Magicians Share Times Where Bringing Up A Volunteer Didn't Go As Expected.
Everybody likes a magic trick, right? Right? No, just me? Okay, well I know you're lying. But you're going to love it after reading all of these hilarious stories of folks getting embarrassed on stage in front of dozens -- LITERALLY DOZENS -- of people.
A Reddit user asked magicians in the community about the mishaps they've had bringing volunteers on stage. Here are some of the best answers, and you can check out even more from the source at the end of this article!
When I was in college they hired a magician but his thing was 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 gorgeous 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 crowed giggled. Then all of a sudden... this gorgeous 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 sliver clam-shell business card holder from her back pocket.
The magician was blown away. Not in a "How-dare-you" way, but amazed and delighted that this young woman pulled one over on him. She just leaned into the mic and said, "Muh dad's a magician too!"
The crowd went crazy!
Was at a magic show on a date last year, the magician asked for a volunteer and a little girl no more than five runs up on stage.
"Hi there little girl, I'm [insert magician name], what's your name?"
"Katherine, but my friends call me Katie"
"Oh, can I call you Katie?"
Then she ran back into the audience, only trick done was embarrassing the magician.
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 eyeroll. 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 sell 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, manager told me not to do that trick if I came back.
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I was the audience member. I was about 9 and the magician called me up to the stage. He had a mesh bag of lemons and a $20 bill.
He told me to sign the bill and he would make it appear in one of the lemons. I reached into the bag and tried to grab one from the middle, but it was sewn in a way so that all the other lemons in the bag were in their own compartment and I could only physically grab one lemon.
I looked him in the face, and into his microphone, I loudly asked, "Why can I only grab this lemon?"
He quickly finished the trick and ushered me off stage as quickly as possible.
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 costco sells that are like 7 feet tall. Oohs and ahhs and laughs all around. "Well let's 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 bear had to sit in the corner of our classroom for the rest of the day.
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 back stage 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.
I'm a street performer. 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. Crowd is going nuts, and I'm using all my concentration trying to pick my jaw up from the pavement. The kid finishes his act, takes a bow, hands me the balls back, and returns 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 give this boy another hand for blowing me off stage!"
Funniest bit is that several people from the crowd came up afterwards and asked me if the kid was a part of the act.
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One time a magician trick required three volunteers to give up something and so the magician suggested wedding rings. At the end he joked "Take the most expensive one". The first guy picked a ring, the second guy picked a ring, and then the third guy said "this remaining ring isn't mine". The first guy actually took back the most expensive one.
Well, this might sound strange. I was told it was 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 exotic dancers.
Well aside from the classic zero response to the ask for volunteers, my favorite would have to be when the audience member in question got scared/frustrated and threw the cloth I had had her hold at me and run away.
This is a bit off topic, but I feel that it belongs here. My father is the son of a relatively well known magician, and thus knows a lot of the tricks of the trade. One day he was with some friends at a place with a magician who went from table to table. When he reached my father, my dad challenged him to a somewhat duel, saying he could figure out any of his tricks.
The man agrees, and begins doing a mind reading trick, where he accurately described every tiny aspect of my father's childhood bedroom. My dad, of course is blown away, as he had no clue how this man knew any of these things.
The magician saw his face, laughed, and walked away saying, your dad and I are old friends, I stayed with them last week in your room. I recognized you from the pictures still up in your room.
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How about a science trick instead?
My daughter was watching a liquid nitrogen demonstration at the science center, and the demonstrator asked if any of the kids in the audience had a penny he could borrow. My daughter, who compulsively collects small objects, had apparently found a penny at some point in the day - so volunteered it with a level of enthusiasm only available to preschool-aged children. She sat smiling away, sooooo happy she could help out, so happy that her compulsion was useful instead of a nuisance for once.
And then the demonstrator froze and shattered her hard-won penny treasure, right before her eyes. The look of shock and betrayal on my daughter's face was one of the most raw examples of human emotion I've ever seen. We tried to make it better, but all the pennies her grandparents and I had between us couldn't make it right.
My wife still keeps a broken piece of that penny in her purse as a memento.
I once saw a hypnotist get soaked with water by a guy he thought he hypnotized. Halfway through the show the guy grabs his water bottle, places his thumb across the hole, and squeezed all of the water onto the back of the hypnotist and just kept laughing. He was thrown out of the Ren Faire.
I was at a fakir 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 on to 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 (they were bare because I was about to stand on the fakir).
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."
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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.
I was at a dinner for a family member and there was a magician walking around doing tricks for all the tables. When he got to my table he did a few tricks and ended up talking to us for a bit and found out that I knew some magic tricks. He asked if I would want to do a trick for him and I said, "Sure, shuffle the deck and while you do, think of any card you want. Stop shuffling whenever you want to." He shuffled a few times and said he was thinking of a card. I told him to tell us what it was and that whatever card it was it would be the 15th card in the deck. He looked at me like he knew I was lying to him, which I totally was, but he went along with it and said his card and counted out to the 15th card. It was his card. I was dumbfounded but didn't show it and the look on his face was priceless.
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 dads 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 embarrass the poor guy.
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.
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I was a spectator for this one. Watching a street busker tell everyone he's going to make a balloon animal for someone and asks for a volunteer. All the little kids are jumping up and down and he picks a little girl. He tells her and everyone that she's going to get a balloon dog. Then he hands her a deflated balloon and tells her she has to make it herself. Then he turns his back on her and goes into his patter talking to the audience and not watching her. It is clear from his patter that she is not supposed to be able to make a balloon dog. Nevertheless, without pause she inflates the balloon and makes a dog. Audience is cracking up until he turns around and realizes she did it. She could have been a plant, but the trick stalled out at that point and he just moved on from there- never saw how it was supposed to end. So I think it was unplanned.
Audience member at a hypnotist comedy show here: A lady was brought on stage and hypnotized and convinced that a handful of napkins were $100 bills. She was told that people would try to steal them, so she should hide them in the best place possible. I think the hypnotist expected to get a laugh with people stuffing them in their bra or underwear. Not this lady, though. She took her shirt off, exposed her breasts to a room full of about 100 people, tucked the napkins under her breasts, then pulled her bra back down.
I've studied up a bit on hypnotism, and I learned that most people won't do things that are out of character under hypnotism. For instance, you can't convince someone to murder if they're not a murderer or smoke a cigarette if they're not a smoker. So I'd guess this woman had no problem taking her breasts out on stage. But it happened.
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, afterwards 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 piss 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.