Wolfgang Riebe is a successful international magician, having performed over 150 countries and in cruise ships, and has his own TV shows. He specialises in comedy magic, and the “Comedy Paper Bag Blindfold Card Routine” is one of his favourite effects. To be selected as one of his favourites speaks volumes of the impact that this effect has on his audience. This is truly an uniquely hilarious trick.
A spectator is invited on stage to help the performer with a card trick. To ensure that the performer does not get to see what card is being chosen, he volunteers to blindfold himself. After some contemplation, he suggests the spectator also be blindfolded so that he cannot see the cards and his choice would be a truly random one. Instead of using cloth blindfolds which the performer claims is non-hygienic (this is true), he brings out brand new large sized paper bags to put over their heads. The sight of a paper bag over the head of anyone is funny enough to make the audience laugh. Here, both the performer and the spectator each has a paper bag put over their heads.
Now comes the hilarious part where the performer tries to shuffle the cards and the spectator tries to select a card, and both of them cannot see what they are doing! Eventually, one card is selected and shuffled back into the deck, amidst more laughter from the audience.
The performer brings out a small knife and says he will ask the spectator to throw the entire deck into the air – while blindfolded, he will lunge the knife into the cascading cards and hopes to stab the one selected card. Now comes another hilarious part where the blindfolded spectator throws the deck into the air and tries to get out of the way of the performer’s knife. The performer lunges the knife but fails to pierce any card. He “blames” the spectator for not carrying out his instructions properly. The audience can see everything and knows that neither the performer nor the spectator is to be blamed. Disappointed, the performer brings out his insurance policy he purchased against things that can go wrong in his performance. After more laughter from the “insurance policy”, the selected card is finally found, amidst great laughter from the audience!
You receive a link to an online instruction video. The 35 minutes video comprises an introduction, 2 live performances, discussion on how to obtain the props, and a full explanation of the complete routine by Wolfgang Riebe.
This routine is inspired by Mark Kornhauser’s blindfold act in which he uses a card-sword. Wolfgang has re-thought through the entire presentation and uses paper bags instead of blindfolds and an ordinary kitchen knife instead of the card-sword. The blindfold and the card-sword suggest they are magician’s props. For Wolfgang’s routine, both the paper bags and the knife are un-gimmicked. This means the effect can be performed at any venue by just carrying the “insurance policy”, as both the paper bags, knife and playing cards can be obtained almost anywhere.
As mentioned previously, the sight of a paper bag over someone’s head is already a cause for much laughter. Wolfgang shows you how to include some hilarious patter that lifts this routine to the next level. However, he cautions against using his personal patter so that you will not end up to be another Wolfgang when you perform this routine. He explains the psychology behind the premise of this routine and shows you how you can customise the presentation as well as your own patter to suit your performing persona. He also discusses his preference for the size of the playing cards to be used on stage, and how to select the proper spectator so as not to offend them as they have to don the paper bag over their head.
This is a laugh-a-minute comedy routine that runs for about 5 minutes. It packs small yet plays big. It uses props that are easily and cheaply replaceable, except for the insurance policy. You get a pdf file to print and make your own insurance policy. If you are into comedy magic, you will not want to miss out this routine.
The “Sidewalk Shuffle” has been a classic stand-up trick with playing cards. What makes it so special is that it uses only 4 cards and it is suitable for a cabaret or stage performance. For visibility, it is not performed with the usual sized playing cards but with jumbo sized playing cards. It has several factors that contribute to making it a great effect. It is funny, has a lot of magic happening within the short performing time, and is an act by itself with 3 distinct phases. It also reaches out to a large audience.
Here is what the effect looks like. The performer shows 4 large sized playing cards. They comprise 3 blank cards and an Ace. One blank card is set aside, leaving the performer with 3 cards. The performer places the Ace between the 2 blanks. He slowly mixes the cards around with their backs facing the audience. The audience can clearly follow that the Ace is still sandwiched in the middle. When this card is turned around, it is not the Ace – it is a blank! In fact, all the 3 cards are shown one at a time to be blanks. The Ace has vanished! The performer turns his attention to the lone card that was set aside earlier. This turns out to be the Ace! The effect, as it is, is stunning to the audience. But this is only the first phase.
In the second phase, the performer offers to repeat. He again places one blank card aside. The Ace is placed in the middle of the 3 cards and the cards moved around. Once again, he shows that the Ace has vanished, and all the 3 cards are displayed as blanks. He picks up the card set aside earlier and turns it around to show the Ace! The audience is now stunned twice!
Three is always the lucky number, so the performer offers to show one more time. Again, he places a blank card aside. He puts the Ace between the 2 cards and mixes all the 3 cards. While it is still obvious by the mixing that the Ace is the middle card, the audience is wised up by now. They want to see the card set aside earlier. The performer turns this card around – it is not the Ace as expected – it is a blank card. The performer says in jest that had any one pointed to any of the 3 cards he held, they would have got the Ace. The performer turns the 3 cards around and show all the 3 cards to be Aces! Nobody can see this coming. This is a befitting climax to end the routine!
You get an online video teach-in by Wolfgang Riebe himself. The 30 minutes video comprises an introduction, 2 live performances by Wolfgang, instructions on how to make the cards yourself, and the full routine meticulously explained by him. The biggest take-away is Wolfgang’s 30 years’ experience of performing this routine. His handling and patter have been refined to give you the most entertaining routine with this effect. His tips on how to construct the cards, especially on the placements of the graphics, are priceless.
Even if you have owned the “Sidewalk Shuffle” or “Chase The Ace”, you will like the presentation by Wolfgang. His very large sized cards not only make the effect more visual, it makes the magic seem more incredible. I have never liked “Sidewalk Shuffle” because of the gimmicked cards. Joe Riding came up with a non-gimmicked version which he called “The Irish 3 Card Trick” or “The Only 3 Card Trick In The World Using Only 4 Cards”. This has been one of my favourite tricks and is in my performing repertoire for over 20 years. Joe’s effect does not use blank cards but 3 spot cards against one picture card.
I have personally seen Wolfgang performing this effect and I love his presentation. The effect runs for about 3 minutes. This, plus the fact that he uses extra-large cards and the great contrast between blank cards and the Ace of Spades have convinced me to use “The Giant Sidewalk Shuffle” in my future performances. You will, too.