Random Thoughts About Out of This World

As I was playing catch-up on Blaine's course, I went through the Out of this World routine and remembered learning it a few years ago, and then forgetting it. And then I saw it again, twice, in a magic competition a year or two ago and remembered it, and then forgot it. Now that I've remembered it again, I started thinking about it more...

At first glance, I don't really like the routine. It's long. It doesn't fit into any sets I do, nor does it match the vibe I try to bring when performing. It's just a big Oil & Water routine, right? Right?!

Now, as the title of this article says, these are all random thoughts about the routine. I did a little research because I wanted to learn more and here's a brain dump of what I've found. If you're familiar with it, you likely know all of it (and more). If you're not familiar with it, well, hopefully it's something you'll be able to use!

Routine Effect

The effect is, in premise, straightforward in that a spectator deals a face-down pack into two piles and, though guided by guesswork alone, succeeds in separating all the red cards into one pile and black cards into another!

A more detailed description, if you wish:

The performer shuffles a pack of cards and starts to deal them into two piles - the red cards in one pile, the blacks in the other. After a few cards have been dealt into each pile the deal is stopped and the performer explains that were he to continue to deal in this manner it would merely be a question of time until all the red and black cards in the pack were segregated. The cards just dealt, with the exception of two, one red and one black, which are left face up on the table at some distance from each other, are shuffled back into the pack.

Handing the deck to a spectator the performer instructs him to deal the cards into red and black piles, as demonstrated, but to do so with the cards FACE DOWN - WITHOUT LOOKING AT THE FACE OF A SINGLE CARD! "Since, under those conditions, you won't know the red cards from the blacks" he continues, "You will have to guess at the colors. On this card" he explains, pointing at the face up red card on the table, "You are to deal all those cards you believe to be red - while on the black card you are to deal those cards you think are black". The only stipulation the performer makes is that the cards be dealt singly.

After about half the cards have been dealt in this manner by the spectator the performer stops the deal and places a red card face up on the supposedly black pile and a black card face up on the red pile. The performer explains that to prove conclusively that the spectator is being unconsciously controlled the deal will now be guided by the two new face up cards. In other words the spectator will now deal those cards he believes to be red onto the pile previously reserved for the cards he believed to be black - while the cards he believes to be black will be dealt onto the "red" pile. The spectator shuffles the cards yet to be dealt and completes the deal.

We don't believe we are exaggerating when we say that up to this point the spectators will be skeptical as to the outcome of this rather fantastic undertaking. The surprise then, when the two halves are dealt thru to disclose that the spectator has actually separated the two colors, is astounding to say the least! For each of the two face up "guide" cards in each half is found to have above it a group of cards of the corresponding color!!
Paul Curry - Out of this World, 1942


This routine is attributed to Paul Curry who published and marketed a booklet in 1942, aptly titled Out of this World. Sadly, it took me a while to find this because most searches led me to Magician's Magic, a much larger book from Curry that was printed in 1965.

Searching around more, according to Vanishing Inc., Friedrich W. Conradi-Horster offered two methods of the same plot in Der Moderne Kartenküstler, 1986. I neither know German, nor do I have the book for reference so I can't confirm -- however, the summary of the routine that's referenced is that a deck is dealt out with the down-under deal, and it ends in new deck order. The two methods are for 32 or 52 cards.

If we were to summarize Out of This World's plot to "dealing a deck of cards into a specific order", then yes, I could see it as the same. However, I think the difference is that the spectator is dealing into two separate piles, and the piles are even alternated half-way through. They're not dealing into a specific order... they're separating the cards. In my opinion, it's more related to an Oil & Water routine's climax.

The Trick That Fooled Winston Churchill

In Magician's Magic, Curry says that his friend Harry Green performed this routine for Winston Churchill and completely baffled him! In fact, more often than not, you'll find this trick plastered everywhere as "the trick that fooled Churchill", because who doesn't like some good clickbait, right?

The story has grown to legend, further embellished by each retelling. After all, Churchill asked to have the trick repeated over and over a total of 6 times in all and was so baffled, he left and showed up late to Parliament even! Churchill, late to Parliament because of magic -- you can't get any better than that!

I came across an article on Cardopolis that gives some detailed background on this whole thing too. It says that Hannen Swaffer, a well-known newspaper columnist who was also a magic enthusiast, wrote an account of the whole event in The People newspaper's June 30, 1946 issue. I've tried finding that article myself but haven't had luck online -- I've reached out to The People (or just "People" now?), which is still around, to try to get an archived copy of it but we'll see if that pans out.

Ah but yeah, the Cardopolis article, quoting The People, says that Winston was seeing a play called Fifty-Fifty and in the after party, Green (an actor in the play) brought out a deck of cards and started showing some tricks.

Churchill made him repeat the trick six times and then do others, hour after hour, over and over again.
Hannen Swaffer, The People

It turns out though, Churchill wasn't late for a meeting because of all of it -- rather, he went in super early instead.

So sure, it definitely is a trick that fooled Winston Churchill. It sounds like there may have been a few of them that did that night too; then again, this one being performed 6 times means it must be a killer!


There are a lot of variations of this routine. Some try to shorten the routine, some try to change the handling or story, and others even go as far as extending it and adding it into sets. Wow!

If you're looking for a collection of variations that you can learn right now, check out:

The first is a video and has the effect taught and extended by five performers: Michael Ammar, Steve Draun, David Regal, Falkenstein & Willard, and Eugene Burger. They cover the original method, a streamlined version that removes the necessary packet switch, they take the overall methodology further and also sorted by suit, and even more. If you like this routine, having these variations in your pocket is a great idea for those times that folks ask you to "show me that again"!

The second is a book, and a big one at that. I don't own this book at this time myself, so I can't give an honest opinion on it. However, seeing the list of magicians that contributed to it, well, let's just say that I placed my order this morning. In addition to alternative handlings and variations, this book is also filled with history, stories, and most of all, magic!

Now, those two resources aside, my favorite variation so far is actually from the David Blaine magic course. It's an impromptu version from a shuffled deck in use. It doesn't use the whole deck, but instead maybe 20 or so cards. Even with this small packet, given that the deck was provably shuffled, it's a killer effect.

So yeah, that's that then. Everywhere I read says it's one of the greatest routines, and maybe it is. I've performed it only once and the reaction wasn't anything special. In fact, they didn't seem to care. Maybe it was my performance, or the premise, or the length. Who knows. I'll do it again soon and see what's what.

This was a fun topic to research though. There's plenty more history here that I'm sure I skipped over, but wow. This was Out of This World!

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