The Piece of Paper

We'll start, paradoxically, with the ending of the routine, the final piece of paper chosen by the spectator. It must have print on both sides but only one side has a bold phrase that easily stands out. David guides his volunteer to this phrase by asking her, for example, to "Read out any words that makes sense." Or alternatively, as the volunteer is examining the paper, "Is there any paragraph or obvious start to a sentence?" That is the phrase David predicts and writes on the back of the photograph (a 10x8 publicity shot), which is then placed, into an envelope.

He has kept a sample of all the predictions from every performance of The Newspaper Prediction for the last forty-five years and logged them on file cards, noting where and when the performance was given. The reason is that he doesn't want to use the same phrase, or anything similar, when he makes a repeat appearance at the same venue.

The prediction phrase is chosen carefully and they fall into several categories. Some, like the one in our example, are straightforward, easy to remember combinations of words like "Once upon a time."

Others can be used to comic effect such as the phrase, "There's nothing on it." When David asks for the chosen words and the lady responds saying, "There's nothing on it," David can extract a lot of fun from the situation, repeating his question and getting the same answer until he finally understands what the lady is trying to tell him.

If performing at a product launch or sales presentation David chooses phrases that might reflect some aspect of the item he's selling. Not the name of the product, just something that will have a resonance for those watching.

Whichever phrase he uses he makes sure that it is the only phrase that is likely to catch the spectator's eye when it comes to making a choice. On the other hand it is also important that the opposite side of the paper is full of print and does not contain, for instance, a photograph or anything else that might lead the spectators to think that a word could not have been chosen from that side. Good solid print is the best option.

One further detail. The prediction phrase has to appear on whatever page is attached

PASES 35 & 36

PASES 35 & 36

to pages 3 and 4. In the example it was on page 35. Also, for aesthetic reasons, it shouldn't be too central or too near to the edge of the page.

Having decided on the prediction phrase, in this case "Once upon a time," David tears it out of about fourteen identical papers and assembles the torn squares into a packet. The top seven pieces of the packet are prediction phrase downwards. The bottom seven have the phrase facing upwards. This is so that the packet can be brought out of his pocket with either side uppermost and the volunteers will not prematurely catch sight of the predicted phrase. The pieces are held together with a paper clip and kept in the right jacket pocket.

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