Another Magical Ripoff
A look back at 2008

A Christmas Gift To You

Here's a little something for you guys to play with.

Years ago I used to do Arnold Furst's classic torn and restored sign routine 'FRESH FISH SOLD HERE TODAY'. The premise of the trick was that you saw a guy with a sign and as you explained how each word was not needed on the sign, you torn the words off one by one until there was only one word left. Finally, you restore the sign.

Back in 1980, much to my amazement, I won the 'Teenage Magic Competition' at the Australian Convention of Magicians with the following punny patter. It's chock full of groaners but, for some reason, the audience really liked it.

Feel free to use it and link to it, but I'm reserving the publication rights so please don't reproduce it anywhere else.


I was standing outside the Fish Shop the other day, waiting for SALMON Jack to come along and give me a lift home on their PIKE - when all of a sudden a man came out of the shop wearing a LEATHERJACKET. Now I recognised him at once as he had big MUSSELS and used to work as a piano TUNA. He was carrying a SEINE with WHITING on it which read 'FRESH FISH SOLD HERE TODAY'. I told him that his SEINE was totally unnecessary, and when he said he didn't know what I meant I offered to analyse it for him, to take it apart, so to speak.


Take for example the word 'TODAY', I mean it's so SHRIMPle! Everyone realises that you're selling fish today, and not yesterday or next week, so 'TODAY' is just not needed.


When I tore it off he looked awfully EEL… as if he was going to FLAKE out on the spot. "Good COD," he said, and call me a great big BASS that did not deter me - I've got GUTS, so on I went.


'HERE' is an equally unnecessary word. I mean everyone can see that you're selling fish here and not around the block or up in Bris..BREAM. Then, strange as it may seem he picked up a fish and started to FILLET, and before I realised what was going on he swings back and LOBSTER right at me. But I was having a WHALE of a time… so I went on.


The word 'SOLD' is also quite useless since it's common practise to sell fish and not rent them or put them on hire PERCHase.


'FISH' is probably the most useless word of all, I mean everyone can see that you're selling fish and not… army surplus machine guns or surgical appliances. He didn't hear me that time… I think he needed a HERRING aid.


Now we're left with the word 'FRESH' which, on it's own, means absolutely nothing. Unless, of course, you've just painted the front of the shop… or you're out on a date with me. Actually, my girlfriend loves fish. It was in a fish shop I first FLOUNDER. Now she's gone of with my brother, a fisherman… oh well, am I my brother's KIPPER?

Now at this stage the man looked very CRABby and snapped "Look you FLATHEAD! I've HADDOCK with you! I'll lose my job because of that SEINE." He snapped. He was a nasty SNAPPER. But I didn't want to get into a deBAIT about it, and I did feel a bit GILLty about his SEINE. "Keep CARP," I said "Keep CARP, it'll be alright in a MINNOW." And then… his SEINE was restored. He took it HOOK, LINE & SINKER. "Holy MACKEREL!" he said, "Why on earth did you do that?" To which I replied… "Oh, just for the HALIBUT."