Punch Lines


You'll need ten (10) pieces of blank playing card stock. Also a Sanford "Sharpie" marking pen which will write on playing card stock. On one side of five (5) of the cards print "PUNCH LINES". On the other side of each of the five cards, print one of the following:

"My mother-in-law got a mud pack at the beauty salon..." "Yesterday my uncle drank a quart of shellac..." "I recently got a job in an insane asylum..."

"I've been training my dog for months and today he went on the paper three times..." "I told my wife to talk to me during sex..."

On one side of five (5) more cards, print: "PUNCH LINE" (note that you have switched from the plural, "LINES", to the singular, "LINE"). On the reverse side of each of these cards, print one of the following:

"She looked great for two days - but then the mud fell off!"

"He died, but what a finish!"

"I serve soup to nuts!"

"Twice while I was reading it!"

"Last night she called from a motel!"

The cards should now be stacked in the same order as above, with "Mother-in-Law" on the top and "She called me from a motel" on the bottom. The "Punch Line(s)" side of the cards should be face up.

As you can see, card number "1" is a straight line (as it is referred to in comedy parlance) and card number "6" is its punch line. In other words, put "1" and "6" together and you've got a complete joke. The same goes for "2" and "7", "3" and "8", "4" and "9" , "5" and "10". Place a rubber band around the cards and place the packet in your pocket.


Remove the cards, take off the band and fan the packet. Patter about the many great comedy teams down through the years, Abbott and Costello, Martin and Lewis, Burns and Allen and so on. Mention that, tonight, you'd like to introduce the latest comedy team sensation. Ask two spectators in the front row for their names. Let's suppose they answer, "Charlie" and "Tony". In your best MC voice, state, "Let's give a nice round of applause ladies and gentlemen, to those hilarious stars of stage, screen and television, Charlie and Tony!"

Have the two spectators come forward and position them on either side of you. Explain that you are holding 5 jokes printed on 10 cards. In other words, each joke consists of two cards, a straight line and a punch line. "To understand each joke, you have to read the proper pair of cards. For instance," (turn the top card of the packet face up), "this card says, 'My Mother-in-Law got a mud pack at the beauty salon.' " Flip it face down and turn the entire packet face up and read the bottom card, " 'Last night she called from a motel.' Obviously those two cards don't match!"

Give the packet a Charlier Shuffle (see Appendix for explanation) as you state, "I'll mix up the cards." You can also cut the packet several times since neither the false shuffle nor the cutting will disturb the cyclical order of the packet. Ask the spectator on your right to hold out his hand, palm up. Deal five cards face down to this spectator which will reverse their order. Hand the balance of the cards to the spectator on your left.

Ask any spectator in the center of the front row to stand. Explain that you are about to spell a simple phrase. As you call out each letter, you want the spectator to point to either of the persons standing beside you. The one that is pointed at is to immediately move one card from the top to the bottom of his packet. In this fashion, you explain, the cards will be further mixed in random fashion as directed by the spectator in the audience.

Spell the first word of the phrase "Will the jokes match?" one letter at a time, allowing enough time for the spectator in the audience to designate which of the two volunteers on stage is to "duck" a card for each letter in the first word. When you have finished spelling W-I-L-L, ask the spectator on your left to hand you the top card of his packet. Have the spectator on your right do the same.

For each pair you handle, place the card which has "PUNCH LINES" on the back on top of the card that reads, "PUNCH LINE". It is this subtle method of "marking" that differentiates between the two halves of each joke and enables you to later have the joke read in the proper order.

Place the first pair on the table and proceed to spell the second word of the phrase, "Will the jokes match?" Repeat the same "ducking" procedure as described and place the next pair on the table. Continue until all four words have been spelled. At this point, the two "comedians" will each be holding a card and there will be four pairs on the table.

Thank the spectator in the audience for his assistance and have him sit down. State that as a Psychic Entertainer, you have tried to mentally influence the manner in which the cards were mixed. To see how successful you were, note which of the two spectators is holding the card with the plural, "PUNCH LINES" on the back. Have this spectator, in his best comedy style, read aloud what is printed on his card. Hold the microphone so the audience can hear the first part of the joke clearly. Immediately turn to the other spectator and have him read the "PUNCH LINE" printed on his card. Amazingly, the two cards are a match and the audience hears a complete joke.

Continue by picking up the next pair of cards and have the second joke read, and so on until all five jokes have been heard. Not only will your audience be baffled as to how the mixed up packet mysteriously arranged itself in matched pairs, but you'll also get five strong laughs. Think about it: You don't have to memorize a thing and the two spectators do all the work for you. Even if they're terrible joke tellers, the audience will laugh even more so. As for the modus operandi, it's all automatic. Just follow the presentation and, notwithstanding all the apparent random mixing, you'll always end up with five matching sets of straight lines and punch lines.

Finish by having the audience give the "comedy team" a rousing round of applause as they return to their seats. One try and I think you'll agree, this is the way mentalism is supposed to be: Truly entertaining!


While traveling throughout Europe I had plenty of time to kill while enroute from one city to another by rail. Some of these journeys lasted anywhere from 6 to 16 hours. Doctor Jean Yves Prost from Lyon, France had arranged the tour and, in one of his letters, he requested that when I lectured in his home town, would I perform, "Will The Cards Match?" I told him that I would. As the train sped along, an idea suddenly flashed through my mind. What if the ten cards used in the effect were double faced? What evolved truly constitutes the ultimate extension of a novel effect, transforming it into a wild and crazy killer.

The Art Of Cold Reading

The Art Of Cold Reading

Today I'm going to teach you a fundamental Mentalism technique known as 'cold reading'. Cold reading is a technique employed by mentalists and charlatans and by charlatan I refer to psychics, mediums, fortune tellers or anyone that claims false abilities that is used to give the illusion that the person has some form of super natural power.

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