Quite a few years ago, the Abbott Magic Co. of Colon, Michigan, marketed a trick called Abbotts’ Daring Spring Trap. Matter of fact, they still do.
In my opinion, it’s an excellent prop. It has novelty, mystery and an air of danger. (Practically all stage illusions are based on this last premise. Stop and think about it, magicians are always figuring out ways to mutilate their beautiful girl assistants by slicing, cutting, chopping or shredding, etc.)
In the effect, a steel animal trap is shown. The trap is placed on the floor, and by stepping on it, the trap is set. You then place a wooden pencil into the trap. The force of the trap closing will snap the wooden pencil in half. You then reset the trap and shove your hand into its jaws. Sounds dangerous doesn’t it? Well, it isn’t, in fact it doesn’t hurt you one little bit.
I’ve added a couple of presentation points to it, and proven funny premise that has always played well for me. I use a lady assistant from the audience to hold the trap for me. Gals are normally afraid of things like traps, so she will be a little nervous, which helps the fun along.
I set the trap and hand it to her. Then I place the pencil inside and when it snaps it in half, the girl’s reactions will again garner more laughs for you. I tell the gal that I am going to shove my hand into the trap and that she must hold it perfectly still, otherwise it will pull the fingers right off the hand.
I further explain that in order to keep the jaws of the trap from breaking my skin that I will wrap a small hand towel and around my fingers. I then wrap the towel around the fingers of my RIGHT hand. I start to shove my right, towel-covered hand into the trap, but then I stop. This starting and stopping bit is used several times.
Finally, I say, “Don’t worry, I won’t hurt myself, all I’m going to do is just put my hand in like this.” As I say this, I shove my LEFT (unwrapped) hand into the trap and LET OUT A “YELL” AT THE SAME TIME. The gal will be “bananas”.
I ask her to remove the trap from my hand. She can’t, so I say “Wait, just a second”. I then walk offstage, remove the trap, place a fake rubber hand into it and pull my left hand up into my sleeve. I make as much offstage noise as I can, and then walk back onstage swinging the trap with the fake hand in it, in my RIGHT hand. I ask for applause for the gal and dismiss her.
This last bit is old I know, but it’s also a very funny and commercial laugh finish to the routine.