Tearing the Paper

The lady is finally holding a double sheet of paper. David asks her to tear it in half and then hand one half to him. If it is page 35/36 he makes this her choice and asks her to throw the other half away. If he is handed page 3/4 he throws it away leaving her with the force page.

He then asks her to choose either side of the page. It doesn't matter which side she selects, 35 or 36, as it has no consequence for the routine but it appears to be yet another major decision. If the prediction is indeed on the chosen side, David will draw attention to it and make the most of it when the Proof is revealed. If it isn't, it will not be mentioned again.

She tears the page in half and repeats this until she has a small packet of squares that resemble the pieces in David's right jacket pocket. At this point a second lady volunteer is called for and while all attention is on her coming up from the audience, David casually reaches into his pocket, thumbs the paper clip free of the pieces and palms the duplicate newspaper squares. This manoeuvre, if seen, is not regarded with any suspicion because David takes care to accustom the audience to him dipping in and out of his pocket occasionally.

The second lady stands to David's right. The first lady stands on his left. David takes the papers from her with his left hand and immediately transfers them to his right hand adding the extra pieces. Without pausing he gives the entire packet to the woman on his right, explaining what is about to happen.

The first lady looks into David's left jacket pocket to make sure it is empty. He now takes the packet from the other lady in his right hand. With his left hand he takes the pieces one at a time, displays them for a moment and places into the left pocket. This is all done very openly and slowly. If they go beyond the top seven pieces he will place his thumb across the packet to ensure that the prediction phrase is still hidden. Making a joke, "Sometimes this takes three weeks," usually persuades the audience to call "stop" before he runs out of pieces. The lady on the right then chooses one of the three pieces on offer. With duplicates in both hands and his pocket she has little choice but to arrive at the right piece.

Having settled on one, David asks her to select either side. It is a free choice and he hopes that she will choose the side that contains the prediction phrase. She's asked to look for a phrase on the chosen side that stands out. If David sees that she is looking at the wrong side he casually suggests she look on the other side of the paper for something of interest. The audience will not realise that the phrase did not come from the side she originally chose. It can take a little time for the volunteer to look over the piece and find one that "stands out" and is "easily remembered." Not surprisingly she settles on, "Once upon a time."

The presentation is almost over and there is little more to explain. The women retire to their seats, the man holding the envelope opens it and reads out the contents. The audience applauds what they think is the finish of the routine.

After a suitable pause David starts a discussion on how the effect could have been accomplished. If no one in the audience comes up with the idea of switching the final piece of paper then David mentions it himself. Just as their hopes are raised, he dashes them, revealing the envelope on the table and the final "Proof."

The routine described here is the one David has used most in his professional act but

CENTRAL

CONVENTION HALL ANY CfTY, ANYWHERE

ANNUAL AWARDS

DINNER

CONVENTION HALL ANY CfTY, ANYWHERE

ANNUAL AWARDS

DINNER

"Once upon a time"

for special occasions he has developed some wonderful variations. It was one of these variations that he performed on BBC radio's The Holiday Show in 1959. The prediction, instead of being in an envelope, was printed in a copy of the BBC listings magazine The Radio Times. The show itself was broadcast from two different studios and led David to develop a remote control version of the Newspaper Prediction.

David was located at Broadcasting House while the compere, comedian Alfred Marks, was broadcasting from the Playhouse Theatre. Following David's directions Alfred had recruited a number of volunteers from the theatre audience. They stood in line on the stage and listened to David as he gave instructions over the air.

The first volunteer chose a newspaper and passed it to the second volunteer who chose a page. The third volunteer chose a side of the page and the fourth tried to tear it into small squares. When the tearing got difficult David asked him to pass it to the next in line, "He looks strong." Which got a laugh given that David was several miles away at the time and obviously couldn't see anything that was happening in the theatre.

Finally, David spoke to the last volunteer, "Please choose one of the pieces." As he waited for the instruction to be carried out he could hear the audience laughing. "What's happening Alfred?" he asked.

"She's doing what you told her to do—she's chewing the piece of paper," said Alfred.

It took a moment for this unusual piece of information to sink in. Then suddenly he realised what Alfred meant. "No I said choose not chew. For God's sake spit out the words otherwise we won't have a prediction!" The lady spat out the piece of paper, unfolded it with as much dignity as she could muster under the circumstances. The routine was concluded as normal with listeners able to check the prediction in their own copy of The Radio Times.

But how did David manage to work the routine from afar? The answer lies in the fifth man in the line-up of six volunteers. This was a magician friend of David's who secretly added a batch of duplicates to the torn pieces. David then asked him to, "Take one, anyone of those pieces in your left hand and hold the packet in your right hand." The last volunteer, the lady, was invited to choose one of them and the confederate ensured that she only took one of the duplicate pieces.

But, as always, there is more to it than that because the seemingly spontaneous bit of hilarity—the confusion between "chew" and "choose"—was planned. It happened like this. On the air David said to his confederate, "Now ask the lady on your left to choose one of them," referring to the torn pieces of paper. But the confederate had been instructed to say, "Chew one of them." She did and it appeared that the lady had misheard David. The result was a very funny piece of business that added to and enhanced the entertainment value of the routine. It seems there is no end to David's Machiavellian plotting.

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