Late Night Television

Published on September 16th, 2011 | by Sharilyn Johnson


Colbert’s coin trick: how it’s done

I’m a sucker for close-up magic. It automatically turns me into a wide-eyed 5 year-old. (Funny enough, Stephen Colbert tends to have the same effect.)

On Thursday night’s Colbert Report, Stephen demonstrated a “problem” he’s had his entire life. He always puts one coin in his hand. And then another. He’ll close his fist, and when he reopens it, there’s only one coin. What’s the deal with that, he asks guest David Copperfield.

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Two coins become one. Casual magic fans would skip their PVRs back a bit to try to catch what Colbert actually did with that extra coin. Did he do a quick transfer into his unoccupied hand? Nope, we saw the coins in plain view, untouched. Did he drop it through his fingers? Nay, they were tightly pressed together.

What Colbert used was called “Scotch and Soda”, special coins purchased from a magic dealer. In most examples, the coins are two different colours and sizes, but they do exist in the form that Colbert used — nearly identical sizes, same colour.

The key is “nearly” identical sizes. The smaller coin is placed on the bottom, in his palm. The slightly larger coin is placed overlapping. The larger coin has a hollow bottom, so when he makes a fist, there’s enough of a shift in the coins that the bottom one fits perfectly into the top one. Ta-daa: two coins become one.

Scotch and Soda apparently comes in both a regular version and a magnetic version. I believe the non-magnetic version takes a bit of pressure in order to fit together, so this was likely magnetic.

As much as I’d love to imagine that we’ve stumbled upon a goldmine (er, sterling mine?) of Colbert talents that have previously gone unshowcased, Scotch and Soda is considered incredibly easy.

Here’s an example of a similar trick being done on Youtube.

(And to all the magic secrecy purists out there: everything here is available elsewhere online.)


About the Author

is the author of the book Bears & Balls: The Colbert Report A-Z. Called "one of the city’s most discriminating comedy critics” by NOW Magazine, Sharilyn has been covering comedy for longer than she cares to admit. She served as the comedy reporter for Winnipeg's Uptown Magazine for five years, and was the host of the radio show Laugh Tracks for three seasons. Her work has also appeared in the Toronto Star, the Winnipeg Free Press, The Apiary, and on CBC Radio's national comedy programs LOL and Definitely Not the Opera.

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  • The Colbert Report A-Z

    Third Beat editor Sharilyn Johnson presents the ultimate fan guide to The Colbert Report, available from all major booksellers including