First I want to wrap up on the discussion of the "coin in hand" or "liar/truth-teller" plot from the past two posts. As I said in my original post, this is far and away the least interesting way of demonstrating your ability to detect lies or read body language. This isn't my opinion, it's just scientific fact. It's the least amount of variables and the "truth" we're trying to establish (which hand holds a coin) could not be less personal or more arbitrary.
That's not to say that strong routines can't evolve from this premise, I think they can. I think the trick in my last post is very strong. Colin McLeod also has a version of this effect that I believe is called Perfect Prediction, as demonstrated in his Penguin lecture. His version makes it more than a 50/50 effect about the location of a coin. It's a way of predicting essentially anything. When I first played around with it I would email or text the picture below to a friend and before they would look at it I would perform the trick where they would "freely" end up thinking about Oprah skateboarding in front of the leaning tower of Pisa and yelling "Fiddlesticks." Then they would open the text or email to see that it was predicted beforehand. Just as a "proof of concept," the effect worked very well and I've since come up with a couple other variations on his trick that are even stronger for my purposes. So if you're interested in this plot, check out his version. To be completely upfront, his effect uses Hugo Shelley's Sixth Sense gimmick which is $300 (and sold out in most places) so that's probably a consideration. Although it does allow you to do this clever joke, "Which hand is the coin in? Not mine. Because I spent all my money on the Sixth Sense gimmick." Which is a gag laymen will love.
I think the only good impromptu version of this effect -- the only one that doesn't feel like you're reading a page from MindWare - Perplexors: Level A - 48 Logic Puzzles - Great for Helping With Standardized Tests - Challenging and Rewarding - For Grades 3-4 -- is Tequila Hustler by Mark Elsdon. It's the least clunky and you can do it with a number of people at the same time. I would recommend not asking yes or no questions as I mentioned in last Thursday's post. Just let people make statements in accordance with their roles. I think this causes less fuck-ups and it's more interesting for those watching to see if they can determine who's lying and who isn't when they're talking in full sentences, not just saying "yes" or "no."
And finally, I think you really do have to mention why you're trying to figure out something so dull in this effect. The two ways I would go about it is to say that discerning lies is easier the more emotionally significant the subject matter is, so I'm going to challenge myself by trying to figure out who's lying about the most inconsequential things possible: what hand is holding a coin. Or you could use the coin effect as something of a "baseline" reading before transitioning into a subject that is more interesting/relevant. This is similar to the way in which at the beginning of a lie detector test they'll ask you what your name is and to verify the day of the week. These questions establish your responses in low-stress situations. You could do something like, "Is the coin in your right hand? Okay. Have you cheated on your wife?"
I'm still not quite sure what the posting schedule will be like here for the beginning part of this year. This isn't just me being lazy, I just have to prioritize the writing work I'm involved in which includes these projects:
- Any freelance work I'm being paid for.
- Writing the Jerx book that comes out later this year.
- Writing X-Communication, the monthly review newsletter that goes out to the people who pre-ordered the book during the initial donation period (and those who do a monthly donation via paypal).
- Re-writing Amateur at the Kitchen Table, a long essay that will eventually be a small booklet that covers all the aspects of performing in casual/non-professional situations. This will also be going to the people who ordered The Jerx book in the initial donation period and will be available separately as well.
- Then writing posts for this site.
I'm going to try and keep the posting here pretty regular (at least a few times a week), but just letting you know the other things I have on my plate.
My friend and frequent creative collaborator, Stasia Burrington, painted this amazing Ouija board for me.
It features a death's-head hawkmoth and black hellebore flowers. Stasia is a great person to collaborate with because, while she has her own distinct style, she's fully capable of -- and happy to -- create things in other styles as well. And I'm pretty thrilled to say that she will be doing the illustrations for The Jerx Book.
Check out some more of her work below...