I have performed this routine in virtually every type of kid-show—birthday parties, libraries, school assemblies, and outdoor shows—for the past 15 years. Since it incorporates sportswear, Headband Blendo seems especially suited to outdoor shows.
Although I published a version of Headband Blendo in Big Laughs for Little People (1990), it has evolved during the past eight years into a tighter, better routine.
Five colorful headbands blend into a giant multi-colored loop in the hands of a spectator.
(1) Five separate headbands, each of a different color.
(2) Five headbands cut in half and sewn into a giant loop. The colors should match the five separate headbands. Get quality headbands from a sporting good store, rather than the cheaper, thinner grade usually carried by discount department stores.
(3) Tennis ball can with the bottom cut out. The oldmetal cans are best. Perhaps you have one around the house or can pick one up at a yard sale. If not, the plastic cans now in use can be adapted. Paint the interior and cut off the bottom with a band saw. Another alternative is to use a Pringles can.
(4) Two thick rubber bands
(5) Spring snake
(6) Giant pair of scissors
Bundle the headband loop so that it looks like five spearte headband stacked on top of each other. To do this, hold the loop up so one of the headbands, say red, is on top. The center of the headband is at the top of the loop. Line up the two cut ends of this headband, then fold that color over against the next headband. Line up the cut ends of that headband, and now fold the two headbands over to the next one. Continue working your way around until you have a bundle of headbands. One end will have five separate colors, and the other end will be solid. (Thanks to Mark Daniel for this method of folding the headbands. A great improvement, I think, since the headbands appear completely separate when you're holding the bundle and concealing the solid end.) Hold the bundle together with one of the rubber bands.
With the giant loop now bundled up to look like a stack of five separate headbands, stuff it tightly into the can. If you need to, even fold it in half to make sure it's very tightly lodged in the can. On top of the gimmicked bundle, insert the spring snake, then snap on the lid of the tennis ball can to keep the snake inside.
Place the prepared tennis ball can on your table, along with the five separate headbands, banded together with the other rubber band.
Invite a child from the audience, preferably a boy about eight years old. If you choose to perform the routine as I do, it's best to have a boy who does not have a crew cut or very short hair. Also, for this particular routine, I look for a boy who looks fairly confident and outgoing.
I position the boy on my right. "Hi, there! Welcome to the stage! What is your name? Wesley? That's correct! [Laughter.] Wait a minute. Did you say Wesley? You know what? You look very familiar. [Pause. A look of recognition comes over my face.] You look exactly like a boy who used to pick on me when I was in school, and his name was Wesley, too!"
What grade are you in? Third grade? So was this kid! [Under my breath.] Probably still is!
I grab his arm and pull him toward me and say, "Are you the same kid?" He usually says, "No! It wasn't me!"
I let go of his arm and say, "No, I guess you couldn't be the same kid. Besides, Wesley, I wouldn't be mad at you after all these years.
"But when I was in school, this boy named Wesley used to pick on me and call me names because I was such a skinny little kid. He used to call me Toothpick! One day I went home crying to my mother, 'This boy at school is calling me Toothpick!' She put her arm around me and said, 'Woody... [Pause for laughs from adults.] Don't worry about. I'm going to buy you some athletic headbands.' And she went to the store and bought me some headbands so I'd look like an athlete instead of a skinny little kid."
By now I've picked up a red headband and am positioning it over my head as though I'm going to put it on. "And do you know what? When I started wearing these headbands, he never called me toothpick again. He called me matchstick! Thermometer Head! Remember those days, Wesley? Hmmm?
"Well, let me just show you how I used to wear these. Stand straight up, shoulders back, chin down chest up, stomach in, and...relax." At this point, I put the headband on the child's head, just far enough down so it will stay a few seconds before contracting and popping off of his head. If you're concerned about problems with head lice, don't do this! I can only say that I have personally never had any problems with this, and it is a very funny sight as the headband slowly rises up and makes the boy's hair stick straight up. Sometimes, depending on the length and texture of his hair, the headband will spring off and shoot up into the air. Other times, it slowly rises. I watch it out the corner of my eye, so the audience thinks I'm not aware of it. I let them inform me that the headband is not staying on the boy's head!
"That headband is too small! Sorry about that, Wesley! Here, let's try the green one. I'm sure this will fit." Then I put on another one in the same fashion so it ends up springing off of his head. As the headband is rising and the kids are laughing, I reach into my prop case with my left hand and remove the giant pair of scissors, hiding them behind my back. The kids are too busy shouting and laughing about the headband coming off to pay any attention to what I'm doing.
When I finally see that the headband has come off, I say, "You know what the problem is, Wesley? Too much hair!" And I bring around the pair of giant plastic scissors! This usually gets a funny reaction from the boy and a good laugh from the audience.
Then I say, reassuringly, "Don't worry, Wesley. I wouldn't cut your hair. Although last week I accidentally cut off a boy's ear!" The audience laughs in disbelief. I turn to toss the scissors back into my prop case and say offhandedly, "But I don't think he even heard me."
"Really, Wesley, the problem is that these headbands are too small! And these others -- the yellow headband, white headband, purple headband -- are also too small. So let's try a little teamwork. We'll stack all of the headbands together and see what we can do with magic. We'll hold them together with this rubber band, and then we'll wrap them up in a piece of newspaper." I look around for a newspaper a few seconds but don't see one.
"Well, I don't see a newspaper. Tell you what, let's put the headbands inside this can of tennis balls. First, we'll take out the balls." I remove the lid and the snake shoots out. I don't aim the snake at the spectators -- I want it back! I just let it spring straight up into the air. I act frightened, grab the snake and throw it ruthlessly into my prop case. Don't leave any of the snake hanging out of the case. Otherwise, later in the show, a five-year-old may call out, "The snake's moving!" and your show will be over! If it's out of sight, it won't cause any further discussion later in the show.
Of course, the boy usually jumps when the snake shoots out of the can. I say, "Sorry about that, Wesley! Now, we'll just put those headbands into the can for safekeeping. Nobody will be able to get to the headbands." Saying this, I stuff the bundle into the can, which pushes out the giant loop secretly lodged inside the can. The giant loop falls to the floor. It appears that you have pushed the headbands into the can, but they've gone right through a hole in the bottom.
Pretending not to notice the headbands on the floor, I turn to my prop case and say, "We'll put the headbands backstage." The can goes out of sight for a few seconds as I secretly pull the separate headbands out of the can and leave them in the case. The kids, of course, will be pointing and shouting about the ones on the floor.
With the can (now empty) still in my hands, I turn back from the prop case and see what the kids are shouting about -- the headbands are on the floor! With surprise, I say, "What? I just...I thought...Did you?..." And I remove the lid and look straight through the can, showing it empty with no top of bottom.
"Wesley! We can't put the headbands in this can! We'll just have to let you hold on to them with your bare hands. [I toss the can to my prop case.] Do you have bare [bear] hands? They look like people hands, but they'll do. Here, hold on to the headbands." I remove the rubber band and let the boy hold the bundle so the five separate pieces are toward the audience. It appears that he is holding five headbands.
"Now everybody help. Reach into the air and grab and handful of woofle dust, and toss it up here. We'll say the magic words, Please and Thank You, and let's see what happens. We'll look at the blue headband first. If the blue one fits, we'll know we're making progress!" I pull out one of the headband sections which opens up the bundle and reveals the giant multi-colored loop. The kids react with surprise.
"I think it will fit! And if Wesley ever takes a trip to Hawaii, this will look great when he gets off the plane!" So saying, I drape the loop over his head so it rests on his shoulders, and then lead the audience in a big round of applause for Wesley the Magician.
—Samuel Patrick Smith