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When Magic Tricks Go Wrong.

The best magicians can perform amazing and perplexing feats of magic. Mediocre magicians can make coins disappear or perform card tricks. But only a very special group of magicians can cause themselves bodily harm in the process.

This article is a celebration of those who have tried and failed at the noble art of the magician. Magicians have been killing themselves for centuries, so those who made the list had to display their own...special brand of magic.

Without further ado, we present the “5 worst magic tricks of all time” in reverse order.

5. The Knife Under the Cup

Magician Marc Salem learnt a valuable lesson when a trick involving a knife and three polystyrene cups went horribly wrong. The renowned ‘mentalist’ earned his place on our list by bringing his hand down on the wrong cup, skewering it with the sharp, upturned knife he’d placed there only moments before.

The following footage shows how another unsuccessful magician learnt the same lesson:

In a masterful turn of magical one-upmanship, one anonymous performer attempted the same trick with the assistance of a volunteer from the audience. In piercing her hand with the knife, he earns the coveted 5th spot on our “Worst Magicians of all Time” list.  

4. The Human Torch

This amateur magician started his act with a very impressive display of fire-breathing. Strutting across the classroom floor like the biggest names on the Vegas circuit, he seemed to have the audience in the palm of his hands. Sadly, his future career as a magician was cut short when an over-enthusiastic jet of flame set his clothes on fire.  

Luckily, he survived his experience, allowing him to claim his award for the 4th spot on our list of “Worst Magicians of all Time”

3. Joe Burrus and Buried Alive

Many magicians have performed tricks that involved being buried alive. However, San Francisco Escape Artist Joe Burrus learnt too late the importance of careful preparation while trying to emulate their feats.

The eager magician was bound in chains and hand-cuffs before being placed in a Plexiglas coffin. His waiting assistants then covered the coffin with more than 9 tons of dirt and cement.

Joe receives our first posthumous award of 3rd spot on our list of “Worst Magicians of all Time” due to the fact that the Plexiglas coffin shattered, crushing him to death. Although Joe Burrus was buried alive, he deserves special mention because while practicing he had stood on the coffin and it had broken. He glued it together with crazy glue and went on with the show. Darwin works...

For Magic that won't kill you check out our recommended magic trick resources

2. He dropped the bullet

An American man named William Elsworth Robinson built a world-renowned career by pretending to be the noted Chinese magician Chung Ling Soo. The crafty magician maintained his façade through a decade-spanning career.

Much of Robinson’s fame was built by performing a dangerous trick called the “bullet catch” (in which the performer catches a bullet in his teeth). Sadly, on March 23, 1918 the trick went horribly wrong. The greatest magician of the age died because he had failed to to maintain his equipment, clogging a hidden chamber, and resulting in a real bullet being fired.

For those interested in posterity, it’s worth taking note of his final words. After spending more than 30 years claiming not to be able to speak English, he ended his distinguished life by shouting “My God, I’ve been shot.”

Robinson earns second place on our “World’s Worst Magician List” due to his untimely death, and his myth-destroying last words.

1. They redefined the art

This intrepid group of budding magicians earns top spot on our “World’s Worst Magician List” due to the

exceptional promise shown in the following footage. Who can doubt that they will soon be joining the ranks of those who have caused themselves bodily harm, destroyed property and life or set themselves on fire?

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