John Keyes' "Card Dowser"

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John Keyes' "Card Dowser"

Postby jkeyes1000 » April 3rd, 2017, 10:26 pm

I have an ambition to create a full length magic act based on the premise of 'teaching’ the audience how to perform a variety of effects. Done for laughs, of course. The crowd is only going to be astonished by a series of unpredictable climaxes. Here is my latest card routine.



“Understand...a magician’s performance doesn’t always go right. But like The Scouts, one must “be prepared”!

“It is essential to have what we call an “out”, a recourse in the event that something goes wrong.

“Now this next trick is not utterly reliable, so you need to have options in order to avoid the distinct possibility of public humiliation.

“May I have a volunteer?

“You can use any deck of cards. Spread them face up and ask an audience member to point to one. Lay it on the table and square up the pack, holding it in either your left of your right hand, whichever is more convenient for you.

“Ask the volunteer to insert his or her card into the centre of the deck, but not to push it all the way in just yet. Leave about half of it sticking out.

“Give him or her a broad tipped magic marker and tell the volunteer to draw a horizontal line across the back of the card, right where it emerges from the pack. Make sure it’s a thick line, and don’t bother to be neat. Just smear it on there! Good.

“Can everyone observe this? What we have done is to mark the card, but in so doing, we have also got the participant to ink up the edge of the deck. So that when he or she finally buries it (shoves it completely in), we can keep track of its location

“Now you announce that you are going to find the chosen card by means of 'dowsing’. You remove the top card and hover it in front of the deck. This move helps to confuse the spectators and make it hard for them to discern the markings on the edge of the pack. At last, you stab the deck with the 'dowser’, doing your best to strike just above the ink stain.

“Set the pack on the table, with the 'dowser’ protruding, and ask the volunteer to lift the top half of the deck and look at the bottom card. 'Is that your card?’

“If it’s not, don’t panic! Simply request that they search the other cards in that half, in order to confirm that it is not amongst them. Say, 'Naturally, your card is not in the top half! I merely wanted you to know that all the cards are different, you see? Ahem!’

“Clearly your card is in the bottom half of the deck. Would you please turn over the top card--by which I mean the card under the dowser? Is that your card?

“If it is not, then say something like, 'Do you have a dog? What’s his initial? Then say 'B’ or whatever, and have them flip over the next card. You might have to ask if he or she has a cat as well, if it doesn't pop up straight away. If you get desperate, spell out 'elephant’ or some other long word.

“Eventually, the volunteer shall discover the marked card, at which point, you shriek, 'A-ha! Stop right there. All we wanted was an abbreviation’, and demand once again whether it be the chosen one.

“Oh, dear. It seems that though this is the card you marked, it is not in fact the chosen card. That is a problem!

“Like I said, we need an 'out’! Fortunately I carry an assortment of magical accessories. In the Old Days we would use a bit of Wiztax or something. Let me see. Afraid I haven’t any at the moment, but I do have this nifty tin of lip balm!

“Here...Dip your index finger into it. Get a good glob!

“Now I want you to play the magician’s part. Take the marked card which sadly was not your chosen card, and secretly apply the tacky substance to the face of it. Grease it up, that’s right!

“Then drop the card face down on top of the dowser, the only card we haven’t looked at yet. Tell the audience that you will transform the marked card into the chosen card!

“Press the marked card onto the dowser and square them as one. Pick up the stuck together pair slowly, showing only the marked back. Make a mystical gesture with your free hand. Finally, reveal the face!

“There! You have recovered the selected card! Great job.'


Use whatever means you prefer to switch the chosen card to the top of the deck. My favourite is to sloppily spread the cards face up and hide one random card (surreptitiously slid from the inverted top of the pack) in the crotch of your right thumb. When a card is chosen from the spread, break the fan with the participant’s card on the right side, extending it so as to let him or her get a good look at it, then flip the fan over and drop the random card face down on the table instead. Make sure that the right half of the spread goes on top when you reassemble the deck so that the volunteer’s card is uppermost.

Ask the participant to insert the face down card anywhere in the deck and go through the routine as described above. The 'dowser’ is of course, the chosen card all along.

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Re: John Keyes' "Card Dowser"

Postby jkeyes1000 » April 4th, 2017, 10:46 am

I failed to mention in the above routine, the importance of establishing that the chosen card is neither in the top nor the bottom half of the deck. The effect is much stronger (and funnier) if you have the volunteer exhaust all the remaining cards by means of counting down to the number, spelling out the suit, and/or their favourite kind of ice cream. I would have gone back and rewritten it but the forum will not let me edit the piece.

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