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Topic: How to do the Professor's Nightmare
Message: Posted by: Huw Collingbourne (Jul 26, 2002 09:21AM)
I wonder if anyone could direct me to a good description of how to perform this trick (the actual mechanics rather than the patter)? I can't find it in Abbott's Encyclopedia of Rope Tricks, Mark Wilson's Encyclopedia, or Tarbell (unless it's hiding there by a different name).

Thanks in advance...

Best Wishes,
Message: Posted by: johnpert (Jul 27, 2002 09:27PM)
You can buy this for about 5 or 10$ from most dealers.

Or purchase Daryl's rope video with his FISM routine. Part of his routine uses the Prof. Nightmare.

Richard Sanders uses three ropes and a baby. It's his version of the effect available on video.
It could be listed as Equal-Unequal ropes.

Once learned, a variety of routines are out there. Most recently, one was published in the "Magic" Magazine by David Kaye (silly billy).

Hope this helps,

Message: Posted by: Peter Marucci (Jul 28, 2002 05:47AM)
You won't find the Professor's Nightmare in most standard magic books because it is a commercial effect.

It was developed by Bob Carver from a two-rope routine by Hen Fetsch; Gene Gordon (one of the founders of the International Brotherhood of Magicians) came up with the patter that gave the trick its name. (It is more commonly known in Britain as Equal-Unequal Ropes.)

The rights are now owned, I believe, by Magic, Inc. in Chicago. However, Professor's Nightmare has the rather dubious distincition of being probably the most ripped-off trick in magic. Because it is so easy to make, it is usually made up with no credit or cash going to the creators or the current holder of the rights. But, then, what else is new in magic?

Peter Marucci
Message: Posted by: Dave V (Aug 1, 2002 07:07PM)
The cleanest routine I've seen is on the video tape "Million Dollar Miracles" by James Lewis.

I believe Michael Ammar also performs it with the same handling, at least he did the last time I saw him.

Message: Posted by: Andy Charlton (Aug 2, 2002 02:37AM)
Aldo Columbini's "Mama Mia Rope Trick" has everything, including, depending on the version used, two different Professors nightmares. One of which finishes with a full restoration and the rope given out at the end.

My favourite rope routine by miles.


Message: Posted by: RC4MAG (Aug 2, 2002 08:17AM)
A very clever new version now out on the market is the one by Jari Santala called Magician's Nightmare. It must be your opener due to the set up, but you cleanly show three unequal ropes and stretch them into three ropes the same length and you can toss them out immediately.
I got it from Hank Lee. It comes with a CD that demos and explains the working.
Message: Posted by: Dr. Jakks (Aug 21, 2002 12:41PM)
I thought it was in Mark Wilson's Encyclopedia....
Message: Posted by: RayBanks (Aug 21, 2002 02:20PM)
There's a trick in Wilson's book called "Equal-Unequal Ropes" but it is not Professor's Nightmare. It's a completely different routine.

I did see the workings in a book (I think it was a book by Charles Pecor) where it was titled (appropriately and rightly) "Carver's Ropes".

I'll try and remember whick book I saw it in and post that info later.
Message: Posted by: jokermh (Aug 22, 2002 01:51PM)
Check out Aldo Colombini's site. He has a monthly tips section that shows a "shake out" cleanup (it's in his archives). PM me if you need more info.
Message: Posted by: MiNiM (Aug 26, 2002 02:02AM)
The book that Ray mentions is probably 'The Craft of Magic' by Charles Pecor, where it is called 'The Carver Ropes' (that's where I first learned it).

I've just got a very nice handling of the trick from Bruce Kalvers lecture notes, 'Perfectly Practical'. The moves are very open looking. Takes a bit of practice to get them smooth, but very nice.

He's at: http://www.tophatprod.com

if you'd like to check it out.


Message: Posted by: Megatherion (Aug 29, 2002 08:14AM)

You can read about the Professorís Nightmare in the following books:

Give a Magician More Rope

Magic from Havana

Yours faithfully

:devilish: Dan Kirsch :devilish:
Message: Posted by: steve proescher (Aug 29, 2002 05:04PM)
If you don't mind videos, there are two great versions on two new vids. Paul Green does it with cut and restored on his new vid "In the Trenches". Jon Allen does it on his "Spectators don't exist". His false count will kill you.
Message: Posted by: DirtBiker0025 (Sep 4, 2002 07:42PM)
I found it in the Michael Laster book or something like that. It has a kid on it with cards.
Message: Posted by: ReTurner (Sep 8, 2002 02:51PM)
There's a shake-out ending, which he calls 'Freddy's Dead', in Jon Allen's Lecture Notes - The Director's Cut - but he doesn't describe the actual routine... OR his false count...
Message: Posted by: cheaptrick (Sep 12, 2002 09:03AM)
The version I use is from "Magic of Micah Lasher". It lists at $16(US), but you can find it a little cheaper at Borders.

The book itself is a good value. I've found about 4 or 5 things that I want to use. You can order it "storebought" for about $3 or $4 (PLUS about $4 postage) from most any dealer.

I feel it's more fun to "roll your own".

Hope this helps.

Message: Posted by: mike4dice (Sep 19, 2002 08:11AM)
There's a book by Bill Severn called "Magic with Rope, Ribbons, and String" that was published in 1982 by David McKay Co. It is a really good book and includes both method and patter for PN. In fact there's a whole chapter on "long & short."

I've had this book for a long time (I believe this is where I first learned PN) and I suspect it will be difficult to locate, but worth a try!

mike :smiletear:
Message: Posted by: charliemagic (Oct 24, 2002 08:04PM)
johnpert mentioned the Silly Billy routine. I now use that one when I do children's shows.

For adults my patter is mainly repeating 'Ropes Do Not Stretch'! I have them examine the ropes a few times in between the 'moves'.

Works for me!
Message: Posted by: iwebexp (Nov 4, 2002 08:53AM)
I am trying to find Aldo Colombini's web site! I have been there before, but apparently forgot to add it to my favorites. I just ordered the Mama Mia Rope Trick. I heard it was good.
Message: Posted by: Burt Yaroch (Nov 4, 2002 10:13AM)

Message: Posted by: Scott Ocheltree (Nov 4, 2002 04:10PM)
I saw Aldo Colombini lecture last week and he did his version of the Professor's Nightmare where all three pieces of rope join back together at the end of the routine. It is a very powerful trick.

I have read ads for the Magician's Nightmare, the trick where 3 unequal ropes are made equal and handed out for inspection. My feeling is that this is a
"magician's trick" - that is, a trick intended to fool other magicians. A lay audience is not likely to find this any more amazing than the standard ungimmicked version. It is effect and not method that lay people see.

Aldo's version has the advantage of using ungimmicked rope and a kicker ending that is impressive to both fellow magi and the laity.

I also found instructions for the classic "Professor's Nightmare" without the traditional patter, in Tom Ogden's "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Magic". I do believe he gives proper credit for its creation but doesn't indicate whether it is printed with permission.

This is actually a pretty good beginner's book. I found it at the local public library. It is also available through Amazon.com.
Message: Posted by: Jon Allen (Dec 16, 2002 07:33PM)
Sorry I'm late on this one guys.

The false count is not described in my lecture notes but it is in the lecture. I like to offer something to the people who go to the lecture that is not in the notes. A thank you for coming. :)

The false count is on the video as is the finale. There are actually 3 different versions of the finale, the best of which is where you walk away leaving your helper holding 3 equal lengths of rope. As they move their hands apart, they are now holding 3 different lengths of rope.
Message: Posted by: kaytracy (Feb 8, 2003 11:20AM)
Wow, I learned mine y e a r s ago in a little kid's boxed magic kit form Marshal Brodein! It was done using a thin sash cord, which was later replaced by me with heavier rope, but then it also had the rice bowls (I later bought bigger bowls too), cups and balls, and a number of the basic classics.
Message: Posted by: mforteath (Feb 8, 2003 10:29PM)
It is a cheap trick to buy. I think it is excellent, and always confuses an audience if performed correctly. It can be tricky to start with. The mirror is good for practice.
Message: Posted by: Dennis Michael (Feb 9, 2003 04:27AM)
There is a video tape called [url=http://www.thetrickery.com/trickery/Detail.bok?searchpath=405ec29cf342205f5b66&category=All&product=full+circle&start=1&total=1&no=234][b]"Full Circle"[/b][/url] which brings to life the tired Standard Professor's Nightmare Routine usinh a ring and the Professor's Nightmare Ropes.
Message: Posted by: impossible man (Apr 15, 2003 05:56AM)
"The Armchair Magician" is another source for the basics of this trick, and a few good TT standards. I don't remember the authors' names.
Message: Posted by: cheaptrick (Apr 22, 2003 11:11AM)
There is a good demo of this effect on Penquin's site.

The FALSE COUNT is a mind blower!


I've set up a routine that starts with Tarbell's "Many Cut Rope Mystery" (a C&R), then Robinson's "PN Setup" (from Allmagic.com), and ends with the Nightmare.

Message: Posted by: dlhoyt (Apr 22, 2003 07:07PM)
Guy Hollingworth's version was presented in the September,1999 issue of Genii.
Message: Posted by: jahunsmythe (Apr 30, 2003 04:32PM)
I found it in[i]The Complete Idiot's Guide to Magic Tricks[/i] by Tom Ogden.

Great explanation of this effect, and great overall book.
Message: Posted by: delpfin (May 6, 2003 03:26AM)
I learned Professors Nightmare from Tremain's video: "Comercial Close Up Act".
Anybody can say my: Aldo Coloumbini method is different?
And Second question: In Coloumbini method, at end of trick all 3 ropes is one.
What method show Aldo? Method with gimmick like gimmick used in linking Ropes (spiking without explanation secrets is so hard,) ;) or changing ropes and can give one long rope to spectator for controlling?
Message: Posted by: WarlockDrummer (May 8, 2003 08:10PM)
I have to agree with Andy Charlton's early comment. Aldo Colombini's Professor's Math, where you cut the rope into 3 unequal lengths, stretch them even, and then fully restore the rope, is fantastic and the best version that I have seen.

Aldo has included it and a number of other great effects in his lecture notes (the name if which I cannot remember).

Message: Posted by: delpfin (May 9, 2003 07:22AM)
WarlockDrummer: Fully restore the rope = I can give the rope to spectators???

Message: Posted by: Martin_H (May 23, 2003 08:07PM)
Daryl also has a very detailed description of the PN Routine on an old Video, "The Magic Castle Lecture." He gives hints on the false count, and at the end of the routine, he ties the equal ropes together very fairly. Then he put the ropes in his hand and one rope "shrinks" - - when he unties the knots, the ropes are unequal again.

A very nice routine!


Magic greetings from Vienna to all.
Message: Posted by: Ashkenazi the Pretty Good (Jun 8, 2003 01:53AM)
A colleague recently showed me how he dips the ends of his rope in glue, and they don't frey. Anybody tried this?


Any favorite brands? Not thick/thin/cored/uncored but rather specific names?

Message: Posted by: phill (Jun 9, 2003 11:08AM)
I picked up some 5/16" nylon braided rope at the local Home Depot. I removed the "core" and it works pretty well.
3/8" might be better, if you can find it, and may be more easily seen further away.
I also use "magicians rope" for the PN, but find it a little more difficult to cut for the cut and restored type effects.
Dipping the ends in glue is "quick" and does work rather well. I use a white colored craft-type glue.

Message: Posted by: Ashkenazi the Pretty Good (Jun 9, 2003 03:43PM)
Let's try this:

Can folks list their favorite Magician's Rope (or Brand name rope) for two different purposes:

For cutting

For manipulating

I think that it would be more helpful to be as specific as possible - include all the verbiage in the ad for the rope you bought so we can order it, too.

Message: Posted by: magicbyswh (Jul 15, 2003 02:08PM)
I dip the ends in hot glue from a glue gun. It dries fairly quick and works great. Just squirt some glue from glue gun on a working surface and dip the ends in it.
Message: Posted by: Christopher (Jul 15, 2003 03:00PM)
If you don't have a hot glue gun handy, there is a product called Fabri-Tac by Beacon that works great. It just takes a while longer to dry, but it's handy to keep with you on the road.
Message: Posted by: Pete Biro (Jul 15, 2003 09:40PM)
Roger Sylwester's handling in an old Heirophant is the best I have seen... however, the strongest routine is Mongolian Pop Knots...

I did a version marketed by Ken Brooke that started with one long rope and you finish with one long rope.

You hide a gaffe at the finish, but it is dead easy... at Tannen's Jubilee at the finish I threw the rope into the audience.

After the show Sam Schwartz and Del Cartier came backstage and said "You have to answer something to settle a bet." I said, "What?" They said, "How did you switch the rope?"

I said "I didn't do a switch, I just tossed it into the audience and figured the one guy that got it would see the gimmick, but it would FOOL the 900 other people in the audience... liked it fooled you two!!!"

Fun doing stuff like that...

Oh, the Ken Brooke trick was called "The Conway Rope Trick" by Pat Conway.

Message: Posted by: Magic CPA (Oct 16, 2006 12:53PM)
Tony Hassini does a pretty good job explaining the Professor's Nightmare in his "My Favorite Rope Magic" video.
Message: Posted by: Pete Biro (Oct 17, 2006 06:13PM)
Can anyone with a file of the Hierophant tell me which issue contains Roger Sylwester's handling of the Professor's Nightmare?
Message: Posted by: snushy (Oct 24, 2006 09:46AM)
I'm a huge fan of the Professor's Nightmare...particularly Daryl's handling.
The same effect is created via a completely different method in Timothy Wenk's "Insomnia." Interesting change of pace.
L. Zaslow
Message: Posted by: thecardtrick (Oct 25, 2006 09:38PM)
On 2003-07-15 22:40, Pete Biro wrote:
I said "I didn't do a switch, I just tossed it into the audience and figured the one guy that got it would see the gimmick, but it would FOOL the 900 other people in the audience... liked it fooled you two!!!"

Ha, way to go.

+1 if you have a friend in the audience.
Message: Posted by: Magic from A to Z (Oct 29, 2006 12:36PM)
I would say check out Dan Tong's Ropes routine on his 2nd Volume. It's a great routine from the Cut and Restored to the Professor's Nightmare to a 3 to 1 restoration. It's the most complete, well-rounded routine I've seen in a while. Can't go worry......
Message: Posted by: Whit Haydn (Oct 31, 2006 09:52AM)
Here is a link to the Mongolian Pop-Knot video clip: