I am often amazed by the great diversity of performers I know. Dan Harlan is unique in almost too many ways. He has a very twisted sense of humor. He is extremely well trained in theater and direction. He's a brilliant magical creator. In performance, he is as kind and unassuming as anyone could be. Yet he blows the socks off people nightly. When he writes, he can be as wicked and evil as a cat with 5 eyes!
In the effects that follow from Dan, you will see all of this and more. His skill at creating incredible scripts is a very rare talent. Here you will find not only many interesting deceptions, but the art of framing and labeling that puts true script interpretation into a very special class all its own.
I chose to leave Dan's efforts in his own style and writing structure. It might aid you to consider why Dan breaks out his routines the way that he does...
Basic Effect: A spectator selects one of five cards which is shown to match your prediction. Storyline: Testing the dichotomy between Fate and Free Will.
Prop list: Six specifically arranged ordinary cards, a card size envelope, a coin or similar small object.
Preparation: You must put together a set of six cards that meet specific requirements. The following is my set: The prediction card is a jack of diamonds with a red back. The second card matches the face of this card but has a different color back — it is a blue backed jack of diamonds. The third card matches the back of the prediction, but not the face — I use a red backed jack of spades.
The three remaining cards do not match the prediction on either side — I use the jack of clubs, the queen of clubs, and the king of spades all with blue backs. Set the cards up in the following order from bottom to top: face down blue-backed jack of diamonds, face down blue-backed king of spades, face down blue-backed queen of clubs, face up blue backed jack of clubs, face up red-backed jack of spades, and face up red-backed jack of diamonds.
Slide the cards into the envelope with the red-backed jack of diamonds face up on top. Have the coin ready in your pocket The performance is in three parts: introduction, selection, and revelation.
Introduction Script: "Some people believe in Fate; the belief that certain events are predestined to occur. Many others believe in Free Will; the belief that we control all outcomes based on our choices. As strange as it may seem, I believe in both fate and free will."
Display the envelope, and slide the lower five cards out leaving the face up red-backed jack of diamonds inside (your prediction card). "I believe that when fate and free will collide, a coincidence occurs."
Deal the five cards out in a row from left to right. The jack of spades will be face up on the left end of the row, and the jack of diamonds will be face down at the right end. These are your force cards. "I've prepared some fate in these cards, but I need someone else to provide the free will."
Select a spectator to help. Let's call him Joe. "Joe, I have another card in this envelope which is my prediction. I'll show it to you later." Set the envelope aside. "Fate is tricky. It is not a slave to order, so the order of these cards has no bearing on the outcome."
Exchange the positions of the jack of spades and the card next to it. Then switch the positions of the face down jack of diamonds at the right end of the row and the card next to it. Your two force cards are now in the second and fourth positions within the row (exactly where you need them to be). Also, switch the two cards now resting at the ends of the row. These two don't matter, but switching them gives the impression of further mixing.
"Fate continues to operate whether we see it or not. Some information is hidden, some is revealed." Gesture to the row of face-up and face-down cards, then turn the center card face up and leave it in the center. "Joe, it is time to exercise your free will."
Selection Script: Give the spectator a coin (or other small object) and say "I'd like you to place this coin on any one of those five cards. Face-up, face-down, it doesn't matter." NOTE: Do not ask Joe to "select" a card, merely "place" the coin ON a card.
"Are you happy with the location of the coin, are you certain you were free to place it where you liked, or would you like to move it?" Now whether he moves it or not, one of two obvious things will occur — the coin will either end up on a force card or not. If the coin ends up on a force card (second or fourth position), remain calm and proceed directly to the Revelation Script explained later.
However, if the coin ends up on a non-force card, say "You have chosen a perfect place to begin, but to make sure that I can't influence your final selection, I'd like you to think of a number which we'll use to count to another card. This number should be high enough that neither you nor I can predict which card will be chosen, but low enough to count quickly — perhaps something between ten and fifty. You can use your free will to select this number, but I assure you that fate will control the outcome. What number would you like?"
The selection of the number is completely fair; any number will work. All you need to know is whether the number is ODD or EVEN, so have Joe name the number aloud. If an ODD number is named, have Joe pick up the coin and tap it once on the back of each card in succession beginning with the card next to the one upon which the coin was resting. If the coin was on the middle card of the row, explain that he can begin counting in either direction. When your spectator encounters the end of the row, the direction of the counting reverses. Counting in this manner causes any odd number to fall upon one of your two force cards.
If an EVEN number is named, ask Joe to begin by counting the card upon which the coin is resting as "one." This will cause any even number to fall upon a force card. Either counting method is natural, and will arrive at one of your two force cards.
"You have used your free will to select a card from among these. As you know, I did not influence that decision." The coin is now either on the face up jack of spades or the face down jack of diamonds. The ending is similar for both cards; you just have to alter some of the wording:
Revelation Script: (IF THE FACE UP JACK OF SPADES is selected) "You could have easily selected any of the other cards, but you selected a face up card, not a face down card. My prediction is, in fact, a face up card!" Pick up the envelope and allow the prediction card to slide out of it face up onto the table. This will be met with a suitably apathetic response and/or a deserved round of groans.
"Coincidence? I think notl I see you are not impressed, so I will go further. Fate does not always reveal its designs openly. You could have selected one of the other face up cards, which have blue backs." Turn all the face up cards face down except the chosen one now.
"Or you could have easily chosen a face down blue-backed card, but my prediction is a red-backed card." Turn your prediction card face down and continue "And you have somehow managed to select the only card which also has a red back. Now turn the selected card face down to reveal that it also has a red back!
Revelation Script: (IF THE FACE DOWN JACK OF DIAMONDS is selected) "You could have easily selected any of the other cards, but you selected a face down card, not a face up card. My prediction is, in fact, a face down card!" Pick up the envelope and turn it over without attempting to hide what you are doing, then allow the prediction card to slide out of it face down onto the table. This will be met with a suitably apathetic response and/or a deserved round of groans.
"Coincidence? I think not! I see you are not impressed, so I will go further. Fate does not always reveal its designs openly. You could have selected one of the other face down cards, which are all either spades or clubs." Turn all the face down cards face up except the chosen one.
"Or you could have easily chosen a face up card, which are also black suits, but my prediction is a red card — a diamond, the jack of diamonds." Turn your prediction card face up and end by saying "And you have somehow managed to select the only card that matches it!" Turn the selected card face up to reveal that it's also a jack of diamonds'
KENTON'S VERSION: I loved the story and labeling involved in this effect, and knew I would just have to begin using it! Because of the limited number of cards used in this routine, I decided to start doing this effect with BUSINESS cards. This seems to make the small amount of cards used in the effect quite logical to the spectators.
My prediction card has the word "KNOW" written on the blank side of one of my business cards, and on the printed side I have written "Your Destiny". For the stack of cards, I wrote "KNOW" on the blank side of one business card, and "Your Destiny" on the printed side of another.
These are of course your force cards, just as in Dan's routine. Place the "KNOW" card writing side down on top of the stack of business cards. The "Your Destiny" card goes printing side down on the bottom of the stack.
Handle everything the same way as Dan describes. You can either OPENLY place your prediction card on to the table "Destiny" side up, or keep it in your business card holder and later say "Do you know what my prediction is in here?" and when the spectator says "NO" you say "Exactly! KNOW! Amazing! So, you're not impressed..." and go on from there.
If the spectator ends up on the "KNOW" force card, I have been known to say "How did you KNOW?" or "KNOW, KNOW... YES, YES!", you get the idea. As always do what fits you best.
I must say that with business cards and the words Dan has given to use, this makes quite an impression - and the spectator walks away with one of your business cards to boot! Perhaps I should remind you of the possible double meanings that may be on the card the spectator takes home. Just consider "Know... Your Destiny... Kenton..."
The counting procedure is very natural looking, and extremely rare to even have to use. There are PATTERNS working to your benefit after all. When I do need to use the counting procedure, I just ask them to name any number under twenty... so their destiny doesn't take forever to get to them! This works well on several levels, as the insightful student will surely notice. It also helps the number choice appear to be very fair and natural. In fact, IT IS.
Hopefully most mentalists will have not read this at all, simply noticed it was a "card effect" and passed it up entirely. For myself, what I now refer to as "Destiny" has become a staple in my work. Just imagine handing a spectator your prediction card after asking "Do you know what your destiny is?"... Then revealing or not the other side of your "prediction". Notice as well other hidden meaning potentials and subtexting. Or the spectator holding the card and seeing "KNOW" on the other side before the rest of the audience is aware, or... THAT'S ENOUGH. I'm not going to hint anymore at what "Destiny" has become - for me.
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