This photo (from my wall) is one of my fondest FISM memories. Back in 1997 I was honoured by being asked to appear as a guest artist on the Close Up Gala Show. Ali Bongo (one of my magic idols) was the MC, and the bill was filled with many more of my magic idols including Paul Gertner, Eugene Burger, David Williamson and an as yet unheard of Pit Hartling (as Heinz).
I was booked to do Runaround Sue and The 6 Card Rap, but I wanted to add one more effect that would make me somehow stand out from this extremely talented line up. I thought "What would I most remember if it happened in a show..." and I decided that somebody being pelted with fruit would be most memorable.
So I devised a premise that would result in about 20 audience members throwing oranges at me on cue. You can see the most recent performance of this trick immediately following The 6 Card Rap here.
At FISM we performed the Close Up Gala in a cinema (it was a GREAT venue for close up) and we repeated the show the following night. The first night, I'm pleased to say the fruit throwing was a huge success. Before the show I mingled with the audience handing out oranges and, as I stood blindfolded on stage, they threw them all in my general direction on cue to unprecedented hilarity. I would then find one lemon amidst the oranges, cut it open and discover the spectator's signed card inside.
It was the talking point of FISM the next day.
Little did I know it had a huge impact on one magician in particular. A magician from India spent the next day and almost all of his remaining money tracking down a local fruit market and purhasing several pallets of fruit!
After I went through the audience and handed out my 20 oranges, he snuck through the crowd and gave... pretty much everyone else... a piece of fruit each.
I had absolutely no idea.
When I stood blindfolded on stage later that night and gave my cue, I heard all of the oranges whizz by me and the audience convulsing in laughter... but it seemed to go on much longer than the night before... and the laughter was almost hysterical.
When I took my blindfold off I couldn't believe my eyes. The stage was covered in fruit of every variety. There was even half a watermelon sitting at my feet.
I slowly turned and saw half the set had been knocked over and people backstage doubled up in laughter.
Suddenly, a wave of panic fell over me... I realised that whoever supplied the extra fruit might have given out lemons too! I could be there for ages cutting open lemons searching for the signed card!
Thabkfully, my Indian friend had supplied everything but and I was able to conclude the routine successfully.
But the moment of bewilderment while I was still blindfolded and the fruit just kept coming, and the moment when I saw all that fruit covering the stage are still among the best moments I've ever experienced on stage.
I was well and truly "Punk'd" and I loved it!