Top 10 Magician FAILS Caught on Live TV
VOICE OVER: Ryan Wild
WRITTEN BY: Tori Serpico
Abra-cada-oh no! For this list, we'll be looking at the cringiest tricks gone wrong that made live audiences wish they were the ones that could disappear! Our countdown includes appearances on TV shows "Britain's Got Talent", "Sky Star Search", a Facebook live stream and more!
Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Magician Fails Caught on Live TV. For this list, we’ll be looking at the cringiest tricks gone wrong that made live audiences wish they were the ones that could disappear! Which of these magic fails was the hardest to watch? Let us know in the comments!
#10: Duck Canon
“Britain's Got Talent” (2007-)
What a quack! Magician Dave Allen auditioned for “Britain’s Got Talent” in season one with this anticlimactic trick. He promises to send Domino the duck “to the future,” but it’s obvious the judges aren’t buying it. After his countdown, the cannon fires– but the animal jumps right out! Another duck was revealed to be in the cage across the stage, but the magic had already been foiled after seeing Domino escape. Even though Allen didn’t pull off his transporter bit, he managed to make the crowd laugh with his silly mistake.
#9: Curtain Call
“Breakfast Television” (1989-)
Somebody needs a bigger stage. On Canada’s “Breakfast Television,” Vladimir– the “master of illusion and levitation”– successfully makes two of his assistants disappear. He uses a massive vanishing box to accomplish this, rotating it throughout the performance. But when part of the box gets caught on the curtain and tears it down, the trick loses some razzle dazzle. The level of showmanship Vladimir is trying to accomplish here is certainly minimized by the space of this local TV soundstage. But awkward mishap aside, at least he was able to make his helpers reappear!
#8: Acid Drinking
“Vietnam's Got Talent” (2011-16)
Definitely don’t try this one at home. During the semi-finals of “Vietnam’s Got Talent,” Trần Tấn Phát set out to wow the judges with an extremely dangerous trick. Phát fills one glass with acid, and four with water. A judge shuffles them, and the magician must then drink from the cups – ingesting only the H2O. If it wasn’t already obvious by the title of this entry– and this video– the trick fails, and he drinks the acid. He was taken to the hospital afterward, having sustained minor burns. And spoiler alert, he did not win “Vietnam’s Got Talent.”
#7: A Not-So Perfect Illusion
“America’s Got Talent” (2006-)
This guy brings the phrase “fake it ‘til you make it” to the next level. David Martin Ferrari, a contestant on “America’s Got Talent,” performs a disappearing torso illusion on one of his assistants. She stands behind the large device for David to pull back and reveal that her midsection has been relocated. But said reveal is extremely lackluster. Not only is the “removed torso” obviously just a t-shirt stapled to a box, the screen blocking the assistant falls– revealing her real torso. When asked about the mistakes he made, the magician claims that “the illusion went perfect.” In terms of confidence, maybe we can all take a page from his book.
#6: "Oh Well"
“Sky Star Search” (1989-91)
This magician definitely gets an A-plus for effort. During his performance on “Sky Star Search,” Paul Norris tries a handful of tricks for the judges. It’s very clear that he’s nervous, as he fumbles through his attempts at sleight of hand. For his big final showstopper, Norris plans to make a bill disappear in front of the judges’ eyes. But sadly, instead of vanishing into thin air the ten pound note falls to his feet on the floor. We hope that Norris’ hopes and dreams didn’t disappear that day instead.
#5: Not So Houdini
We hope you’re not claustrophobic! Escape artist Spencer Horsman attempted Houdini’s water cell trick in front of a live audience, broadcast by ABC. But about midway through the performance, he blacks out, requiring immediate medical attention– failing his escape. This stunt is very dangerous, and it’s not the only time Horsman has performed it – or something similar – live. Years after this broadcast, he successfully undid the restraints in the tank in under two minutes on the “America’s Got Talent” championship season! You know what they say, if at first you don’t succeed… do it for Howie Mandel.
#4: Murray the Perceptive Toddler
“The Magic Comedy Strip” (1991-92)
The cutest fail on this list goes to a super perceptive boy named Murray, to whom magician David Williamson tries to show a card trick on live TV. Williamson places three cards face up in front of him, but Murray immediately notices an additional card stuck to one of them– ruining the trick. Williamson is shocked that Murray has so quickly spoiled the illusion, and sends him off. The duo reunited decades later at the International Magic Convention, where they hugged it out. Williamson hilariously admitted that Murray was the best and worst thing to happen to his magic career!
#3: But What If You Fly?
“America’s Got Talent” (2006-)
All it takes is faith, trust, and… maybe a sturdier chair. Magician Dennis Keith didn’t make it past the audition phase on “America’s Got Talent” with this levitation stunt. He lays across two folding chairs, and has his assistant pull them out from under him. But the only magic that takes place on stage is the magic of gravity, as he falls right to the floor. Apparently, Keith did all this on purpose to make his act funny. But the intentional fail failed, and he instantly got X-ed out of the competition.
#2: Is This Your Card?
Facebook Live Stream (2016)
Being one of the most popular magicians in the world, it’s rare to see David Blaine mess up a simple card trick! This clip shows him engaging with a small crowd in live time, asking each person around him to get involved in the illusion. He has one woman think of a card she sees shuffled, and he must identify the card based on the dice rolled by another audience member. But when the woman names her card, Blaine is clearly hesitant. He incorrectly counted, or misread his shuffle when showing them initially. Either way, Blaine has a good attitude about his mistake and agrees to do another trick to redeem himself.
#1: Nail Fail
“Question for Breakfast” (2002-)
This fail is not for the faint of heart, so viewers beware. Making an appearance on a Polish morning show, magician Marcin Poloniewicz presents his trick to co-host Marzena Rogalska. In front of them are paper bags– one of which has a nail standing upwards inside it. Poloniewicz instructs Rogalska to slam her hand down on one of the bags, but he tragically chooses the wrong one. This mistake is extremely hard to watch– you can feel her pain through her live reaction! But don’t worry too much: Rogalska later reported that her hand was all better, and revealed that she wasn’t mad at Poloniewicz. Still, we wouldn’t expect him to try this trick again anytime soon.