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  • Writer's pictureJeff Quinn

Using Caution

I've been developing the "Fizz, Boom, Read" Summer Reading Program show for over a year now and I'm starting to put the finishing touches on it. There is one element of one trick that kind of bothered me, so I sat down and wrestled with it. Then I asked some of my magician friends what they thought about it, and I got a wide range of opinions. Let me tell you about my dilemma and then I'll tell you what I've decided to do...and why.

In my science-themed "Fizz, Boom, Read" Summer Reading Program show, I plan on doing a trick where I play the part of a Mad Scientist. Of course, every Mad Scientist need an Igor to assist him, so I'll pick a child from the audience and put a lab coat on them. But here's the question...should I blow up a balloon and put it in the coat to be a "hump"?

Here are the arguments pro and con.

When you think of an assistant named Igor, the first thing that comes to mind is the hump. From the original "Frankenstein" to "Young Frankenstein" to cartoons, Igor has always had a hump. It's traditional and an identifying characteristic.

On the other hand, if I did use it, it would be calling attention to a physical deformity. The routine I have planned doesn't make fun of the hump or reference the hump in any way other than to transform my assistant into "Igor". Still, it would call attention to a physical deformity.

So, after getting opinions on both sides of the question from my magic friends, I decided to ask myself some questions.

  • ​If the trick were different, would I give my assistant dark glasses and a white cane? No.

  • Would I feel comfortable performing the routine if there were a child or parent in the audience who had a hunched back? No.

  • Would I find it amusing if a young child went up to an elderly hunched-over person and said "You look like Igor from the library"? No.

I also called upon some past personal experiences. As I mentioned in a past blog, I had a severe stutter when I was a child and I remember that I was very sensitive about it. It filled me with anger and shame whenever I saw a stuttering character on t.v. Needless to say, Porky Pig and Piglet were two of my least-favorite characters (who determined that pigs should be more prone to stuttering, anyway?). Would I use a stuttering character in my show? Never. I remember the negative effects it had on me. I certainly don't want anything I do in my show to have a similar negative effect on anyone else.

The bottom line is that you will still see Igor in my show this summer, but he will be sans hump. If anyone asks me about it, I'll just rave about the advancements in modern medicine.

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