Magicians don't always have it easy. Sometimes their tricks don't work out and sometimes their audience members are to blame for that...
Her Brother Taught Her The Ring Trick Before
“I was in grade school when the administration brought in a magician for the students to watch in an assembly. For one of his tricks, he started by asking for 10 volunteers. After picking 10 students, he proudly said ‘This will be a process of elimination! The first volunteer will have 30 seconds to pull apart these two rings, then the second person will have 30 seconds, and so on until we reach the end. Should anyone be able to do it, they’ll win…’
At this point, his assistant walks into the room carrying a comically large teddy bear. Like the kind that Costco sells that are like 7 feet tall. Oohs and ahhs and laughs all around. ‘Well, lets get started!’ he says and hands the rings to the first volunteer, who was a girl in my class. ‘And…go!’.
The girl fidgets with them for 5 seconds, then hands it back to him separated.
The magician just breaks character and says ‘…how did you do that?’ She responds ‘My brother has that trick.’
That teddy bear had to sit in the corner of our classroom for the rest of the day…”
Her Dad Was Friends With Houdini?
“My father is a magician who was once, in the late ’80s, performing at a senior center. He said he needed a volunteer, and before he could pick someone, one lady ran up on stage and started gushing about how the last time she volunteered in a magic show was for Houdini. My dad was thinking ‘Yeah, right,’ but went on with the show.
Later she came backstage and told him more of her story. Her father, who had had her extremely late in life, was the late Harry Cooke, who had studied magic, fought in the Civil War, once used his knowledge of escape artistry to escape after being captured by the Confederates, was a close friend of Houdini, and was present at the Ford Theatre when Lincoln was shot.
Naturally, my father did not believe her, but they exchanged contact information and she brought him proof, consisting of multiple verified letters from Houdini to her father, a copy of his book A Magician Among the Spirits with an inscription for Harry, and some photos. She was a lonely old woman with no living relatives and, because of my dad’s intense interest, left all of these articles to him when she passed, which he still owns.”
No Idea Where That Kid Came From…
“I had this little bit in between other acts where I would ask a kid from the audience to come up on stage, without saying for what. Once he’s there I tell him that he’s going to juggle for us all.
The kid is rightfully hesitant and a bit embarrassed, so I say some ‘magic words’ and assure him that now he can actually juggle; he just needs to take it slowly and throw one ball at a time into the air.
Once he decides to give it a try I just snatch or guide the balls while in the air and place them back into his hands so he can keep going. Basically assisted juggling. The act works by me pretending to be really impressed and amazed, and because the audience always supports the kid, because they can all imagine how horrible it would be to be in his place. So it ends with a kid getting thunderous applause and returning to the audience so proud that he can walk on water. All good fun.
And then there’s the one time I get a kid that it turns out can actually juggle. He’s like 8 years old and for god knows what reason this kid is better with 3 balls than I am. So I hand him the balls and go ‘and now you’re going to juggle!’. The kid looks at me with glee, exclaims ‘Okay!’ and just starts going to town. The crowd is going nuts, and I’m using all my concentration trying to pick my freaking jaw up from the pavement. The kid finishes his act, takes a bow, hands me the balls back, and return to the side of a man, that I assume was his dad, that is currently laughing so hard that he’s blue in the face.
‘Well folks, there’s no way I can do anything to follow that act, so everyone gives this boy another hand for blowing me off the stage!’
The funniest bit is that several people from the crowd came up afterward and asked me if the kid was a part of the act. Heck no, I don’t have a clue where that little kid came from!”
Old And Senile Grandma That Told Him He Was A “Worker Of Evil”
“Okay, so it wasn’t a stage show, it was actually just a walk-around thing where I was talking to some folks at a restaurant. I have a table of four people, three of whom are women who are thoroughly enjoying my stuff.
The other person was an older woman (in her late 70’s/early 80’s if I had to guess, and the oldest person at the table by three decades) who, far from being uninterested, seemed to be getting angrier and angrier as I was performing.
In an effort to include her and hopefully get her to have some fun, I asked for her help with something.
I asked her to hold out her hand and asked one of the other diners if I could borrow a dollar. I then pulled out a card deck and went into a trick where I ‘link’ the playing card to the dollar bill, and whatever happens to one happens to the other (a variation of Nate Kranzo’s Voodoo Bill for those who are interested).
I shuffle the card into the deck, put it in the box, and put the box on the table beneath a wine glass.
I hand my participant the dollar and have her fold it. She does, slowly and with jerky, agitated movements that have nothing to do with her age.
I then slide the cards out of the box, to reveal that the card has folded itself inside the deck. Yay, magic.
Her three companions are sufficiently wowed, she is unimpressed. She looks me in the eye and says ‘Burn it.’
‘Burn the dollar so it burns the card.’
Well, actually, the second phase of that trick is to do exactly that, but in reverse; burning the card and having the damage also appear on the dollar.
So I said ‘I tell you what, how about I burn the card, and that way if it doesn’t work you still have the dollar?’
She looks SUPREMELY skeptical but agrees. So, I take out a lighter, and burn one corner of the card while she holds the bill in her fist.
I use the ‘you may feel the card heating up a bit’ line, that works about 75% of the time…most people will nod or at least be wary of the card getting too hot. This time, I get an eye roll. Okay, fine.
I wave the card to put the fire out, leaving it with one scorched corner. I have Grandma open her hand to reveal the bill ALSO has one scorched corner now.
This serious, stiff, sarcastic, octagenarian woman who has bought precisely ZERO of my tricks thus far, throws the bill down, stands up so quickly she knocks over her chair and nearly falls, has to be caught by the woman seated next to her that I later learned was her granddaughter, and is ushered off to the bathroom while calling me ‘a demon’ and a ‘worker of evil’ loud enough for most of the restaurant to hear.
I apologized to the other two ladies who were with her for upsetting her, but I don’t think they heard me over their own laughter.
As I was leaving, the manager told me not to do that trick if I came back…”
The Audience Was Surprisingly Impressed!
“My dad was a magician for close to 30 years.
He told me the only time anything went wrong was when he brought up a guy to tie him up so he could escape. The guy tied him up so tight he couldn’t get out and he had to get said guy to untie him.
Later on, he brought him back up to try it again but this time he played it like he couldn’t get out again and congratulated the guy by shaking his hand and patting his back while still pretending to be tied up. The guy was too busy basking in the glory to notice he was already out and messing with him.
The audience thought it was planned the whole time.”
His Dad Was Having A Great Time Up There!
“My boyfriend’s father went to a hypnotist/ comedy show with my boyfriend’s mom/ his wife, and a couple of their friends. He was sitting in the audience but still managed to get hypnotized. Closed his eyes and counted backward like instructed and bam.. doesn’t remember anything from the show after that. But he apparently danced like the people on stage, yelled out when instructed, the whole nine yards.
The problem was that the hypnotist told the volunteers that when they walked off the stage they would go back to normal.. well he obviously never walked off the stage.
Come to the end of the show and he starts berating his wife and the hypnotist saying he paid good money for a 10-minute show… They tried to tell him the show had been over an hour and he didn’t believe any of it.
His wife and friends eventually got him out and back to where they were staying, but he said he couldn’t remember most of the rest of that weekend after that. Said it felt like he had lost his mind and it got fuzzy or had been black out drunk. He refuses to go see hypnotists now.”
He Scared The Pee Out Of Him!
“I was at a magic show in Vegas and my 10-year-old cousin got called up to assist.
He had to zip the magician into a tent from the outside, and then afterward he stood in front waiting for something to happen.
Well, the magician snuck out of the tent, in a furry bear suit and came up behind my cousin. He then proceeded to LITERALLY scare the pee out of my cousin.
Yup, he was so startled he peed his pants on stage. Needless to say, my entire party of 20+ family members got comped buffet passes.”
The Correct Way To Escape A Straight Jacket
“I was called up on stage to be the helper for an escape the straight jacket act. I was there just to put it on him so the audience knew there was no tampering or anything stupid.
Unfortunately for the magician, I know there are two ways to put on a straight jacket: The magician way, and the correct way. I tried to make sure he was gonna put it on the correct way. He made up some excuse to send me back to the audience to call up a different volunteer, but I think the audience definitely caught on to what was really happening.
I wouldn’t have done it if his act wasn’t an absolute joke up to that point.
The magician way – The straps at the end of the sleeves go underneath the biceps on both sides.
The correct way – The arms are crossed so that the strap on one side goes beneath the bicep, and the other strap goes over the other bicep.”
Flirting On The Stage?
“When I was in college they hired a magician but his thing was as a hypnotism and slight of hand.
The hypnotism part was pretty amazing. But in between his first hypnotism and second, he did some slight of hand stuff. He did a card trick and put it in the guys pocket, but so the audience could watch. He was really good.
A very attractive girl who was a classmate of one of my friends (defiantly not part of his act) volunteered to go on stage. She’s hot so the magician jumped at the chance. He started doing a trick with her, where he was hiding a ball or something, but all the while tried to steal her watch.
She blocked it the first time, moving at the last second ‘by accident’. Then the second time he was successful and the crowd giggled. Then all of a sudden… this hot 19-year-old started flirting with the magician. It was really weird. As he went about the rest of his trick he was distracted but pulled it off masterfully.
At the end, he did the reveal, ‘Oh! Do you want your watch back?’
‘Sure!’ She projected, half-turned to the audience like a trained performer. ‘I’ll trade you for your business card holder’ And she produced a silver clamshell business card holder from her back pocket.
The magician was blown away. Not in a ‘How-freaking-dare-you’ way, but amazed and delighted that this young woman pulled one over on him. She just leaned into the mic and said, ‘My dad’s a magician too!’
The crowd went crazy!”
Magician Was Both Intimated And Embarrassed…
“It was my 9th birthday and my parents threw a big party. They invited 200 guests as well as musicians, caterers, and a magician.
The magician got on stage and he did some really nice card tricks at first. Then he asked for a volunteer and my dad got up on stage. The guy asked my dad to pick a card and he will have that card travel to the inside of the hat without the magician ever touching it.
Just a side note, my dad has a very intimidating personality. Something about him makes people nervous. Sometimes I think he is some big time gangster and people are afraid of him, but that’s not the case.
Anyway. This magician has my dad pick a card and then he motions towards his hat. Lo and behold! The card is indeed in the hat. EXCEPT! The card is also in my dad’s hand. The poor guy forgot to ask my dad to put the card back in the deck. My dad looked at him for a few seconds waiting for him to realize what had just happened. The magician looked at my dad with confusion all the while not realizing he had messed up. Even a lot of people didn’t catch on to it. Maybe because of the distance.
My dad whispered in his ear what he had done wrong and you could see the color drain from his face. Fortunately, my dad just walked off stage clapping so he wouldn’t further embarrass the poor guy.”
The Audience Member Purposely Tried To Ruin It!
“I was doing a variation of a Triumph, which is a plot in card magic wherein a card is selected and returned, and the cards are then apparently shuffled face up into face down, allegedly screwing them up. The magician then does some wavy stuff with their hands and the cards are all fixed except for one.
I was doing a similar effect for a somewhat inebriated spectator, though his inebriation did not fully explain his behavior. In the version I did, I have the spectator shuffle the cards face up into face down, making it a lot different than most Triumphs (in most, the magician doesn’t do the best job shuffling, shall we say, and the cards are easy to fix).
The spectator thought he could ruin the whole trick. He shuffled normally the first time as requested, but as I alluded to the cards being shuffled face up into face down, he promptly dribbled them onto the floor of the bar we were in, and said something to the effect of, ‘can you do that trick now?’ Looking back, I realize he must’ve seen a triumph before, and known the effect required a not-so-genuine shuffle on the part of the magician. But the version I was doing uses a different method on a genuinely shuffled deck, and my plan was to have him shuffle them and screw them up anyway.
So I asked him to gather the cards up so we could ‘give it a shot,’ continued with the effect, and ended with the cards fixed all except for his, ending in his hands. He was shocked but refused to say much of anything and disappeared.
I realize it’s not exactly a horrible outcome, but it definitely did not go as expected, and it’s certainly the worst I’ve ever had a spectator act out during a performance.
And of course the cards had to be thrown away, so I left them with another spectator so they could keep them for examination. I’ve had tricks go wrong as a result of a spectator acting out, but I’ve never been as shocked by a spectator!”
A Repeat Audience Volunteer Who Knew The Routine
“There was a time my father and I went to six flags and they had a magician performing there. And of all 100 people in the room, he calls me up. I don’t remember the trick 100% but he asked if I had a handkerchief.
Being like 10 years old I didn’t know what that was so I’m looking around at the audience at my dad and at the magician. After embarrassing myself he asked if he could have my shoe. I do remember the trick was to make me think my shoe that he put in a box caught fire. Fearing I lost my shoe he showed me my real shoe, everyone laughed we went back to ride roller coasters.
Fast forward a couple months and we went back to six flags and went back to see that magician. Hoping for a new trick he does the same exact one. And again of all people he calls me up. Initially not recognizing me, he asks if I had a handkerchief. Told him here’s my shoe. He stops dead still realizing who it was and said.. ‘okay let’s get someone else to come up’. And he gets me off the stage. My dad couldn’t believe I did that but he laughed about it after.
Looks like I’m the magician!”
His Intoxicated State Almost Revealed The Truth Of The Trick
“I was at a fair show and he chose me to do a trick with broken glass.
The setup: There was broken glass all over the floor, he would lie down on his stomach and I would step down onto his back from a stool.
Unfortunately, I was drunk and absolutely unable to stand unassisted on a stool. So while he was getting ready to lie down, I stumbled off directly into the broken glass with my bare feet.
The audience gasped! And I looked down in wonder at my totally not bleeding feet before announcing loudly: ‘Don’t worry, guys, it’s just plastic.'”
Guess The Kid Was Terrified Of Popping Balloons…
“Many years ago they had a magician at my elementary school. I was in the audience and the magician needed someone for a trick where he pokes a knitting needle through a balloon without it popping.
He picks one and the boy comes up and is dressed by the magician in a top hat, cape and Groucho glasses. He does this lil act where he ‘gives the kid magic powers’.
He very slowly puts the needle to the balloon and right before the needle actually touches the balloon, the kid threw it in the air and bolted off stage, crying.
The magician was embarrassed, the kid was crying too much to take the costume off, the rest of us were laughing our butts off.”
Pretty Sure The Handcuffs Aren’t Supposed To Make You Bleed…
“At a company party, we had a magician/comedian as the entertainment for the night. For his last trick he needed two volunteers, so he picked the smallest girl there and me (one of the bigger guys).
He hands me a pair of old style handcuffs that had part of them that was a metal rectangle (outline) made of steel. He wanted me to check if it was real, strong enough, and not fake or broken in some way. I twisted them a bit and felt them give a little, so I asked him “are you sure you want me to check them?”. He said “yeah go ahead” so I braced a bit against my leg to see if I could bend them and I snapped them in half. That wasn’t supposed to happen, and so he had to do his last trick with a broken prop.
And as a bonus, when I broke them it cut my hand and then he ended up cutting his hand as well. So through the whole trick, he and I were both bleeding… It still gets brought up at work occasionally.”
The Hypnotist’s Cheating Allegations?
“In the audience for a stage hypnotist. My friend was called up, along with a random woman.
The hypnotist did his routine and told her my friend was her boyfriend and that he had cheated on her.
Before the hypnotist could stop her, she slapped my friend across the face, hard. Hard enough to make him stumble and nearly fall over, and he’s a stocky guy close to 200lbs.
They moved on to the next part of the act very quickly, and my friend was sent back to the audience with a massive red mark on his face.”
Not The Type Of ‘Magic Night’ He Was Thinking Of…
“Well, this might sound strange. I was told it was a magic night at the club by a couple of my female friends. I thought it sounded cool. They insisted that I wouldn’t want to go. I told them I would, and said I practice a little bit at home. They looked intrigued, and so they brought me.
Before the main show started, they were looking for volunteers, so I put my hand up. He said, ‘Dude, it’s probably not for you.’ I told him, ‘I have always wanted to get involved, so please pick me.’ So he did.
I got brought out to the middle of the stage and sat down on the chair. From here I noticed that the crowd was mostly women. That’s when the music hit, and I looked over my shoulder to see what was happening behind me. There was a half naked fireman coming out.
Turns out it was Magic Mike night. It was full of male strippers. So… I just played it cool.”