Thinking backwards

One of my favourite card effects is “The Smiling Mule” by Roy Walton, a spectator names any card in the deck and it instantly appears between two face up aces in the centre of the deck. I suggest you look it up for the method but it does involve the use of a gag/sucker situation at the start which enables you to find the named card.

Darwin Ortiz published a “variation” of this trick in Scams and Fantasies which he calls “The Last Laugh” and the thinking is all backwards. Let me explain. In Darwin’s variation he decides to eliminate the impromptu nature of the Walton original method and substitute a memorized deck instead! This seems ridiculous and is a classic example of variation for the sake of variation. Instead of improving on the routine he decides to make it more complicated (thereby also limiting it to an opening effect or in a set of effects also using such as setup). In the original the secret action takes place when the audience is laughing and think the trick is over, in Darwin’s version the gag element is reduced and you also have to pinky count to the position of the named card in the stack. Unnecessarily complex in my opinion.

He does defend his reasoning at the end of the effect –

“…The Walton effect is impromptu but requires that you spread through the deck face up to locate the named card. I feel that this could, in retrospect, provide a clue to the method”

I disagree. Performed properly the culling of the card is not noticed as the spectators are reacting to the gag part of the trick and believe the trick to be over. Here’s a clip of Darwin performing the trick. He gets lucky in this clip as the women names the top card of the deck. As for his performance in general – he’s hardly putting this theories from Strong Magic into practice.