Throughout the many years that I have been performing magic, I have had performances that were memorable in all possible ways. While many of the shows that I have done were memorable for the tricks, crowds, and laughs of the audience, there are certainly a select few that cause me to cringe or laugh out loud whenever I remember them. Here is the story of the funniest performance that I ever put on by accident!
When I was younger, all of the props that I used in my magic shows came from the magic shop in my town; I didn’t have any mentors or colleagues in magic until I was a little older, so I had no choice but to teach myself the tricks that I learned early on in my career. As a kid I would charge a nickel to my neighbors for a “ticket” to my shows where I would perform a levitation trick using tin foil and a disappearing trick that I put together using basic magic kits and supplies I found at home.
I tried to learn as many tricks as I could so that my audience would stay entertained and would keep coming, and when I reached the age of 8 or 9 I began to perform more sophisticated illusions in my basement shows. Along with a levitation trick where I would cause my brother to float three feet above the table (which really freaked out my neighbors), I would try to perform tricks that resembled those of the great Harry Houdini, attempting to escape from the clothes lines that my brother and cousin would use to bind me to a pole.
It wasn’t long before someone in my neighborhood decided to hire me for $30 to perform at their party. Because I had been practicing magic for some time by then and wanted to really “wow” the crowd at my first booked show, I bought some of the sparkly dust that magicians often use for added effect when performing a particularly dramatic trick. My failure to recognize the dangers of this powder, which was very flammable, came back to haunt me during the show; I tried to make something disappear, and when I lit the paper it scorched a pretty sizable hole in the carpet of the people who had hired me. The shame and shock that I felt in that moment was only compounded when I found out that they had just gotten the carpet literally a day before the party.
Fortunately these guests were kind enough to overlook the damage that I had done to their brand new carpet, and even decided to still give me my $30 after the show was over. Needless to say, however, I never used pyro in someone’s house again. The silver lining of this story did not become apparent until over 10 years later when I saw the owners of the carpet that I had ruined. They told me that they had never actually fixed the carpet with the thought that I might become famous one day and that the carpet would therefore be a part of a great story!
Even though mistakes can be very embarrassing and discouraging, it is important to remember that magicians, like all other artists, sometimes mess up regardless of how skilled or well-practiced they are. Don’t let a performance mistake get in the way of your love for magic, and always remember that no matter how badly you mess up, you will never have burned a giant hole in a brand new rug!