The Zombie and the Joker (PDF) by Matt Mello $10.00
9 pages, 2 photographs
Available at: http://www.penguinmagic.com/p/2743
Being a fan of both zombies and Jokers, I was eager to check out this PDF by Matt Mello.
The author writes pretty well and does a good job of teaching the handling. He includes his performance script. He duly cites his inspirational sources.
The photographs are unnecessary and a bit fuzzy.
In a stage setting, the performer begins by temporarily transforming the audience into a mob of zombies. Next, he asks the audience to close their eyes and he guides them through a visualization exercise that causes their arms to rise and fall.
He asks a particularly suggestible participant to join him on stage. She closes her eyes and the performer guides her through another visualization exercise in which she meets a Joker riding a bike. She opens her eyes.
The performer removes a Joker from a deck and allows the participant to examine it. He places the deck into the case and closes the flap. He places the case lengthwise on the participants left palm.
The participant places the face-down Joker on top of the case, across its width. She extends her right index finger, points it downward and presses on the center of the Joker. The performer asks her to move the Joker around on the case. She moves it with little effort.
She turns the Joker face-up onto the case. The performer presses his index finger on the face of the Joker and moves it around.
The participant presses her index finger on the center of the Joker. The performer suggests that it will now be very difficult for her to move the Joker. Despite her best effort, she cant move it. She immediately and easily removes the Joker from the case. She examines the case and the Joker and finds nothing unusual.
Mr. Mello describes a close-up version that dispenses with the preliminary hypnotic/visualization business. He introduces the Joker as a trickster. The participant easily pushes the face-down Joker around on the case.
The performer instructs her to turn the Joker face-up on the case and press her finger on it. She tries but is unable to move the Joker.
The author includes a version using a double blank card with a green dot on one side and a red dot on the other side. The participant can move the card when she presses the green dot, but cant move it when she presses the red dot.
Finally, Mr. Mello suggests performing the effect with tarot cards in a dark area, illuminated by candles. In this presentation, a spirit grabs the Death card and prevents it from moving.
The Joker and the card case must be prepared. The preparation is easy and involves a special something that you may already own. The special something is readily available from most dealers, or you can buy a similar special something for less money at any hardware store.
In the stage version, the bit about momentarily turning the crowd into zombies is fun and funny. Mr. Mellos visualization patter for the audience and the participant is effective.
But when you peel away Mr. Mellos nicely crafted pseudo hypnotic presentation, you are left with an effect in which a Joker can be slid around on a card case when its face-down, but not when its face-up. Thats it.
Thats not magic. Its not even a puzzle. Its a minor curiosity with little entertainment value. Hell, the rising and lowering arms stunt is more entertaining and it involves the whole audience.
The author instructs the reader to move the face-up Joker around on the case to show that all is normal before the participant tries to move it. My field testing has revealed that this demonstration is risky.
Remember, the participant is holding the case in her hand. If her sensory apparatus is intact and she is paying attention when the performer moves the card around, she too will be able to move it around. I dare not say more.
In the close-up version, the performing directs the participant to place her finger on the face of the Joker. When she does, he immediately says, Ah, you shouldnt have done that! He doesnt like being touched! Now hes going to fight with you, and youll find him very difficult to move!
This is an example of lazy, unimaginative writing that can make the participant feel uncomfortable. In psychology, directing a person to do something and then reprimanding them for doing it is called a double bind. This pathological interaction provokes anxiety in the person by placing them in a no-win situation.
This presentation will cause the participant to feel anxious, if only for a second. Thats too long for me.
The version with the green dot on one side and a red dot on the other side loudly announces that the card, not the performer, is special and magical.
Mr. Mellos most powerful idea is his sance presentation. He urges the reader to use this presentation cautiously because it definitely freaks the #$%^ out of the spectator! Yeah, right.
If the environment is very spooky and the performer is very charismatic and the props are examinable, I can imagine a participant freaking out if the Devil card moved. An object at rest that is invisibly set in motion is visually compelling and magical.
But here, an object at rest stays at rest. That isnt a visually compelling or magical event because nothing changes. The mind craves movement and change. It doesnt get turned on or freaked out by stasis.