The Impromptu Toolkit

"Point to any tree in the backyard," I said to my friend.

She pointed to the one in the back corner of the yard and we walked out to it. I plucked a leaf from the tree and then tore a little chunk out of it and gave her the leaf to hold. Then I massaged the piece of leaf into the palm of my left hand, where it disappeared (or was "absorbed into my flesh"). I made a motion as if I was sliding the piece of leaf (now under my skin) up my arm, across my chest, and up my neck. Then I coughed a little and pushed the piece of leaf out of my mouth. She gasped. I bit the piece between my teeth and stuck my head out for her to take it. She did and matched it up with the leaf in her hand. A perfect fit.

The Impromptu Toolkit

First, a note on terminology. I've argued that in magic advertising, the world "impromptu" has—or should have—a specific meaning. In the same way the FDA has determined what the word "light" means when applied to a products label. 

In this case, I'm not defining a particular trick, but a stable of techniques and I'm using impromptu in the non-magic sense of, "suddenly or hastily prepared." These are things I find helpful to have in my head in order to create magic on the fly. Some of the effects I generate require a bit of a set-up, including the one mentioned above. To be a technique included in the toolkit it has to lead to effects that can be done completely spontaneously or with a set-up that can be done without any special tools while someone is taking a shit. 

I've mentioned a few of these techniques before (they're listed at the bottom of this post), but I thought I would officially start compiling the toolkit for anyone else who might be interested.

Today's effect/technique is Angle Z by Daniel Madison. I can't go into the details of the handling here, and you may think $30 is too expensive for a download, but for me it has been completely worth it. I may bust Daniel Madison's balls for the fake gambler stuff, but he's a super talented magician and this is a simple but very useful method. In fact, I think magicians may tend to think it's too simple. It's not the type of thing that holds up to multiple viewings on line or something like that, but in the real world—when the spectator doesn't know what's coming—it fools people completely.

I can't remember if Daniel mentions any non-card uses in his download but I actually almost never use it with playing cards. I just transfer the same method to whatever objects are around me.

In the trick at the top, there were four areas of trees in the backyard with leaves that were within reach. I set up a leaf on each tree and had each piece in a different pocket of my jeans. She pointed to one area which I interpreted as being the tree I had set-up. We walked out there and as we did I put the piece in my mouth without her seeing. The only problem was finding the correct leaf again. That was harder than I expected. I took a few extra seconds looking for "the perfect leaf" but that time was forgotten after the trick was concluded.

I've done Angle Z with a pocket-sized notebook. Flip it open and hold it for them while they sign the top page (holding it in a way that disguises the set-up). Pull the page out, tear a piece off, and have that piece go anywhere. 

At Chipotle recently they had a stack of business cards by the register. In the time it took for my friend to pay I set it up so the second card in the stack was ready to go and the piece was set-up to penetrate into my water bottle (i.e., jammed in the cap).

It's almost a habit now when I see business cards on display. Prep the card, put it back in the display second from the face. Then if I find an interesting place for the corner to end up, I can perform the trick. I don't always. In fact, most times I don't. But the nice thing is, very few people are taking the manager's business card at a Chipotle (or most places, for that matter). So I can come back weeks later and potentially be set-up to go into the trick. And now I've had time to get the corner in an even more impossible location. (For example, it might appear back at his apartment in place of the bookmark in the book on his nightstand.)

Keeping the prepped card second in the stack keeps it from being found immediately. And it looks like you're just grabbing the front, normal card of the stack. Your hand blocks where the card is coming from, and no one is paying too much attention at that point. (Unless you say, "Watch as I remove the front card from this stack of business cards.")

Late last night I was at a Denny's and I did it with the paper placemat. My friend went to the bathroom and I set the trick up so the corner would appear inside a plastic table display card holder thingamajig (I don't know what it's called -- one of these things) in the booth behind my friend. Then I set my soda glass on the prepared corner of the placemat. When my friend returned I waited a bit and offered to show him a trick. I ripped the corner off my placemat, placed it in my mouth and chewed it up. Removed the piece from my mouth (an extra little spitball I'd had there since he returned from the bathroom), put it in my straw, and shot it past his head into the booth behind him. I told him I'd knocked over the plastic display thing (I hadn't, it was already laying down), and when he went to put it back up he noticed the corner, now unchewed, in the display. I held up my placemat to show a perfect match.

Essentially you can do it with most anything you can rip, which is why it's so useful in the Impromptu Toolkit. The toolkit is different than just my impromptu repertoire. That is just a group of tricks, whereas things in the toolkit can be used to create effects on the fly. 

I will be adding to this series in the future. Here is the Impromptu Toolkit as it stands now, including the items I've mentioned in the past:

  • A peg memory system
  • the TOXIC force
  • Cryptext by Haim Goldenberg
  • Angle-Z by Daniel Madison