The Pit and the Pendulum

by Professor Spellbinder

Effect:

It's rare that I get a chance to mix magic and puns so freely. I begin by relating a highly abridged version of Edgar Allen Poe's story, "The Pit and the Pendulum," describing how the hero of the story is tied over a deep pit and how the swinging pendulum blade keeps getting closer and closer to him. Then, having planted that image in the minds of the onlookers, I veer from the story and tell how easily the hero could have been saved by a witch who knew the right magic. I offer to demonstrate. But first I need the services of a witch. I ask for a young woman who feels she has psychic powers and who has always wondered if perhaps she could become a witch. If this doesn't bring hesitant hands up, I just go down amongst the onlookers and use my wand to locate a potential witch.

Now I introduce the "victim." This is a tiny action figure, male, of your choice. Not a GI Joe, since he is too big, but a small action figure that will fit under a large size plastic cup. Perhaps a Harry Potter figure. You decide.

I show six large plastic cups and select a young man to hide the action figure under one of them, while both the witch and I are unable to see what he is doing. So the witch and I turn our backs on the boy and let him hide the action figure under one of the cups, and then direct him verbally to slide the cups around to further mix them up. When this is done, the witch and I return to center stage. I have in my hand a peach or a nectarine and my athame (ceremonial knife). I use this to cut open the nectarine and remove the central nut.

Then I withdraw a length of butcher's string from my pocket and quickly tie it around the nut. Holding the nut up high, I release my pun on the audience: "The Pit!" Then I let the pit swing back and forth on the string. "And the Pendulum!"

After the groans have subsided, I place the pendulum in the hands of our young witch and have her hold the pendulum over each of the cups in her quest to rescue the "victim." Eventually, she eliminates the cups she is sure are empty and finally locates the cup containing the action figure. I present her with the pendulum so that she can continue her studies in witchcraft and save other innocent victims.

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