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spugletspeaks

Kate Woodward is telling tales again

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black comedy

Ta Dah! The Ultimate Guide to Being a Magician’s Assistant

Chapter 7: Leave the Arguments Backstage

Although it can be entertaining, and have comedic value, to have the audience take your side against the magician, remember that any on-stage tension must be an act. Even if you are partners off-stage, with all the inevitable irritations that that brings, leave those things backstage. This is especially the case when the act to be performed includes fire-eating, knife-throwing or the classic sawing-a-person-in-half routine.

An Illustration:

A notable example is provided by the case of Magic Circle member, Joe Derbyshire, alias the Great Stupendo, and his assistant and partner, Ms Ava Kopowski. An argument had begun before the performance, of all things, about football. Audience members later testified that the couple had come on stage, ‘daggers drawn.’

The performance started well but deteriorated quickly. The couple were said to be sniping at each other throughout. One woman, interviewed later, said that she had heard Mr Derbyshire say that Ms Kopowski looked like a warthog in spangles. Ms Kopowksi retaliated by threatening to boil Mr Derbyshire’s bunny.

In court, the Judge heard that the sawing-in-half routine, had not been rehearsed recently and was not intended to form part of that evening’s performance, but the linked rings had been set about with bolt-croppers, and the doves had been plucked and drawn. With the audience already demanding a refund, Mr Derbyshire wheeled his apparatus on stage and, using bodily force, placed his assistant inside it.

The audience, used to the spectacular theatrics of master illusionists, assumed that the blood and screams were part of the act, and roared Mr Derbyshire’s efforts on. Fortunately for Ms Koposwki, the theatre’s sharp-eyed sound and lighting man, noticed her increasing pallor and raised the alarm.  The amputation of her leg was completed later that evening under more hygienic conditions. At the time of writing, Mr Derbyshire remains under the care of the mental health services.

 

As an assistant, you are part of a team. There are extreme dangers in some illusions and trust is essential. Never go on stage in the heat of an argument. A baying audience can be a powerful influence, but remember that you are there to help manipulate them, not the other way around.

The Peculiar Case of Rochelle Gayle or Oops!

Rochelle painted her nails with two coats of Flaming Rose, whisked away a stray hair on her big toe with a razor, powdered her chin and discovered a whisker. Grabbing tweezers, she took hold of it and tugged. The hair kept coming. One inch, then two. Twisting it around her forefinger she pulled again. Her foot lifted from the floor and her big toe disappeared inside her foot. With three feet of hair wrapped around her hand she was half gone but she didn’t stop pulling until all that remained of her was a long, long, dark-brown hair.

Dan’s Desperate

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The car has been running on fumes for ten miles. If he can make it to the top of the hill, he can coast down into town. He’ll bum a tenner off Nev, stick a couple of gallons in the tank and kiss goodbye to this shit hole forever.
As plans go, leaving home in a stolen, twenty-year-old Peugeot with a fifteen-year-old girl stuffed in the boot isn’t his best. It has possibilities though, which is more than can be said about his job, flipping crud-burgers, at Banner’s. He’s been there all summer and asked for one lousy half day off, just a half day, and Banner—the bastard—had offered him the sack. Okay, maybe that isn’t quite the whole story, but right now, with an empty tank and another two miles of hill to climb, Dan’s got other stuff to be worrying about.
The way he sees it, he’s got two choices: leave her in the boot and set off walking, or let the little bitch out and get her to push. The trouble with plan B is that he can’t see her sticking to her side of the bargain.
She’s real pretty, but she’s a dirty little tart and he half hates her for that. She’s screwed Jordan—according to Jordan; she’d gone out back with Simmy at that party, and everyone knows about her and that student teacher. And Dan? Well, he reckons it’s his turn.
He can hear her kicking her feet against the back of the seats. She’s not screaming but she’s not happy. Jumped in quick enough when he said he’d get her out of school and promised a few days on their own at his mate’s cottage. So what if the cottage is a skanky caravan in the corner of a boggy field? It’s not gonna bother him is it? He’s got weed, he’s got cider and, out there, however loud she screams, and Simmy says she’s a screamer, no one’s gonna notice.
He’s almost at the top, almost ready to push this stinking shit heap into neutral, almost home free and the fumes give out. It doesn’t matter how hard he pumps the gas, he’s slowing down and there’s still two hundred yards to go and it might as well be two hundred miles. And the stupid little bitch is shouting now and, fuck me, isn’t there always an old git, at the bus stop, craning his nosey old fuckin’ beak in, just where it’s not wanted. Fuck. Fuck. FUCK!
‘Shut up,’ he snarls through clenched teeth, ‘shut the fuck up.’ But she keeps on kicking and the next thing, the old bloke, all bent forward, is knocking on the nearside window and mouthing something he can’t make out. Dan manages to hiss another warning towards the rear of the car, before leaning across and winding the window down a couple of inches. The daft old git asks the bleedin’ obvious. ‘Problem with the motor, is it, Son?’
‘Nah, I think it’s just out of petrol.’
‘Won’t be that, Son. I heard knocking. From round the back end. You must have something loose.’
He’s walking round the back, trying to crouch, trying to get them fuckin’ ancient bones down low enough to look under the car.
Dan’s desperate. ‘Just a push, Mate, that’s all I need, just a little shove, if I can get to the top of the hill, I can easy coast into town.’
The old fella’s not having it. ‘Not with my back, Son. But, if you want to push, I’ll get in and steer.’
He’s walked round, got his hand on the door handle and yes, Dan knows it’s the most brainless thing he’s ever done, but the little bitch has gone quiet and they really do need to get up this fuckin’ hill. He switches places with the old git and starts shoving and after a bit of shit over whether the handbrake’s still on, he’s finally getting, yard by yard to the top of the bastard, bloody hill.
And it’s there, at the summit, when he should be ready to ride this crazy wave back into town that Dan decides it would be an even bigger laugh to leave the old git with a bootful of trouble.
He pauses and then gives the Peugeot one hell of a shove before turning and walking back the way he’d just come.

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