Let’s face it, we all make mistakes from time to time, some of us more than others – and not always in full view of an audience, paying or otherwise.

Seasoned professional performers will tell us not to panic when something goes wrong; after all, the audience doesn’t know it has, right? Unless you’re bleeding, which is a dead giveaway. By the same token, being able to roll with the blunders is a skill everyone would do well to learn.

“800 people simultaneously turned towards the loud BANG! to see me reeling, with blood streaming from my nose!”
— Marcel Oudejans, Corporate Magician

Greg Gelb relates his biggest disaster, which was at a talent show in 2004, in front of about a 1000 people. “I brought up two people on stage and gave each a deck of cards. I was 17 and had little on-stage experience. I wasn’t watching my volunteers and when I was giving instructions to the one volunteer, the other one, unbeknownst to me, began shuffling his deck of cards (messing up the ‘special’ order I put the cards in). When I took the cards back from him and continued with the trick, to my dismay the card trick was ruined and in front of 1000 people.”

“I apologised and just walked off the stage.” Greg gets full marks for pushing through this and becoming one of the top magicians in the country.

Corporate Magician Marcel Oudejans recalls his most humiliating moment: “About 10 minutes before my scheduled performance at a large conference, the delegates were being asked to enter the conference room. I had just placed a bag in my car and started walking briskly into the venue … and promptly slammed face-first into the closed glass door I hadn’t seen.”

“800 people simultaneously turned towards the loud BANG! to see me reeling, with blood streaming from my nose! Not the sort of first-impression I had been hoping for, but at least show was a great hit!”.

South African magical entertainers Marcel Oudejans, Brendon Peel & Greg Gelb

South African magical entertainers Marcel Oudejans, Brendon Peel & Greg Gelb

It seems Marcel also left his impression on the glass door that day.

“Magic is a live form of entertainment so naturally things can go wrong quite easily,” says Brendon Peel. For Brendon’s worst mistake we must travel back to 2011, to his first one-man show titled Mind Games. “I was performing a stunt that involved four polystyrene cups and one extremely sharp nail that was held erect on a stand,” he recalls.

“On this particular evening, a high school teacher of mine came to the show and I ended up bringing her on stage to be the participant of this highly dangerous stunt. I was blindfolded and my teacher secretly placed the nail under one of the four cups. After removing the blindfold, I started to read her body language and smashed two of the cups; they were empty, thank God. But between the final two cups I had a lapse of concentration – maybe it was the nerves, maybe it was the bright lights blaring upon me. BAM! I hit the cup that had the nail underneath it!

“I was lucky that I actually miss-hit the cup and the nail only went through the webbing of my right hand. There was quite a lot of blood. I learnt a valuable lesson that day… don’t bring your teachers on stage!”

So next time you have an embarrassing moment, just remember: if these 3 performers could make an embarrassing mistake in front of hundreds of people, and still go on stage again, then you too can pick yourself up & carry on!