One of my goals in sharing routines is that of providing practical material that performers can use in shows. I am committed to sharing material that works in “real world” situations.
The truth is, not all magic is particularly useful. Some tricks are based on clever principles, and involve intricate moves or mechanics that magicians appreciate, yet audiences do not care much to see these same tricks performed. There are many tricks in magic that magicians seem to like more than does the public.
There are other tricks that magicians may take for granted, or even overlook, that actually get a terrific response from the public. The effect known as “Day At The Circus” fits that category.
It is a trick I have enjoyed using for years. It recently occurred to me that I have never written about it. It also seems that not many other magicians are using it in their shows.
The original version of the trick was released by Supreme Magic of England. I purchased my first model of the trick directly from them.
The trick is simple and fun. In my opinion it is exceptionally useful for one reason: the theme of the trick makes for an ideal change of pace in a show. It provides novelty and a special interest factor.
After having done a variety of tricks, the magician says to the audience, “Now I shall make an elephant disappear!” That is a great way to focus the attention of the audience. You are not going to do another rope trick. You are not, once again, asking for a volunteer. You are doing something different. People think, How can he possibly vanish an elephant? Then the comedy and magic begins!
I want to be sure to properly emphasize the key point in this. I am saying that, as simple as the trick is, because you can offer to make an elephant disappear, it is a great addition to a show. It may be that the title Day At The Circus has kept some performers from understanding the heart of the routine. It is not about a day at the circus. Those who try to build patter around a circus story will miss the point and punch of the magic. It is about making an elephant disappear!
The audience is shown three cards. One is a picture of a ringmaster, one is a picture of a dancing horse, and one is a picture of an elephant.
The three cards are placed into a folder decorated to look like a circus tent. Next, one at a time, the cards are removed from the folder. The ringmaster is taken out and set aside. The dancing horse is taken out and set aside.
Then the announcement is made that the elephant is no longer in the folder. It has vanished! To prove this, the magician opens the folder and shows the elephant picture has disappeared. In place of it is a card that, in bold letters, says, “Gone!”
Audience members suspect that the elephant has not really vanished. They believe it to be on the back of the “Gone” card. When the magician turns the “Gone” card over, on the back is a picture of a clown. When showing this, the magician says, “Back here we have a clown who is smiling because he loves it when the elephant disappears!”
The “Day At The Circus” trick is a dealer item. The principle is the same as “ABC Stung” and other large card tricks that involve a pocket on the back of one of the cards. The elephant card slips into the back of the ringmaster card. When the ringmaster card is removed from the folder, the elephant is secretly taken away as well.
The “Gone” card is in the folder from the beginning of the trick.
Vanishing Elephant Pro Presentation Kit/“Day At The Circus” trick. We highly recommend it. The entertainment it provides makes it well worth the price of purchasing it.
Place the “Gone” card in the folder.
I do not like tricks that make the audience feel foolish. Some performers have presented this trick by showing the clown picture first at the climax of the trick. When the audience says, “Turn it around”, they then show “Gone”. This basically is a way of saying to the audience, “Ha, I fooled you!”
To avoid that, I show the “Gone”, first. When the audience says, “Turn it around” (which is fun and I enjoy playing along with it), I eventually turn the card over to show the clown. The words, “Here is a smiling clown who loves it when the elephant disappears”, takes the sting out of mystery. Rather than being told they are fools, the audience is being told, “This is great, it is a reason to smile!”
“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, this is the portion of the show where I make an elephant disappear. That is right. If you have heard of the famous ‘Disappearing Elephant’ trick, now you get to actually see it done by way of pictures.”
“It happens at a circus. It begins with a ringmaster. He is very excited to have the disappearing elephant trick in his show.”
Show the ringmaster card.
“There is also a dancing horse. The horse dances and prances because it too is excited about the fact that an elephant will disappear.”
Show the dancing horse card.
“Here is the elephant. She is huge. Everyone wonders, how is it possible for an elephant to disappear?”
Show the elephant card.
“The disappearing elephant trick involves a circus tent. Here it is.”
“The ringmaster, dancing horse, and elephant enter the tent.”
Place the three cards inside the tent folder.
“Then the ringmaster comes out again and announces in his ringmaster voice, ‘The elephant has disappeared!’”
Show the ringmaster card and set it aside.
“Out comes the dancing horse, still dancing and excited because the elephant has disappeared.”
Show the dancing horse card and set it aside.
“So the question is, what is still inside the tent? Is it the elephant? The answer is, ‘No, the elephant is gone!’”
Open the tent and show the “Gone” card. Indicate that the elephant is no longer in the tent folder.
“It is incredible. It is astonishing. It is baffling.”
“But then again, there are those who doubt an amazing trick like this can really happen. They do not think the elephant has actually disappeared.”
“What do we tell them? We tell them it really did happen and even the clown is smiling, because he loves it when the elephant disappears!”
Turn the “Gone” card and show the smiling clown on the other side.
This is obviously a great kid-show trick, but I have used it on the big stage for adults and it has gone over well. It is a good routine to do “in front of the curtain” during an illusion show. Follow it up with saying, “Now, we return to the big stage!”