Billy Mccomb – Necessity Is The Mother

Billy McComb

Necessity Is The Mother

This item is actually two, but, as they both have to do with the same trick, I have lumped them together. A favorite of mine during my long early career as a “semi-pro” in Northern Ireland was the Rising Cards. My Jumbo mechanical deck, made by Willmann, I got on a swop from Edgar Benyon who, with Hubert Lambert, was responsible for my training in magic. The deck lasted until the day that a Greek waiter named Marc threw it with a plastic houlette down the stone stairs at the back of the “Bagatelle”. It was an accident, I assure you, not by order of the management.

In Northern Ireland, it was not always advisable to finish with the “Your Majesty, please rise” caper for the last card, owing to peculiar religio-political disputes and yet, it was difficult to think up something just as effective. But, I managed it and you will read how.

Also, being than a magical purist, I actually switched the Jumbo deck the cards were chosen from for the mechanical job-and often did do in cabaret. What follows is the switch of decks and then the Rising Cards finale as I performed it.

The card-rising stuff was on a little table all on its own. At front was the plastic houlette (it was made from bits of plastic a friend pinched for me from Short & Harland’s aircraft and cigarette-lighter factory during the war). This was covered by a 36″ square opaque scarf. At the rear of the table under the scarf lay the mechanical deck.

On top of the scarf at the left rear lay the other deck with the four force cards on top. The last two cards forced, for reasons you will presently see, were the Ace and 2 of Diamonds.

When these four cards had been forced, the pack was replaced in its original position on the table. Then the scarf was removed from the houlette with a lifting movement from the front. The part of it that had originally covered the houlette was doubled back over the rear of the table, covering the ordinary Jumbos. This move was accompanied by suitably “unveiling” patter which got enough little titters to keep attention from the careful covering of the deck.

When I had lifted and suitably admired the houlette as my own workmanship – “Early Celtic…I made it at 3 a.m.” etc. – I lifted the right rear portion of the scarf as a flap and folded it over onto the left side of the table. The mechanical Jumbo deck was thus revealed and the genuine Jumbos completely concealed under folds of scarf.

I made sure, of course, that the face of the faked deck matched that of the other, in case some bright soul noticed; so it was then only necessary to take the mechanical deck, drop it into the houlette and proceed with the rising.

From the drawings you may get the idea that this can’t be very illusory since the scarf would seem to outline the decks beneath. In practice, like a lot of these things, such is not the case. The natural draping of the scarf into folds provides more than enough camouflage.

On now to the finish of the card rising. When the performer has asked the THIRD card to rise, it comes up half-way and stops, but it is the 3 of Diamonds, where as the chooser now declares his card was the Ace. The magician asks the LAST selector to name his card. It was the 2 of Diamonds. As the card now rises right out of the pack, the performer states that this is the way that cards have to economizing on the rising-fuel. Holding up the 3 of Diamonds, he says, “Everyone knows that the 3 is made up of the Ace and the 2!” And, with that, he separates in each hand, the Ace in one and the 2 in the other.

Like it? The two cards are cut with a sharp razor as shown in the sketches. They are then fitted together with a couple of spots of Melrose applied to the Diamond indices of the Ace preventing any slight displacement they might suffer in the rising action.

One final touch delights me, that is, to ensure that the INDICES change too. Actually, of course, those of the Ace don’t have to change. Scratch out the index of the 2 and change it to a 3, so that the card is a 2 at one corner and a 3 at the other. By accordingly changing your hold just as you separate the two cards, you can be sure that even the closest spectator won’t notice anything fishy.

I assure you that this gets as much applause and interest as the “Rise, Your Majesty” lark. It has the added advantage of being one of these offbeat tricks suddenly thrown in which tend to get much more applause than any trick whose climax is anticipated by the earlier shenanigans.