Page 34                                             Spring 1988   



  Tubular Magic by Emory Kimbrough


The ball-and-tube juggle is an unusual old pattern not seen very often today.


Obtain a 12-inch tall tube about 4-inches in diameter. I use a mailing tube covered with durable adhesive-backed decorative paper, available at art supply shops. Hold the tube vertically in your left hand and juggle two balls counter-clockwise in your right. With a little practice, it is possible to have the balls pass downward through the tube on every throw.


If you like the ball-and-tube juggle, try doing it with a table when you perform. If you also find find a wine bottle that fits inside your tube, you can try my new magical finish to this old stunt.


Have the bottle on a shelf that extends out from the back of your table, and perform the balls-and-tube juggle while standing to the right of the table. While acknowledging your applause after the straight trick, switch your grip so that the left hand holds the tube from the top, fingers inside and thumb outside.


Explain that it's impossible to perform the stunt with three balls as you reach across your body with your right hand to pick up a third ball from the table. (You put it there after finishing your three ball routine) Performers are usually instructed not to reach across the body, but this time it is done for a reason. As you reach across with your right hand, your left hand can easily move behind the table and slip the tube over the bottle (ill. 1).


Grip the bottle by holding its top against the inside of the tube with your fingers. Your right hand, now holding three balls, moves back to the right side to show them to the audience. At the same time, your left hand brings the tube and concealed bottle back into view and puts them on the right side of the table. You can use a pad to muffle the sound of the bottle.


You explain you're going to try the impossible three balls. It's important to use some magical "misdirection" here. If you keep up the patter, the audience will forget that the tube was ever out of view.


Use your left hand to grab the base of the tube. Just before you pick it up, tilt it slightly to sneak your pinky under the opening (ill. 2). Bring the tube up in front of you as if to juggle the three balls through it. The bottle is supported (painfully) by your pinky. Toss one of the balls into the tube and act startled when it disappears and fails to come through.


As you quickly lift the tube up to reveal the bottle, you say you now know why three balls are impossible, "Because the bottle always gets in the way!" .


It is important to remain relaxed when you make the steal. But keep in mind that no one is expecting bold magic in the middle of a juggling act. You must not look at your left hand when it goes behind the table. Learn to place the tube over the bottle automatically without looking. Keep your eyes fixed on the balls in the right

hand and keep talking about them until well after you steal the bottle. Don't hold the tube at such an angle as to give the audience a premature peek at the bottle, either.


If you're lucky, you might find a flexible tube just slightly bigger than the bottle. With this, you can squeeze the bottle tight inside and not have to use your pinky finger. This production is also an excellent transition from a ball juggling routine into bottle and plate manipulations.


(Emory Kimbrough is active in the performing arts of juggling, magic and comedy. He lives in Montgomery, Ala., where he works as a science educator and writer.)

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