Out of all the different possible sleights, moves, routines, or whatever else you can do with cards, for about a solid month now the main thing on my mind has been card sandwiches.
A card sandwich, if you're unfamiliar, is when one or more cards are sandwiched between two others. Typically, it's the climax of the trick being presented. And, ironically, it's one of the things in card magic I've always disliked.
Who doesn't love a good sandwich?
Me! Well, I love real sandwiches I mean come on. But card sandwich routines, I just... you know?
There are great ones, don't get me wrong. When it works, it works! However, the normal, average, everyday card sandwich just has flaws that bother me and it all starts with the "get ready". And then, the reveals themselves feel forced too.
I've always disliked watching sandwich routines being performed because if you know the one telegraph move (the "get ready"), the trick's pretty much ruined for you. With that same mindset, it's even harder to perform the routine because you know that no matter how clean and smooth you perform it, there's no way to hide it and the routine's ruined for others too.
Let's start by looking at the "get ready".
The "get ready"
To set the stage, you have two face-up Jokers on the table in front of you. A spectator has selected a card, the Ace of Hearts, and you skillfully have controlled it to the top of the deck. Now, it's sandwich time.
There are several ways to "get ready", but the most used is:
- Obtain a pinky break below the top card of the deck, the spectator's selection
- Pick up the two Jokers and place them face up on the deck, maintaining a break below the three cards
- With your left thumb, hold the top Joker in place while your right hand -- thumb on the bottom right corner, second finger on the top right corner -- pulls out the Joker and selection as one
- Place the Joker (and selection) held by the right-hand side-jogged onto the Joker that's being held on the deck
You are now ready. It's done. The card's sandwiched. Boom!
And that's pretty much where I start disliking the routine. There's no real reason or justification to slide the bottom Joker out and place it on top of the other. The spectator just saw that there were two, and one was already on top of the other so why the flourish? Is one Joker better than the other and deserves the top spot?
It's worth noting, though you probably know, that it doesn't have to be Jokers. It could be Jacks. Queens even. Or Aces, or deuces. Whatever cards you want can sandwich any other card but regardless of their value, they don't yield a reason why the "get ready" is performed.
Types of sandwich reveals
Not to dwell on details here, but there are a handful of ways to "reveal" the sandwiched card:
- Shaking the two jokers in your hands, the selection is revealed between them
- If the double is held up-jogged above the single, a quick "flick" to pull the top Joker down will reveal the selection
- Various pop-outs, whether the card pops out and is still sandwiched, or flies out of the cards like in Natsu
- The sandwich appears in the middle of the deck
- The deck is "thrown" from one hand to another, leaving the two Jokers and sandwiched selection remaining in the original hand
- The selection is sandwiched between cards placed in a box (e.g., Smokescreen by Roy Walton)
I'm sure there are others, but the gist of it is that a card is revealed to be sandwiched between others. You can use your imagination to come up with other fun ways too!
These are "ending reveals". How the card gets there is your choice. I've seen a lot of different methods from simple controls to doing it during a spring, or even just throwing the card into the deck as it's being dribbled.
The best card sandwich(es)
Okay, so, hear me out but the best card sandwiches aren't done with the "get ready" that's commonly used.
The reveals are always similar, I mean come on. The selection is sandwiched between two other cards. Maybe it's in your hands, the spectator's hands, or in the middle of the deck. Ignoring where it takes place, the reveal is that the card is there -- between the other cards.
How it gets there is where the magic comes in.
Imagine, if you will, a spectator's selection is lost in the middle of the deck. The magician fans the deck and places two Jokers into the fan on opposite sides. They're sticking out and you can clearly see that they're nowhere near each other but they're in the deck. The Jokers are pushed flush and deck squared, with a word the deck is re-spread and the Jokers are in the middle together, separated by a single card.
Going for something a little more impossible, the two Jokers are first displayed (before a selection is made) and they're placed on the table. The selection is made and lost in the deck. Attention is turned to the Jokers. They have never left the table and they're spread to reveal a card sandwiched between them. Lifting them and turning them over one by one shows the Jokers to be magically sandwiching the selected card! And no, no duplicates are used!
But one of my favorite sandwiches is actually slightly hypocritical, given all of the above. I dub it the "magician fooler" because it utilizes the "get ready"... but in a different way. So, again imagine that a selection is lost in the middle of the deck. The magician picks up the two Jokers and places them on the deck. One by one, the Jokers are turned over face-down on the deck, but side-jogged. They are lifted, still separated, and shown front and back. Waving the two Jokers over the deck causes them to turn into a single card -- the selection!
Making sandwiches for lunch
You can, perhaps, sense the irony that being a person so disliking of card sandwiches that I've spent so much time not only thinking about them but practicing them. I've recorded my handlings over the years and have rewatched some recently and wow. Even only 2 years ago, my handling was clunky and ungraceful. Not that it's any better now, but sheesh.
I think that that's where the beauty of it lies though. You don't need to perform everything you practice; truthfully, you don't have to like it much either. But seeing beyond the "routine" and into the intricacies of how the cards glide between your hands and how you can control the spectator's attention is very important. Card sandwiches offer this type of practice because even though the handling isn't very demanding, your hands are being watched attentively every step of the way. There's no room for misdirection, and if you want even the "get ready" to appear as though it's nothing, you'd better practice a lot.
I'm going to keep working on these. All of them, in fact. I'm planning to try to perform at least a dozen different sandwiches -- some my own creation, others straight from the textbook -- and put them on Instagram (@gbabbits) for reference.
The real trick is, finding the time!