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Szechuan Sampler Review

Official Review

December 27th, 2002 1:31pm
Reviewed by Brad Henderson
How to be a Mind reader in two easy lessons.

Mind reading 101: If the trick requires you to add, multiply, subtract, or divide, the audience will think its just a "math trick."

Mind reading 102: Ok, there are maybe 3 tricks in the history of mind reading where adding up numbers can come off as real mind reading and not math, but only 3...or 4.

Fred Rosenbaum's Szechuan Sampler may be one of those 3, or 4.

For the sarcastically impaired, allow me to be blunt. I hate number tricks. The audience might not be able to explain accurately how they are done; but they either don't care enough to really think about it, or they just figure its a math thing and leave it at that.

Fred has devised a brilliant stratagem to excuse the math, plus he has built in a number of presentational points to totally fry any accountants who might be in the audience.

4 menus are passed out to 4 audience members. If desired, a 5th member can decide who picks what course. Each member picks a different item from their chosen courses, and the prices of each item are totaled.

Here's the cool part. at any time you can ask a different menu holder if he were given the choice of appetizer (or whatever) what would he have selected and at what cost. Both the items and prices would be completely different. (Play up this point and you have not only a fun concept, but a deceptive piece of magic.)

Regardless of their gustatory guesses, our culinary conjurer has prepared a gift certificate for our guests in the exact amount of their total order.

The menus look like something you would find at a real Chinese restaurant, not something manufactured to look like the real thing. Further, you can repeat the effect and have different numbers tallied. Good for repeat customers.

Still not convinced?

True story.

I perform at resorts every year. Some of these places have hosted me for over 12 years running. We have a lot of the same clientele year after year, consequently I need new material each season, and recycle material every two or three years.

I performed Szechuan Sampler about 7 years ago at one resort, just because it fit and was a novel piece. Last year I was talking with some of the regulars about all the shows they've seen and some of the more memorable pieces. Two of them remembered this piece from all those years ago.

The impact of Schezuan Sampler is out of proportion with the apparent effect. Give it some thought, deliver the instruction cleanly, give someone a CALCULATOR to perform the addition, treat your audience with respect, and the Sampler could be a great novelty mind reading piece just ready to be added to your show.

4 very strong stars.

Product info for Szechuan Sampler

Author: Earle, Lee
Publisher: Lee Earle Syzygy Press
Average Rating:  (3)
Retail Price: $50.00
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Manufacturer's Description:

EFFECT: Authentic menus from four different Chinese restaurants, representing a total of over 100 oriental delicacies, are given to participants from the audience. Looking over the menus, they can clearly see that no two prices are the same. A sealed gift certificate is presented to the four "diners" entitling them to sample one dish from each restaurant. They decide among themselves who will order each course. The participants freely choose from among Appetizers, Side Dishes, Entrees, and Desserts, stating aloud each dish and its price. The prices are openly written where all can see them.

After the "table check" for the meal is openly totaled, each "diner" agrees that, if he had picked some other item, the final sum would be a different figure altogether. The gift certificate is opened and read; the printed amount matches the total cost of the meal, to the penny. You also get Lee Earleā€™s delightful routine with all its subtleties, throw-offs, and laugh lines, for a presentation you can be really proud of. You can even repeat and get a different total. These beautiful menus are laminated (except for the take-out menu) for years of use. This is mental magic at its best. Automatic, easy, and entertaining.

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