lecture17 marucci

Like the weather, the KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid) is something that everyone talks about but nobody does anything about it.

More times than I care to remember have I seen someone -- usually, someone who should know better -- expound on the importance of keeping the working simple so that you can concentrate on the entertainment value, and then go ahead with an incredibly complicated routine, full of many moves that are thrown in simply because the magician can do them.

The whole point of my work over the years has been to come up with the most entertainment in the simplest way.  Trouble is, there are people out there who won't look at a routine unless it's got a sleeve vanish, a triple lift, a six-coin back palm, and at least two perfect faro shuffles.  Well, that's their loss.

The following is a routine that does not have one single sleight, other than a false cut or false shuffle -- and you don't even have to do that if you'd rather not!

But STOP!  Just because there are no hard moves doesn't mean you don't have to work at the presentation. In this routine, presentation is everything; and, if you don't have that, you don't have anything.

It's called (for no other reason than to get your attention):


Effect:  The magician shows a book on King Tutankhamen (or on Egyptology, or the Pyramids) and talks briefly about the fear, in the 1920s when Tut's tomb was opened, that it might have been cursed.

"That, of course, has never been proven," the magician says, "but, then, it has never been disproven, either.  In fact, some people believe that even the name of the Pharaoh can carry a curse, since the ancient Egyptians believed that a person's name was one of the keys to immortality."

The magician suggests an experiment be tried and takes out a deck of cards which he (false) shuffles or (false) cuts and hands to a spectator, along with the book.

"The Egyptians also believed that numbers had great power.  I would like you (the spectator) to count off any number of cards from the deck into a pile on the table."

When she has done so, you continue: "Now, please take the pile - containing a number of cards that was unknown to either of us just a few minutes earlier - and deals two piles of cards on the table, one representing this life and the other representing the afterlife."

The spectator picks up the number of cards which she decided on, and dealt on the table, and deals that stack into two piles.

The magician recaps that the spectator has had the cards in her hand, she freely selected a number, counted the cards and then separated them into two piles.  She is then asked to turn over the top two cards; let's assume they are an 8 and a 2.

The magician then asks her to turn to page 82 in the book, where she finds the words: "Beware the curse of the mummy's tomb," handwritten on that page -- and there is nothing else handwritten in the book.

The audience then falls down and worships the magician (he can hope).

Working and Presentation:  You'll need a book on Egypt (I use a pocket book I picked up some years back when the King Tut exhibition was touring North America), a deck of cards and a felt-tip pen.

Open the book to a double-number page where the numbers are different (i.e. page 82).  On that page, write with the pen, "Beware the curse of the mummy's tomb," in a shaky hand.  Then set up the deck of cards so an 8 and a 2 are on the top.

Proceed as above until you take out the cards.  if you can do it well, do a false shuffle or a couple of false cuts, keeping the 8 and 2 on top.  If you can't do this well, skip it; better to not fiddle with the deck than have the audience suspect you are up to something as you fumble a false cut.

Give the deck to the spectator and ask her to count off any number of cards.  The first two cards down will be the 8 and the 2. When she is finished, ask her to deal her chosen number of cards into two piles. This will put the 8 on top of one pile and the 2 on top of the other. The last card dealt will be the top card on the original deck, so you'll know which pile has the 8 on top and which has the 2.

Point to the pile with the 8 and ask her to turn over the top card.  Then ask her to turn over the top card on the other pile (the 2).  By pointing to the pile with the 8, you have made it the first digit in the number, thus you have controlled the number as 82 and not 28.

Ask her to turn to the book and to page 82.  There she will find the message.  Ask her to examine the rest of the book, to make sure that is the only message that her freely chosen number led her to.

Take your bow.

Second Thoughts:  This, of course, can be done with three cards and a bigger book; it just means you have to be a little bit more careful in making sure the number you want is formed after three piles have been dealt. Remember, the last three cards (the force cards) will be dealt onto their piles in the reverse order that they were on top of the deck.

The force is an old one and has been much used in various forms.  I like it because of the scope it gives the performer.

For example, you can use a book on Tarot cards to force a page that gives a specific reading or message.

Use a book on Houdini, with the force page saying something like, "I will be back."

Use a book on vampires, to force the message "Dracula lives!"

The point here is that the uses this very, very simple thing can be put to are almost endless, from children's books for kids' shows to whatever you dare use for adult shows.  And it is absolutely easy to do -- provided you give it the best dressing and presentation possible.

It is the kind of thing that can be routined exclusively for you: A book on chemistry, on computers, on cooking, on welding; no matter who you are or what you do, you can personalize a routine using this force.

And that's what puts a good performer ahead of a mediocre one: A unique and individual style.

Peter Marucci.


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All the material in this lecture is copyrighted with all rights reserved to Peter Marucci, 2002.