Luke Jermay - Words

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© All copyright owned in its entirety by Luke Jermay - December 2006 No part of this publication may be stored, reproduced, copied or transmitted without the prior written consent from both the author and publisher. TV and live performance rights granted. Conflicting live performance rights reserved.

WORDS EFFECT: The performer asks his audience if anyone has ever worked in telemarketing, sales conducted over the telephone. The performer spots one such person and has them join him onstage. Removing a script from his pocket the performer explains: “Telephone sales much like psychic readings revolve around a predetermined script designed to influence the person on the other end of the phone. Whether the outcome happens to be the illusion of telling that person their future or that an item is the best investment they can make. I have designed my own script that has a very specific outcome intended.” The performer hands the script to the spectator who is asked to take a seat and to remove their cell phone. The performer ask they call someone they are certain will be in. The performer quips: “I would recommend your least interesting friend or a baby sitter” Continuing on the performer moves to the front of the stage and allows the spectator to read the script to whomever they happen to have called. While the spectator does this performer holds large boards up to the audience at large. Each board has a different sentence printed on it the face board informs the audience: “Each word is designed to influence” This board is dropped to the stage revealing another board explaining that: “The words we use can often say much more than we are actually saying” This board is dropped to the floor and the next board says: “My script is designed to influence a choice. The choice of a number, shape and a color” The onstage spectator finishes their conversation and hangs up the phone. During the course of this conversation the onstage spectator has asked their conversation partner to name a color, shape and number. The performer directs the spectator to remove an envelope from beneath their chair. Inside this envelope is a prediction detailing the color shape and number select via the telephone.

OPENING OBSERVATIONS: This is a routine that I have performed in both my corporate and theatrical performances for the past three years. It has served me well and I hope it will you too. I have been fascinated with the images of holding boards with writing on them to express and idea and or dialogue ever since I was child. I remember seeing the famous Bob Dylan music video for ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ in which he uses boards to deliver key messages to the viewer. This strong imagery stayed with me for many years. I eventually decided to use this inspiration to create a presentation for the classic invisible deck routine. This is still a sequence I use from time to time as it is very strong features a good hook and takes little room in my case. However in my full show this sequence is not included. This is due to a simple rule I have set myself – I limited card sequence in each performance to know more than one effect. My current opening routine using cards and hence I do not include the invisible deck sequence. I however loved the hook of using the boards and over time I worked out a replacement effect and method for the invisible deck routine in the form of a prediction sequence using a thumb writer and the cover provided by the boards themselves. This worked very well but the routine still was not complete. The final piece of the puzzle came with the addition of the “script” handed to a spectator to read via the telephone. Suddenly now the routine felt more complete. It had several layers of presentation that were both fresh and modern but more importantly interesting. The staging of the sequence provided many great “mental snap shots” for the audience to take with them long after the show has finished. After working the sequence in after several performances I made some tweaks here and there. Since that time the routine has been ever present in my performances for the past three years. I hope it might become an old friend to you too. I have broken down each part of this routine into separate sections. This allows you to read and understand each of the elements that combined create the finished product. These sections combined with the various points made in each section along with the routine over view should provide you with everything you need to put this routine to work very quickly.

PROPS NEEDED: In order to perform the effect you will need to collect the following items. 1) A thumb writer of your choice: I personally opt for the use of a listo lead thumb tip style writer when working onstage. This allows the marking made using the thumb tip too much darker than the pencil marking. I also carry a spare writer in my right jacket pocket at all times. I would recommend having a spare writer at hand whenever you make use of a thumb writer. 2) An envelope: I use a brown manila US catalogue envelope. You will need to cut a slit in the backside of the envelope, which will be used to load the prediction inside later in the routine. 3) Blank Paper: I use an index card sized pad of blank paper to record my predictions on. I would recommend adding your contact details on the paper, as it will be handed to your onstage spectator as a gift. 4) Paper Clips: You will make use a paper clip to create a “hold out” for the prediction billet which will be marked using the thumb writer later. 5) The Script: I have included the template of the script I make use of in my own performance for both the non-card version and the script for the invisible deck routine. Simply print these out and make use of them.

PREPARING THE PROPS: In order to use the props you have collected you will need to prepare them in the following manner. Begin by printing the script and placing it in your right jacket pocket along with a thumb writer. I fold the script and place the thumb writer itself inside of the folds of the script. Because I prefer to make use of a thumb tip style writer it allows me to simply apply pressure to the folds of the script which will “pop” the thumb tip upward and allow me to easily place the writer on my thumb. I have experimented with several other forms of stealing and placing the thumb tip style writer on my thumb however this simple method is highly effective and pretty much failsafe. I would highly recommend this over any kind of hold out device or thumb tip dropper. I for a while made use of a commercially available product designed to hold and deliver thumb tips to the performer upon demand. This product had a habit of failing at the worst possible moment and thus I switched to the simple and low-tech method of stealing the tip from the pocket along with the script. The script is folded as below with the tip resting between the sheets of the fold. Finally give the script a strong scoring with your thumbnail and the tip will rest in place throughout your performance ready for you when you need it.

PREPARING THE BOARDS: Next you will mount the printed ‘boards’ onto poster board or thick cardboard. On the final boards back in the upper right corner superglue a paper clip. This paper clip will become a hold out for the folded prediction used in the routine. This is I hope is clear in the illustration below. In the illustration below the prediction billet in its folded position is highlighted in red.

PREPARING THE PREDICTION: The final step is to prepare the prediction using a pencil that matches as closely as possible your thumb writer. I personally make use of a grease pencil style writer for stage performances. This allows me to use a marker pen to create the bulk of the prediction as the thick black grease marker matches very closely to a marker pen. The prediction should look something like the image on the following page.

Notice the use of tick boxes to allow a simple and quick way of marking a seemingly long word on the prediction. I frequently make use of this tick box concept and have included in the ‘bonus chapter’ a personal routine that makes use of the tick box idea along with some very easy to construct props that I am sure you will want to put into action during your own thumb writing routines. FOLDING THE PREDICTION BILLET: In order to produce a folded billet you will need to ensure your folding of the prediction leaves the blank spaces and the check mark box exposed. This is very much the same as you might do in a confabulation style routine. Begin by folding the prediction in thirds. Fold the top third over and under the printed text. This will leave the lower thirds of the text visible to you. Next fold over and under the lower third. This will leave the central portion of the prediction with the text facing outward. This allows you to access the areas left blank in the prediction with your thumb writer later in the routine. The image above is an example only. Feel free to play around with various script in your prediction.

PREPRING THE ENVELOPE: The prediction envelope requires a very simple adjustment to allow you to load the folded prediction from the outside and appear to remove it from within the envelope. I simply use a long slit one third of the way from the bottom seem of the envelope using a craft knife. I have over the year’s experimented with many other forms of loading the prediction into the envelope. Including the addition of envelopes within envelopes much like the classic nest of envelopes. I have however found that these additional envelopes and such make no difference to your audience perception of the effect. I would recommend the simple slit envelope above all other forms of introducing a prediction. I think the real strength is the perceived free handling. This casual handling having the spectator hand you the gimmicked envelope require your being able to direct and control your audience member. SET UP: Begin by placing the folded prediction billet with the side to be filled in facing out into the paper clip on the final board. I place these boards leaning against the chair the spectator will later sit on. Beneath this chair place the prediction envelope with the slit side stuck toward the chairs surface. Next place the thumb writer and script into your right hand pocket (I use my right hand pocket as I write with my right thumb – however switch this if you write with your left thumb.) One final precaution you must make before performing the routine is to check that the performance area has mobile/cell phone reception. Trust me I have learnt this one the hard way. The very last things I do are set my own phone to silent and place it inside my case onstage. I have this ready and waiting in case there is a problem with having spectators make a phone call on their own cell/mobile phone. I have again learnt this tip the hard way. Ignore these two points at your own risk. ROUTINE OVERVIEW: Begin by having a spectator joins you onstage. Hand them the script and ask they take a seat. As you reach into your right jacket pocket to remove the script and work your thumb writer into position ready to write. Hand the script to your spectator and have them take the seat. At this point instruct the spectator to call a friend they are certain will be at home at this moment. Tell them to

read the script to the person on the phone and remember their decisions as they progress through the wording At this point move to the right side of the stage and pick up your boards. Display each of the boards. Try to time out reaching the last (loaded with your prediction) board so the spectator is reading the final paragraph of your script. As soon as you reach the final board you will mark the correct information chosen by the spectator onto the held out billet as already detailed in the “marking the prediction” chapter. Reposition the board to your left hand and steal the folded marked billet into a finger palm position. Place the board on the floor and move toward the onstage spectator. Have them remove the envelope from beneath their seat and hand it to you. Be confident at this moment and the slit in the envelope will go unnoticed. Rip open the top of the envelope and position the billet still resting in a finger palm position beneath the envelope in line with the slit. Reach into the envelope with your right hand and reaching through the slit pull the folded prediction billet through the slit and into the envelope, finally removing the billet from the envelope fully. The illusion is perfectly suited to this loading and removing of the prediction billet. At this point hand the folded prediction billet to your onstage spectator and rip the envelope in half at the slit to both display the lack of any duplication/additional predictions and also to remove any lasting evidence of the slit in the envelope. Finally screw the torn envelope up and in the action of screwing the paper up unload the thumb writer into the screwed paper ball. Throw this ball into a case you have waiting onstage for your used props. Your hands are now clean. All that remains is for you to read the prediction having the onstage spectator confirm what is written on the pad and that the prediction details the choices made via their telephone conversation. WRITING ON THE PREDICTION: To fill in the correct information on the prediction using your thumb writer you simply write as you would on any other surface. The poster board forms a rigid surface to “lean” against as you write. The position of the board in the hands as shown in the illustration below taken from an actual performance shows how naturally the thumb rests on the prediction paper ready to write. You will grip the board with your four fingers on the face of the board facing toward the audience at large. You thumbs will rest of the backside of the board. Your right thumb complete with its swam/thumb tip writer ready will naturally rest on top of the prediction

billet. You will take all of the weight of the boards with your left hand allowing your right thumb to move freely without an odd grip marking the prediction billet with your thumb writer. A little practice with this style of secret writer will easily bring you to a good level of proficiency with this. I discovered this very natural way of writing while performing the invisible deck version of this effect. However it was later brought to my attention that John Riggs has published a similar grip to this in conjunction with secret writing in one of his many manuscripts. I am told it is featured in his version of the classic Add A Number plot. Personally I much prefer using this nature way of writing under the context of this routine than the rather tame application of an “Add A Number” style routine. The script handed to your spectator to read via the telephone, as you will notice is written to ensure the onstage spectator will say aloud the choices made by their telephone spectator. This allows you to fill in the information without seemingly asking for it. The information is rather offered in a seemingly natural process. One final tip in a difficult situation is to listen. Often cell phones speakers are loud enough to simply over hear the conversation. This allows you to hear the information should the spectator not state it aloud as the script intends them too. Finally failing all of this simply ask the spectator to repeat their friends choices to the audience at large. With these three approaches working for you your hearing the information is a sure thing. The combination of tick box’s and simple to write information such as the number and shapes allow for a very speedy writing procedure. I have chosen these items for that very reason. I think they seem strong enough for the routine as well as allowing me to reduce my writing on the prediction. I am fully aware that my thumb writing skills are not quite up to par with Fogel and try to structure such effect with this in mind! STEALING THE PREDICTION FROM THE BAORD: To steal the folded prediction from the board you will transfer the board from your two handed grip to a one handed grip with the board hanging by your side. Your thumb still wearing the writer fingers can contact the prediction easily and covertly with the board in this position. You will push forward with your fingers and remain still with your thumb while it applies a downward pressure. This causes the board to move away from the prediction rather than the prediction move away from the board. This is a small point however this point ensures that the movement of the board will cover the smaller movement of stealing the prediction. In one continuing motion move the board to your free hand and place it on top of the stack of boards on the stage floor.

LOADING THE PREDICTION INTO THE ENVELOPE: With the prediction resting in a finger palm position you will simple have the envelope removed and grip it in your free hand. Pausing for a beat you will essentially lay the prediction envelope onto the awaiting folded prediction billet in your right hand. This is a casual move that relies on timing and smoothness. You will need to work this through in front of a mirror or camera. This is a knack rather than a technique. After a few trial runs you will have this mastered in no time. REVALING THE PREDICTION: Of course the way in which you will reveal the prediction is totally up to you. However I would recommend removing the prediction from the envelope and immediately handing t to your spectator to read TO THEMSELVES. I do this as I reach for the microphone stand to place the microphone into. I then have the prediction returned to me and explain: “I want you to make sure that what I read is really written on here. You let everyone know if I’m just making this up!” I then read the prediction into the microphone with my spectator reading over my shoulder to confirm what I am saying is indeed true. I recommend this for several reasons. The first and believe me it has happened. You may have someone onstage who simply can not read. If this happens you have not only blown the climax of the effect but really made someone fee bad in front of a room full of people also and the most obvious you are the one with the experience at delivering speech to an audience not your spectator. You can use tone, speed and pauses to create drama from the prediction that your spectator simply could not.

BONUS CHAPTER – WRITING SURFACES. I have long harnessed the power of thumb writing in several routines. I am especially found of the Jaks thought transparent sequence and my own “Swami Pad” routine. I however like many hate the awkward grip of the pad required to write on the surface. This has leaded me to create three options to remedy this problem. THE STABLE PAD: The first I call the “stable pad” an image of which appears below. This is the version I make use of more often than not. To put it simply the pad features a hinged flap that can be gripped during the writing sequence attached the back of the pad. To make this pad you will require two matching small pads. I use a jotter pad of paper with card backing and covers. I cut the barcode image from the card backing and affix it to the second pad matching up the extra barcode with the barcode on the backing of the pad. I use a scotch tape to attach the barcode, which creates a hinge. When I wish to make use of my thumb writer I allow the hinge to flap open and grip the hinge between my middle fingers of my left hand. The cover is now open and obscures the hinge. This hinge is now gripped securely in my left hand, which also wears the writer on the left thumb. The pad is now stable and allows me to write on the pad with the writer without the awkward grip often associated with thumb writing. This may read complex however the images below should make this concept very clear.

The second of my concepts I call the Thread Pad: THREAD PAD: This pad is constructed using a nylon thread. On the back cover of the pad I run two lines of thread from the top of the back cover to the bottom. I tie the lines in knots and finish them with a small drop of super glue. I use nylon thread tested to a ten-pound weight. When I wish to write on the pad I simply insert my fingers between the thread and the back cover of the pad. This thread causes the pad to “stick” to the hand and allows a stable writing surface for the performer to write on without the awkward grip often seen with thumb writing. The final of these three concepts is very simple but very effective. THE POST IT NOTE PAD: This pad is made from a stack of post it notes. To construct this pad take a stack of post it notes and breaks them in half. You will now have two stacks both with their sticky surfaces exposed. Place the pads back together reversing one of the stacks before you stick it back to the other exposed sticky section of the other half. This now leaves you with a full stack of post it notes that has a sticky side exposed on each side. When writing the performer presses hard on the sticky section of the pad which will stick to his hand allowing a stable writing surface. The other bonus of this pad is that the top sheet will be facing sticky side out allowing the performer to write and peel the top note from the pad and stick it writing side obscured either to yourself or even to a spectator. This is the simplest form of thumb writing pads I have used and is very practical however for formal performances I make use of the ‘stable pad” the most. The post it note pad is worth noting in case you are ever stuck in a tough spot.

BONUS EFFECT – THE MULTI-PURPOSE PAD: This is a close up performance piece that I have used successful for some time. It combines several principles to create what I think is an elegant solution. The whole is much larger than the sum of its parts. In effect: The performer explains that rather than he reading the minds of his audience he is going to try to switch things around and have one member of the audience read his mind. The performer selects one person from the group and removes a pad and pencil from his pocket. He openly records something on the pad cautioning the assist sting spectator not to look at what he writes. The performer closes up the pad and places the pencil behind his ear. He has the spectator focus and eventually name a color. The spectator replies: “Yellow” The performer opens the pad and displays what he recorded to the spectator. It is sure enough the word ‘yellow.’ The performer excitedly continues. He records something on his pad once again closing the pad and placing the pencil behind his ear. He has the spectator focus on two simple shapes. The spectator replies: “A circle and a triangle” Opening the pad and showing it to all, the performer has sure enough a circle and a triangle. The performer now openly draws the outline of a hand on the pad. The performer has the spectator hold their hand to the performers, the performer cautions the spectator to hold their hand close but not to make contact. The performer now marks an X on the outline of a hand and closes the pad. The performer has the spectator hold their hand close to his again and finally has her decide which finger he is focusing on. Sure enough the X is marked on that very finger. Finally the performer grabs the spectator’s hand for a second and suddenly records something on his pad. He throws the pencil away and holds the pad high in the air. The performer hurriedly has the spectator name a three-digit number. Instantly the performer opens the pad and sure enough the performer has recorded the very number the spectator named.

METHOD: This routine makes use of the “stable pad” outlines earlier in the manuscript. With the pad prepared and ready I then on the first page write a checklist of seven colors: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

Pink Red Green Yellow Blue Purple Orange

I have found these colors cover almost every situation. I have the spectator think about which color I am focusing on. I however explain that it is not obvious. I often wear a lot of black and would say something like: “Now its not obvious. I mean I didn’t just look at my shirt and think of black. It’s a little more difficult than that. Do not try to work it out because simply you cannot work it out it would be impossible for you to guess. Rather focus and let a color flood your vision. Imagine everything around has become one color. Almost like you could turn up and down the contrast on a TV set. Which color do you see?” I have found that stating the above will lead the spectator away from the colors black and white. I have chosen not to include these colors on my checklist however you can expand and reduce the number of colors covered in your checklist. I have the spectator name aloud the color they are seeing and at that moment mark the correct color with a “tick” using my thumb writer. You will notice that I make a point of placing the pencil behind my ear throughout the routine. I also stand with my body turned to the right. The pencil is always placed behind the right ear. In this way it is constantly on the eyes and minds of the spectator as being away from the pad at the moment of the spectator naming their thought. I have also on occasion used the checklist to seemingly predict a star sign. Having each of the 12 signs in a list marking the checklist with a tick upon discovering the correct sign. Display the correct color to your spectator only. I point to the correct color and run my finger along to the tick next to it. I then state: “Which color did I write and mark on this pad?” This wording is enough to imply to your audience at large that you’re recording of the entire word and the word alone. Now rip the page from the pad and screw it up I screw

up this pad due to the checklist. The other pages can remain open or hand them to people in the group. Next you will use the classic psychological force of the shapes circle and triangle. I have chosen to include this so I can at this point in the performer actually show people what I am recording on the pad before I have the spectator focus on a set of shapes. This is included to break down any suspicion about what I am or am not recording on the pad. In my experience this open recording combined with a subtle flash of the pad coming later in the effect cut down this train of thought in your spectators minds. Have the spectator think about two simple shapes as in the classic force and display you’re hit or miss whatever the case may be. Regardless of whether this force hits or not you continue with the next phase. If the force hits I excitedly continue if not I explain we need to do one final warm up before moving onto the hardest one of all. This is a minor failure that will be forgotten if it misses however the ability to openly show what is recorded before the spectator names their shapes is worthy of inclusion regardless of the outcome. The next phase is the “correct finger” I draw the outline of a hand on the page. At this point you will seemingly focus for a moment and record an X on one of the fingers. I explain to the group: “I’m going to mark one of these fingers with an X.” I now fake write the X on the page and quickly flash it to the audience as I now have the spectator place their hand close to my own without it coming into contact. Have the spectator imagine an invisible line contacting your finger to theirs. This flash is so quick and subtle that the audience will later remember your showing them the X before your spectator announced which finger they were focused upon. Have them explain which finger they imagined and display your thumb written X at the correct finger. You will notice that so far in this sequence you have only record a tick mark and a X using thumb writing I think this is a really good thing. I always try to reduce the amount of writing needed in any routine as the less you have to write the easier it becomes to cover. The final phase is nothing more than the standard three-digit thought transference sequence. I have the spectator hold my hand and think of the number I have apparently recorded. In actual fact I have fake written a number on the pad. I then fill in each digit as the spectator names them.

You will notice how this routine maximizes the effect while reducing the secret writing. The combination of methods along with the “Stable Pad” makes for a very natural and strong routine.

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