Some Funny TRUE Stories - As Professional Performer & Lecturer!

Discuss the historical aspects of magic, including memories, or favorite stories.

Postby Guest » 07/06/06 02:10 PM

These MIGHT make you laugh (taken from one of my books). And - ALL 100% true! There are more, but this is a polite kinda audience!

1. A dealer friend recently told me of the time a rather dishevelled down-on-his-luck character asked for a discount on two items as times were hard. My dealer friend knocked of a few quid (after a bit of pleading from the customer) and then Mr. Unlucky paid with a 50 (about $100) note! :mad:

2. Most recently a fella came to my stand and said, Have you seen Jerry Andrus Card Control? I said, Yes, Ive got it. He replied sternly, Look, I didnt ask if you had got itjust, have you seen it? Puzzled, I retorted, Well, yes Ive got it, seen it and read it! As he walked away he said, mumbling, I dont want to know if youve got it or read it, only whether youve seen it! I can only imagine that his drugs hadnt quite kicked in. :confused:

3. A magician friend of mine was doing a wedding at the London Hilton (Park Lane). As he was running late, he zoomed into the room, said hello to the bride and groom and did two hours of entertaining. After he was done he said goodbye to the happy couple who were overly-enthusiastic and grateful for the show. They couldnt stop thanking him. When he got home some three hours later there was an angry message on the phone, Where were you? Hed gone to the right hotel but the wrong room . No wonder the happy couple were so darned grateful. Free entertainment. :rolleyes:

4. This is the most bizarre thing thats ever happened to me: At a wedding, the bride tried to proposition me during the function . (I cant say exactly what she said.) I wasnt flattered at all. When I finished the performance, I chatted to the band. One by one they told me the same thing; wed all been cornered! As I left the venue, I saw her in the car park with another man . Ill leave to you to fill in the gaps (here they are:_____________) as to what they were doing. (It wasn't a pretty sight!)

5. At a very posh upper-class function (Lady Something or Other), I was beckoned (actually, she clicked her fingers at/for me) by Lady ___. She hailed her friends Felicity, Gemima and Isobel to come and watch This rather strange little man doing little card tricks! Already I had the taste for complete revenge! I noticed her affected posh accent was phony. (I used to go to a posh private boarding school myself.) I performed a trick so strong and startling (I think) that she reacted in a heartfelt off-her-guard way and spat out the words, Cor! F**k me! :o Her friends looked at her aghast and retreated, as did I. Revenge was mine!

6. I was asked (by a well-known magic convention organiser) to do a detailed workshop for twenty serious close-up card magicians. I did some tricks utilising the Faro Shuffle. One chap stood up and said, Ive been doing card magic for twenty years and Ive never heard of the Faro Shuffle! What do you say to that? :confused: :rolleyes:

7. A young lad walked up to me (after my 1997 lecture at Tannens Jubilee) and said, Why bother writing books? Nobody reads books anymore! Hmm :whack:

8. About ten years ago, I chap phoned me to order Protean Card Magic. I posted it first thing. At 8am the next morning he phoned again to complain he couldnt do the magic. I asked him when the book had arrived. He replied 6am. After I congratulated him on reading a 145-page book and trying 42 effects in two hours, he said, And its all card magic, too! Hmmthe clue is in the title of the book. :help:

Hope you like them, too!

Paul Gordon

Postby Guest » 07/06/06 10:42 PM

Have you got any TRUE funny stories to add here?

Here's two more:

1) I got a phone call about ten years ago saying, "Do you do ALL kinds of functions? If so - would you do a funeral !" Puzzled, I said, "Err...sure!" Unsure at what stage - if ANY - would be appropriate - I ended up doing the 'After Funeral PARTY' . I arrived at the house and all the guests were laughing, drinking and dancing. I thought, either they HATED him and were getting their own back, or he said, "When I die - have a ball!" Worse still - the darned body (in upright coffin) was OPEN in the room!! I wickedly thought about complaining, "There's a guy in the corner who refuses to pick a card!" Odd day!

2. At a magic lecture (in New York circa 1999), this chap picked up one of my books (with my photo on the front), flicked through it, perused it, read parts of it, saw more photos of me inside, flicked through it once more...and finally looked up at me and said, "Is this book any good?" :confused:

Paul Gordon

Let me know if you like 'em being posted!

Postby Guest » 07/07/06 08:13 AM

The year was 1975. I was 15 years old. The venue was my grandmother's home in rural, Cambridge Ohio. I was performing for all of my relatives. Mind, these were/are "simple" folk. The average IQ of the crowd approximated room temperature.

Uncle Bob, age 34, assisted me with "Out of This World". I slowly and carefully described the procedure, reminding him that he was to attempt to mentally devine of the color of the faces of the cards. The experiment began.

I stopped the experiment after dealing through about half of the deck. Uncle Bob had announced red for every card!! I asked, "Didn't you get the sense that any of these cards were black??" Uncle Bob replied, "No, I could see that they's all red. This ain't much of a trick."

Moving right along...

Aunt Cheryl, age 32, assisted me with "Nickles to Dimes". After the nickles had magically changed to dimes, Aunt Cheryl picked up one of the dimes. She held it to her ear and shook it, with a smug smile that conveyed her satisfaction that she had "found the secret."

I asked her what she was doing. She replied that she was attempting to hear the nickle rattling around inside the dime!!

Profoundly troubling but true.


Postby Guest » 07/20/06 05:44 PM

I was with (watching) Mark Mason lecture recently in the UK.

He says, "Okay guys...anyone got a question about that trick?"

A fella says (seriously) reaching for his cigarettes, "....Ermm, yes. Got a light?"

You should have seen Mark laugh - internally!

Paul Gordon

Postby Guest » 07/20/06 06:18 PM

This isn't about a "magic" situation exactly, but for a couple years I was the resident magician at a restaurant called "Savannah" in Key West Florida.

One night a lady asked me, in all seriousness, "Does the water go all the way around the island?"

Top that. :D

Postby Guest » 07/20/06 06:39 PM

One of my favorite stories involves David Williamson. I saw him lecture 5 or 6 years ago at Denny Haney's shop in Baltimore. Anyone who's been to a lecture there knows he packs 'em in like sardines. I was in the front row, the VERY far left. (It's important to the story.)

He was describing a trick. "At this point, you control the card to the top. You can use a double cut, or a pass or whatever. I use a pass." He totally breaks character. "By the way, have any of you guys ever seen Harry Lorrayne do a pass?" Most of us just mumbled no. He smiled and said, "When we're done here, you can ask him to show you, he just walked in." Every single person gasped and turned around, looking for Harry, but he couldn't be seen. I couldn't turn around, because It was so cramped. I saw David giggle to himself like crazy and just cut the cards. It took a few minutes for everyone to realize what he did.

Postby Guest » 07/20/06 07:42 PM

A number of years ago David Williamson was performing at the Abbott's Magic Get-Together. At the time Rocky Raccoon was one of David's feature pieces. Knowing this, I drove back to my magic and costume shop in Kalamazoo, Michigan to pick up one of my mascot costumes (a giant Raccoon). I also stopped by the local toy store and bought a "Ken" doll that was dressed in a tuxedo. Upon arriving back at the Abbott's showroom I saw David demonstrating Rocky to a group of magicians. I put on the costume and nonchalantly walked past David handling the "Ken" doll in the same manner that David was handling the Rocky Raccoon. When David saw me and what I was doing he fell to the floor laughing so uncontrollably that everyone in the room turned to see what was happening. It took a full minute for David to regain his composure.

After causing me to laugh uncontrollably countless times it was indeed a pleasure to return the favor.

The Funny Side Of Magic
Antony Gerard

Postby Guest » 07/20/06 08:09 PM

Here is another story to hopefully tickle your fancy.

W.W. Durban was working a convention in Fort Wayne, Indiana when this story occurred. Mr. Durban used to do a finale where, while standing center stage and with no tables or assistants near him, he would produce a live duck from a scarf. The duck was obviously hidden somewhere on his body. (Actually in a cloth bag hidden in the tails of his coat). When he wanted to produce the duck he would, under cover of the scarf, attain the bag and produce the duck.

During the performance in Fort Wayne, however, the ducks head somehow freed itself from the confines of the bag. The duck apparently was curious as to where he was and decided to poke his head out. The problem was the fact that the opening of the bag was between W.W. Durbans legs. When the ducks head made its appearance from the bag its head appeared from between Durbans legs. The audience went into hysterics. (Close your eyes and try to visualize what it must have looked like. Must have been a really fowl sight. I used that line to see if I could quack you up.)

Take care and take cards
Antony Gerard

PS; The above W.W. Durban story is from my book "The Funny Side Of Magic".
The David Williamson story is from "The Funny Side Of Magic - Book Two which I am still writing. If you have a funny magic related story please contact me.

Postby Guest » 07/21/06 01:14 PM

I've two!

A local magic shop, now gone, had been taken over the the father of the magician who started it, the father knew nothing nor cared nothing about magic. A well known magician was in town to do a private party and he walked in the store to get some items and he saw his L&L videos on the shelf. The magician pointed and said "Hey! I see you have my videos", I think since he wasn't recognized by the owner he kinda wanted him to know who he was. The owner looked up at him and said "they ain't yours until you buy 'em pal".

Second was at the old SAM in Palo Alto before it was salvaged in the last few years. David Roth was lecturing and putting up with the usual series of nonsense question and whacked out opinions of the attendees when Roth showed a shuttle pass. One fellow said "that isn't a shuttle pass", Roth replied it was and tried to move on. The fellow stands up and says "you know, maybe you would know what you were talking about if you read this book like I did" and waved a copy of Coin Magic, Roths book, at the book and back up and said "you aren't David Roth" and sat down. Another fellow wanted an autograph on a photo copy of the book. Good lectures at that SAM.
Steve V

Postby Jim Maloney_dup1 » 07/21/06 01:28 PM

David lectured at Fantasma a few months ago, and I remembered your story. I was tempted to bring along my copy of Expert Coin Magic and complain to David about his Shuttle Pass. I was too chicken, though.

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Postby Guest » 07/21/06 02:28 PM

Did the long-gone shop you mentioned happen to be at El Paseo de Saratoga in San Jose...?

AND, if you were in the old Paly S.A.M., do you remember when Penn and Teller were there and did an hour for all dozen and a half of us? Do you remember Scambini?! Ron Ermantrout?

Appologies for diverging from this thread's actual purpose.

Postby Guest » 07/21/06 03:21 PM

By golly it DID happen at El Paso De Saratoga! I didn't really hang at SAM, they were not the nicest men to be around, very negative. I went to a couple lectures then gave up...John Bodine and some others did a great job reviving that club.
Steve V

Postby Guest » 07/25/06 04:02 PM

I KNEW it HAD to have been "The M____ H__" in your anecdote! --It was your description of the old codger "who neither knew nor cared about magic" that tipped it. Heh heh.

You are also spot-on re: the old P.A. S.A.M. Though I DO have SOME fond memories, the know-nothing-putzes in that club have a lot to do with my being so cynical regarding magi-clubs to this day...How we LONGED to have a local-club like the Long Beach Mystics or the Castle Juniors, or the Forks Hotel...oh, the trauma!

I would be interested to "cut up old touches" without further screwing up this thread. If you like, contact me at and we can go over the old days a bit...

Best, Dave Cox

Postby Guest » 07/25/06 04:13 PM

Originally posted by castawaydave:
I KNEW it HAD to have been "The M____ H__" in your anecdote! --It was your description of the old codger "who neither knew nor cared about magic" that tipped it. Heh heh.

You are also spot-on re: the old P.A. S.A.M. Though I DO have SOME fond memories, the know-nothing-putzes in that club have a lot to do with my being so cynical regarding magi-clubs to this day...How we LONGED to have a local-club like the Long Beach Mystics or the Castle Juniors, or the Forks Hotel...oh, the trauma!

I would be interested to "cut up old touches" without further screwing up this thread. If you like, contact me at and we can go over the old days a bit...

Best, Dave Cox
No need to take this private as far as I am concerned. It's entertaining.

Postby Guest » 07/25/06 05:17 PM

Hey Mr. Goat! How was your trip to the Castle?

P.S. What do you want to know about those old days? (Be aware, some may think it best not to encourage my ranting...)

Postby Guest » 07/25/06 05:26 PM

Another thing that happened at the Roth Lecture (Roth cancled his workshop with these guys about half way through the lecture) at Wacky SAM. After every showing of a sleight this one guy would stand up and ask "If you were in (Japan, Hong Kong, Germany, Mexico, different country ever time) what coin would you use?". Roth always answered "I'd use a US half". The guy would then say "but they would think it was a foriegn coin" and Roth would say 'yes' and move on until the guy would stand up again!

I did tell the SAM leader that they were pissing off Roth and he replied, and I'm not kidding "We are paying him, he'll take what ever we give" He then called me a layman.
Steve V

Postby Guest » 07/25/06 06:58 PM

At a convention about 8 years ago Terry Guyatt was lecturing. He mentioned Erdnase a few times.

Eventually one person raised his hand and asked, "Which book by Erdnase is that in?"

Postby Guest » 07/25/06 08:07 PM

This isn't magic, but in the same vein. A friend of mine was tending bar at the broadway production of "Cats." The show had started, and he was cleaning up from the pre-show crowd and getting ready for intermission. And then, about 15 minutes into the show, the house door opens and an angry man walks out into the Lobby.

"This show is about Cats!" The man yells, to my friend, who had no idea what to say in response. Then the man continued, even louder, "I HATE cats!" And with that he stormed out of the theater.

Postby Tom Stone » 07/25/06 09:31 PM

Originally posted by Pete McCabe:
This isn't magic, but in the same vein.
I made a shareware ebook a while back, titled "Self publishing". Among the contents was a rather detailed description on how I do illustrations.

I got an email from a guy who had downloaded it, who said "I've just read your ebook. Those illustrations of yours are amazing. Could you tell me how they are done? I gladly pay for the instructions."

...So I copied the text from the ebook into the reply.
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Postby Guest » 07/27/06 02:33 AM

A Funny TRUE story. I was working on AMTRAK'S COAST STARLIGHT a few years back. It was the last day of the run and we were heading into Los Angeles from Seattle. It was early evening, just before sunset and I noticed something odd when I looked out the train window. I saw the sun setting over a hill out the LEFT side of the train. Being that it was the southbound train heading into LA, I new I had an opportunity, but I had to act quickly.

As On-board entertainers, we had access the PA system. I made the following announcement to the entire train.

"Attention, Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, this is your onboard entertainer speaking. Many of you have had the opportunity to see me perform magic over the past few days. As we travel southbound towards Los Angeles, I would like to perform one last feet of magic. When I say now, everyone please close your eyes and count to three. NOW! (waited three seconds) IT HAS WORKED!! If you all take a look out the eastward window on the LEFT side of the train, you will see the sun setting over the mountains. That's right, I have made the sun set in the East!

I can't imagine I will ever be able to perform that trick again. As I made my final pass through the trains, I received wonderful words from many passangers and most importantly, the crew chief and conductor who asked me to come back again soon.

Postby Leonard Hevia » 09/06/06 04:24 PM

But...that's impossible did that...wait a minute... :confused:
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Postby Guest » 09/16/06 10:51 PM

This, sadly, I'll have to tone down. But...

Another 'pro' friend of mine told me that a mild (meek)-speaking lady enquired about his magic services. She sounded like a whispering dove!

Well...eventually, the subject of money came around. "So, dear chap. May I enquire as to how much you charge for your delightfull services for two hours?" "Yes, I charge 350 plus travel!"

The mild creature changed tone and blurted out, "Three hundred and fifty fu**ing quid for two fu**ing hours! You gotta' be fu**ing joking!" Click.

Postby Guest » 09/25/06 05:39 PM

Lou Lancaster likes to tell the story of "working" with John Calvert as an example of how Calvert was always in control.

Calvert had a group of people on stage for something. Lou had a sport coat on and when Calvert got close he quietly whispered, "I have an six-foot Abbott duck under my coat." Calvert took full advantage of the opportunity Lou gave him, producing the duck to the audience's amazement.

A year or so later, Lou is in the Navy, stationed in Japan. Calvert is playing at the large auditorium nearby. Lou shows up again, with the duck under his coat and again goes on stage.

He whispers to Calvert, "I have a six-foot Abbott duck under my coat," to which Calvert looks at him and replies, "Hey, where ya been?"

Postby Guest » 09/26/06 08:07 AM

Some years back I went to see the musical Miss Saigon in London. Behind me were a group of American tourists.

At the interval one of them, a woman, returned and announced quite excitedly to the group, "You know what I've discovered, we're near 'Old Bailey'."

To which one of them asked, "Who's 'Old Bailey'?"

With a sneer she replied, "Gee, don't you know anything about literature, that was the setting for the Agaatha Christie movie 'Witness For The Prosecution'."

Postby Pete Biro » 09/26/06 11:24 AM

Whan Blackstone (Sr.) came to Oakland to play the Orpheum theater, I went to 12 consecutive performances. After going on stage as part of the "committee" a couple of times, I would just go up and hand him my watch so he didn't have to do the steal!
Stay tooned.
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Postby Guest » 09/26/06 01:07 PM

Originally posted by Quentin Reynolds:
With a sneer she replied, "Gee, don't you know anything about literature, that was the setting for the Agaatha Christie movie 'Witness For The Prosecution'."
Seattle Rep. Theater.
The curtain is about to go up on "Richard III".

The fellow in front of us leans over to his (adult) niece amd tells her to listen for what he calls the most famous line:
"THIS is the winter of our discontent."


Postby Guest » 09/26/06 01:17 PM

I remember seeing Pia Zadora in The Diary Of Anne Frank . It was BAD.

So bad that someone in the audienced shouted, as the Nazi's approached the house, "She's in the Attic!"


Paul Gordon

Postby Mark Collier » 09/26/06 01:24 PM

I was performing at my restaurant gig recently. There are a lot of cards on the ceiling.

This elderly lady (about 90 years old) was quite fiesty and even flirtatious. She motioned for me to lean in close and she asked, "What do you do if you can't make it stick to the ceiling?"

I paused and replied, "I take a pill."

She lost it. She was laughing and slapping the table so hard she spilled her wine.
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Postby Harry Lorayne » 09/26/06 01:30 PM

I'm sure I wrote this in APOCALYPSE, but it certainly fits here. It happened many, many, years ago. i was lecturing to a group of magicians. In those days, I spoke about the card on ceiling effect - my handling, etc. (I haven't done the thing in decades.) Anyway, as I ended that particular discussion, a hand went up; the guy wanted to ask a question. "Sure," I said. Said he, "How do you do that effect outdoors?" HARRY LORAYNE.
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Postby Guest » 09/26/06 01:36 PM

Dear Harry,

I recall you telling me about the magic club secretary who collected you at the airport and drove you to HIS HOUSE - by mistake - and not the lecture venue!

NOT funny at the time, I guess, but funny now!


Postby Guest » 09/26/06 08:36 PM


I heard the Pia Zadora story around 1988 (and have told it in many times in the first person). While it is a great story, it certainly isn't true, see Snopes:

Enjoying the thread though!


Postby Guest » 09/26/06 09:57 PM

Originally posted by Paul Gordon:
I remember seeing Pia Zadora in The Diary Of Anne Frank . It was BAD.
Paul, according to the link provided by Andrew Pinard, Pia Zadora never appeared in the DIARY OF ANNE FRANK (nor do Nazi soldiers appear onstage in the play). Did you really see her in that role?

Postby Guest » 09/26/06 10:27 PM

Dear Richard,

I'm sure it was Pia Zadora...but, it was 20 years ago. And, I thought I saw her in a film of it, not a play.

But, when I worked in the theatre business (1979-1998), I saw over 100 plays a year and about the same amount of movies. Over a 19 year period, that's a lot of material...


Postby Guest » 09/26/06 10:36 PM

Dear Richard,

Since I turned fully professional as a magician (circa 1997/8), I have been collecting theatrical anecdotes.

I have over 1000 from about 90 Professional British Performers.

At some stage, I will publish them...they are hillarious! But, some are XXX-Rated! Some relate to other performers. I need my solicitor to check them first.

But - maybe in a few years time....maybe...


Postby Guest » 09/27/06 12:06 AM


Seeing that much material it's easy enough to think you saw Pia Zadora in the show. Unfortunately, the Internet indicates that the story is just a story...a funny story, but just a story, albeit it one with multiple versions with Zadora performing the play in Ireland, New York, and London, the Broadway version bankrolled by an "older man."

The show was produced on Broadway, twice, 1997-1998 for over 200 performances and from 1955 - 1957 for over 700 performances. In the revival it was Natalie Portman who played the title role and in the original, Susan Strasberg.

The source of the story, or certainly someone who has capitalized on it, is cabaret performer Michael McAssey who, in his act, claims to have co-starred with Zadora in the musical version of The Diary of Anne Frank. Various writers who prefer a good story over accuracy have repeated it endlessly.

The same story is also told with the bad actress being Vanna White, Jenny McCarthy, and Pamela Anderson. Pam as Anne Frank....the mind boggles...along with other things.

Postby Guest » 09/27/06 04:08 AM

Hey guys:

Ease up on Paul...

I pointed this out not to question his integrity, but rather to clarify that the story, while extremely funny, just wasn't an accurate description of an actual event (but wouldn't you have loved to have been there if it had?).

Truth is almost always funnier than fiction, but in this instance (even though the actual occurrence never happened) it is a good example of a reality that could--or should--have happened.

We all love emotional trainwrecks (especially those brought on by an act of extreme hubris), but not when we're on the train...

Keep up the stories Paul...


Postby Guest » 12/29/06 12:16 AM

One of the gigs I did at Christmas was one of the hardest. What I didn't know was this: 200 guests book 3 nights over Christmas in a 5-star hotel. They pay 1000 a head! It turns out to be cr*p! On the last night, during dinner, I have to entertain them at tabes! EVERY table took a pop at me prior to commencing my act. I won 70% of them over, but - it was the longest 2 hours I have ever done! As I leave, I see the staff notice board and clock that I look similar (handsome...) to the hotel manager! Yippidy-do-dah!

Paul Gordon

Postby Guest » 12/29/06 12:40 AM

There is some evidence that occasionally someone "of authority" actually sends false information to snopes in order to have a favorite television blooper quashed. One such example is the famous line that Johnny Carson said to Arnold Palmer's wife when he asked if there were any superstitions or rituals Arnold had.

She said, "Yes, before every tournament, I kiss his balls."

Johnny replied, "I'll bet that makes his old putter straight!"

The network claims that it never happened. But I am absolutely certain I saw it on one of the Johnny Carson reprises, years ago.

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