by Larry Becker and Lee Earle
The performer hands four authentic menus from different Chinese restaurants to a participant, informing, "We're going to take a virtual tour among these dining establishments, sampling selections from each place until we've ordered a four-course meal: an appetizer, main dish, side dish, and dessert. Note that each restaurant has a wide variety of selections and all at different prices, yes?" The participant agrees.
"You will be the host for our culinary caper," explains the Mentalis, "so hand three of those menus to folks you will invite to join you. And this, (placing a letter-size card in full view) is our gift certificate for the expenses, tax and tip included."
Once the menus are distributed, the 'host' is instructed, "As our gastronomical guide, you may choose a dish from any course on the menu - we don't have to go in order. Which course shall it be? ("A side dish")"
The performer takes out a pad and marking pen and, after inquiring which item is being ordered, writes it down and asks, "How much is it?" The amount is openly written down on the pad.
All of the others each choose a different course and item from their menus with each name and price duly recorded in a column on the pad. "I'm certain that each of you will agree," reminds the Mentalist, "that if you had chosen a different course, the selection ordered would have varied and the price would not be the same, correct?" All the participants agree.
"Let's determine the total bill," suggests the performer, holding the pad in full view as he adds the price of each freely selected item. "It appears the dinner will cost $23.45. Not bad for a party of four. Let's see how much of that amount the gift certificate covers."
The gift certificate is turned around and is seen to be printed with the amount $23.45!
This routine comes with professionally designed and printed menus, all of them (except the paper takeout menu) are glossy coated for years of use. In addition, each menu has hidden cues for some of the most outrageous (and definitely un-PC) gag lines you could possibly imagine, which turn the effect from mere mental magic into belly-spitting entertainment.
Szechuan Sampler is ready to go - no setup is required. The routine uses no forces, no gimmicks, no stooges, and nothing added or taken away. If you are working a repeat show, you may rest assured that the final total will be different. It's the perfect 'packs flat, plays big' presentation that you can perform right away.