his address (your slate but don't show!) just before I show it will you read his address once more tcr yourself—and let me check that I have it right?" Concentrate, then suddenly say "ah! Just as well 1 checked—I have the district wrong—" immediately clean the slate with your hankie or a duster, and quickly write in the correct address of Mr. Williams—THEN show. Don't be afraid to worry about an effect. It gives you grey hairs and makes you look dignified as a mentalist!!
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