The Mind Reader


One of my favorite skits from the Johnny Carson Tonight Show was when he appeared as the Amazing Carnac. I guess that is why I like the classic clown skit, “the Mind Reader” so much. It really is a silly bit of nonsense, but done well can really put your audience in stitches. Although written as a clown skit, this routine can be performed in plain clothes as well.

The setup:

*Two performers are on stage, one in some sort of mystic garb who undoubtedly is the “mind reader.” The other performer “the scribe” holds a small chalkboard or dry erase board.

The claim is made that a number given by the audience and written on the board hidden from the mind reader will be reveled by the mystics clairvoyant powers.

Behind the scene: Prior to the show, the two performers decide on what the predicted numbers will be and the order in which they appear.This is so that during the show the routine comes off smoothly. Two or three predicted numbers is plenty as the punch line is always zero.

The skit:

*The mind reader claims that any number written on the slate and concealed from their sight can be foretold by their great mental powers. They now turn their back to the audience or wear a blindfold so they can’t see the slate.


*The scribe asks the audience to give numbers by holding up fingers of one hand; this brings our options down to the numbers 1-5. The scribe writes down the predetermined number, but the audience will have no idea of the earlier selections.


*Now the scribe asks the mind reader to reveal the number written on the slate. While doing so, the scribe pats out the number on the shoulder of the mind reader. Make this motion obvious to the audience, as this is the whole gag. The line could be something like: “What is the number you see.” The taps can come in on the words: what-number and see, for 3 being the number on the slate.

*Then, shalt thou tap to three. No more. No less. Three shalt be the number thou shalt tap, and the number of the tapping shall be three. Four shalt thou not tap, neither tap thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. 

*After consulting the mystic spirits or whatever works for your bit, the mind reader reveals the number. This is repeated one or two more times, each time making the tap on the shoulder more obvious. The audience will be chiming in accusing the mystic of receiving clues from the scribe.


* The scribe asks for a final number, instructing the audience to make it difficult for the mind reader. This gives way to someone actually holding up a hand in a circle shape to represent zero. Regardless of the outcome, zero will be written on the slate.

*Now, when you ask the mind reader for the revelation, you don’t touch them. Confused, the mind reader nudges the scribe looking for the cue. The scribe asks again a bit more loudly what is the number! The mystic is of course lost…. repeating this scene once more  finally the scribe swats the mystic in the rear with the slate causing the mystic to yell “OHHHH!”


The scribe says “That’s tight it’s Zero” thus ending the skit.


*Make sure the mind reader plays up the part of divining the number, this adds to the comedy.

*Two of my clown friends would do this bit and the scribe would really lay into the mind reader when tapping out the number, the mind reader acting as if he was really getting clobbered got the kids roaring with laughter. Keep in mind there were no harmful blows ever delivered to the mystic.   

*The hat you see in the pictures is one Dan had custom made for his skits, but you can create your own mind reader costume.


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