Party pieces: What’s yours?

Apparently, everyone has a party piece. You know, that one skill that you can do that very few (no) other people are capable of?  Usually it’s something designed to wow onlookers: an impressive piece of trickery, a talent, a display of knowledge, or even something extraordinary or slightly disgusting.

Some examples include: fitting your whole fist in your mouth, bending your hand right back to touch your wrist, being able to make a farting sound with your ear or reciting the whole of the Um Bongo advert word for word. (That last one is mine.)

Why do people know they can do these things? How do they discover them? My own personal party tricks, aside from the Um Bongo advert are borne of curiosity having seen someone else do theirs.  (For the record I can play the song “Popcorn” using a spoon and my teeth and can also make a sound like a kazoo with my lips. Very worthwhile I think you’ll agree.) I only set about trying to find such things having been asked the dreaded question of “What’s your party trick?” after witnessing someone sing “Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” in French.  At that time I was stumped. I grudgingly admitted I didn’t have one, before going home and crying myself to sleep.  I vowed never to fall into that trap again and hence came up with three. Three!

As impressive as these skills are (and they are by the way) nothing will ever compare to the party piece I once witnessed a friend perform. Let me set the scene:

Falmer bar. University of Sussex. 2002. A Wednesday night.

As per usual, we had played hockey earlier that day and were now celebrating another win with a few light ales.

I myself did not witness the preparation of the trick that was to take place; I was in conversation about the state of the European Union with a friendly and deeply intelligent female. Imagine my surprise as I paused for breath to take in the majesty of her latest intellectual pearl of wisdom, only to have my thoughts interrupted by the immortal words:

“Isn’t that your mate over there? He’s on fire!” 

Shocked, I looked around to see that yes, it was my mate, and yes his head did appear to on fire. What was more incredible was that he was nonchalantly sipping beer whilst all this was going on before two young ladies poured water on him to put out said fire.

I rushed over to the protagonist and asked quite reasonably (I thought,) what the hell was going on. The conversation went thus:

Me: What the fuck dude?  You were on fire!

Him: I know. It’s a new trick I learnt.

Me: What?!

Him: What you do is wrap 8 layers of toilet roll around your head and then set it on fire. Easy.

Me: Why? Why would you do this?

Him: Banter.  It doesn’t work properly with 7 layers. That’s when you get scarring.

Me: <Stunned>

 Questions arise from this, obviously: How did he hit upon the idea of doing this? How did he know 7 layers didn’t work but 8 did? Why was this man allowed to interact with the rest of society? The list of questions is plentiful. I asked none of them because I was stunned into silence.

Those of you who have spent any time around me or my friends will be unsurprised to discover our wannabe Prometheus was none other than Sam Drake. 

It certainly ticks all the party piece boxes: Entertaining? Check. Brave? Check. Stupid? Check. Something no-one else would do? Check.  As party tricks go, that takes some beating.

So, who can beat Sam “Disco Inferno” Drake? Anyone?



  1. As coincidence may have it, I actually found out party trick fact this very evening. The great CB Fry, a man who played football and cricket for England, held the world long jump record and was offered the throne of Albania, used to jump backwards onto a mantlepiece for his party trick – a trick which he performed until late in his 70s. Not a patch on Ducky though. Oww.

  2. my party piece is to have several too many drinks and act like a complete cunt.
    it’s not the most original trick to pull, but i would like to think that i am rather good at it.

  3. Continuing the blazing head theme, a friend of mine (a Boris Johnson doppleganger no less!) was so impressed with our mutual colleague’s ability to suck gas from a Clipper lighter and ‘breathe fire’ with it that he copied him. Sensing the admiration from pub onlookers my chum did it again with more gas. The flames nearly reached the pub ceiling. With everyone’s attention (including the worried-looking landlord and a couple of attractive young ladies) fixed on him, our firebreathing hero ignored my advice that it would end in disaster and emptied the last of the lighter into his mouth, sparked up another lighter and breathed out… The flames removed his eyebrows and fringe in seconds and I was left to pat the conflagration out before the damage became fatal. My friend spent the remainder of the night grinning / basking in admiration whilst his face became increasingly like a shiny version of David Gest’s. NExt day at work he confessed he could no longer feel his lips or forehead. Legend.

    My own party trick was to go up to the Sussex Uni Hockey captain and slur repeatedly “letsh fugg up the freshers” before having to leave proceedings several hours early due to drinking too much shandy having been challenged “Does anybody remember Bullseye? IN ONE!”

  4. The picture of the girl with the long tounge is fake!

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