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Topic: Crossing the fine line... or not
Message: Posted by: avimagic (Apr 26, 2004 07:10AM)
About 10 years ago, I was performing at the Brown's Hotel in Upstate New York. Living in Florida, it was a nice opportunity for a free trip to the mountains, and my parents drove up from their hometown to see me perform.

At one point, I asked for a volunteer from the audience, and there was this kid, around 15 or 16, jumping up and down in the back. "Way too anxious," I thought, "I'll save him for the guillotine."

So, I ignored him for the moment, and when I was ready to do the guillotine, I brought him up. At this point, I discovered that he had not been *jumping* up and down in the back when I asked for volunteers earlier. He had been *hopping* on one leg-- because one leg was all he had. When I called him up, he bounced into his wheelchair and wheeled up to the front.

Now, he was laughing and enjoying, and seemed very comfortable on stage, so I got comfortable with him very quickly.

Ever notice how we sometimes fall into a patter rut and find the words rolling off our tongues before we even know what we're saying? Well, I kinda forgot that my patter included the sentence, "I'm going to have to ask you to get down on all fours," until I had uttered every word except "fours." What else was there to say? The sentence ended up coming out like this:

"I'm going to have to ask you to get down on all (pause) threes..."

Stone silence in the audience. No laughter, no gasps, no nothing. In fact the only sound in the room (for what seemed like an eternity) was my mother: "I can't believe he just said that."

Finally, the kid starts cracking up and dives onto the floor. The audience followed his lead and laughed with him; the rest of the routine went better than ever.

So, who else out there has toed the line dangerously close to offending others, whether intentionally or unintentionally, but with thankfully positive results?

Message: Posted by: Daryl -the other brother (Apr 27, 2004 03:19AM)
I feel your pain. Once many moons ago when I was doing children shows, I was working at a school for the handicapped. I had recently added a Copperfield vanish a hank sucker trick. I showed the kids how to ball up the hank & hide it in their hand. I held my hand in a stiff claw-like position and before my brain could stop my mouth I uttered the words " hold your hand in a natural position ". Most of the kids had cerebal palsy, a true low point in my life. I talked to the teacher after the show and told her how sorry I was, she told me most of the kids don't think of themselves as being handicapped and never made the association with my stupid words. Never the less I learned a very important lesson that day about engaging brain before putting mouth in gear.
Message: Posted by: avimagic (Apr 27, 2004 05:24AM)
Ouch! Thanks for sharing that!

Message: Posted by: daffydoug (May 2, 2004 10:32AM)
There was a time when I did Mark Wilson's ropes through coat trick, and the show was for the mentally handicapped.

My volunteer had a HUMP on his back, and when the two volunters pulled sharply in either direction, the rope caught on the hump, causing the poor guy to grimace in great agony.

I posted the entire story some time ago under this section under the title "Daffy Doug Performs for the Hunchback" I think if you'll look it up, you'll split your sides laughing! (Funny thing, though, it wasn't funny to me OR HIM at the time!!)
Message: Posted by: daffydoug (Jan 1, 2005 10:40AM)
Also did a show one time where a sightless fellow was siting in the front row. I did not realize that he was blind because he was not wearing dark glasses, but could not for the life of me understand why he would show no responce to my effects. I found out later, and it was quite enlightening to say the least.