Performance

This routine is appropriate for either intimate stand-up or large stage shows. I'll describe it as if I'm performing on a smaller platform.

To begin the routine, open the envelope, removing the column prediction, and coin envelopes. Place the coin envelopes aside on the table. Casually let the envelope be seen empty by the spectators, as you explain the folded prediction concerns the newspaper column. Replace the prediction in the envelope, seal it, then place it somewhere prominent so it's constantly in view of the audience. Emphasize the envelope will never leave their sight.

Display the column of want ads by holding it genuinely at the top. Your fingers conceal just the topmost few lines — the lines of the final prediction. You now approach a few spectators, showing them the column, allowing them to see all is legitimate.

Step back and hold the column by the top as you pick up the scissors. Explain how you will run down the column with the open-bladed scissors until a spectator says "Stop!" Choose a spectator to assist you.

When you begin to run the scissors down the column, make sure you start a few inches down the column. When spectator calls out "Stop!" cut the column, allowing the lower part to flutter to the floor. Pick up both coin envelopes, approach the spectator and offer him one. After he takes it, ask the spectator to seal the piece on the floor in it, as you emphasize, "I won't come near it."

As you place the other coin envelope on the table, nail nick it. Then approach another spectator. However, by now you have inverted the piece of newspaper remaining in your hand! With so much going on as the first spectator retrieves the paper, then seals it in the coin envelope, this is very easy to do. There is no reason for the audience to be paying attention to you then. In fact, the audience doesn't even know you will use a second spectator — your actions have been so honest up to now.

The second spectator tells you where you are to stop. Again, you snip the paper where requested, allowing the lower part to fall to the floor. This time, of course, the spectator gets what is really the original top piece of the column, with the predicted lines at the top.

At this point, I crumple up the unused portion of the column, then put it in my coat pocket. Though it would be quite difficult for anyone to learn the secret from the three pieces, I do this just for safety's sake.

After this second cut, move away. Again stress you will not come near the cut off piece on the floor. Have a nearby spectator get the second (nail nicked) envelope, and hand it to the person. Ask the second spectator to retrieve the bit of newspaper on the floor, then seal his newspaper piece in the envelope. Once he's done this, have him hand it to the first helper.

Let me stop for a moment and explain some fine points. Yes, you could have marked one of the two coin envelopes ahead of time. However, I do not. During the "heat" of a show it's easy to get mixed up. If you do, it could be fatal to the effect. To safeguard against a mix-up, I always start with two unmarked envelopes and always mark the second envelope when I put it down. Thus, when I direct the assisting spectator to hand that envelope to the second spectator, I am sure the proper piece of paper is in the nicked envelope. Second, it gives an impression of entire freedom: the audience will remember the first spectator chose what envelope he wanted to use, and I was nowhere near the second envelope when it was given to the second helper. Finally, you will be leaving almost everything with the audience at the end. Spectators are smarter than you think ... someone might notice a pencil dot, or snipped corner, but a nail nick looks natural.

This leads to the lovely bit that convinces the audience all is fair. You ask the first spectator to put both envelopes behind his back and mix them. Ask him to deliberate carefully, decide on either of the envelopes, and bring one forward from behind his back. If the envelope he hands you is the marked envelope, then emphasize he had a free choice, that it is the one you will use. Tell him he can keep and open the other later, just to make sure that everything is straight.

If he brings forth the unmarked envelope, you place it aside, commenting he still has one you have not touched. That, of course, is Hobson's Choice — though the spectator seems to have options, you get the right envelope into play, no matter what.

Now, have the spectator open the envelope, removing the strip of newspaper within. Point out the piece of newspaper has two sides with completely different wording on the top line of each side. Ask the spectator to confirm this. When he does, tell him to settle on one side, emphasizing he has a free selection of either side. Once he's decided, have him read the top line of the side he's chosen in a loud voice. This is the clincher ... it seems the spectator has had complete freedom throughout the test.

After he reads the line, direct attention to your sealed prediction — the envelope you placed on view at the beginning of the effect. Now is the time to recap for dramatic effect: "Remember, before we started, I showed you a written prediction ... I was committed to what I wrote. I sealed it in an envelope I haven't touched it since. It's been over there in full view."

Pointing to each helper in turn, you continue: "Then I had you, and you, each tell me exactly where you wanted me to cul a piece of newspaper. I didn't touch the pieces." Focusing or the first helper, you say, "You mixed them up, and you told me which one you wanted to use. I even gave you a choice of which side of the paper you wanted ... you chose that too. Look at m> prediction!"

Pick up the envelope, then use the scissors to cut off the end. Open the cut end of the envelope to the side with the prediction matching what the spectator read. Then, squeeze the envelope so the other side is covered by the paper flap. You now remove the correct prediction — the other will be hidden, locked into the other side. Hold the prediction up so it stays in view. Flash the interior of the envelope to the audience, then crumple it and put it in your pocket. Because the spectators saw just one prediction in the envelope at the beginning of the routine, this procedure is entirely convincing.

Now, grasp the folded prediction by the upper left corner with your left hand. Use your right hand to unfold the paper downward, building suspense and impact as the audience sees the prediction revealed line-by-line. When the prediction is finally unfolded, you're holding the paper by diagonally opposite corners. Pause, then give the paper a hearty snap for your applause cue! The response should be highly enthusiastic.

Hand the prediction to the assisting spectator, as well as both small envelopes and the pieces of newspaper, then excuse your helper.

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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