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How did Stan Laurel do that?

Discussion in 'Magic' started by Pookie, Jul 29, 2008.

  1. Pookie

    Pookie Well-Known Member

    I am a fan of Stan Laurel, and Pookie has been influenced by him.

    One of the things that I want to do as a clown are some of the improbable things that Stan did in many of his movies.

    Specifically, when he would blow on his finger and his hat would float off his head. Any ideas how I can accomplish this? Or some of his other tricks?

    The other one that I always loved is when he would pour tobacco into his clenched fist, "flick" his thumb as a lighter, and then sit back and smoke.

    Any help would be appreciated!
  2. Stan Laurel is amazing. He had a penchant for "White Magic" that has always fascinated me and I try and add a little of it into all my shows. There is enchantment in accomplishing the impossible, especially in a charming or funny way.

    There are fingertip lighters available through magic shops that I've seen in action. They look a lot like the tip of a plain old Bic lighter but go over the tip of your finger. I think they are mostly used to ignite flash paper.

    You could use a cane tip to lift your hat from behind your back while blowing into your thumb. Chaplin did things like that. Also if you're doing a staged performance it would be pretty easy to rig something to pull your hat up I imagine.
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2008
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  3. V

    V Well-Known Member

    Thumb tips have been around forever, so it's probable that the tobacco went there. I imagine the flint strikers that fit on a finger/thumb have been avaliable for some time as well. Without seeing the trick it's hard to put it together, but you could so something similar with a striker and TT.

    On film or stage the rising hat would be easy. Invisible thread with a reeled gimmick and you've made you hat levitate/fly.
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  4. Prestige

    Prestige New Member

    I always thought he used fishing wire for the hat trick!
  5. When Laurel lights his thumb on fire it could also be done with overlapping film which was used for special effects way back when. You could super impose the exact frame with a minor change and layer it.
  6. Fitzwilly

    Fitzwilly COAI Secretary

    Film has always allowed a great deal of "creative license" not available to the live performer.
  7. Twitch

    Twitch New Member

    If the brim of your hat is stiff enough, you just lean back against a wall or post. Applying pressure properly, you can make the back side of the brim move downwards which in turn makes the front side of the hat rise. I'm pretty sure that this is the method in the Laurel and Hardy clip that I saw but he probably did it many times and maybe by other methods. This method works but not with a good felt bowler unless you've treated it somehow to stiffen it. It will definately work with a cheap plastic bowler due to it being more rigid.

    It's likely that he had smoke in his mouth before they rolled film and released it after his pantomime of lighting his "pipe."
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  8. Kallie

    Kallie New Member

    Try standing on stage behind a little table with a ball ( or what you want ) like zombie or astro ball and get the kids to help you make this ball rise. Nothing will happen, but your hat will slowly start to rise from your head, when the kids scream it will come back, so you can just find it on your head with nothing wrong, do a few times, after which you do realize your hat is gone. Then start searcing and find it, up in the air, get a fright and try reach for it but it is out of reach, when it start getting closer you back up, but it chase you off stage, with a big bang. Just use a assitant off stage with a fishing rod and invisible thread or thin fishline.
    You can come back to do zombie or astro if you want.
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  9. Scooter!

    Scooter! Finally a Newbie

    Watch "It's a Wonderful Life" He does the hat trick with his back to the door. If you can't replicate Laurel's exact moves you can replicate it a number of ways.
  10. Twitch

    Twitch New Member


    Just recently was reading through Martin Gardener's "Encyclopedia of Impromptu Magic," and discovered my previous post is correct. Firm brim against the wall or door.
    Have a great day!
  11. Barry Daft (Mr. B. Daft)

    Barry Daft (Mr. B. Daft) Old Bucket Spitter

    Martin Gardener's "Encyclopedia of Impromptu Magic"

    Just so every body knows, is a fantastic book.
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  12. Fitzwilly

    Fitzwilly COAI Secretary

    Martin Gardener has written a number of wonderful books on magic, puzzles and more.
  13. Scooter!

    Scooter! Finally a Newbie

    You got there first...I didn't see your post...lol
  14. ChrisFleck

    ChrisFleck New Member

    The Stan Laurel trick I know is to wear a straw hat or derby with a stiff brim and stand with your back to the wall. Blow into your thumb and gently back your head up until the hat lifts from the front making it appear that you're blowing into your thumb and making air come out of your head and raising your hat.
  15. Pookie

    Pookie Well-Known Member

    Thank you all for the kind and wonderful responses!!

    I have figured out a way to do the smoking trick. Rather than using a lighter, a match is used. When the match is struck, it is positioned just under the mouth or nose. The you simply inhale the smoke and gases that rise from the lighting, and hold it in your mouth til needed.
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