The Lion Tamer

by Jim Gerrish

Based on a commercial trick of U.F. Grant's (but no longer being manufactured) called “Safari,” the Lion Tamer changes the theme of that trick from a Tiger into a Lion and adds some new twists. You can use your computer to print out a large photo (included) for decorating the front of this prop, or you can do your own artwork. You can also change the animal being used, as I did, or turn it into a monster of any type you wish. That's the advantage of being able to "do-it-yourself!"

The traditional routine involves showing a set of wicked looking "teeth" on a hardboard plaque mounted just behind the head (which has a hole cut out through the mouth). A brave spectator who is to act as the Lion Tamer is brought forward. The teeth are raised above the head so that the spectator can insert his wrist from the back, and thus his hand comes out of the front of the Lion's mouth.

On the count of Three, the teeth come crashing down on the spectator's wrist, and the Lion's head is then removed to show that the "teeth" have actually penetrated his wrist painlessly. It's a hand chopper without a blade, and more of a penetration effect mystery since the audience sees the entire "blade" at the end.

Because the theme is now a Lion, you can reference a circus Lion Tamer putting his head into the mouth of a live lion, so your volunteer will practice just putting his hand in the mouth of one while he is learning. You can also reference The Lion King, or the Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz, awarding the volunteer medals of bravery (or band-aids) after his experience, and so on. I'll leave the presentations up to you and just give you the information you need to make this wonderful kid's show prop.

This prop requires more than just hardboard and duct tape. You will also need wooden molding to make the frames, wire nails, carpenter's glue, and a hammer. You may award yourself a medal for bravery if you manage not to smash your thumbs while pounding nails.


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