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Rich B.
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Just wanted to get some thoughts about how an audience reacts to producing stuffed rabbits or animals.

I purchased a real rabbit about 1 year ago and he has been in my kids show for the past 8 months. I see a significant difference in the audience reaction from my old show with no rabbit to producing a real rabbit. I have the running gag of producing Trixie the Magical Rabbit throughout the show but it never works out...and I use the tag line "well you didn't think he was a real rabbit...did ya". There is build up to the end until Trixie finally appears.

Recently, some of my friends told me they saw a magician at a childrens show. I always ask what was his name (of course thay can't remember), and how was the show. They said the show was pretty good and he was good with the kids but at the end he produced a stuffed rabbit . Everyone seemed disapointed because of the build up to seeing a real rabbit.

My thoughts are, if you choose not to have live animals in your show, leave out the stuffed animals(except for puppets or Rocky the Racoon).

What are your thoughts?

Rich B.
Dave Scribner
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Given a choice, every kid will want to see a live animal rather than a stuffed one regardless of whether it's a rabbit, dog, dove or whatever. Building up the expectation of seeing a live animal and then ending with a stuffed one is never going to work.
As you mentioned, using the rocky racoon or a puppet is fine as there's no expectation of seeing a live animal but as soon as the child gets the idea of a pending live animal production, that's all they will be interested in. If you don't produce one, you'll be remembered for that or possibly not remembered at all.
Where the magic begins
Harry Murphy
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I think that David says it all with “building up the expectation of seeing a live animal and then ending with a stuffed one is never going to work”. The NEVER should be emphasized.

However, IF there is NO expectation of a live rabbit and the stuffed bunny is used as part of the magic (NOT just producing it) then the routine can be very funny.

For example, Mike Rose has a killer routine where he has a large box on stage. The box is labeled “Live Animal”. He patters about his magic bunny and opens the box and takes out a beat up, stuffed bunny by one of its hind legs. The eyes have “X” sewn over them. The joke is the bunny is dead. Mike plays up the loss of his bunny, he has a gag where he notices that one of the hind legs of the bunny is missing and then notices that he has a rabbits foot key chain hanging from his belt. The look on his face and his shrug gets a big laugh (nothing is said).

The lid of the box is falls over the front side. The words “EX-“ are printed on it. Added to the printed “Live Animal” we now get “EX-Live Animal”. Another laugh.

The Rabbit is put back into the box and Mike goes into a card trick. The card is selected, returned to the deck and the deck is dropped into the box. Mike then does a rope card bit, with the dead rabbit supposedly tying the card onto the rope. He lifts the rope and a card is seen tied to it. Card is turned around and it is wrong! He says “Bad Rabbit” and tosses the rope/card aside. He then tells the rabbit to find the proper card. After a short delay, the rabbit slowly comes up from the box and he is holding the correct card in its teeth!

Mike leads the audience in a round of applause for the rabbit as it slowly goes back into the box. It comes back up with a “Thank you” sign. A very funny routine using a very dressed up Khyber Cobra!

What I am getting at is that IF the Expectation is Live Bunny then only a LIVE bunny will do. However, a great routine can be made with a puppet or stuffed bunny and no one will be disappointed.
The artist formally known as Mumblepeas!
Mr. Muggle
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A great routine with a stuffed animal is in an old Hugards Magic Monthly. It is with a spider monkey and some ABC cards if I recall.

The hard part IMO with using stuffed animals is getting the right type of patter. Just about any routine with live animals people like, because IMO they forget the build up when they see the animal.

You have to have a great ending with a stuffed animal, routined around some great showmanship.

"Now you're looking for the secret... but you won't find it because you're not really looking. You don't really want to know the secret... You want to be fooled." - The Prestige (2006)
Daniel Faith
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The stuffed rabbit should not be the climax itself. It would surely be an anti climax which should be avoided. It should be used as a build up to the climax. I put together an entire act that revolves around pulling a rabbit from a hat theme. It plays very well with a huge positive response because there is comedy and lots of suspense. You can PM me for more info.
Daniel Faith
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I get close to buying a dwarf rabbit but never actually do it....hate to buy one just to perform.
I already have too many pets and would be afraid of it not getting proper care........sigh.....
A C Spectre
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I have a running gag where I produce both a stuffed rabbit and eventually produce the real thing. After warming my audience up, I tell them the trademark of any good magician is being able to pull a rabbit out of a hat. I then promptly take off my top hat and pull my spring bunny out of it. The kids scream that it's not a real rabbit and I look perplexed. I tell them that my real rabbit Mudge was supposed to be here, and that this surely isn't Mudge. I wonder aloud why Mudge isn't here, ask the birthday child or a parent to verify the address really playing the gag up. I then take out my cell phone and call my missing bunny. He tells me he is running a little late and that I'm going to have to get by with the substitute until he arrives.

Throughout the show I keep this gag going by placing several calls to Mudge. He is always running just a little late and at the end of the show I enlist the help of the entire audience to help me get Mudge to the show. I have several different production devices that I can incorporate into this routine that all work very well.

I use my actual cell phone and have even had my wife call me on it in the middle of the show a few times, of course I act like the call is from my rabbit and incorporate this into the gag. This running gag really works great for me. When I produce the fake bunny I don't say I'm going to pull a "real" or a "live" rabbit out of my hat but the kids really react to it when they see the rabbit isn't real. From then on the routine just builds their excitement so that when Mudge finally shows up they really go wild.

A C Spectre
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That's it...calling the classifieds....looking for a Dwarf species....the other ones get to big to fit into any production device.....I had rabbits once. Let them run free and they ate the neighbors garden up.....this time a hutch or cage....all to write off of course next year::)
Bob Sanders
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Magic Valley Ranch, Clanton, Alabama
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Although we produce live doves, geese, a horse, gold fish and rabbits during our two hour show, at the very end, the black and white rabbit (Schultzy) Lucy sneaks behind my back as we say "Goodnight" is a stuffed rabbit. Most people never know the difference, in spite of the fact we have never tried to fool anyone with him being real or not. They do have their place.

(Lucy also has fun with Darwin her stuffed chimp between shows. People are always trying to feed him!)

Bob Sanders

Magic By Sander / The Amazed Wiz
Rupert Bair
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I think a lot of good comments are here, I agree about the stuffed bunny, with rocky you don't say hes alive you make alive. Was it areal stuffed bunny or a puppet type rabbit?
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I have made a stuffed bunny appear out of a hat. Then put it in a box and made it a real bunny. Kids love that trick.
Joe Smith Illusion Designs
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