Karrell Fox Column

Columnist:
Karrell Fox

Editor’s Note:

A classic never goes out of style. These comical ideas play just as well today as they did when they were first published in 1954.

We’re grateful to Karrell Fox and Fran and Jay Marshall at Magic, Inc. for allowing us to use this excerpt from Karrell Fox’s “Kornfidentially Yours.”

Kornfidentially Yours Korny Kwickies by Karrell Fox

The following short, fast, comedy interludes were devised principally to appeal to the lucky bunch of magicians who believe in giving their audiences something to look at, and something to chuckle over, rather than a deep mystery. Use a few of them for the deadspots in your act — “just for fun.”

Selected shorts — Stop in the middle of your act and say, “I just returned from Hollywood, it sure is a wonderful place. I made some shorts when I was out there. In fact I brought them with me, look! (Remove a loud pair of men’s shorts and display them.)

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It smells — Cut a slit in your spring skunk and insert a rubber bulb filled with talcum powder. Now, after you produce your little “stinker” you can get an additional laugh by squeezing the bulb and causing him to spray powder in all directions.

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Not good, but loud — Fix your table up to fire an auto bomb ala the exploding suitcase. So that sometime during your act you can lift up something from your table at the same time tripping a release which causes the table to whistle, explode, and smoke all over the place (well, anyway, it will keep them awake).

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A highlight — After assembling your production box, remark, “I don’t quite understand this” then look in the tube and say, “Ah, now, I’m beginning to see the light” (remove one of the popular comedy burning light bulbs) then hold the bulb over your head and say, “One might consider this the HIGH-LIGHT of my act.” (Yok-yok)

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An old Yarn — As you’re working notice a piece of red yarn hanging on your lapel. Start to pull it off, only it keeps coming out and out until you have quite a pile of the stuff, finally, come to the end and then raise both pant legs. On one foot is seen a bright red sock, but the other foot is bare ! Just put the ball of yarn in your breast pocket, and thread it through your lapel (for patter, tell any “yarns” you like).

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Guillotine bit — After your victim’s head is locked into the guillotine, pick up a handkerchief and wipe off his brow. Twist the hank as though wringing it, and out pours a large stream of “nervous perspiration” (Why not? The hank had a water filled sponge concealed in its folds).

Color-Changing Knife Finish — After you’ve finished your regular routine and returned the knives to your pocket, confess to the onlookers that the secret consist of using two knives but keeping one hidden at all times. Offer to show them both knives. Remove the white one from your pocket and it’s a little miniature (only 2″ long), the black one is removed and it’s one of those black 6″ giant rubber pocket knives sold in dime stores.

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Axe gag — As the obliging spectator is shuffling my cards I sometimes toss a boy scout ace at him (balsa wood, of course). The resulting scramble is always good for a king-size laugh.

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Let’s rehearse — “I have written special music for this next effect,” heralds the funny-man, “here, boys, rehearse this” (holding on to one end he tosses a piano roll to the orchestra leader).

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“Neversharp” pencil — After the spectator selects a card, you request him to mark it with his initials. As he reaches for his pencil, you remark, “Here, you can use my pencil, it writes 3,000 years without refilling.” You remove from your inside pocket, a giant red pencil three inches thick and six feet long. The secret, oh, yes, it’s simply the old barber-pole or flagstaff production item with a new red paint job and the usual wooden knob replaced by a large pencil tip.

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Celebrities — “Ladies and gentlemen, we have some celebrities in our audience this evening. You’ve heard them on the radio; you’ve seen them in the movies and here they are in person; it’s those international favorites `The Four Inkspots!’ As the band plays a few bars of the familiar “inkspots” theme song, you remove your pocket handkerchief and imprinted thereon for all to see, are four large blotches of ink! (good way of starting “soft soap”).

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Shirt gag — After uncomfortably shrugging his shoulders several times during his act, the magi-comic removes a long feathered arrow from his coat collar and remarks, “These darn Arrow shirts.”

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A “tin-spot” — During the course of his repeat bill trick, the wizard counts, “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, y and he stops abruptly and looks more closely at the bill and remarks, “Oh, well, we can’t use this one anyway, it’s a ten-dollar bill.” He then tosses it to the floor where it lands with a metallic clink! As if you didn’t already know, `twas just a piece of metal, with a stage bill pasted on both sides.

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A pair of bloomers — After producing the silks and other items from your production box, you boldly make the following announcement (without smiling), “I will now produce a pair of bloomers!” Then look into the box, raise your eyebrows, and bring out — two bouquets of spring flowers!

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One for the “Magi-Ministers” — Load a Walsh cane with one of those wiggly snakes, sold in dime stores. You can then perform the biblical feat of changing your staff to a serpent.

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Wet cigar — After getting all the usual laughs from your comedy-lit cigar, act annoyed at always finding it lit. Hold it in the air, remove a small water gun from your pocket and shoot a stream at the cigar and then lay them both aside.

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Mutilated tie — Why not do the standard mutilated handkerchief routine with a necktie. The tie could first be regular size, then in shreds, a large three-foot long tie and finally restored to its original condition.

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It’s a date — If you do the bathing beauty, then get a couple of small calendar pads and fasten them to each gimmicked flap, then when you pick up the trick it resembles a large art calendar.

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Especially for “DELL” — Attention, lady magicians: Say, gals, you know those bracelets you wear so many of at one time: (I think they call them “BANGLES”). Well, why not have a set of linking rings made out of them. You could slip them off your wrist and go right into the linking routine. (The key ring could be stolen from your purse and added to the set.)

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Hyp Happy — Tell your lady assistant from the audience that she must be placed into a trance before she helps you. Have her close her eyes lightly and after she does roll back your sleeves and pick up a sledgehammer (balsa) from your table as you remark, “In one minute you will be sound asleep!” Start to hit her as you say this, then change your mind and toss it into the audience (the hammer that is, not your mind, silly).

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Basket bits — If you perform the snake basket (mechanical version where the snake rises with the card) introduce it by saying, “This basket contains my collection of a rare and unusual serpents. Here’s `Rosie’ the rattlesnake (remove snake with bright baby rattle fastened to its tail, shake it and say, “Course, she’s not full grown, she’s only a baby rattler.”) And next is her sister, “Gertie, the garter snake,” (remove another snake with a fancy, frilly lady’s garter fastened around it). “And here’s their little brother, he’s not even a snake yet he’s just a worm,” (remove a snake head which has fastened to it a cloth tape measure). “He’s a tapeworm!” “Last but not least, here’s Elmer, the magician (remove regular snake used in trick only he’s wearing a little top-hat). He does card tricks, etc., etc.” (finish the regular effect now.)

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Milk pitcher — In the last several years this prop has become standard equipment in every magician’s repertoire. This is the way I use it for kid shows and it never fails to make a big hit. In addition to the pitcher you also need a De-Muth Milk Appearing Bottle.

Call up one of the younger boys to help you and ask him of he can be trusted (if one says “yes” he’s lying … I never did trust them younger boys). Explain that you want to make sure he’s not one of those people that everything you tell him goes in one ear and out the other and offer to test him to make sure. Have him lean over and place his left ear against the opening of the empty milk bottle which is setting on your table. Then pick up the milk pitcher and standing behind him. Ask that he closes his eyes. Now, apparently you pour the milk from the pitcher into his right ear. Have him raise his head and tell him he must be okay, as nothing you said has leaked out yet, only before finishing the trick, you had better remove all of the milk from his head. Once more he leans over, placing his ear against the bottle opening.) This time release the gimmick, (which allows the bottle to fill) and as you pump his arm up and down, the bottle simultaneously fills with milk.

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Dove pan — If you don’t mind making a mess of the stage here’s a real giggle-getter. Get one of those small scrawny chicks and place it in the bottom of your load chamber, then finish filling the container with chicken feathers. You’ll be surprised at the amount it will hold! Mix your ingredients in the pan in the usual manner, the last being with one of Ireland’s giant matches. Place the lid on, announce that you will change the mess into a live chicken. Remove the lid, look puzzled, lean over and practically put your nose in the pan and blow. Make it a good strong puff so feathers will fly all over the place. Then reach in and sorrowfully bring out the sickly chick with the remark, “Guess I used too much heat.

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20th Century Silks — For this, I use the method where the two tied silks are placed in your mouth and the third silk appears between them as they are pulled from between the teeth.

After showing the tied silks and placing them between the teeth, you display the third silk and drape it over the barrel of an automatic pistol — this is Eddie Joseph’s hank gun, it vanishes a silk and fires a cap at the same time. Aiming the pistol at the side of your head, you shoot and the silk vanishes. Stagger a bit and then remove the two silks from your teeth allowing the missing silk to come into view; apparently having been shot between them by your magical marksmanship.

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Lota Bowl — This may seem like a lot of things to carry just for the “Lota bowl,” however, if you want laughs, you won’t be disappointed.

The bowl is on a chair to the left of your regular magic table. Draped on the chair back is a silk bathrobe, (the more oriental looking the better) a Chinese hat, a long droopy mustache, and a pair of sun glasses (the kind with thick, flowery rims) and a tiny flute.

Begin by saying you will show them your Chinese trick, but you must be properly dressed to perform it. Walk over to the chair and put on all the aforementioned articles, blow the flute, then pour the water from the bowl, remove all the garments and go on with your regular act. At regular intervals thereafter empty the bowl, however, each time before the bowl is emptied, put on the robe, hat, glasses, and mustache and again blow the flute …each time as you do this, make it faster and faster. After about two or three times you will have them howling.