Memory Feats That You Can Perform In Front Of An Audience
You may not be able to make an entire audience disappear, but there are many “amazing” feats you can perform, using the systems you’ve learned on this blog.
Take the “missing-card” stunt described in the article how to memorize playing cards —it actually derives from a “missing-number” stunt, which, if performed with numbers, has the same effect. Have someone number a paper from 1 to 50, or 100. Tell him to circle any five numbers. Then ask him to call all the remaining numbers and cross them out as they’re called. He’s to do this haphazardly, and as quickly as he likes.
You can be across the room while this is done; you don’t, of course, look at the paper. When all but the circled numbers have been crossed out, you tell your friend which numbers he circled! The principle is exactly the same as for the “missing” cards; except for this you mutilate the basic Peg Word for each called number. When he’s finished, go over the Peg Words mentally (from 1 to 50, or 1 to 100), and any one that’s not mutilated in your mind has to be a circled number. If you know the Peg Words well, and your friend crosses out and calls the numbers quickly, this is an impressive memory demonstration.
If you know the Card Words, try this for a group of at least eight people: Let someone shuffle a deck of cards. Then spread the deck face up, and, as you approach one person at a time, let each one take any two cards. As each person takes the two cards, you form a ridiculous picture between the two Card Words. For instance, one person may take the 10C and the 7S. See a silly picture of a large case wearing socks. Another person takes the 3C and the AH; see yourself combing your hair with a hat, or you’re wearing a gigantic comb instead of a hat. The idea is to do this quickly with each person’s two cards.
When all the people have two cards each (you can do this stunt with up to twenty-six people, of course, but it’s just as effective with ten or fifteen), ask each one to remember his or her cards and to hold them face down.
You now have a choice of effects. You can have anybody call out one of their cards— you instantly name the other one. Easy, of course; if someone calls the 10C, you think of case. That should make you think of sock (7S).
Or, you can have one member of the audience collect all the pairs of cards and shuffle them thoroughly. Now, make it look like a mind reading stunt; spread the cards face up and let anyone take out one of his cards. Ask him to think of his second card. Then, with a great show of concentration, remove it and hand it to him. Same thing; if he removes the 3C you’ll immediately think of comb, and that makes you think of hat. So, you remove the AH.
You can take this idea to many lengths. As one final example, you can take one card from each person, and mix them. Hold them face down and distribute them, haphazardly, one card to each member of your audience. Each person holds his two cards face up. Now, if you know the people by name (which you should, if you’ve applied what you learned in the section on names and faces), you can amaze them by rapidly giving instructions until each person again has his original pair. Something like this: “All right, Sally, give that eight of diamonds to Jim. Jim, you give your king of hearts to Al. Sally, take the four of spades from Harry and give it to Sue in exchange for her six of clubs.…” Once you’ve associated the pairs of cards originally taken by each person, you can perform many different card-memory feats.
Another card-oriented memory stunt: Let as many people as you like take one card. Each person quickly calls his or her card, plus any silly hiding place. For example, someone may say, “The four of diamonds, under the ashtray.” All you have to do is to associate the Card Word to the hiding place. In this case, you might see a gigantic ashtray being a door. Do this with each call. Now, if someone calls a card, you can instantly tell where it’s hidden. If someone calls a hiding place, you can just as instantly tell which card is hidden there.
Letter a paper from A to Z. Ask your audience to call out any letter, followed by a three-digit number to be written next to that letter. If someone calls the letter L and the number 489, form an association of an elf on a roof flying up. The letter P is called, plus the number 541; see a gigantic pea being caught with a lariat, or a gigantic pea being lured. Once every letter has been given a number, if you’ve made good clear associations you should know the number if a letter is called, and vice versa. This is impressive because you’re remembering entities that most people can’t remember— letters and numbers.
You must know your Alphabet Words, and you have to be able to make up words or phrases for three-digit numbers quickly. Your basic Peg Words and the “coupling idea” can help you with this. Make up a word that can couple easily with another word, one for each digit from 0 to 9. Here’s a suggestion for each: 0—hose; 1—wet; 2—on; 3—my; 4—hairy; 5—ill; 6—ashy; 7—hack; 8—wave; 9—happy.
Decide on the word, and how to picture it. Once you’ve done that, you can instantly remember a three-digit number: If 017 is called, you’d picture a tack (Peg Word for 17) wearing hose. If 191 is called, see a wet bat. Here’s one example for each “coupling” word. For 236, picture yourself putting a match on something; for 619, see a tub turning to ash as it burns; for 752, see yourself hacking a lion with an ax; for 847, see a gigantic rock waving at you; for 972, see a gigantic coin laughing (happy).
Use the same kind of picture with any Peg Word. In other words, for any three-digit number starting with 7, you’d always see the Peg Word (for the last two digits) being hacked with an ax; for any number that starts with a 4, see the Peg Word covered with hair, and so on.
Now you see that if L-489 is called, you can picture a hairy watch fob on an elf; for P-541, you’d associate an ill rod (fishing or curtain, whichever you’re using) to a pea. This letter-number stunt, incidentally, is just as impressive if done with half the alphabet, A to M.
A really impressive memory feat is to memorize the highlights of every page in an entire magazine. Simply associate the Peg Word for each page number to the outstanding stories or photographs on that page. If the magazine contains more than a hundred pages, make up Peg Words to fit.
Once you’ve made your associations, you should be able to rattle off the highlights for any page number called. You’ll even know the positions of the photos, without making an effort to remember them. Each association will conjure up a mental picture of that entire page. It’s the closest thing to a photographic memory try it, and you’ll see!
If you have a friend or relative who has learned the phonetic alphabet and who is willing to sit home at the telephone while you’re out having a good time, you can perform a fascinating demonstration in “thought transference.” Tell your audience that you know someone who can actually read thoughts from miles away. Give the audience the “medium’s” phone number before you begin the demonstration.
Now, have someone write any three-digit number on a large piece of cardboard —“Make it difficult,” you say. “Don’t repeat any digits.” Everyone looks at the number and concentrates on it. Ask someone to dial the telephone number you gave before the three-digit number was even thought of. As the person reaches for the phone, you say, “Oh, and ask for Mr. Jones.” When the person asks to speak with Mr. Jones, Mr. Jones will tell him that he’s thinking of the number 620, and he’ll be correct! How? Because of the name, Jones! You will have made up any name that codes the three digits (via the phonetic alphabet) to your assistant!
The reason you tell your audience to “make it difficult” and not repeat any digits is because it’s easier to come up with a name that way. It’s easy to come up with a legitimate-sounding name in any case; “Lorayne” would code 542 and “Lucas” would code 570, but the name you use need not contain only three consonant sounds.
Since your assistant knows that you’ll always ask for three digits, he or she will ignore any consonant sound after the first three. So, if he hears someone ask for Mr. Cooperberg, he knows that the three digits are 794—he ignores “berg.” The name Bentavagnia codes 921. There is no three-digit number that should cause any trouble. And you have plenty of time to think of a name while everyone else is concentrating on the number.
The “medium” should not blurt out the number. It should be given hesitantly, as if he or she were really receiving the number via mental telepathy. He might give the last digit first, then the first, and finally the center digit—we’ll leave the showmanship to you.
The same idea can be used with playing cards. If you tell a member of the audience to call and ask for Mr. Sanders, that codes the 2S. The first letter always tells the suit, and the next consonant sound tells the value. The name Haggett would code the 7H, Cavanaugh the 8C, and so on.
You can’t, of course, repeat either of these demonstrations for the same people—you’d have to tell them to ask to speak to a different “medium,” which would look suspicious. If you’re asked to repeat the stunt, claim mental fatigue!
We’ve just shown you how to use the systems to perform a few “amazing” feats. If you’ve learned and applied the systems throughout on this website, you must realize that there is really no limit to the feats you can perform, provided you enjoy doing them and have a willing audience. Just use your imagination to apply one system or another to whatever feat you think will seem amazing. It’s fun—for you, and for those watching you!