To do this effectively, it's best if you have the Total Recall apparatus and a working knowledge of the gimmick and the basic moves. It's the prop I use; to my mind, it's the finest of the gimmicked calculators. However, there are others available that, slightly adapted, may work equally well with my routine. I'll cover those options too, and make some comments about alternative calculators.
The concept of using the memory capabilities of a calculator to retain a number initially appeared in the early 1970s. Since then, there have been so many variants I've lost track of them. Many of the earliest worked by swapping the "equals" button for the "memory" button.
John Cornelius's Total Recall works essentially the same way: In his version, the "add into memory" (M+) button is switched with the "equals" ( = ) button. Thus, after the calculator is turned on, and a spectator multiplies a two-digit number by another two-digit number, when he hits the equals button, the product is really stored in the memory. A push of the "clear" button appears to clear the calculator, but the entered total is retained in memory when the calculator is turned off. The calculator also performs a cumulative total of the same set of operations done by a second spectator, adding them to the first set. The clever idea behind John's gaffed calculator is this: It has two pressure points in the flapped case. When you push on the pressure points, they push the necessary buttons on the calculator. By pressing on these points in sequence as you handle the closed case, they turn on the calculator, then bring back the final total to the display. When you open the case, you can glimpse it secretly.
John's gaff is a great idea. However, there are two options you can explore if Total Recall is off the market, or you'd prefer to use another device. Other calculators store operations in memory after they are turned off. You'll have to search for an adaptable calculator that won't look suspicious when altered.
The primary attribute you need to look for is this: There should be no indication on the display that anything is retained in memory. Some calculators show a large "M" or other symbol to the left of the display when memory is functioning. Others don't.
Additionally, the memory function keys must be the identical size as the operation keys. Also, the operation keys should be next to, or quite near the memory function keys: Remember, the "X" key must actually work; you can't have the "=" oddly stuck in the row of memory function keys; and the location of the "M+" key shouldn't seem out of place where you put it.
Once you locate a calculator that is suitable, all you have to do is open the case and switch the two buttons — the buttons aren't glued in, they usually fit loosely in grooves. Even without the special cover, you can still do the routine: Just hold the calculator face-down and hit the buttons while talking.
If you can't find a calculator that stores results in memory after turning it off, you work it this way: Don't have the spectator turn the unit off after multiplying. Just ask him to clear it. You hit the memory recall ("MR") button as you talk. In the course of handing it to the second person, you sight the number, then hit clear. It takes only a second. After the second person multiplies his numbers, then clears the unit, you take it back. Get the number by hitting the "MR" button while shutting off the calculator.
Frankly, I've practiced covering the button-pushing and know it works. Occasionally the Cornelius prop doesn't function as it should ... I'll press the points on the case, open it and ... nothing! When this happens, all I do is casually punch the required buttons while chatting about making sure the calculator is cleared. Despite that flaw, I believe the calculator John made his Total Recall from is the top ready-made unit on the market. Getting it will certainly save you time.
You only need the calculator, a small pad of paper, and a pen to work my routine. Nothing else. I use a three-inch-by-three-inch pad, the one with which I do my Surrounded Slow-Motion Center Tear, Millennium Tear, and many other effects. I always have this pad with me.
Begin by bringing out the calculator, pad of paper, and a pen. Ask for the loan of an onlooker's business card. If no one has one, use your own. Place the card beneath the flap of the inside cover of the calculator, then turn on the unit by openly pressing the red "clear" button, which is also the "on" button for the Total Recall unit.
Hand the calculator to a spectator and ask him to punch in a two-digit number. Before he begins, suggest this number should mean something to him. Continue, saying, "Perhaps it could be part of your telephone number or a few digits of your Social Security Number."
Next, instruct him to hit the multiply sign, then enter another two-digit number important to him. You then instruct him to hit the equals sign and remember the total. Now, ask him if he needs to write it down, or if he feels he can memorize the total. If he wants to record it, tear off a sheet from the pad, turning away so you won't be accused of peeking.
Finally, instruct the helper to hit the red "clear" button, then turn the unit off. (The total of his calculation is now stored secretly in the memory.) Have the spectator close the flapped case and take back the calculator.
Now say, "You may be wondering why I go through all this trouble just to get a number. That's because when I ask someone to think of a number, then I get it, everyone always says, 'It's psychological!' They always say that... even if it's the most obscure number in the world! Now the number you just got... that's a random number ... you probably didn't even know exactly what the result would be until you hit that 'equals' button."
Turn to a second onlooker. As you're explaining he will go through the same actions as the first spectator, you press on the two points of the case that turn on the calculator. This recalls the stored information to the display. It's easy: You have only one business card under the flap; the actions are perfectly natural. You open the flapped case so only you can see inside ... there's the first spectator's total on the display. Remember it! Then push the red "clear" button as you apparently turn on the unit, actually clearing the total again. It looks exactly as when you originally turned on the calculator, but the first spectator's total is gone, hidden in memory. Just be sure you are the only one who can see the display when you open the case.
Hand the calculator to the second spectator, repeating the instructions about the two-digit numbers you gave the first spectator. As the second spectator begins punching in his numbers, you appear to suddenly catch a thought. Pick up the pad, rapidly jotting the first spectator's number in large numerals slightly above the center of the pad. Don't let anyone see what you are writing.
There are two reasons you do this: It's easy to forget the number if you don't record it quickly! Under the duress of giving a powerful presentation, particularly if you are doing this routine repeatedly, you can forget the number. Take my advice, and avoid disaster. Write the number down. The second reason I'll get to later, when you'll learn how to turn this memory aid into a wonderful piece of business that strengthens the impression you really can read minds.
This segment of the routine can be amusing if you appear to get an urgent thought from nowhere ... an impression you must write down. Don't explain or show what you are writing. Present it as if this sort of thing occurs to you routinely ... you will explain later. Put the pad face-down on the table, or in your pocket if you are standing.
After the second spectator has cleared the calculator and turned it off, take it back in closed position. Remind the audience you borrowed a business card. Tell them you'll write something on the card before you go further.
As you are talking, again press on the two points of the case, which turns the unit on and brings the total of both spectators' numbers onto the display. Open the calculator, spot the total, then hit the "off" button as you remove the business card. Though these actions seem like many, if you have Total Recall you'll discover the moves happen so rapidly you'll be able to see the number as you lift the flap, hit the "off" button instantly with your left thumb, then remove the card swiftly and naturally. Just give the series of moves some practice so you don't fumble.
Immediately write the total on the rear of the card without showing it to anyone. Place it writing-side down on a third spectator's hand, asking him to guard the card, and cautioning him not to look at it or show it to anyone. Explain you will get back to the card shortly.
You say, "O.K., we now have two people, each of whom has a number. Bob over there doesn't know Jim's number, and Jim doesn't know Bob's. Both of you concentrate on your final number." Pick up the pen and pad and lightly jot the final total — the one you've just written on the business card — above the first spectator's number. Make this notation as light and as small as possible. As you write this number, you "mentally receive" the first digit of the first spectator's total, revealing it
While asking the helpers to concentrate again and transmit their thoughts, subtract the first spectator's number from the lightly written total to get the second spectator's number. As you do the calculation, write the second spectator's result on the pad in numerals the same size of your original notation, making it seem as if you're noting additional thoughts. Also, as you do this calculation, "receive" the second digit of the first spectator's total, then suddenly "get" the first digit of the second spectator's number.
Now comes an impressive bit of business! While ingenious methods are valuable, mentalism is primarily presentation. Here's a "side effect" I do during the routine to heighten the impression I actually do read minds. For sake of explanation, we'll assume the second spectator's total is 1014. You've just revealed the first two digits of the first spectator's total. You begin to reveal the second spectator's total by making your revelation of the first digit correctly, the "one." However, you now stop cold, and say, "Earlier, while you were still deciding on your numbers, I had the strong impulse to write down a zero and a one." Tap the pad, but don't let them view the figures yet. Ask the second spectator if the next two numbers in his total are "zero and one." He'll be flabbergasted you're right. The perception of what you've done is this: When you suddenly "caught that thought," picked up the pad, then jotted the number on the pad, as he was still punching in numbers, you wrote his number on the pad! Yes, it's the old One-Ahead, but you don't do it with anything more than the audience's minds!
Pick up the pace now by rapidly going to-and-fro between the spectators until you've "received" all the digits in each of their totals.
Since it seems impossible you could possibly know either of the numbers, the effect is phenomenal. At one point, as you're "getting the thoughts," appear to make a mistake, crossing it out. However, what you really mark over is the total you wrote in small light numbers. You're now rid of the evidence of the calculation you used to derive the second spectator's number. This leaves you with only the two spectators' original totals on the pad.
Show the pad, displaying the fact that you've written the spectators' two numbers! Tear off the top sheet. The effect seems over. It's not!
Still holding the pad and pen, you ask the first spectator if he remembers his original pair of two-digit numbers. Sometimes, because of the nature of the totals you are working with, you can make educated guesses what the two numbers the spectator originally chose could be. For instance, when I did this routine a week ago, my guesses were correct about a half-dozen times, and shattered the spectators. It's difficult to explain precisely how to do this, but if you've strongly suggested the spectators use numbers that are their age, or part of their birthday, you can take a shot at guessing a digit or two!
When he tells you, openly jot down the two sets of numbers, then multiply them out longhand on the pad, saying, "Just like we all used to do in grammar school!" Do the same for the second helper.
Here, I do a "nervy" bit. The faint of heart among my readers may disbelieve me, but I assure you this is exactly what I do: I talk about the manner in which the two numbers were formed and how I could not possibly know any of the personal factors involved in their formulation. After that, I explain I want to show them these are the genuine products for the numbers they chose — the results are the identical numbers I "received" mentally. I then add, "I wanted you to know I don't have some kind of sneaky calculator that spits out my numbers!" Now, I can guess what you're thinking as you read this, but believe me, it plays beautifully. It also deflects "heat" from the calculator perfectly: If there are "smart ones" in the crowd, this destroys what they may be thinking. You're canceling any avenue to the method by hinting at a possible solution, then proving it wrong.
Besides eliminating suspicion of the calculator, there is another major reason for this: You are going to stun them with a kicker that leaves them speechless! You now say, "Do yoi feel I influenced you in any way when you chose you numbers?" They'll have to say, "No."
Pick up the pad and display the numbers. Now say "I can make one more random number. I can add both of your final numbers together." Openly add the two numbers as you reinforce the arbitrary way these numbers were derived. When you have the sum of the two numbers written on the pad, you continue: "O.K., the total of both of your numbers is 2796. Remember ... I just showed you your numbers are the real numbers based on the original numbers you chose. Any change in your 32, or your 56, or your 78, or your 13 would have changed that final number!" Remind the group you began by borrowing a business card. Emphasize it was held in full view by a spectator, face-down, "all this time." Put the face-up pad on the table as you say, "Before I did anything I wrote something on the back of that business card." Direct attention to the person holding the business card as you say, "Would you turn it over?" By now, several spectators may suspect what's coming. It doesn't matter. When the card is turned over, they see you predicted the total in advance! The suspense whether you'll be correct, followed by the confirmation you are right, is an awesome ending.
By the time you get to the concluding revelation, the audience members will have forgotten precisely when you made your prediction on the business card. The interval between your revelation of the numbers, the business of proving their numbers are the true products of the calculations, combined with the fact you borrowed the business card at the beginning of the routine, puts such a time lapse between writing on the card and the last revelation, nothing is ever questioned.
The climax is so effective thanks to this: Though you initially seem to use telepathy to "receive" their numbers, there is no explanation how you could have predicted the total before you began. Viewers reflecting back on the routine will be even more baffled!
Since this is the last routine I usually do in a show, I finish it by looking around the crowd, then exclaiming, "What a headache I have!" That gets a big laugh. I thank them and take my leave.
Was this article helpful?
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.