Is Bill in Lemon overexposed?

Discuss your favorite close-up tricks and methods.
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erdnasephile
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Is Bill in Lemon overexposed?

Postby erdnasephile » January 7th, 2014, 8:24 pm

Please pardon my ramblings, but I just thought I'd seek your opinions on a topic I've been thinking about.

I am planning a close-up/parlour show and am auditioning several potential closers.

Although I've performed a classic Bill in Lemon (BIL) in my youth, I've studied, but have yet to present, any of the current more sophisticated versions available today.

However, as I am doing my research, I have become keenly aware of just how common references are to this effect on the Net. It seems that everyone and his brother (and probably sister) is selling his/her own version. Worse, there are a zillion videos of magicians of modest skill abusing the trick on Youtube. Heck, there's even a dedicated thread at The Green Place, as well as a detailed instructional routine.

Why does this matter to me? Aren't classics, classic for a reason--the plots stand the test of time? Indeed, in all the years I performed the effect, even in a rudimentary form, it consistently got screams.

However, I've become enamored of Whit Haydn's "horns of dilemma" philosophy (See: "The Chicago Surprise"). That is: the audience knows something is impossible, but it must be possible. To me, there is a huge different between not knowing exactly how it's done, and being convinced what just happened can't be done.

There's no doubt the newer methods would fool people in terms of method (although, frankly some methods come dangerously close to direct line thinking). If a spectator really took the time to analyze a routine and it's conditions, they'd probably hurt themselves. I do wonder, however, how many of them would simply stop at the first page of a Google search and say to themselves: "Yeah, it's just a trick that all magicians do" and mentally move on.

Perhaps, one potential solution to this issue is to develop a method with conviction so strong and a presentation so original, emotionally engaging, and fooling that they just might say: "Well, other people do the trick, but you really ought to see HIM do it". Yet, even this worthy goal seems to fall short of Haydn's "burr under the saddle".

I'm probably overthinking this, but I'd welcome your thoughts please.

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Re: Is Bill in Lemon overexposed?

Postby Tom Pilling » January 7th, 2014, 8:41 pm

I don't think you are over-thinking it.

The bill in fruit climax that really got me, was in an old Sadowitz performance. He did some business with a borrowed bill, destroyed it, apologised etc., then went on with the show.

After a huge time delay, the bill was produced from inside one of the final loads of a cups and balls routine. If I recall, it was an apple. That really got me, and I was not at all unfamiliar with the premise.

What would an audience member Google after seeing that? The time delay alone served to make it seem ridiculously clean. The minds of the audience were in a scrambled state from a well executed cups and balls routine, and then with a nice 'tying up of endings', the borrowed bill was reproduced from an impossible object*: in this case a final load.

Maybe I have misunderstood, but I thought this might interest you? Suffice it to say, I wouldn't dream of replicating this in a public performance.

The bill in lemon seems to be undergoing a surge in popularity just now. I'm sure it will fade a bit in time.

* Apologies for abusing the term 'impossible object', but in the case of final loads, they do seem to be exactly that for spectators.

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Re: Is Bill in Lemon overexposed?

Postby M Petersen » January 8th, 2014, 1:24 am

Chris Hannibal has a great handling for the bill in fruit that is my favorite. It is very unique and leaves two spectators with an interesting souvenir. It also solves the "nasty bill covered in juice" ending that usually occurs. He published his handling in a book called BOOKENDS.

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Re: Is Bill in Lemon overexposed?

Postby Spellbinder » January 8th, 2014, 11:38 am

In my own "Most Amazing Card Trick" published in The Wizards' Journal #21, I add another impossibility to the card in orange that I'm not sure you would dare apply to the dollar bill in lemon, but it might be something to take your thinking in a new direction. The reason I did it with a card rather than a bill is that the card is first signed on the face (and back if you wish) and then torn into small pieces. When the orange is finally cut open, instead of a nicely restored card, you find all the small pieces sealed inside transparent cellophane packing tape, still with the signature(s) intact but with one bit missing - not from a corner of the card, which is the usual place, but from the interior of the card with a bit of signature writing still visible and proving that it actually does fit. In my humble opinion, it is an even funnier ending to the premise of card/bill restoration and makes a great souvenir.
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Re: Is Bill in Lemon overexposed?

Postby Jonathan Townsend » January 8th, 2014, 1:02 pm

The bill in lemon had its place in a club where the borrowed item was later dismissed as a gratuity to the performer. It served.

Today - may as well pop open your cell phone to find it in the battery compartment.

Context is key anyway - so what's the lemon to you, to your audience and to your show? Is it a callback? The way you select volunteers? Is the lemon used as an amulet or charm? When you have use of such an object in your show the rest follows rather than needs justification.
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Re: Is Bill in Lemon overexposed?

Postby Rick Franceschin » January 8th, 2014, 4:20 pm

I think you answered your own question. Pick a card is overexposed as is making coins vanish and linking rings together. Ultimately, a lay audience will go for a deceptive and dynamically performed piece. I was once part of a show with several magicians performing. There were three cut and restored ropes that night. The last guy's was without a doubt the strongest and best performed of the night. The audience rewarded him with a great reaction.

I believe in the premise that choosing great effects is very important. Anyone who uses great material and performs well will always enjoy at least some measure of success.

In so far as spectators going home and checking the youtubes after magic performances, well, that's more about them than it is about us. In a way it speaks to how affected they were by the performance and is certainly beyond our control.

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Re: Is Bill in Lemon overexposed?

Postby mrgoat » January 8th, 2014, 6:00 pm

Rick Franceschin wrote:I think you answered your own question. Pick a card is overexposed as is making coins vanish and linking rings together.


I do linking rings, bill in lemon, 3 fly, ambitious card, cards across, unequal ropes etc at all my gigs.

The only thing that happened was once, after, someone came up to me and said

"I saw the linking rings on the masked magician, but his had a hole in one of them."

I think that as magicians, we think lay people have seen tricks before. I don't think they have, in the main, at least in England.

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Re: Is Bill in Lemon overexposed?

Postby Leonard Hevia » January 19th, 2014, 1:28 pm

Jonathan Townsend wrote:
Context is key anyway - so what's the lemon to you, to your audience and to your show? Is it a callback? The way you select volunteers? Is the lemon used as an amulet or charm? When you have use of such an object in your show the rest follows rather than needs justification.


Exactly. I've seen this effect performed on television since I was a kid in the 70s, and always wondered why the magician was making the bill appear inside the lemon. Like the Torn and Restored Card or any other paper object, this trick needs a reason. All that serial number reading and verification proves it's the same bill but doesn't tell us why the bill made it into the lemon.

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Re: Is Bill in Lemon overexposed?

Postby Spellbinder » January 23rd, 2014, 1:12 am

Since this is in the Close-Up section, I might mention that a bill in lemon is barely close-up unless you are used to carrying lemons in your pockets. However, using a walnut might be more appropriate to the close-up venue, and if the walnut happens to also be on a string around your neck, as sort of a magic amulet, then the amulet has a reason for being. Suppose you get used to touching the amulet or waving it over objects to cause magic effects to happen from time to time. Then you wave it over the dollar bill and it vanishes. Now you have a reason to have the spectator crack open the walnut and find his dollar bill inside. It's also less messy than a citrus fruit.
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Re: Is Bill in Lemon overexposed?

Postby Richard Kaufman » January 23rd, 2014, 11:44 am

Jarrow used to carry his lemons in his pockets! His method depends on that.
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Re: Is Bill in Lemon overexposed?

Postby Jonathan Townsend » January 23rd, 2014, 1:13 pm

Richard Kaufman wrote:Jarrow used to carry his lemons in his pockets! His method depends on that.


and he wore tight jeans ... or more like those M. C. Hammer pants?
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Re: Is Bill in Lemon overexposed?

Postby R.E.Byrnes » January 23rd, 2014, 5:21 pm

"but doesn't tell us why the bill made it into the lemon."

Because it's really, really hard for a bill to get into a lemon. I prefer that minimalist rationale to many of the tortured attempts to link a lemon, or whatever, to the performer's 'character.'

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Re: Is Bill in Lemon overexposed?

Postby Leonard Hevia » January 23rd, 2014, 9:24 pm

R.E.Byrnes wrote:"but doesn't tell us why the bill made it into the lemon."

Because it's really, really hard for a bill to get into a lemon. I prefer that minimalist rationale to many of the tortured attempts to link a lemon, or whatever, to the performer's 'character.'


It is also really, really hard to juggle well or do a handstand. I suppose those can be amazing things to observe. Without the performer's character, what is left? A non-entity making paper money wind up in a really, really hard place.

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Re: Is Bill in Lemon overexposed?

Postby Jonathan Townsend » January 24th, 2014, 7:48 am

For most of us the lemon has no connection to context. It's a prop.

The lemon, egg etc are not so common as to be found right outside the theater or venue.

Today it's about ipad or a lump under the carpet or a qcode in a picture on a website.
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Re: Is Bill in Lemon overexposed?

Postby R.E.Byrnes » January 24th, 2014, 10:40 am

" Without the performer's character, what is left? A non-entity making paper money wind up in a really, really hard place."


With the bulk of thin, slapdash constructions offered as characters, that's about all there really is. I suppose we're agreeing; I'm just putting emphasis on the need for performers to aim a lot higher in fashioning an on-stage character, which is too often just a transparent reason for doing what must be done to perform standard magic tricks.

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Re: Is Bill in Lemon overexposed?

Postby Jonathan Townsend » January 24th, 2014, 11:06 am

R.E.Byrnes wrote:... just a transparent reason for doing what must be done to perform standard magic tricks.


As if the fate of the world depended upon getting that double turnover done twice at exactly the right time ... a rejected plotline from Lost?
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Re: Is Bill in Lemon overexposed?

Postby erdnasephile » January 24th, 2014, 1:35 pm

Interesting discussion. (The best justification for the bill in lemon I've seen belongs to Mr. McComb.)

I don't think there has to be an overt reason for the bill to appear in the lemon, but to fit my style, I need to have an internal logic to the presentation that makes sense. It also needs to be something I would want to do if I had real magic powers/gambling skills. These aren't truisms--just personal preferences for my own work.

To shift gears a little: in researching all these bill in lemon routines, a consistent statement from the creators of said routines is that "lemons are funny".

While a lemon is perhaps more interesting visually than say, a Kiwi ;) , what makes a lemon inherently funny?

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Re: Is Bill in Lemon overexposed?

Postby Jonathan Townsend » January 24th, 2014, 2:05 pm

It's not so much the lemon that put me off the trick - but the knife.
If you're working close there's something awkward about taking out a knife.
At one time I even explored using a TT full of lemon juice to get some lead in or setup for the appearance.

Why a duck? Why not bill to condom in wallet? Why not into your iphone? Thingie vanishes to be found in cute place is just a theme. Was done with handkerchiefs, scarves, playing cards, coins ... one guy had a wedding ring vanish and found it between the hearts of a playing card when torn open. Find what works for your shows.

IMHO you really have to make it worth your (characters) while to carry around that lemon and the knife to move the trick. In parlor and platform you have more room to work and can have fun throwing lemons at the audience (or them at you)
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Re: Is Bill in Lemon overexposed?

Postby R.E.Byrnes » January 24th, 2014, 3:51 pm

"Lemons are funny" is a more substantial explanation than many. Lemons are perhaps all the more funny when they are incongruous - i.e., at odds with an established performing persona. Perhaps they are just inherently incongruous with nearly any performance setting. Merely positing that "lemons are funny" is more satisfying than much of the discussion in this realm, which seems to generate lots of vague, unsatisfying statements from performers about what does and does not fit "my style." One's "style" is also held out, often, as the sole variable that matters when considering whether a particular trick or sleight is better than others, tacitly anchored by the fatuous "truism" that there's no such thing as a bad trick, only bad magicians (and being bad is presumably a function of not abiding, or not having, a "style"). I don't think it's irrelevant to talk about whether a particular trick is a good fit for a particular performer, but that discussion about subjective value is often entirely at the expense of discussing a trick's objective value -- i.e., the ways in which it is good or bad, for all people, in all places, irrespective of the performing persona presenting it.

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Re: Is Bill in Lemon overexposed?

Postby Richard Kaufman » January 24th, 2014, 5:32 pm

I don't see where a lemon is inherently funny.

Eggs are funny, and also carry the potential for chaos since they can break: that's two interesting characteristic reactions.
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Re: Is Bill in Lemon overexposed?

Postby Ross Welford » February 3rd, 2014, 12:13 pm

Yup, eggs are funnier then lemons. But neither is funnier than a banana. And a sausage is funniest of all. As Terry Herbert knows.

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Re: Is Bill in Lemon overexposed?

Postby Jonathan Townsend » February 3rd, 2014, 1:02 pm

Let's draw a line well before the sponge dingdong - even if that does get reactions.

Sausage - didn't someone sell foam links of sausage? Not sure you'd want to take a knife to a chosen link of sausage to find the bill though.
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Re: Is Bill in Lemon overexposed?

Postby Hannibal » February 3rd, 2014, 5:40 pm

Food, be it lemons, oranges or eggs, is organic and (more importantly) familiar to the lay audience. So many things in the magician's prop bag are foreign to the average person. I'm including playing cards and exotic coins in this category: neither of those things affect the day to day experiences of the standard audience member.

Food does.

What I disliked most about the 'personal object to impossible location' was returning personal property in a damaged condition. Signed, torn, lemon coated and sticky ... it's rude. Other points were troubling, too, so ...

I challenged myself to develop a routine that met the following criteria, yet still provided an emotional hook.

1) The bill must be signed. No torn corners or serial numbers written down. A signature is personal, and as organic as the container it will be found in.
2) The audience should not anticipate the bill being inside the lemon. If at all possible, the first appearance of the bill must be counter-intuitive. It should come as an absolute surprise.
3) The final effect should be more than just ‘a signed bill appeared inside a piece of fruit’. It must transcend what every other magician out there is doing. The impossible location is powerful, but I want to leave the audience with an even deeper mystery.
4) No audience member’s property may be destroyed or degraded in any way.
5) No Knife.

Setting the challenge rewarded me with an elegant and show-stopping solution.

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Re: Is Bill in Lemon overexposed?

Postby mrgoat » February 3rd, 2014, 5:47 pm

Fighting the urge to post a Cool Story, Bro, pic, I must ask...

If you have solved the 'problem' of handing someone a bill covered in lemon juice, what is the point of telling us that without explaining what you do, aside from saying "I am clever, you are not"?

As a side note, several times when I have done this, people have come up to me saying "IT EVEN SMELLS OF LEMONS" as if that makes the trick stronger. I hand the note back on a kitchen towel, as others do, so they can remove the juice. I don't see it as a problem, but would love to hear your solution for the thing you perceive as a problem.

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Re: Is Bill in Lemon overexposed?

Postby erdnasephile » February 3rd, 2014, 5:52 pm

mrgoat wrote:Fighting the urge to post a Cool Story, Bro, pic, I must ask...

If you have solved the 'problem' of handing someone a bill covered in lemon juice, what is the point of telling us that without explaining what you do, aside from saying "I am clever, you are not"?



Just as a friendly FYI: Hannibal's solution has been published. (Please see the third post in this thread http://www.magicbookshop.com/product_in ... s_id=17270 ). I think it's also in his DVD set: http://www.vanishingincmagic.com/magic/ ... om-a-liar/
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Re: Is Bill in Lemon overexposed?

Postby Hannibal » February 3rd, 2014, 5:56 pm

mrgoat wrote:
If you have solved the 'problem' of handing someone a bill covered in lemon juice, what is the point of telling us that without explaining what you do, aside from saying "I am clever, you are not"?


I beg your pardon: I was not trying to give the impression of being overtly clever: I was relaying the things I personally found flawed in the usual effect and the challenges I set up to solve these flaws.

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Re: Is Bill in Lemon overexposed?

Postby Hannibal » February 3rd, 2014, 6:00 pm

erdnasephile wrote:
mrgoat wrote:Fighting the urge to post a Cool Story, Bro, pic, I must ask...

If you have solved the 'problem' of handing someone a bill covered in lemon juice, what is the point of telling us that without explaining what you do, aside from saying "I am clever, you are not"?



Just as a friendly FYI: Hannibal's solution has been published. (Please see the third post in this thread). I think it's also in his DVD set: http://www.vanishingincmagic.com/magic/ ... om-a-liar/


Thank you very much. My solution is on the DVD, as well as in my book "Bookends".
http://chrishannibal.com/products/for-magicians/

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Re: Is Bill in Lemon overexposed?

Postby Jonathan Townsend » February 3rd, 2014, 7:09 pm

I went here: Thank you very much. My solution is on the DVD, as well as in my book "Bookends".
http://chrishannibal.com/products/for-magicians/
and from the site found this text: "Turn your job information verified it will generic cialis buy generic viagra online go online payment asap? Just the advantage of additional safety but can sometimes you cialis generic viagra online notice that the years or financial stress. Using a hurry get repossessed because these borrowers viagra online without prescription viagra online without prescription must accept it times overnight. Since other reliable online is another it http://www.cialis2au.com/ viagra in women after you.."

things okay there?
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Re: Is Bill in Lemon overexposed?

Postby Michael Dustman » February 3rd, 2014, 8:34 pm

Not sure what you were redirected to Jonathan, but clicking on that link took me straight to Chris's page with absolutely nothing of the sort that you posted.

I will begin by saying that I thoroughly enjoyed the Hannibal DVD set. I think it is one of the most creatively written magic shows I have ever seen and definitely reaches the audiences. I have talked with a few magicians who had the pleasure of seeing Chris perform his show live and said they were damn near moved to tears. I didn't see his kicker with bookends coming. It was awesome. I got a chance to run into Chris at the Columbus Magi Fest this past weekend and compliment him on his show and DVD set. Truly one of the kindest and most humbling men I have ever met. I feel better as a magician for having viewed his set. So, not sure exactly what mrgoat was reading when he went off on his high horse, but I think he totally misread something.

Having seen Chris's show and hearing him attest here, I can see he put a lot of thought into why he wanted his routine to be the way it is. Have no qualms with that. I wish more magicians put that much thought into the how and why of their show. I guess however, I don't see the bill being handed back out slightly damp as a problem. I have closed my show with a bill in lemon for almost 20 years. I have invested and studied every routine from the past 50 years in putting my current routine together. I will say, nothing beats seeing members of the audience come up after the show and wanting to inspect that bill. I have heard countless times, people remarking that it had to be the same bill because it was signed, and it was definitely in the bill because it was damp. I never have given back a dripping wet bill. I juice my lemons before a show, and they barely come out wet at all. Only the slightest bit moist and reeking of lemon scent. A couple thousand shows over 20 years and 3 times a night while bartending, I have never once had somebody complain about the bill. In many of my corporate shows, the damp $100 bill was my tip, so either they weren't upset at all and enjoyed it, or they didn't want to put a damp bill back in their wallet. Either way, good news for me. And I believe I had a pretty good grasp on the audience feedback. After comedy club and corporate shows, I always greet and mingle with my audience afterwards. Again, I respect and admire Hannibal, just a slight difference of opinion there.

I get a lot of repeat engagements from corporate clients and while they like me to mix up my show, they always request that I repeat or keep the lemon routine in. Since the original question is, is it overexposed, I guess not. If it is, apparently people still want to see it and it helps sell my show. I do aim to make the lemon a running gag throughout the show. A lemon plays into my opening from the moment I hit the stage. I have a lemon appear in my pocket along with a tiny bottle of tequila and a salt shaker during my Homing Card routine. I then place the lemon in a stapled bag and leave it in the audience of the remainder of the show. By the time my closer rolls around 35-40 minutes later, the lemon has been forgotten. But people do remember that the lemon was in the audience for the whole show and way before the bill was ever borrowed and signed. People who have seen me do it a few times have guesses, but none have been correct. So, I think we have a way to go with it being overexposed.

Just my two cents. I actually found this discussion fascinating and something to think about. Aside from the brief tangent it went off on, I look forward to following it further.

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Re: Is Bill in Lemon overexposed?

Postby Jonathan Townsend » February 3rd, 2014, 8:55 pm

Michael Dustman wrote:Not sure what you were redirected to Jonathan, but clicking on that link took me straight to Chris's page with absolutely nothing of the sort that you posted...
Just my two cents. I actually found this discussion fascinating and something to think about. Aside from the brief tangent it went off on, I look forward to following it further.


email me and i will reply with a screen image. jontown@aol.com

it's there - hence my question.

J
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