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16 Jan
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3 Mar

The monkey comes out of the sleeve

Hans Mystiek was a very famous Dutch magician during the 1900s who amazed audiences all over the country with his pulling animals out of objects tricks for 24 years. Rabbits out of hats, doves out of pockets, cats out of bags, he did it all. He had even performed at the birthday of the Dutch queen on several occasions. She was particularly delighted by his Guinea Pig from a shoe tricks.

What made him the best loved magician in the whole of Holland was not only his skill in the art of conjuring tricks, his dashing good looks and his performance flair but also his desire to always be better than himself and over shadow his last amazing trick with an even more amazing new one.

So when the 25th year anniversary of his career as a magician was approaching Hans knew he had to put on the best show he had ever performed. Something extra special that no one had ever seen before in the whole history of stage magic. But how to improve upon his duck from a picnic basket trick? He struggled with it night and day, desperately trying to come up with a solution. Until one night…

“Eureka!” He shouted in a sudden flash of inspiration. “Ik weet wat ik doe!”

Hans locked himself away in his workshop for the next few weeks that followed. He refused any callers and ignored any messages. No one saw or heard from him as he worked feverishly on his new trick. However, some recall seeing large deliveries of bananas being made to his workshop under the cover of night.

Finally the night of the performance came. The rumors of Hans Mystiek’s new trick had got out and everyone was waiting in anticipation. Even the Dutch queen was in attendance.

The show started with a few of the usual tricks; a dog out of a kennel, a mouse out of a glove. The audience was captivated as always, unknowing of the disastrous surprise that was to come.

No one knows why it happened. Some speculate that the creature in question (which had remained well hidden and well behaved during the first act) had simply become agitated by its confined quarters during the second act or that it had been spooked by a particularly loud audience member cheering a successful budgie out of a hankie trick. All anyone at the show can recall is that with-out warning, while Hans was taking a bow there was an almighty screech and a monkey suddenly sprang from his sleeve and launched itself to the front row.

Some people screamed, others fainted but most tried to flee the auditorium in panic as the monkey ran about, coursing chaos everywhere. It jumped from seat to seat amongst the terrified audience, climbed the stage curtain, swung from a light, ran into the foyer and finally escaped through a skylight above the snack bar.

After the 10 minutes of monkey chaos Hans was left standing alone on stage in the wreaked theatre with a shocked look on his face, wounding where his trick had gone wrong. He never worked with monkeys again.

That is where the Dutch proverb “de aap komt uit de mouw” (the monkey comes out of the sleeve) originates from. It is a warning to stage magicians who are thinking about attempting any magic tricks that involve monkeys and serves to remind them that it is important to take every precaution necessary to avoid the tiny simian escaping too early during the second act and making off with the pearl necklace of the lady in the front row.

For other Dutch magician proverbs also see:
- The rabbit is out of the hat
- The card is out of the deck
- The assistant is sawn in half

(Actual meaning: An expression used when a surprise has become known, usually unintentionally. The same as the English proverb, “The cat is out of the bag.”)

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