Mr. Bones

by Professor Spellbinder

Effect:

As Halloween draws near, I always try to give my young trick or treaters a new surprise each year. Some of my surprises in past years have made them flee from my porch in terror. Having learned from past mistakes, I now try to simply entertain them.

The porch show has to meet certain criteria, different from the usual "magic show" criteria. The audience changes constantly, but you may also get "repeaters." You have to be able to reset very quickly as one group leaves and the next group arrives, so shows that sort of "travel in a circle," i.e. end as they began, work best. And every show has to end in the candy handout finale. You have to pay your audience!

Here's how the Mr. Bones Show works:

The guests arrive and ring the doorbell. Just for fun, I like to hang an old fashioned bell on a post and they have to pull a rope to ring it. It's something different for them and the neighbors don't mind... too much.

Suddenly, in response to the bell, the porch lights up with ultraviolet lights (blacklights) and they are looking at a box that resembles a briefcase which rests on a small platform. They can see underneath the platform at all times. The lid of the box opens up and inside they see a miniature graveyard scene with fluorescent grave stones. In the very center of the "graveyard" is an open grave; a hole "dug" into the bottom of the box. There is a pile of fluorescent bones in the grave, and they come together and form themselves into a tiny skeleton which peeks out of the grave and looks around.

Mr. Bones climbs out of the grave, gets to his feet and depending on the volume of arriving guests, puts on a short show, a medium show, or a long show. The length of show is determined by looking down the street to see when the next group is likely to arrive.

I usually act as Mr. Bone's "assistant," interpreting his "sign language" since he obviously can't talk, and passing out candy when the crowd is large. Otherwise, Mr. Bones generally dances to music, then passes out single pieces of candy, one by one. He gets a piece of candy out of a grave "hole" in the center of the graveyard. He hands the candy to me, I inspect it like a good parent, and drop it into each child's bag.

We have worked out little "bits of business" over the years, like having Mr. Bones stumble and fall, then getting up again. For some reason the kids find this funny. Sometimes Mr. Bones gets too close to the edge of the "stage" and almost falls off. Then he has to climb back up onto the stage, which again is considered "funny." Sometimes Mr. Bones tries to eat the candy, but it just falls out his empty stomach again. If I ignore Mr. Bones, he tugs on my robe to get my attention. Remember, this show is for kids, who find all of this stuff hysterically funny and if their parents are bored, they have the good manners not to say so.

To speed things along, if I spot another group on the way up the front walk, I will quickly dispense the rest of the candy without consulting Mr. Bones, but he also speeds up and runs around his little graveyard stage while this is going on. Finally I tell him to wave goodnight to the boys and girls, which he does, then he collapses back to the pile of bones so he can begin again with the next group.

If there is time, I reset back to the very beginning. I shut the display box lid, the lights turn off and I go and sit down for as long as I can. If not, I just pick it up from the near beginning by saying "Wake up, Mr. Bones! We have some more guests!"

If the next group arrives before the first group has left, Mr. Bones just continues handing out the candy, but he can repeat his bits of business for the new audience.

Sometimes, towards the end of the evening, we start getting groups of older kids and teenagers who just want candy and who may find the show beneath them to enjoy. To test the situation, I may have Mr. Bones crawl to life and hand me a piece of candy, but if the older kids begin mocking the show, Mr. Bones lies down again, the box lid closes, and I pass out the candy quickly just to get rid of the crowd. Mr. Bones and I only work for appreciative audiences.

You may not like the idea of going to all this trouble for a free ... no, I take that back, you have to pay the audience off in candy... show on your front porch once a year. However, you may discover that once it is built, you can include it (minus the candy handout) in your regular demonstrations of Wizard magic as an example of Animation, bringing lifeless objects to life.

Mr. Bones $5.00

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