The Worlds Fastest Card Trick (1948)

I have an obsession with old magic manuscripts and I love digging out hidden gems from within them. I recently managed to get my hands on a small booklet by Joe Karson which explains the feature trick in his act – a comedy piece in which the performer attempts to do the fastest card trick in the world – a selected card is returned, shuffled in to the pack and found almost straight away after the cards are placed behind the magicians back.

The comedy comes from the fact that the trick is routined in such a way that at first the spectator returns the card without looking at it, then they forget to return the card to the pack. A third card is chosen only this time the spectator forgets the card! Finally a card is produced – only this times it’s the wrong one. To end the trick this card magically changes into the selected card.

Technique wise it needs nothing more that a top change – all the fun is in the presentation which I think a modern performer could pull off with great success.

Joe Karson writes in the introduction –

The WORLD’S FASTEST CARD TRICK has earned more laughs for me in my act (so called) than any other comedy trick that I have ever had. I sincerely hope that it will do the same for you.

For more about Joe Karson (inventor of “Zombie”) click here. The booklet is also available as a download from Lybrary – click here.

Words of wisdom

The following is an excerpt from “The Actor Magician Essays” by Louis C. Haley –

You should practice the “moves” of your experiments every day of your life (and many times each day), till you can do them as the artist pianist plays – his fingers and hands seem to think for him.


For those of you that do Jerry Sadowitz’s “Ipcress” from Contempory Card Magic – during the Vernon Multiple shift pick up an extra face down card above the 2. When you come to the Victor change part you’ll have to add one more card but at the end of the trick you can cleanly spread to show the A, 2 and 3 without having to hide any reversed cards.

Larry Jennings' "Memoreverse"

This trick is genius. From the Lake Tahoe book –

A card is thought of by the spectator. The performer proceeds to memorize the entire deck of cards. He proves this by telling the spectator to give him a number. He tells the spectator what card is at that number. The performer then asks the spectator the identity of his thought of card. The spectator does so and the performer tells the spectator a number. The spectator counts down to this number and his thought of card is found reversed at that point! This is the first time the thought of card is ever mentioned, and the deck is in the spectators hands.

Although the description of the effect is a little colourful – the trick pretty much appears as outlined above. When it says the spectator thinks of a card what really happens is that they spread through and remember a card and the position of that card from the face of the pack. You then shuffle and “memorize” the cards and ask for the number their card was at (say 12). You then name a card (say 7C), count down to the twelfth card from the top, and find the 7C at that position. At this point the pack is given to the spectator as you ask them the name of their card. You then name a number (say 40) and spectator deals down and finds their card face up at the position you named!

Very easy to do – the only real sleights needed are Roy Walton’s “Royverse” and a good false shuffle.

Found on page 55 of “Lake Tahoe Card Magic”. Look it up!