Festival preview: Pete Firman: Hoodwinker; Pleasance Courtyard

Pete Firman
Pete Firman
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PETE Firman, star of BBC1’s The Magicians, revelas a trick of the trade...

How many times, when out and about with friends or family, have you wanted to break a stick with a £20 note? Be honest.

I get the urge all the time, mainly because its a great way to scam a freebie from a friend, be it a drink, a meal or maybe even a ticket to Pete Firman: Hoodwinker, on every night at the Fringe at Pleasance Courtyard 9.10pm... sorry.

The proposition is this, you claim to be able to break a small stick, twig or wooden coffee stirrer with a mere folded currency note or show flyer.

That must be impossible, so they get suckered into your devious game. Au contraire, my friends. They hold the ends of the twig with both hands while you fold the note lengthwise. One sharp strike with the note’s fold breaks the twig like...a twig? You win the bet and enjoy the ill-gained fruits of your labour. Of course, if they try it themselves they fail and look silly, bonus.

How is it done? Well, this one is a total cheat and I love it.

Get your assistant to grab the stick at each end while you hold the note.

Raise your hand and the note high and prepare to bring the folded edge down quickly on the stick’s centre. However, as your hand comes down, flick out your right index finger behind the note, along its edge – your finger will break the stick.

As soon as the stick is broken, pull your finger back in quickly and no one, including the stick bearer, will be any the wiser and they are a drink down.

The ‘illusion’ works because the larger action of swinging the note down conceals the smaller, quicker action of extending your index finger. You can break anything, twigs, wooden lolly sticks, bread sticks. Just keep your eyes peeled for an opportunity.

• Pete Firman: Hoodwinker, Pleasance Courtyard, Beyond, until August 27, 9.10pm, £12-£15, www.edfringe.com