Audience participation is almost never a good idea, be it a drunk guy heckling a comedian, a teacher calling someone up to the board, or a magician asking for "a volunteer from the crowd." There are just too many variables and too many moving parts in the world of magic to fully trust some rando from the audience. Recently, some magicians and magic show attendees shared with Reddit the times they experienced audience participation gone horribly wrong.
1. The magician just couldn't bear it at fallingwalls's school.
I was in grade school when the administration brought in a 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 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 bear had to sit in the corner of our classroom for the rest of the day.
2. _Salamand3r_ is a magician, and…hey, where are you going?
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.
3. First therealkami spied her, and then he spidered her, in spite of her.
Did magic as a hobby for a while. I once did The Web for someone. Turns out they had severe arachnophobia. (I always ask if they're scared of spiders before starting, they said only a little bit) After the trick they were literally in the fetal position for several minutes.
For reference, this is "The Web."
4. The real magic for hellfast is that he didn't subsequently hide under his bed forever.
Finally a question I can answer!
"Please hold out your hand and take this card"
Guy holds out his hand.
"No the other one."
Guy takes arm out of his jacket pocket to reveal a stump where his hand used to be.
5. ThHeretic witnessed the ol' "child making water spontaneously appear" trick.
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.
6. Magician avapoet had the best magic audience imaginable.
I was performing at a wedding reception and a particular group of guests were not only super drunk but also incredibly high. They made for the easiest spectators ever, with a little careful audience management: genuine conversation -
"Is this your card?"
"Uhh... I don't remember."
"Yes, it is."
"Whoah! That's amazing! Wow!"
7. Or, Kazhmyr1, nothing at all.
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
8. User kirschkuchen thought the show was with a fakir and not a faker.
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."
9. Actually, corvidsarecrows, he made that trick like 26 times easier for you.
I used to do magic as a busker in my hometown. One time I was doing some card tricks for my little audience and I pulled forward a little kid. He couldn't have been more than about 5 years old.
So I have him pick a card, and without really thinking I ask him to remember it and start shuffling. After some more patter and cuts and whatnot I'm ready for the big reveal. I kneel down next to the kid and I ask him "OK, so what was your card?"
And he says, "Red."
That was the day I learned that (1) you always show the card to the whole audience and (2) you don't ask little kids who might not know how to count to remember a card
10. A bitter, acidic, puckering tale from Mr_Vorland.
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.
11. This one from a magician named Darkmagiciancat "goes to 11," which is not good.
I've had a volunteer, when asked to pick an even number pick 11- in complete seriousness. I even asked her if she wanted to to change "you can think of another EVEN number if you want", but she was adamant with number 11. I just looked at the audience and smiled the smile you put on when you know you're screwed.
12. Hitting the decks with Infinitiwynter.
When I was in the USAF ('88-'92) we had a magician at the club on the base one weekend. My girlfriend and I were sitting about 30ft from the stage and she was chosen by the magician and he threw a deck of cards to her that was bundled with a rubber band. She was to pick out a card, memorize it and throw them back. When she threw them back the rubber band wasn't on tight and the deck of cards flew all over the room!
13. It's all about those fake fat stacks, dudecephus.
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 tits, then pulled her bra back down.
14. BlueMacaw's daughter is obviously a big fan of ancient and decrepit pop star Taylor Swift.
My 5-yr old daughter got the biggest laugh of the entire show when the magician announced that he'd been performing since he was a young child in 1989. She stage whispered, "1989!?! You should be dead by now!"
15. Some straight talk from drathianthorns.
My father was called on stage to secure a straight jacket for a magician. So he ties it up and gives it a few hard pulls to make sure it was tight. He then comes back to his seat after a round of applause. My family were all paying attention to the magician, but I just see my dad laughing. So this poor magician is struggling up there for around 5 minutes getting more frustrated that he is not making any progress. He then looks down and says "Oh, you tied it the the opposite way". My dad bursts out laughing, it was hilarious. Impressively enough the magician was still able to get out. It is a good memory.
16. Garbear119 liked it, so she ruined the magician's ring trick.
I'm not a magician, but I do remember the time a magician came to our school when I was in Kindergarten as part of a big assembly of some sorts.
I was called up and he had a bunch of rings with me and a few other kids having two rings each. He said that if we rubbed the rings hard enough together, they would magically interlink with each other.
I couldn't get it to work until I noticed there were clips on it. The magician walked over and noticed I was having troubles and tried to help me. He had the microphone in his one hand, and it was close enough that when I asked what the clips on the rings were for, it could be heard all over the gym.
I don't remember what happened next except I was rushed off the gym floor back into the bleachers.
17. It was on that day that Oolican learned about the "magic" of aging—it's awful!
Almost 40 years ago I was at Simon Fraser university and Mandrake the magician put on a show in the theatre. There was a comic strip in the thirties based on him so he was an old guy by then but still with lots of stage presence. He invited a member of the audience to come up and tie his wrists together and then he'd escape. After a few minutes of struggling he said "Young fella, you tie a good knot. You'll have to come untie me please."
We all felt bad.