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Sven Heubes
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Duesseldorf, Germany
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How do you feel about using stooges...?

As I noticed, this theme mostly brings up heated discussions with a wide range of different opinions and views.

When I talk about stooges, I mean any kind of secret helpers in a show, that can make impossible effects work or ensure the performer that a free chosen volunteer from the audience won’t kill your show by any misbehaviour (like DC uses them in his TV-Shows for example).

I’m talking of stooges used for cool gags, prearranged behaviour, speech- and bodycodes etc.

My personal way is not to use stooges (mostly) but I did. And I don’t condemn anyone going this way.

After using a stooge in my show I asked myself:
Was the audience amazed? – Yes they were!
Did they applaud during and at the end of my show? – Yes!!
Did I get paid? – Yes

So I only can come up with the conclusion: Whatever it is that amazes your audience and let them freak out, DO THOSE TRICKS!!!!

Now, I’m looking for your thoughts on that...

Magic greetz,
If you were half as good as you think you are, you would be double as good as you think you are...

Dai Vernon
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Profile of MCM
Larry Wilson (I think) does an interesting arash where he gets his stooge from the audience then basiclly does stuff that he couldn't do with an audience member and asked "NOW how many of you believe she was just a memeber of the audience?!" That was a good use of the stooge.
John Bowlin
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I believe more in using it to enhance an effect rather than "creating" an effect. A stooge can be great insurance. When used to blow a heckler out of the water(such as in a mentalism routine) that is stooge use at it's finest!
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Profile of boomassacre
I don't mind it say when Copperfield uses them for his "joke" tricks...i.e. "incredible egg" but in the "barclay house" not so much....
basicly for a laugh it doesn't hurt anyone, but anywhere else I'd rather not see it.
I'm telling you the truth, I swear....
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Profile of SHoT
There are some effects which just aren't doable without stooges,
but in this case I havew a preference for "instant stooges". If you choose your wording right and let them have the fame and applause of doing something unbelievable, they will never tell ...

And, in the end its the effect that counts. Just don't overdo it.

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Profile of MattWayne
Hmmm I am torn on this one. Yes and no. I use stooges for a Bruce Kalver effect- it's a systematic simplex code for learning serial numbers and thought of cards. Using an assistant. Anywho- buy his lecture notes if you want to learn it; I would strongly recommend it. Not going to tip anything. Bruce's stuff is really clever.

best always,
Matt Tomasko
Matt Wayne
The Celebrity Magician™ / / /

Creator of, 'Got a Light?' and others.
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Bob Sanders
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I'm just sixty. Perhaps when I get older, I'll consider it. I have nothing against acting but not all acting is magic.

Bob Sanders
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Bob Sanders

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Profile of ufo
Stooges may "play big" under the right conditions but normally they do not "pack small".
Actually, when the situation can be enhanced and the amazement raised by the use of a carefully trained Moe, Larry or Curly, I say go for it. This argument borders on the "what type of lying do you do as a magicain; the honest lying or the dishonest lying." Look, I promise to decieve and do my best to deliver! I use a stooge for my sword thru neck routine. I have polled other audience members and friends on whether they thought she was "in on it" and 90% say no. That being the case I will continue to use her because her co-operation more than a real spectator would do, I feel, really elevates the mystery factor to the point of creepy mythology.
"The world is indeed comic, but the joke is on mankind."
H.P. Lovecraft
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Profile of snm
I only use stooges when performing magic on film, whether it be TV a DvD or whatever. Say what you like, but when it comes to my magic on video I say "anything goes."
Elliott Hodges
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One of the most famous tricks- the shirt trick isn't possible without a stooge.
And that's a killer effect.
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Profile of JackScratch
My problem with using stooges is I can't seem to keep them from hiting each other. Realy makes it hard to perform.

OK, Now that I have that out of my system. Stooges are fine, but they must live up to the same performance standard that you do.
Bob Sanders
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I think one of the big things to remember is that we are entertainers. It is perfectly acceptable to me professionally to do "bits of business" that entertain. For the most part it is all clowns do and I have a lot of respect for them.

What I don't have respect for is an entertainer who is doing "bits of business" but calling it magic. It's like playing the radio and claiming to be a musician.

It certainly has its place in the entertainment industry. So does dancing. But I don't call that magic either.

Bob Sanders
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Profile of airship
I totally agree with the whole philosophy of using stooges for comedic effect. One of the funniest routines I have EVER seen is the 'pickpocket' routine that Steve Martin did with Bill Murray as his stooge on Saturday Night Live. I have probably seen that 100 times and it is still laugh-out-loud hilarious!
'The central secret of conjuring is a manipulation of interest.' - Henry Hay
Gregory The Great
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Count me in, I love jokes with stooges. I have used stooges in some effects I do in a dinner setting. Although I am not being paid it is fun and I get a great reaction. Now a paying “stage” gig is a little different (in the sense you are performing for more than a dozen people and you are getting paid.) I think if you are going to use stooges it needs to be very, very believable. I think a lot needs to happen for the whole thing to work. They cant over act!

Pull out your old tape from 1994 of Franz Harary making NASA's Space Shuttle disappear. (After watching) Take a look at his audience and their reactions after he makes the Shuttle disappear. Although it's a few years old… ((Come on.)) I think the one thing that makes it all believable and work is the stooge looks just a little uncomfortable and unsure of what’s going to happen. LITTLE being the main word! Then it works. It needs to be shuttle… I mean suttle.
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Profile of Jazz
Would you risk a big illusion with a regular audience member? I mean, to come up and inspect the gadget for example, that´s ok. But would you actually perform the illusion on the audience member? Now before everyoen jumps on me, I know that there are several illusions that are required to be performed with members of teh audience, but those are smaller every day efects. I am talking big unique effects. If you saw the Mindfreak episode of Criss Angel season 2, where he vanishes two spectators of the audience, then you had to start thinking... mmm And after some thoughts, I say no.
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Profile of joegow
I don't think there is anything wrong with using stooges, as long as the audience is entertained.
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Profile of Jerrine
I look at a stooge as a gaff and I have decided not to use gaffs, yet. I figure there is plenty of Magic for me to learn before relying on a fake coin/card/bill/person/fill-in-the-blank.

"Not that there is anything wrong with that." Jerry Seinfeld
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Profile of nucinud
One of my magician friends will use a stooge for his stage show once in a blue moon. But when he does, he lets the audience know later in the show. He will even introduce the person and thank him for their help. Sometimes even pay them on the spot. It is funny how most people don't remember that a stooge was used.
"We are what we pretend to be" Kurt Vonnegut, jr.

Now U C It Now U Don't

Harry Mandel
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To me it's almost unethical to use a fake any kind of trick. They are mostly used in mentalism and that's why I don't like mentalism. Also you always have to prove that they are real so you invent strange ways (like big balls running around) to show they are not fake while they are. The audience still goes home thinking...I bet the two were friends. I admit you can do impossible things but as I said I think is non-ethical. Is like a painter that uses assistants, or a tv showman with an earphone. It is just...wrong.
Bob Sanders
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There is another way to see it. An election year is coming!

Bob Sanders
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Profile of jekyllandhyde
I use a stooge every chance I can (mostly for coding). No guilt a'tall.
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Profile of Athos
I have a method that is very reliable and believable to pick stooges out of a group of people, PM me if you want it. But it only works in a couple of ''presentations'' so it merge in.

«How much of a gift it would be to really know what someone is thinking of?»
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«Here is someone that truly uses his powers for good.»
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Profile of oddsmaker
Would anyone like to shed some light on the "shirt trick" that was mentioned?
Michael J. Douglas
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The "shirt trick" is where the performer (many times a pickpocket) "steals" the shirt right off a spectator's back. If you do a search for "Bob Arno" on YouTube, you'll find his performance from World's Greatest Magic 3. The shirt pull is at the end.
Michael J.
“Believe then, if you please, that I can do strange things.” --from Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It’
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What with Criss Angel and all, I've noticed a disturbing trend among some laymen. I was watching someone's magic routine on YouTube during lunch, and my co-worker looked over and commented that the volunteer was probably in on the trick. "You can't walk up to a random stranger on the street and just do something amazing- over half the people magicians use are in on the trick."

I've always eschewed using a stooge, but if I can't even use a legitimate volunteer without the audience thinking "stooge", then all of magic's in deep trouble.
Self-proclaimed Jack-of-all-trades and google expert*.

* = Take any advice from this person with a grain of salt.
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Profile of NabsS
Myself, I am against stooges that actually are the only secret (i.e. if the audience discovers a volunteer is a stooge, it discovers the secret). I think one of the best times to use stooges is when there is another volunteer than the stooge. For example, for a mind reading effect. After all, the audience will most likely think you are tricking them, and they will not suspect a volunteer to be tricking them. But if they discover the person is a stooge, the trick won't be COMPLETELY spoiled. It's still a mind reading trick, and the actual volunteer will be baffled.

Another effect may be a sponge ball trick where a sponge ball actually teleports itself from the hand of a spectator to another's. It's impossible to make a ball vanish from a spectator's hand (and pretending to place two while really placing one actually isn't that easy). So, a stooge could be useful here.
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Profile of realorcy
If I am a layman, I will be very disappointed if I know magicians use stooges. Yes, you magicians get paid, but please be shamed at the very deep part of your heart. It isn't magic, it is acting.
Patrick Differ
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The sleight is not the trick. One doesn't have a card selected, returned to the middle of the deck, secretly passing it to the top just to say, "Wow! Your card has magically appeared on top of the deck! It's magic!" No... it's not magic. It isn't even close.

The same thing goes for confederates. Ask a person walking down the street to think of a number, they do. You divine the number in front of the other spectators. The person who thought of the number says, "Wow! You're right! How did you do that?" And everybody watching claps politely and thinks, "BS. They're working together."

Confederates are used like sleights. They cannot be the trick themselves.

In both of these examples, the sleights are the effect. And as far as effect construction goes, this construction is about as lame-brained as it gets because the distance between the effect and the method is only about 2 inches. That's close enough for 99% of all laymen, with their straight-lined, logical thought processes, to figure out pretty darn quick.

I saw a magician on TV magically cut a girl in half while they were in a park. The spectators went, "Ooooh! Aaaah! Whaaa?" and I thought to myself, "Dude, the sleight is just not the effect."

Most magicians have used or are using a confederate, but nobody likes to talk about it because some people think that their is someting 'dirty' about it. This baffles me. It's like saying, "I won't use an Ovette-Kelly Bottom Replacement because it's just wrong." I don't understand what there is to be ashamed about by using a confederate, unless they're used incorrectly and the audience figures it out. Now there's something to be a lot ashamed of.

Magic is acting, BTW. But I digress...
Will you walk into my parlour? said the Spider to the Fly,
Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy;
The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,
And I've a many curious things to show when you are there.

Oh no, no, said the little Fly, to ask me is in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair
-can ne'er come down again.
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Profile of yutszfung
With pretty good audience management, using stooge can be a miracle even for magician.
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Profile of MagicMichealMan
I love stooges, I just get some people from the audience and prepair them 5 mins before a show, I know Copperfield does it. and it sure makes it a heck of a lot less nerve racking.

magic mike
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