Dell is performing “Fresh Fish” in the early Forties. Invented by magician Arnold Furst, the torn-and-restored paper effect starts with a sign that reads “Fresh Fish Sold Here Today.” Getting rid of redundant words, the performer progressively tears off one at a time. Finally, only the word “Fish” remains before the full sign is restored. 

Here is Dell's rhyming patter for the effect:

A friend of mine just opened up a fish store down the way

He needed a sign, so he had this one, “Fresh Fish Sold Here Today.”

I told him that he didn't need that extra word “Today.”

So I tore it off and that just left “Fresh Fish Sold Here” and, say,

You shouldn't have a word like “Here”—“Fresh Fish Sold" is enough.

Let's tear “Here" off “Fresh Fish Sold.” No, it's still a little rough.

Why not get rid of the word “Sold” and then I said to him,

“Fresh Fish” is really all you need to drag the customers in.

On second thought you don't need a word like “Fish” for everybody knows

The exact location of your store every time the darn wind blows.

Well, what'll I do with a word like “Fresh,” he suddenly yelled at me.

Give me back my sign the way it was, if you don't want a calamity.

So I took the sign and rolled it up, and I was on my way,

But before I left, I gave him back his sign “Fresh Fish Sold Here Today.”


—Michael Claxton