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*Mark Lewis*
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I feel in a generous mood this morning so I thought I would give you this. I wrote and marketed it about 35 years ago. You can have it for free today. This is for children's entertainers. The wording is exactly as I wrote it all those decades ago.


This is probably the finest bit of business I have come across for children’s entertainment. It is I think best used as an opening item although it can be used at any point in the programme.

Simply get an old letter and put it in your pocket or some accessible place. The letter is blank on one side, writing on the other and is in an unsealed envelope.

Start by removing the letter and say “That’s funny, there’s a letter here”

Place it absent mindedly under your right armpit and continue “I wonder why I’ve got a letter, has anybody here sent me a letter? Shall I see what it says?” Now look round with a puzzled gaze and say “That’s funny, what did I do with the letter?”

Naturally the kids will shout “it’s under your arm!” You lift up your LEFT arm and say, looking puzzled “Under my arm?” They will yell “Your other arm!” You reply still puzzled “Your other arm? Oh you mean YOUR other arm!” They will scream “No! YOUR arm!” You say “That’s what I said-YOUR arm!”

At this point the little angels will point out your error in one of the following ways:

1. They will call you names.
2. They will scream the place down.
3. They will trample you underfoot.

As a variation of number 3 they may also attempt to amputate your arm in a most unmedical manner.

The answer to the above bedlam is as follows:

1. Mercy killing
2. Barbed wire across the performing area.
3. Cream buns filled with arsenic.

If the above measures fail you have two alternatives:

A. Take up card tricks
B. Take a priest along with you to give you the last rites.

To get back to business, sometimes a bright juvenile will pipe up “My arm!” He, she or it (especially it) will preen smugly at the other brats as if to defy you to get out of THAT one. You then demonstrate your adult superiority by saying triumphantly “There. That’s what I said. Under your arm!”

After playing this up for an hour and a half or so you then say “Oh, under MY arm!” You then look under the lower part of your arm still keeping your upper arm to your side. “There’s nothing there!” you protest. If they say “higher up” you look heavenword and say “where?” They may shout “lift your arm up!” If they do you react by lifting your LEFT arm up or by just lifting the lower part of your right arm.

Eventually feel around the area where the letter is but making sure the missing object is not seen from the front. Sooner or later the herd will scream “It’s at the back!” You now turn your back to the audience, placing your left hand behind you feeling your back. You shout above the racket “on my back?”

I must warn you that this is a dangerous part of the routine. On the same principle that lion tamers never turn their backs on the animals you also stand a fifty-fifty chance of being eaten alive if you turn your back for too long.

Anyhow you obviate the possibility of an early cremation by swiftly turning to the front and hear the horde utter remarks to the effect that the letter is at the back of your arm. Turn round again and push the letter to the front of your arm saying, “There’s nothing at the back of my arm!” Turn front again and the letter will be plainly visible to everybody. Just look ahead not noticing it and listen to the clamour.

When you do this look straight ahead so that you do not see the letter fall. You now look under your arm and find nothing there. Eventually you say, “ Shall I lift my arm up?” You do so and let the letter fall to the floor. When you do this look straight ahead so that you don’t notice the letter fall. You now look under your arm and find nothing there. Through the uproar you will hear some little termite bellow, “It’s on the floor!” Naturally you mishear this and start a minute inspection of the nearest door. Eventually you are prevailed upon to look in a downward direction but somehow you look everywhere except the correct spot. You further complicate matters by somehow managing to stand with both feet together right on the poor downtrodden letter! As you can imagine you will be informed by the assembled volcano that you are “standing on it!” You retort by saying, “Of course I’m standing on the floor but where’s the letter gone?” They will scream, “You’re standing on the letter!” You now take a step or two forward and expostulate, “I’m standing on the letter?” Look down and continue, “I’m not standing on the letter” They will scream, “Behind you!” You look in the air behind you and fail to find the letter.

Finally you look on the floor and say. “Oh there it is!” You’ve found it at last! Look at the kids and say, “Why didn’t you tell me the letter was on the floor?” They will shout, “we did!” You retort, “Oh no you didn’t!” I need hardly tell you what happens now!

Actually I do. After all there may be North Americans reading this who will not realise that in the UK the kids will all reply in unison, “Oh yes we did!” This is purely a United Kingdom thing since it is a feature of traditional British pantomine where the kids have been trained to react in this manner.

Stroll over to the letter bending down to pick it up. As you do so you groan in an ailing voice, “Oooh, it’s a long way down!” As you straighten up say, “Oooh it’s a long way up!” You continue, “Shall I see what the letter says?” Open up the letter and read the blank side. You are now holding the letter writing side outwards in the left hand, your right hand holding the envelope.

Say, “That’s funny! There’s nothing on the letter!” The kids will yell, “On the other side!” You thereupon look in the direction of your ribs and make remarks that there are no letters to be found on your “other side”. You will now hear an agonized spluttering of infants thus: “The other side of the paper!” You react by looking at the SIDE of the paper or by searching desperately on both sides of the ENVELOPE. Of course after a while you eventually discover the writing. Now say, “That’s funny, it’s in Chinese! Oh sorry-it’s upside down!”

From this point on you can carry on how you want. I used to say, “Well it says here that before we do any magic I have to show you the fireworks book. I would then perform the then well-known children’s routine “Fireworks” by Wilfred Tyler. Nowadays I would use a similar but superior item known as "The Magic Menu". But you can lead in to any trick you like by simply stating that the letter is telling you to do whatever the next trick is.

Anyway that’s it.
Potty the Pirate
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I used this for my Christmas show last year, it's a great opener. Just understanding why "The Letter" plays so well is a great leap in understanding kids' mentality and what makes them laugh and react.
Very good of you, Mark, to put the routine here.
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This is the sort of messing I love. Thanks.
*Mark Lewis*
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Oh my God! I have just looked at the above description of something I did and wrote about 35 years ago. I don't do half of that now. I feel ill. I had better go and read my own dropped details thread. I am truly gone at the game now and had better seek refuge in one of those retirement homes David Ben sends me too. I must have been very good when I was young...................
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