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Well, the following effect certainly isn't. It's an amalgam of ideas that evolved from my frustration in doing the Kozlowski Bill Switch. Actually, it was my inability to do the switch that led me here, along with ideas from Magick Balay and Jay Noblezada.

But the real credit goes to Mehdi's "Dynaswitch," an effect I came across at Tannen's many years ago, and have been using in one form or another for as long as I can remember. (I urge you to check it out.) From there I more recently learned Jay Noblezada's bill effect "Two Dollar Window" (handling similar to Dynaswitch) and then Magick Balay's work with the Kozlowski switch (4Q). And somewhere along the line I thought of using a mis-made bill to make the transformation striking in it's own way.

So, you see, there's nothing new here but hopefully you may agree that it's at least a novel idea.

Oh, and please forgive my rudimentary production skills!

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The Power of Three



 BACKGROUND: This effect is structured around the notion that often in our world things come in threes. Jokes often have three parts, superstitions are often based on events happening in threes, and phrases very often are comprised of three parts (i.e. “Red, White, and Blue;” “Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner;” “Hook, Line, and Sinker”).  


EFFECT: Two spectators, preferably a married couple, reach into clear plastic bags filled with folded pieces of paper that contain seemingly random segments of three-part phrases similar to those mentioned above. One person is reaching into a bag containing the first two parts of a phrase such as "Red, White, and..." while the second person is reaching into a bag containing the third word in the phrase. After several attempts in which they fail to find the matching parts, the couple reaches into their respective bags and “miraculously” discover the phrase fragments that align perfectly.


 PROPS: Two clear plastic forcing bags set up as detailed below.


 PRESENTATION: Begin by talking about how often things come in threes. You might mention the Three Musketeers, the Three Stooges, and Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Then there are expressions like “Three Strikes You're Out” and “Three's a Crowd.” You can note that there are three colors in a traffic signal, that we tell children to learn their A-B-Cs and mention that people think bad things come in threes. " “And if you have kids,” you might say, “you know what it means when people say it’s like a three ring circus!”


    “But three is really a magic number, a fundamental component of the universe. Let me show you what I mean. If I were to say, ‘Red, White, and...,’ no doubt you would think the word ‘Blue.’ How about ‘Morning, Noon, and....?’ I bet you thought the word ‘Night.’ Let's try one more: ‘Bacon, Lettuce, and...?’ That's right, ‘Tomato.’


    It seems at times that everything comes in threes. If you will indulge me I would like to try an experiment to demonstrate the Power of Three and I need a couple to help me, preferably a couple who have been together for quite some time.”


     After greeting your assistants and thanking them for helping, ask if they have ever had the experience of knowing what the other was thinking. “Maybe you've even been able to finish each other’s sentences. I know that’s true for my wife and I. Sometimes she doesn't even have to speak; I'll just say, 'I know, I know, take out the trash.' Scientists believe this ability to know what the other is thinking is just the result of familiarity and conditioning from having lived together for so many years. But I think it has its roots in our abilities to unconsciously or subconsciously read each other's minds."


     (Obviously, all of this pseudo-psychological verbiage is intended to set the stage for the effect. How you play it is up to you.)


     You now bring out your two clear plastic forcing bags. In the first bag one side is filled with random folded pieces of paper which have the first two parts of phrases such as “Breakfast, Lunch, and...” or “Going, Going....” In the other half of the bag, the forcing side, there are similarly colored and folded pieces of paper but all of the slips contain the same beginning parts of the phrase of your choice. For our example let’s use “Hip, Hip, Hooray.” So the forcing side of bag number one is set up to force “Hip, Hip, and....”


     In bag number two you have a similar set up only this bag contains the third part of the phrase you choose. Thus, one side of the second bag has multiple slips of similarly colored folded papers with random third words supposedly linked to the beginning fragments in bag number one.  The forcing side of bag number two will have many folded pieces but each one has the word “Hooray” written on it.


     You are now going to work your way up to this remarkable coincidence in which the two spectators find the matching parts. However, because the “regular” sides of the forcing bags contain random parts of phrases, you have an opportunity to have some fun. Explain that bag number one holds the first two parts of a phrase and that bag number two holds the third part.


     “Close your eyes,” you say to spectator number one, “and reach into this bag.” She pulls out a random slip. “Don't open it just yet. Let's see if your spouse can find its mate.” Asking the partner to close his eyes, you then have him reach into the “regular” side of bag number two.


     You then ask the first person to read what is on her slip. Let's assume hers says, “Red, White, and....” You then turn to her spouse and ask him to read his paper and he says, “Dinner,” for example, or whatever single word he has randomly chosen. Obviously, this has the potential to be entertaining because the mismatches lend themselves to funny combinations. I would also encourage you to try it a few times before the finale. By doing this a few times it emphasizes the randomness of the slips of paper in each bag.


     When you are ready to put the force sides of the bags to use, you need to return to your psychological rationale or whichever premise you are using to justify the coincidence or work of synchronicity that is about to occur.  


     Turning to your assistants you now ask them to clear their minds, to let all thoughts fall away, and just trust that they have “The Power of Three.”


     Instruct each to close his and her eyes and pull out a slip of paper from the forcing sides of the bags. In our example, she will then pull out a slip reading “Hip, Hip, and...” and he will have a slip that reads, “Hooray.” Once you instruct them to read their phrase fragments aloud, you can (if you choose to) echo “Hooray” which makes for a fun ending and applause cue.


AFTERTHOUGHTS: To avoid having the random selections match, use words in bag number two that have no connection to the phrase fragments in bag number one. Also, be careful as you play this so that it does not fall into the “Too Perfect Theory.”




  • Lock, Stock, and Barrel

  • Going, Going, Gone

  • Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

  • Eat, Drink, and be Merry

  • Snap, Crackle, Pop

  • The Niña, Pinta, and the Santa Maria

  • Peanuts, Popcorn, and Crackerjacks

  • Tom, Dick, and Harry

  • Legislative, Judicial, Executive

  • Hop, Skip, and Jump

  • Stop, Look, and Listen

  • Shake, Rattle, and Roll

  • Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic

  • Sun, Moon, and Stars

  • Faith, Hope, and Charity

  • The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

  • Knife, Fork, and Spoon

  • Mind, Body, and Soul

  • Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll

  • High, Medium, and Low

  • Beginning, middle, and ending

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