Cannibal Cards
A Night at the Improv

by Lin Searles • by Eric Mead | taught by Michael Ammar

Course description

Cannibal Cards by Lin Searles 

A Night at the Improv by Eric Mead

Cannibal Cards

I think Cannibal Cards is one of the ‘Top 5’ card effects of all time for laymen. I’ve been performing this version of Cannibal Cards for about 40 years, and I hope I’m still performing it 40 years from now, at the age of 101! In all that time, I’ve never met anyone who didn’t think the Cannibals was one of the coolest things they’ve ever seen with a deck. The cards themselves become more than cards, and you get to look funny and clever while magical things happen all the way through the effect. What more could you want from a deck of cards?

Night at the Improv

A bold challenge to your spontaneous wit is proposed… to use a shuffled deck of cards - in its random order - to tell a story. The challenge is to see how long you can hold a story together, while trying to use as many cards as possible.

Naturally, you succeed in hilarious fashion. This is comedy gold for any comedy magician, and tons of fun for the rest of us.

Some people might look at this and think “Oh! That’s a clever update for Sam the Bellhop!”  But what I see is one of our earliest clues that the young Eric Mead was growing into his genius. He was performing with Doc Eason at the Tower Bar back when we created the Aspen Bar Magic issue of the Magical Arts Journal, which is where this was originally printed.

But not only did Eric create an entirely new script featuring every card, he also brings the concept of seeming to improvise the script in real time from a shuffled deck, which I think is a brilliantly original frame around the entire effect.

If you’ve ever seen Bill Malone perform Sam the Bellhop, you know Bill seems to be shuffling and cutting the cards all the way through the effect, but he doesn’t try to create the impression he’s making up the story as he goes along. His approach is more about presenting amazing technical skills in a hilarious way, as opposed to a creative improv challenge.

Of course, Bill’s performance of Sam the Bellhop does prove there’s nothing wrong with the original version of Sam the Bellhop! But once you try it this way, I think you’ll love the original script and approach from Eric Mead as much as I do!

Originally taught on "Easy to Master Card Miracles #1" DVD.

Michael Ammar
Michael Ammar

Michael has been teaching magic for 30 years. Mentored by The Professor, Dai Vernon, Michael began lecturing worldwide back in the early 80's. Since then he has been honored with six magician of the year awards from the Academy of Magical Arts and has been featured on The Tonight Show and David Letterman. His "Easy to Master Card Miracles" are the best-selling magic videos in the world.

Course Curriculum

Video: Cannibal Cards and A Night at the Improv