Stooges

Many magicians -- particularly XCM manipulators and close-up artists -- employ stooges to do secret work or otherwise ensure that their effects are successful. In the heyday of vaudeville, it was not uncommon for a theater to be filled with hundreds of stooges so that the three or four paying customers would be forced to sit in the seats that offered the perfect view of the stage. Although this was very handy while performing angle-sensitive tricks, it was expensive and eventually customers began to shy away from paying $100 to $200 per ticket.

Stooges, at least in the United States, are generally members of the Stooges Union. The union imposes a number of restrictions on their behavior. For example, a stooge can't do any actual magic, pretend to be a famous person, or present unscripted material. Union rules also state that if a stooge is on stage for more than ten minutes, the go into "golden time" and begin earning double wages. The union also requires that stooges work in groups of three, and that one of the stooges (the "Moe") be a supervisor.

Professional stooging requires a lot of training and talent. A stooge must be able to deliver lines like, "Why yes, that is my card!" without hesitation, regardless of the reality of the situation. A stooge must also be able to laugh self-deprecatingly, not stand out in a crowd, and change appearance (including race and gender) between performances so that repeat viewers can continue to be fooled.

There are several specialties within the profession of stooging. For example, a stooge may specialize in turning gaze away from secret panels while inspecting an escape artist's shackles and ropes, or in falling over backward and yelling, "I'm healed!" Trained animals are, technically, specialized stooges.End of story

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