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Jan Rouven, Illusions at the Riviera
Murray Sawchuck, Murray Celebrity Magician, Laugh Factory, Tropicana
Magicians and illusionist confound us with their sleight of hand or death defying performances. What many people don't see is the thousands of hours put in to making a trick work flawlessly. And even with all that practice and preparation, there may be human error or mechanical malfunction. What do you do as a magician when your trick fails in front of an audience?
Proper Prior Practice
“I mean the thing that a lot of people don’t realize, you do need a year to practice, you need a couple of years, because there’s certain tricks, you want to make sure it's done right. If you’re going in water with chains or you’re having a gun pointed at your head – you want to practice that. Because things can go wrong. Sure there’s illusions and there are things that they look like they’re happening, but they’re not, but in reality there’s certain things (that can go seriously wrong),” says Laugh Factory’s Murray Sawchuck.
But Stuff Still Happens
“One time – I go under water in my show, it’s a water tank – and one time during a rehearsal I couldn’t get out. Something really stupid happened and I couldn’t get out, and my manager saw that he had to get me out, he had to open it. It was something you assume would never happen, but it happened,” says Jan Rouven, an illusionist at the Riviera.
Watch Out For The Bullet Trick
One of the most dangerous magician's tricks is catching a bullet in one's mouth. What could possibly go wrong? A wide assortment of things, according to this article in Mental Floss. Some of these mishaps led to death, including an assistant accidentally replacing blanks with actual bullets, an audience member getting mischievous, and a misfire caused by improper loading of the gun.
When magician Chung Ling Soo was killed as result of having been shot in the chest while performing the bullet trick, foul play was suspected of rival illusionist Ching Ling Foo. The death was ruled accidental after Chung's widow explained the mechanics of the trick at an inquest.