Pick a Card, ANY Card

An illusionist invites a volunteer to join him on stage. Fanning a deck of cards out, he asks her to pick a card, any card, to memorize that card and return it to the pack. He shuffles the cards, then passes the deck to his volunteer, who shuffles the cards again. He then takes the cards back, turns clumsily away from the audience and fiddles around with the cards where they can’t be seen. After an uncomfortable few seconds, he turns round and, holding a card, tentatively asks: “Is that it?”

Whether he’s right or wrong: the trick has failed.

In improv, it’s equally important that the audience gets to see everything. If, as an improviser, you disappear into your head while performing, even for a split-second, it’s like an illusionist farting about with his back to us. The magic has gone. But remember: you don’t need to hide anything to come up with the correct card, because there is no correct card – the deck is mimed and your volunteer is your buddy! And there’s no need to ask tentatively “Is that it?”. You can state the answer with confidence – “The Five of Spades!” – and hey presto!


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