The “Holy-Head” Match
In my book “CLEVER LIKE A FOX” I described my favorite bit of close-up table nonsense, “a spoonerism” the gag of sticking a teaspoon to your nose. I received many nice letters and comments about how much fun it creates.
The following is another of my favorites of the same type. That is, it’s a piece of business that is hard to believe how strongly it goes over with a crowd until you try it. After one try, you’ll use it all the time.
I’m sure you all remember the old trick of blowing out a wooden (or kitchen) match while it is held above your head. It is accomplished by secretly flicking the match with your forefinger. Well, since 99% of the world no longer uses or carries wooden matches, I set about to do the same bit with a PAPER match. After much trial and error, I stumbled on to the way to make it work. No laymen and very few magicians have ever tumbled onto the method. In fact, several very knowledgeable magicians have burned many books of matches and one or two fingers trying to make it work. I’ll describe how to blow the match out first and then give you the little routine I use with it.
In experimenting, I discovered the logical way to make the match go out is to hold it firmly between your right thumb and forefinger and by pushing your thumb forward it causes the match to snap or turn around, putting the flame out. Just one fault, though, IT DOESN’T WORK! In order to make it work, you must do the following.
Matchbook is held in left hand. Remove a match with the right thumb and first finger and strike it on the match pack. After the match is burning, move the thumb and finger up close to the flame. (Fig. 1.) Close the other three fingers into the palm. Straighten out the three fingers until they are even with the forefinger. This will cause the bottom half of the match to bend forward at a right angle. (Fig. 2.)
Now lower the thumb, gripping the match stem by the lower part. Tip your hand back a little and the match will appear to be standing straight up. Press thumb lightly against forefinger then move thumb sharply to the right. This will cause the match to flip around and BECAUSE OF THE LARGER ARC THE FLAME HAS TO TRAVEL, IT WILL GO OUT. (Fig. 3.) BE SURE to straighten the match out before you toss it in the ashtray so that if they look at it later (THEY WILL) they will not discover it was bent. Practice the simple (but complicated to explain) move until you can do it perfectly, then you’re ready for the routine.
You show any empty glass in your left hand and a lit match in right hand. Hold the match in front of the glass and blow the match out, through the glass. This is the old stunt in many simple magic books. When you blow on the glass, your breath passes around the glass on both sides and puts the match out.
Explain that you will show them a variation. Light another match in right hand (bend match) and hold it out at the arms length. Blow INTO glass held in left hand and as you do, match in right hand goes out. Then light another match, hold it up over the top of your head. As you blow straight ahead, the match up above will go out, this will get a good laugh. You’ll get another laugh when you deliver the final line. “My wife has the best explanation for this, she said, ‘It’s simple, YOU HAVE A HOLE IN YOUR HEAD’.”