Miser’s Nightmare


Whenever I see a trick that lots of different magicians perform, but with a very similar presentation, my ears prick up.

Maybe it’s because, like Lady Gaga, I’m “obsessively opposed to the typical” (sadly, that’s where the likeness ends). But also because there’s good potential to come up with something interesting, since it’s a proven audience favourite, which is why it’s so common, yet the field of original twists remains relatively uncluttered.

Anyway, here’s my take on Extreme Burn, which takes it in a slightly different direction, and allows you to go cover more emotions than usual.

Get Rich Or Lie Trying

The presentation hook is that you’ve found a way to increase your money, instantly, that you learnt from an exclusive VIP online course. Sure, it was pricey, but you’ve got to spend money to make money, haven’t you? And the YouTube ad for it had a guy talking beside a sports car, so it must be the real deal.

You show a stack of five pound notes (or dollars) in one hand, and a stack of twenties in the other.

You stare at the stack of fives and say you’re going to turn them into twenties. Shriek “Show me the money!”, and with a flick, the fives become twenties. You look smug, then glance across at the stack of twenties in you other hand. But…

They’ve now become fives. You look crestfallen, then perk up and say, “Well, I broke even”. But then you look back to the freshly minted stack of twenties to discover they have reverted to being fivers too.

Annoyed, you stuff the stacks back in your pocket, mumbling. “Maybe I need the advanced course…” 

5 Upsides To This Version

  1. It gives you a chance to play multiple emotions: enthusiastic, hopeful, greedy, smug, crestfallen and angry.
  2. It shows your vulnerability, rather than being an unapproachable omnipotent being.
  3. There are more magical moments. And a mix of overt changes and offbeat changes. It also sets up a nice looking-side-to-side rhythm (see Parlour Tricks by Morgan and West for another routine with a “tennis match” style viewing experience).
  4. It’s probably more relatable, as we’ve all seen online get-rich-quick schemes, and been dubious as to whether they work.
  5. Since it involves making up two sets, rather than one, fewer people are likely to go to the effort of trying it, so you’ll have a more unique routine.


Having written this up, I recently read on social media that Eugene Burger also had a routine with a similar presentation hook (in his case, dreaming of being rich then waking up to find he’s not), but for a different trick, I believe. If anyone can give me more details of credits, drop me a line.

Similarly, if you give the trick a go, let me know how it plays.


Apologies to anyone who saw the title and expected this to be a mash-up where the magician plucks three ropes from thin air – a short, medium and long one – then drops them into a champagne bucket with a resounding…dull rope-y thud.