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April 21, 2014

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Harrah’s headliner Mac King reveals the secret to a great practical joke

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Steve Spatafore

Mac King and his wife, Jennifer, and cake.

Mac King's 10th Anniversary

Mac King celebrates his 10th Anniversary in Las Vegas. Launch slideshow »

Mac King

Magician and comedian Mac King performs Friday at Harrah's. Launch slideshow »
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Mac King at The Palladium in London.

Click to enlarge photo

Mac King, Lance Burton and Max Maven.

While Robin Leach takes his traditional summer vacation under the Tuscan sun in Italy, many of our Strip and Las Vegas personalities have stepped forward in his absence to pen their own words of wisdom. Our thanks to them all. We continue today with Harrah’s headliner comedy magician Mac King, who has many a trick up his sleeve.

Howdy, I’m Mac King, and I have a comedy magic show at Harrah’s here in Las Vegas. In my show, I perform a hilarious practical joke. Now you’re not going to believe this, and you’re probably going to think I’m a jerk, but before you quit reading, hear me out. Twice a day, every day, during the course of this practical joke, I hit some unsuspecting audience member in the head.

I know that sounds harsh, but every day that person, along with hundreds of other audience members, laugh. And not just a polite little chuckle, but a gut-busting, drink-squirting-from-the-nose cackle of laughter. This is important because in my mind there’s no joke if the “victim” doesn’t laugh. If the person you’re playing the joke on gets mad, then you’ve failed.

So, what can you do to ensure that your joke elicits laughter instead of anger? The main thing is to make sure that your true intention is in fact to make that person laugh. If what you really want deep down is to make the person look foolish, then you’re off to a very bad start.

So, only perform practical jokes on people you like and on people who like you. The joke I do in my act where I hit someone in the head comes about 50 minutes into my show, so the audience has had time to get to know me and (I hope) like me. They know that I’m not a mean guy.

The other big mistake people who play practical jokes make is that they don’t commit to them. They think of an idea (maybe even a really great idea) for a joke and they play it on their friend, but they don’t go all the way. They don’t wholeheartedly act like the joke is for real.

They’re either afraid that their friend will not believe them and that the joke will fall flat, or they’re afraid that the joke will make their friend mad, so they hold back -- they’re tentative. You have to be gung-ho, 100-percent dedicated to the joke to make it believable.

The best joke I was ever a part of was actually played on me. Years ago, when I was just starting out, I was performing in a comedy club in Knoxville, Tenn. A few hours before the Sunday night show, the owner of the club called me and told me he was bringing a woman to the show.

It was their first date, and he wanted me to get this woman onstage to participate in my show. Normally, I don’t like to get friends onstage; their reactions are usually a little off. But he was the fellow who signed my check, so I agreed to do as he asked.

Later that night when I got this woman onstage, I was saddened to realize that she was the absolute wrong kind of person for the bit I was going to do with her. It’s a pretty elaborate series of tricks, but part of it involves me giving her a length of rope and saying (as a joke), “This is called the ‘Houdini Challenge Naked Rope Escape.’ I just want you to take off your clothes and tie me up.”

This poor woman seemed like the meekest little mouse of a thing, and I was afraid if I told her to take off her clothes and tie me up, she might actually start crying. However, I had already committed myself to employing her for this joke, so I went ahead with the bit.

But when I told her to take off her clothes and tie me up, boom! She yanked her dress off over her head and was standing there in only her panties, and there was the club owner in the front row snapping pictures of me and the stripper he’d hired as a joke on me!

Our thanks to Mac for all the magic and laughter he adds to the Strip. Be sure to check out our other guest columns today from lovely Lorena and tempting Tracy from “Fantasy” at the Luxor and Zoe Thrall, who turns out all the hits with the stars at the Studio in the Palms. Join us Sunday when our guests are Corey Harrison of “Pawn Stars,” Diana Palm with behind-the-scenes secrets of “Jubilee!” at Bally’s and Joel Robuchon’s ace Las Vegas chef Steve Benjamin.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.

Follow VDLX Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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