A Case of Mistaken Identity


A short piece of rope lay in the bottom of a famous magician’s briefcase. The rope was about six or seven inches long (a piece of rope as described is carefully laid on the table). It hadn’t always been that short. In its prime, it had been a full twenty-five feet and had featured in such classics as ‘The Long Rope Stretch’, several times in escape presentations, plus a whole variety of cut and restored effects .But now with the passage of time and after many performances, it had become too short for practical use. It was by now, quite content to lie in the briefcase and exchange reminiscences with the other ‘props’ in the case.

“Did you know”, it said to an adjacent pack of cards, “altogether, I made seventy-eight public appearances?” “Seventy-eight!” snorted the cards, “Good grief, that’s nothing! Why I’ve appeared in hundreds of shows – including twenty-two television performances!” “Television! My word!” the little piece of rope was quite impressed. “I must confess, I never did that. It must have been quite an experience!”

“Have either of you ever appeared before Royalty?” The voice came from the other side of the case. It was a neatly folded red silk handkerchief. “I certainly haven’t” replied the rope, “Have you?” “Well I don’t wish to boast”, went on the silk handkerchief, “but actually, four times!” “Gosh!” exclaimed the rope.

Just then, the lid of the case flew open, flooding the contents with light. Something landed beside the piece of rope (A shorter, knotted piece of rope is dropped beside the rope on the table). “Hello” said the rope, “I haven’t seen you before, did you know that I appeared before seventy-eight audiences? This pack of cards has been on television and that red silk hanky has actually played before Royalty no less than four times!”

There was no response from the newly arrived object at its side. “Excuse me”, the rope tried again, “I hope you don’t mind my talking to you, but you do look rather like me – you are a piece of rope aren’t you?”

The new arrival spoke quietly, “No”, it said, “I’m a frayed knot!”


This is a different working of a familiar joke that was doing the rounds a year or so ago. All you need are two pieces of rope as described. If you can get hold of some ‘white magician’s rope’, fine. Otherwise two pieces of white ‘dressing gown cord’ look quite nice. The knotted rope should have several knots tied tightly, one on top of the other. Fray out the two ends as much as you can to emphasise the punch line.

In performance, hold the knotted piece unseen, loosely in your hand until it is time to drop it beside the first.

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