Seeing as how I'm trying to save some of my favorite unpublished routines for the book, I thought I would launch a new feature (which may never return) where I take a look at the other end of the spectrum. Tricks that never really came together in a way that I wanted them to. Perhaps there is something to be gained from my attempt, even if it came up short.
Listening to the podcasts mentioned in the post a couple of days ago, I was reminded of my attempt to come up with a gimmickless version of Cosmo Solano's International Pocket Change or Greg Wilson's Exact Change (depending on which side of the issue you fall). In this effect, the spectator names any number from 1 to 100 and that's the amount of change you have in your pocket. I liked the premise and I bought Greg's version. My issue with his version -- and I realize I'm risking a summons to the dojo for this criticism -- is that I felt the gimmick was a bit too large to ring in and out of play. Too large for me, that is. Greg handled it much more deftly in the instructions than I could.
So I came up with the following version that I did a few times and it worked fairly well for me. The reason I didn't continue performing it is because I could never come up with a particularly great presentation for it. And it required a modification to a piece of clothing, so it wasn't particularly practical. In truth, it's not really fair to call this gimmickless because that piece of clothing is gimmicked.
You need a hoodie that zips up the middle (so the pockets are two separate entities). You also need to modify this hoodie. Let me find a picture of the type of hoodie you might own so I can illustrate what you need to do.
Okay, what those red lines indicate are the locations of slits you make on the inside of each hoodie pocket. That is, you're not cutting the outside of the pocket at all (so everything looks normal from the outside) you're just cutting a slit on the fabric that is against your skin. Now, even though it's a hoodie with, apparently, two distinct pockets, you're able to hand things back and forth between the pockets. Notice that the slits don't go down all the way to the bottom of the pocket, that way you can still hold stuff in there without it falling through the slit and getting lodged in your belly button (that's a different effect).
Okay, so the set-up is that you have that hoodie on. You have a quarter in your left pant's pocket. Your right pant's pocket is empty. Your right hoodie pocket has 4 pennies in it. Your left hoodie pocket has four nickels in it. You hands are in your hoodie pockets with your fingers and thumb pinching the coins in a beveled spread in each pocket.
"I want to try a little thought experiment with you," you say. "I want you to imagine a store. And there are two unique things about the store. The first is that they have every item known to man in the store. And the second is that everything in the store costs less than a dollar. Which is perfect for me because I definitely don't have more than a dollar. So, for example, if I wanted... say... a 1986 Wrestlemania sweatshirt, I could find one on the rack and the price would be maybe 71 cents. Or I could buy a nuclear armament truck for 14 cents. Now I want you to imagine I walk into the store and I stop in front of one item. For the time being, don't tell me what the item is, just look at the price for this item and tell me how much it is."
If the number is between 1 and 50, that is your target number.
If the number is over 50, then subtract it from 100 and that new number is your target number. (So if they say, "80," your target number is 20.)
If the target number is under 25:
You pick up the coins that total that number from your hoodie pockets. (And I say "pick up" because picking up the coins you need is much quieter than dropping the ones you don't.) With minimal practice this can be done in one action, simultaneously, and in less than a second. Then you place the left-hand's coin into the right hand, through the slit in the hoodie and curl your fingers loosely around the change. Reach into your right pants pocket then pull out the change (that you just put in). Turn your pocket inside out to show that it's empty. Or have the person reach in to verify that it's empty
If the target number is between 25 and 50.
Subtract 25 from the target number then pick up the necessary coins from your hoodie pocket and feed the pennies from your right hand into your left hand through the slit. Then take your left hand and reach into your left-hand pant's pocket. Grab the quarter that is in there and remove all the change. Show that your pocket is otherwise empty.
Now, the script varies depending on whether the number they gave you was over 50 or under 50. The key line of dialogue that sets up this bifurcation in the script is when you say that the store is perfect for you because you, "definitely don't have more than a dollar." This sentence can be taken to mean, "I have a dollar, and no more than that," or, "I have some amount of money, I don't know what it is, but it's definitely not more than a dollar."
If their number is under 50:
"And what product are you looking at?" As they tell you this and you comment on it, you make the necessary change adjustment in your pockets. "A box of scented condoms? That's crazy. That's exactly what I'm planning on getting at the store later today. And how much did you say they were? 42 cents? That's right, that's exactly right. That's why I brought just that much with me today." And you remove the coins from your pocket. Or you can act like you're going to remove them, then "change your mind" (dropping off the coins) and have the spectator reach in to pull out the change.
If their number is over 50:
"And what product are you looking at?" As they tell you this and you comment on it, you make the necessary change adjustment in your pockets. "A denim jacket with Tweety Bird on the back? That's exactly what I got earlier today. I swear on my mother's life. How much did you say it was? 86 cents? Yes, that's exactly right. Remember I said I only had a dollar? I walked into the store with my dollar, I bought the jacket for 86 cents. And here is my change. Exactly 14 cents."
It's ultimately too much set-up for not enough trick. There are a couple of parts of the trick I do like. I like the way the hoodie is gimmicked and I expanded on it later with a little fabric tube coming out of the back of my right hoodie pocket and then going into my jeans pocket or even further down my pants and into my shoe or sock. So I could have a coin in my left hand, pretend to place it under a beer bottle on a bar (or something), and have it appear in the shoe on my right foot. I never really came up with a good use for this though. I also like doubling the amount of numbers I could cover with my "prediction" either by using the number they gave me or the change I received after buying an item that cost whatever number of cents they named. I'm sure that's been used before.
I think this particular presentation begs for something to be done with the item that they named. I'm currently learning about iphone app development and design because I'm making some apps for myself. If I was working on this trick today, the follow-up would be this. I'd say, "I know you think I'm fucking with you but I swear to god I'm not. That's exactly what I bought [or "am going to buy"] and that's exactly what it costs. Do you think it was a coincidence that was the change I had in my pocket? I hate that you don't believe me. It breaks my heart. What a betrayal. Oh... I know!" I'd say and reach in my pocket, remove my phone and tell him to go into Safari where he'd see that the last google search run was, "Where can I find cheap denim jackets with Tweety Bird on the back?"