What The Beep?!


Hope peeps had a good Easter.

Since Stranger Things has helped usher in a resurgence in all things ’80s over the past few years, here’s an ’80s-inspired presentation for a multiple selection routine.

The inspiration

I saw a post online (I can’t find it now, sadly) with someone reminiscing about being at school in the ’80s and having to do the dreaded Beep test (wiki intro here, if you aren’t an ’80s kid like me).

Basically, the idea was that you have to run back and forth from one side of a hall/gym/intergalactic-trash-compactor to another, getting there before a beep sounds.

The beeps start effortlessly far apart, then they get closer and closer, faster and faster, until you’re unable to keep up and collapse into a sweaty heap, learning young that life is hard and trying is futile (or whatever the lesson was intended to be!)

The trick

To incorporate this into a stage magic show, start by saying that you’re trying to get in shape, so you’ve decided to combine doing exercise with doing a card trick.

Start a multiple selection routine by having a bunch of people pick cards, but alternate where they are sat, starting with someone on the left side of the audience, then someone on the right, then the left, and so on.

Now introduce the idea of the beep test, put small markers on either side of the stage, and say that you’ll find their cards while doing the test.

Start the beep test track (a quick Google and you’ll find it), and amble across the stage, easily finding the first one or two cards. Now slowly speed up to keep up with the accelerating beeps – walking then striding then jogging then sprinting. You can always up the perceived difficulty by slipping up, either literally (falling or stumbling) or magically (dropping a few cards as you dash).

To finish, time things so that you juuuuust miss meeting the last beep. Stagger over to a towel to wipe your face. While gasping for breath, ask what their card was, then reveal that the sweat on your towel forms an image of their chosen card (method: some kind of paint or oil, I imagine – partly inspired by Forrest Gump’s ‘creation’ of the smiley face t-shirt while jogging).

Ideal venue

This would be great if you find yourself in a venue with a really wide stage, since you’re using all of the space, but without needing lots of extra props – if you lose the towel ending, all you need is a deck and the track on your phone.

Similarly, it’d work perfectly if you’re ever performing in a college gymnasium.

It’s the kind of handy hook you can just keep in mind for whenever the situation calls for it.

PS Update about posting

I’m getting to the crunch stage of some other projects at the moment, which are eating up time, so I won’t be posting every Friday for the near future, just as and when I can – I’ll mention it on Facebook when I do.