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Topic: Lines that help when something goes wrong
Message: Posted by: Tony Thomas (Apr 28, 2008 11:08PM)
Does anyone have any lines that can save you in a moment when something has gone terribly wrong. For instance...
"Here I am folks, once again demonstrating that I am a really nice guy... a bad magician, but a nice guy."

Others? Anyone?
Message: Posted by: stoneunhinged (Apr 29, 2008 06:59AM)
I don't like it. Never say you're bad at anything, even if you are and you know it, unless your [i]character[/i] is supposed to be bad.

One time on stage (I was, however, playing music and not performing magic) I (or my partner :)--who cares?) screwed up so badly that it was doing more harm than good to continue. I signaled to stop. Then I said to the audience (but in German, so this is a loose translation):

"Hey, THAT sucked! What does everyone think? Should we start over or go on to the next song?"

Everyone voted that we start over. And we did and all was OK.

Of course, magic might be different.
Message: Posted by: Chappo (Apr 29, 2008 07:09AM)
I dunno... I think it's better to defuse a situation with whatever line is appropriate.

Personally, I think Tony's line is excellent. If you've smashed out some fantastic effects prior to the mistake and absolutely flabbergasted your spectators, they KNOW that you aren't crap. They will just enjoy the laugh. :) As long as you quickly move on to the next part of the routine/a different effect, no one will really give a stuff. Once again, it comes down to the philosophy that magic is not magic. It's a portrayal of incredible illusions. Most people are out to have fun. I constantly rave about the spectator-magi relationship. It should be a dynamic equilibrium between a funny magic performer dude and spectator, NOT a smart-arse-out-to-prove-everyone-is-an-idiot and spectator relationship.

Just my 2 cents. :) I certainly know that people will disagree with this, as there are a couple of exceptions to the above statement
Message: Posted by: magicgeorge (Apr 29, 2008 07:49AM)
*#$&!
Message: Posted by: fxdude (Apr 29, 2008 11:51AM)
I like Tony's line. I know I've heard a few others, I'll have to see if I can remember them.
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Apr 29, 2008 11:57AM)
I always have some minor or fuinny thing happen in the course of a show. Murphy's law just can not be controlled no matter how prepared you think you are. I always use this line and it gets a lot of laughs for certain situations.

For example. I will be done a trick and go and pick up a box or prop and accidentially drop it or it slips out of my hands. I look at the audience.....stare at audience.... look at prop on floor.. then say "Yes folks I can saw a woman in half, float a kid on the edge of a chair but I can't hold on to a pack of playing cards."

It usually gets a really nice laugh and it shows the audience that you are aware of the situation and in some cases they think it was all planned as part of the routine.

Kyle
Message: Posted by: stoneunhinged (Apr 29, 2008 12:02PM)
[quote]
On 2008-04-29 08:09, Chappo wrote:
Once again, it comes down to the philosophy that magic is not magic.
[/quote]

If not magic, what is it?

I've been having a lot of problems with this "philosophy" lately. But that belongs in another forum.

I like MagicGeorge's suggestion the best. Just move on.

There is, buried somewhere deep in the Café, a post by someone who saw Ricky Jay blow an effect. According to the story, he actually reset his stack in front of the audience and went on. Yes, it's audacious. Yes, he's Ricky Jay and we're not. But [i]any[/i] clever line shatters an illusion, in my opinion, that it is best not to shatter.

Of course, if someone has a truly funny line that serves, then I'll be *very* fast to admit I'm wrong. But the "nice guy bad magician" line just doesn't do it for me.

Jeff
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Apr 29, 2008 12:07PM)
I think it also comes down to your own style and personality as well. I love improving and adding comedy to the magic I do. Part of my style is a very light-hearted approach where I do not always take myself so seriously. if I have a helper on stage and I drop something or something goes subtly wrong, I use it to my advantage and I improv off the situation. In many cases this has resulted in some of the funniest acts I have done. So much so that if it does happen and the audience likes it, I make it a point to try and see if I can cause it to happen every show.

Kyle
Message: Posted by: Father Photius (Apr 29, 2008 12:52PM)
What has always worked for me was saying "We will all now pause for a moment of silent prayer for this trick which just died", then bow you head, the longer you keep your head bowed the louder and longer the laugh you get.
Message: Posted by: Magic Enhancer (Apr 29, 2008 03:37PM)
If I drop a prop or cards, I usually just stare at the prop on the ground and say "looks like we'll skip that one" and substitute it with something else. It gets a relatively good laugh, and leaves the people thinking what the hell was he going to do? It works for me anyway.

Robert Haas
Message: Posted by: Tony Thomas (Apr 29, 2008 06:44PM)
Thanks for the comments so far. Stoneunhinged, for the record, I don't like the line much myself. I started the thread because I have found myself twice in a situation of needing such a line. Hate to admit it, but it's true, "I messed up". So, I was thinking, maybe I could have recovered better. Just moving on is certainly one option, but if it is a situation where everyone knows you messed up. Like, you knock something over, or a card trick doesn't work (maybe the stacked deck wasn't reset correctly), what do you do?
Message: Posted by: Chappo (Apr 29, 2008 07:55PM)
[quote]
On 2008-04-29 13:52, photius wrote:
What has always worked for me was saying "We will all now pause for a moment of silent prayer for this trick which just died", then bow you head, the longer you keep your head bowed the louder and longer the laugh you get.
[/quote]

That is fantastic Photius. :D

[quote] If magic isn't magic.... what is it[/quote]

Precisely what I said before. An ingenious presentation of a sleight of hand and illusions. It isn't magic, it just seems to be. Hence the term 'magic'. :) Otherwise we'd have 168 year old witches trundling around the local bars with their cauldrons performing roving gigs. :D
Message: Posted by: Jerskin (Apr 29, 2008 08:41PM)
I throw down the mic and storm off the stage...
Message: Posted by: Chappo (Apr 29, 2008 10:06PM)
Genius, Jerskin. Pure genius. LOL
Message: Posted by: Eric Lott (Apr 30, 2008 12:46PM)
I had a recent show where one thing went wrong and it was quite embarrassing. As I left, I said "As you're cleaning up tonight, if anyone finds my dignity could you please send it back to me? Thanks!"
Message: Posted by: ERIC (Apr 30, 2008 04:00PM)
Well isn't that special....For my next trick....
Message: Posted by: Tony Thomas (Apr 30, 2008 09:02PM)
[quote]
"Yes folks I can saw a woman in half, float a kid on the edge of a chair but I can't hold on to a pack of playing cards."
Kyle
[/quote]

[quote]
On 2008-04-30 17:00, ERIC wrote:
Well isn't that special....For my next trick....
Eric
[/quote]

These are my favorites so far! Nice job guys. I think being able to handle a problem well is one of the things that seperates a pro from an amateur. Another thing that seperates a pro of course is eliminating the problems altogether, but one step at a time, right...
Message: Posted by: Tony Thomas (Apr 30, 2008 09:05PM)
[quote]
"We will all now pause for a moment of silent prayer for this trick which just died".
Photius
[/quote]

Woops, I liked this one two. Being a Pastor, this one will especially work for me. Thanks Photius. Keep the ideas coming...
Message: Posted by: Magicmike1949 (May 1, 2008 10:28PM)
There's a lengthy thread on this topic under the Café heading "The Words We Use"
Message: Posted by: ERIC (May 1, 2008 10:36PM)
[quote]
On 2008-04-30 22:02, Tony Thomas wrote:
I think being able to handle a problem well is one of the things that seperates a pro from an amateur. Another thing that seperates a pro of course is eliminating the problems altogether, but one step at a time, right...
[/quote]

When Lance Burton came out to Atlantic City a couple of years ago, there was a MAJOR flash during the duck productions, so even the big pros have the occasional problem. Stuff happens.
Message: Posted by: harris (May 2, 2008 09:01AM)
I used to do a lot of programs for substance abuse treatment..including in a maximum security prison...one I liked was related to Photios


God Grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change..

In a magician gone seemingly wrong(magician in trouble) I still use it..sometimes changing the last line..
The courage to...

(anyone like to feel in the next few words with a funny ending...?
Message: Posted by: Magic Enhancer (May 2, 2008 04:09PM)
Go back in time and stop gravity ?
Message: Posted by: JHNelson (May 2, 2008 04:42PM)
My favorite reponse when a trick goes wrong is this: "That could have been worse. My pants could have fallen down." I read it in a book on magic and I can't remember the author unfortuneately. I had a stacked deck routine go wrong one time and I just restacked it while looking through the deck. I thought for sure I was going to get busted but apparently no one noticed much and said it was a great effect.
James
Message: Posted by: magicoftomh (May 2, 2008 05:10PM)
I once performed at a Renaissance Fayre where the stage was a bit creaky. I took a step onto a loose board, and went DOWN. I fell onto my back, and it knocked the wind out of me. Simultaneously, I heard the wind go out of my audience. Somehow, I quickly sat up and shouted, "LIVE FROM NEW YORK...IT'S SATURDAY NIGHT!"

That flew right over the heads of the kids, but the parents got the Chevy Chase gag.
Message: Posted by: Tony Thomas (May 4, 2008 08:49PM)
[quote]
My favorite reponse when a trick goes wrong is this: "That could have been worse. My pants could have fallen down."
James
[/quote]

Love it! Thanks James.
Message: Posted by: socalmagic (May 10, 2008 07:52PM)
After 1000's of shows, I can say that mistakes happen all the time. 99% of the time, if you don't say anything, then the audience won't notice. A few might catch on, but most will not.

If there is a huge, glaring mistake, then it is best to defuse it with a joke. One line I've used is, "I never liked that darn trick anyway." One time my head chopper totally malfunctioned and the entire audience clearly saw it. I just joked with the volunteer about their safety having her head in this piece of junk throughout the rest of the routine. The audience was in hysterics by the end of the routine because they were truly scared that it would not work (me too!).

Incidentally, I had a major potential client watching the show. I thought I blew it, but later when she booked she said that it was hilarious, and after being blown away with all the other magic, it was nice to know that there actually is a trick involved. Not that I want my audience leran magic grom my mistakes, but things happen. The way you handle it separates the amateurs from the pros.
Message: Posted by: spatlind (May 17, 2008 06:26PM)
[quote]
On 2008-05-02 17:42, JHNelson wrote:
My favorite reponse when a trick goes wrong is this: "That could have been worse. My pants could have fallen down."
James
[/quote]

That's hilarious!
Message: Posted by: jocdoc (Jun 5, 2008 02:11AM)
Aldo Colombini put out some hysterical small books devoted to this subject including:

Life Saver Lines
First Aid Lines
(and many more)

I picked them up during his recent lecture at our ring and they're filled with gems for all occasions. Great deal for $10. You can find at http://www.wildcolombini.com/cart/index.php?cPath=3

jeff in san diego
Message: Posted by: RichardShure (Jun 8, 2008 01:02PM)
Now this is what we call in the magic business "A Mistake". Good Thing this time nothing happened. Last time the entire front row of the audience turned into Frogs. Now, don't you feel lucky?

Richard S
Message: Posted by: The Village Idiots (Jun 8, 2008 02:03PM)
Socalmagic, I once had a head chopper fall apart on stage. I had forgotten about that. I was performing in front of a large church group and had the pastor in it at the time. The whole "thing" fell out and onto the ground. I let the pastor out and said, "That's the last time I buy anything from magictricks.com."

It got a laugh but it was still embarrassing.

I'm mostly a juggler so we must confront our mistakes. They are so obvious. We have just enough jokes to get us through a really tough show before we run out. After one particularly rough show a guest asked me if the mistakes were on purpose, in order to tell all the jokes? I laughed and said I didn't even know.

Ted
Message: Posted by: Destiny (Jun 8, 2008 02:12PM)
There are 3 main causes of mistakes in my performance so I simply tell the audience the truth of which was to blame - either global warming, the Iraq war or rising fuel prices.

Destiny
Message: Posted by: bobser (Jun 10, 2008 05:56PM)
"Oh !@#$." They always just love that. Even the adult shows.

bobser
Message: Posted by: bobser (Jun 10, 2008 05:56PM)
C'mon...that's not what I wrote!!!!!
Message: Posted by: chicagoharry (Jun 12, 2008 06:04PM)
Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!
Message: Posted by: LVMagicAL (Jun 12, 2008 11:13PM)
This past weekend I had mouth coils continue breaking (in two back to back shows) and it was difficult to get them started again from inside my mouth.....each time I ended up pulling the whole wad of coil from my mouth, extracting the balance of the multi-colored paper from the wad by hand while exclaiming: "That trick worked perfectly in rehearsal"....and then just moved on to the next segment of the effect. It got a laugh and since it was a small part of the overall effect, I don't think anyone thought much of it......

I sometimes use: "You folks deserve better than that" while tossing the props in my case and moving on to the next trick.
Message: Posted by: magicoftomh (Jun 13, 2008 12:31AM)
I've only had that happen once or twice in the years I've performed Mouth Coils. I've been tempted to keep a Super Mouth Coil in easy reach on my table to blow that trick away when it went wrong. But, I've mentally argued that a problem that occurs once a decade does not exactly rationalize bringing out the same prop for every show...it would probably fail due to abuse.
Message: Posted by: impossible man (Jun 13, 2008 08:58AM)
[quote]
On 2008-05-02 10:01, Harris wrote:
God Grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change..

In a magician gone seemingly wrong(magician in trouble) I still use it..sometimes changing the last line..
The courage to...

(anyone like to feel in the next few words with a funny ending...?
[/quote]

How about "...still ask for the check after the show is over?"

I also use a line in close up work when I drop something "You'd never know I do sleight of hand. If I don't practice it I can't do it."

Stoneunhinged, I don't see how saying "Hey that sucked" is different from the original line. I know a top performer here who says "I can explain that...I'm not very good."

Houdini wrote "Well, Ladies and Gentlemen, mistakes will happen, and that is one of them."
Message: Posted by: Dynamike (Jun 24, 2008 01:15PM)
"That was part of the act." (the audience starts to laugh know I'm joking) "See, it made all of you laugh. That's what it was all about."
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Jun 24, 2008 01:38PM)
I also always liked to cover up the mic with my hand and say into it (while looking towards back stage).. "Ok Start the truck!". It always got a laugh.

Kyle
Message: Posted by: The Awesome One (Jun 26, 2008 01:16AM)
[quote]I know a top performer here who says "I can explain that...I'm not very good." [/quote]

that's great I'm going to use that.
Message: Posted by: The Awesome One (Jun 26, 2008 01:19AM)
I like the amazing jonothan who says, "there's another thing I can add to the list of sh*t I can't do."

I actually made a fold out list that I keep in my pocket so when I'm doing walkaround I can pull it out and say "no, seriously here's my list" gets a good laugh and now they think it was all part of the act.
Message: Posted by: Donald the Average (Aug 6, 2008 05:12AM)
A couple of lines that have come my way . . . . . After a prop fails to work,- Digustedly "Ebay, £3.60" Or how about when you've dropped something,- "That's the first drop I've had all day."
Message: Posted by: m.ruetz (Aug 20, 2008 04:01PM)
Mine is similar to DynaMikes: "Hey don't worry, it's part of the act, although it wasn't part of the act last time I did it."
Message: Posted by: critter (Aug 20, 2008 05:46PM)
My very favorite line of this type was when Amazing Johnathan said "As a Magician that sucks, but as a comedian it's d*** funny."
Message: Posted by: socalmagic (Aug 21, 2008 02:04AM)
I sometimes use, "I thought I'd throw that trick in... should've thrown it out!"
Message: Posted by: Sammy J. (Aug 22, 2008 10:04PM)
I messed up performing for the local magic club a month ago. My response was "It worked so much better in front of the mirror". Probably only works for magicians, but it did provide some comic relief.
Message: Posted by: Father Photius (Aug 22, 2008 10:23PM)
Wave at audience and say "Ah bu dee, ah bu dee, ah bu dee, ah bu that's all folks" and run off stage like crazy.
Message: Posted by: AaronTheMagician (Aug 22, 2008 11:41PM)
"Well, that's new..."
Message: Posted by: MagicMatthews (Aug 23, 2008 12:04AM)
"It's all part of the show ... just the part that hasn't been rehearsed."

"I can't wait to see how I get out of this one myself!"

This is not a line, but one of the funniest I saw was from a juggler when he dropped a ball. Two ball boys ran on, one to hand him a new ball and the other to collect the drop.
Message: Posted by: kosmoshiva (Aug 25, 2008 11:39AM)
Sometimes we have it in a routine for things to 'go wrong on purpose', so my thinking on when things REALLY go wrong, is to try and get in the same frame of mind as when you pretend they have. Um ... I think ...
Message: Posted by: MJP (Oct 15, 2008 07:10PM)
If it's really glaring, stop what your doing and ask the audience to clap, cheer, whistle and whoop it up really big on the count of 3. After they've done so, then say something like, "Don't you feel better about that trick now?" Move on...
Message: Posted by: Dr. Delusion (Oct 15, 2008 07:32PM)
A line I've used on occasion is, " I guess you really are suppose to read the instructions and practice a trick before you perform it in front of somebody".
Bob.
Message: Posted by: zebrawood (Oct 17, 2008 09:44PM)
"you know what we need? ...a bigger wand!"
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Oct 18, 2008 05:19PM)
"You know folks.. that is the FIRST time that has EVER happened AGAIN!"

(pause really long and stare at audience and then the prop) "well Mom liked it!"

Kyle
Message: Posted by: ya4davecox (Oct 24, 2008 07:31AM)
I carried a copy of "Magic for Dummies" around in my bag for a while. It has a million and one uses.
Message: Posted by: WhiteAngel (Oct 25, 2008 06:25PM)
There's a magician (I can't for the life of me remember his name) who when drops a coin, looks at it, then his watch, and says "and...we'll leave that there for 5 seconds....." and picks it up and continues like it was required or something.
Message: Posted by: MaxfieldsMagic (Nov 1, 2008 12:28AM)
I read this one somewhere -

when you drop an object, say (as you're bending over to pick it up) - "that was close...almost dropped it!"
Message: Posted by: stephencolbert (Nov 6, 2008 11:24AM)
I heard a great line from a juggler who dropped during a particularly difficult trick he had just added.

"That is not a failure. I never fail. I always succeed at finding out what doesn't work." It was funny.
Message: Posted by: MaxfieldsMagic (Nov 14, 2008 08:42AM)
For a drop, while looking down or bending over to retrieve the item: "That's why they call it a floor show, folks."
Message: Posted by: joseph (Nov 14, 2008 02:24PM)
When you can't afford David Blaine, you get me...
Message: Posted by: montymagi (Nov 26, 2008 09:57AM)
I have played it off by saying "and for my next trick I will dive into this tinny glass of water" as a pretend to set a glass of water down and pick up what I dropped and smile.
Message: Posted by: JRob (Nov 27, 2008 08:26AM)
"Well, shucky darns"
"Ladies and Gentlemen, you have just witnessed the dangers of believing your own press...especially when you wrote it yourself"
Message: Posted by: Magic Enhancer (Nov 27, 2008 08:29AM)
"At least I saved a bunch of money on my car insurance by switching to Geico"

Robert Haas
Message: Posted by: GTBROTHERs (Dec 8, 2008 09:44AM)
My head chopper mal functioned ... I nodded my head said," I built it myself" then smiled and proceeded with the trick. Got great laughs

On another note if you drop something keep a piece of flash paper in your back pocket pull it out light; throw bend down and pick up what you dropped .... Works great
Message: Posted by: The Awesome One (Dec 11, 2008 09:48PM)
"Did you see that ... A sudden gust of gravity"
Message: Posted by: magoben (Jul 6, 2009 02:46PM)
"$300 for nothing"

"Props: $300. Magician: $500. Magic Book: $150. Watching a magician mistake: has no price."

There are plenty things you can improvised. Once my hand guillotine malfunctioned also. I only said: "So you can see it's a very dangerous trick" or also "So you can see it could fail".
Message: Posted by: magoben (Jul 6, 2009 02:48PM)
Ohh ohhh I remember one!! In a show of world's greatest magic, The Pendragons were doing the Metamorphosis. It seems like Charlotte had troubles changing the clothes and she didn't get out of the trunk. So the host said "Even Houdini failed some tricks".

You could use that line for you.
Message: Posted by: Comedy Writer (Jul 8, 2009 11:58AM)
In the comedy writing business, these lines are known as "savers" and its good to have a few ready (pre-written) for when a trick or a joke goes bad....

Comedy Writer
Message: Posted by: Montana Santa (Jul 12, 2009 09:41PM)
I dummied up a paper back to look like one of those "_______ for Dummies" which clearly -- and loudly states "Magic for Dummies" if a trick goes wrong I page through the book, look at the failed trick and go-- Hah, I knew I was wrong..."
Message: Posted by: Comedy Writer (Jul 20, 2009 11:38AM)
Or "priceless" as the commercial goes...
Message: Posted by: Maloney (Jul 21, 2009 09:52PM)
Say Criss Angel tought you it.

They will eather laugh or look puzzled.