By Samuel Patrick Smith
This routine is for David Garrard's wonderful effect, Sketch-O-Magic.
Children's entertainers face the constant challenge of keeping adults happy while delighting the children they were hired to amuse. Children can be entertained on two levels. (1) Kids will laugh at things which adults consider "dumb." (2) Children will laugh at things which adults also find funny. It's up to us to increase the number of items in our repertoire falling into the second category and reduce those in the first.
Dr. Seuss was a tremendous success in this art. His books are filled with witty phrases and ingenious tongue-twisters. The Sleep Book is a good example and well worth reading. When you get it, find a child to read it to.
Veggie Tales are another great example of entertainment designed for children and their adults. These clever videos teach moral principles without apology, but the stories and messages are so obviously true and so ridiculously funny that all generations love them.
Besides humor which reaches all ages, magicians have the added advantage of mystification. If we can present a funny routine which completely fools the adults in the audience, we gain their respect. In this column, I'd like to share a routine for David Garrard's Sketch-O-Magic. In the past, I've avoided offering routines using products which I manufacture, but three things have prompted me to share this one. First, thousands of Sketch-O-Magics have been distributed since we introduced the trick in December of 1997. Second, the great reaction I get from kids and adults makes this a perfect routine for the theme of this month's column. And third, my Sketch-O-Magic routine has never appeared in print. This trick is available from Hank Lee, Tannen's, Stevens Magic Emporium, and many other dealers.
Effect: The magician shows an artist's sketch pad filled with funny pictures of faces. Each picture is cut into thirds, so you can change the mouth, nose, or hair on each picture to get some interesting combinations. A prediction envelope is held in full sight of the audience, and three spectators create a piece of art from the segments in the sketch book. When the prediction is removed, it matches the spectators' creation exactly.
Method: I wouldn't normally reveal the method of a commercial item, but since I'm the manufacturer of the effect, I feel free to do so. Besides, I don't see any harm in revealing the method in a magazine published for magicians. The sketch book is basically a large Svengali deck. Every other page is the prediction picture, and those pages are cut a little short. When you flip from the front to the back, all of the long pages show up and reveal different pictures. But when you flip from the back to the front, you'll always land on a short page (that is, the prediction picture). This is extremely simple, but I believe this completely fools the adults in the audience. The kids are entertained by the pictures and the funny combinations.
Presentation: "In addition to being a magician, I am also an artist. I know I've always had artistic ability because my brother says when I was a baby, I used to sit on the porch and draw flies. Today, I brought along my sketch book which my grandmother gave me when I was a child. Before I show you the pictures, though, I need a reliable person who can hold on to a valuable document for me." I select a volunteer and hand him the envelope containing the prediction picture.
I open the sketch book to the first picture and say to the volunteer, "Larry, when I got this sketch book I started drawing pictures of my relatives. Right here is my uncle, Alfred Dolittle Smith -- there were quite a few Dolittles in the family. But I realized that people have different tastes. For instance, you may like a different kind of food than I like, or you may like to read different kinds of books than I read. For instance, my wife likes to read biographies, which are stories about famous people, whereas I like to read autobiographies, which are stories about famous cars.
"People just have different tastes. So I've cut every picture in this book into three different segments, so if you don't like the smile on this picture, you can flip to another page and give him a completely different look." I turn to a different kind of smile and show the audience. Then I keep flipping through the pages, stopping at different mouths.
"Here's a picture of someone who saw my show just last week." I stop on a picture of a scowl. Then I flip on a page or two to land on a smile.
Moving on to the middle section of the sketch book, I say, "And if you don't like this, you can pick a different..." I pause while people mentally fill in the word "nose," then realizing my error, I revert.
"You can SELECT a different nose." I flip through some of the noses, showing the funny combinations.
"Here's a picture of the same guy who saw my show!" I land on a confused looking set of eyes.
Moving on to the hair, I say, "And if you don't like the hair style, you can change it to this." I land on a picture of thick, dark hair. In magic groups I say, "David Ginn, ladies and gentlemen, David Ginn!" Actually, at kid-shows in Georgia you could probably also use that line!
"Some of these we won't go into any length on, if you know what I mean," I say, landing on a bald head.
Then, flipping on through the hair styles, I say, "We could select any one of these. But today, Larry, we are going to let three people from the audience select three different segments from the book to create an original piece of artwork."
I look around the audience and select people from three different areas, one at a time. "The gentleman in the back there, with the blue shirt. Would you stand up, please? We'll let you select the smile. Just tell me when to stop." I begin flipping through the book until he says to stop.
"Are you sure? Right there? Fine. [Looking at the selection.] He has selected a very nice smile. Let's give Artist Number One a big round of applause!" The volunteer takes his seat, while I turn to a different part of the audience.
"Yes...the young lady right over here. Would you mind helping me? Thank you. Just stand up right where you are. We'll let you select the eyes and nose." I flip through the book, holding it in my left hand and flipping with my right so no one sees which picture is selected until I stop. Of course if you showed them, all of the pictures would be the same as you flip from back to front! When the volunteer says to stop, I quit flipping and reveal the "selection."
"And there it is...she has selected the lovely blue eyes. Let's give Artist Number Two a big hand!" She takes her seat to applause.
"And finally," I say, looking around for the last volunteer and finding someone on the front row, "How about you? You look like a person of good taste. We'll let you select the hair style."
Now I go right down to her and hold the sketch book in my right hand, with my thumb about midway on the top section. "Here...you flip through the book and stop wherever you'd like." She reaches for the top section and flips, but since I'm holding the book at the middle of that section, she can flip but cannot see the various pages.
She stops and I say, "Is that where you want to stop? Fine. Now look, she has selected the very elegant and tasteful...propeller beanie!" I show the final selection to the audience, which gets a big laugh.
Back on stage and addressing the volunteer with the prediction envelope, I say, "Larry, you've been holding this envelope the whole time. No one has slipped anything into the envelope, and you haven't taken anything out, is that correct?"
To the audience, "This is a big moment in American art, and in Larry's stage career. Let's give him a drum roll while he opens the envelope and removes whatever is inside." The audience gives a drum roll by patting their knees with their hands, while the volunteer removes the picture and shows the audience. After a moment, I take the picture from the volunteer and hold it up beside the sketch book and say, "It's a perfect match!"
As the applause for the trick begins to fade, I say, "Let's our three artists a big round of applause!" The applause picks back up, and I extend it by gesturing to each volunteer, "Artist Number One...Artist Number Two...and Artist Number Three!" Applause begins to fade, but I say, "And let's give Larry a nice hand for the good work he did."
The applause picks back up, and as Larry returns to his seat, I sometimes remark, "Larry, someday pictures of people in my family will be worth a lot of money -- in some states, they already are -- but I'd like you to have this picture as a souvenir of the show. Be sure to have it properly framed and matted!"
And there you have a routine which will interest and entertain both kids and adults, and will completely baffle everyone.