Billy Mccomb – The Rigid Yo-yo

Billy McComb

This is one of those potty ideas we all get. Then we spend ages trying to get the darned thing to work. In this case, I’m happy to say, the laugh it gets makes it worthwhile.

This is what I wanted to do. I wanted to work a yo-yo up and down in the accepted style. Then I thought when it reached the nadir it would be funny if you could have the cord go stiff and then raise the yo-yo up in the air on the cord.

The obvious answer was the Rigid Rope Trick allied with a very light yo-yo. The first one was made out of paper just to see if it would work on the rope. It did. Then I searched for a strong light material which would allow me to pack the prop and have a fair chance of arriving with it intact. In the back of my mind was a friend who made a wonderful huge floating ball by sticking tissue paper around a balloon and then deflating the balloon. The first show he took it to he put it carefully into a large air-line bag … and fell up the stairs of the hall on top of it. I always felt I lost a friend when he told me about it and I fell about laughing.

Balsa wood was the first thought I had. I laboriously cut a yo-yo out of Balsa … I wanted a big one. It was altogether too heavy. Finally, I found what I needed. It was the expanded polystyrene they use to pack things. Cutting it cleanly was accomplished by winding a bit of wire around a soldering iron tip and then extending it to give a hot length of wire which cut through the polystyrene. That gave me two circles of a light-weight substance. I glued a dowel of 1-1/2″ round Balsa in the centre between the two and discovered I couldn’t get down to the dowel to attach the rigid rope. I had to break one of the circles and fasten on the rope end and then make another circular side to go on.

You’ve got to be careful that you fasten the right part of the rigid rope to the spindle. The rope has got to be at the right angle to wind around the spindle so that the yo-yo goes up and down and, finally, stops at the bottom. Sometimes it will only jerk back up a short bit but it is enough to let the audience see it is meant to be a yo-yo. You can only take it up to the horizontal, let it suddenly drop and then wind the cord around the spindle again.

I made one for a comic who works a lot of stags. I won’t tell you what he does with it – but it doe s get him a lot of laughs!