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Series / The Carbonaro Effect

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The Carbonaro Effect is a hidden camera show airing on TruTV, featuring magician Michael Carbonaro, who has an effect on people by performing magic tricks in unexpected places (fast food restaurants, gas stations, army surplus, etc.).

To fellow magicians and other debunkers, the illusions are performed for the entertainment of the viewer and those who experience the trick. Out of respect to Michael and magicians elsewhere, please don't explain how any of the tricks or illusions are done.


This show provides examples of:

  • invoked Acting for Two: When playing the clerk at an art store, he and the figure in a large canvas swap places. Michael then appears in a different costume, playing the boyfriend of the original appearance of Michael. note 
  • Applied Phlebotinum: With most of the products that are used to produce magical effects, Michael makes information up as he goes along to provide a reasonably believable reason as to why the trick has occurred until it's been revealed that what has happened was a magic trick.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Using international based explanations makes various effects seem more credible.
  • Candid Camera Prank: Takes this trope up a notch by having unsuspecting people being tricked by the host who happens to be a magician.
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  • Creepy Changing Painting: Michael and a person in a large canvas swap places in one trick.
  • Crossover: Michael did an episode featuring The Impractical Jokers. A Carbonaro Effect signed poster turns into an Impractical Jokers one. The Jokers also get involved with a trick, but things go differently to how Michael did.
  • Derailing: In one prank, featuring a "counterfeit" bill, the trick abruptly ended when the target ripped it up despite Michael's increasingly out-of-character protestations.
  • Dolled-Up Installment: The effects in the show are much like tricks one could see in a normal magic show where the audience knows what is happening is a trick. Many effects are adaptions of standard magic practices and actual tricks, but they're incorporated into the setting so that they are disguised from being an illusion.
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  • Failed a Spot Check: As mentioned below under Paper-Thin Disguise, there are numerous times where the marks are aware of the show, but fail to recognize Michael (even when he's not wearing a disguise).
  • Offscreen Teleportation: There are tricks where Michael will appear one place and then seem to swap places instantly.
  • Incredibly Obvious Bug: For the viewer. When watching the show, the viewer may catch on to the use of the mirrors that hide the cameras that film the actions. Also, in outdoor or settings where the mark moves around a lot, the marks are given a clothing device that is explained to be involved in the situation that Michael is performing in. These articles are used for planting microphones on the mark so we can hear the reaction.
  • Internal Reveal: Whenever Michael drops the phrase "The Carbonaro Effect", he's in the process of revealing that what just happened was a magic trick. We've always known that he's doing magic, but we never know how.
  • Manipulative Editing: To prevent the secret of the effect being revealed, the camera may not show the effect actually happening. Also, the tricks are performed several times during the day and the editors choose which reaction was the best one to show.
  • invokedNever Work with Children or Animals: While the animals in Michael's tricks behave normally for the camera, there are times where he intentionally makes the effect seem like it's gone wrong.
  • No-Sell: In at least one case, he "squeezed the fat" out of a brownie in front of a woman, who nonchalantly asked for a second one for her husband.
  • Once an Episode: How often Michael does a Title Drop.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Most of the time Michael will wear the uniform of the location he works at, or some professional outfit to fit the setting, but doesn't attempt to disguise his face. Justified, since people who know about the show still don't notice him. This has been used less in the later seasons, however.
  • Sewer Gator: One unfortunate soul thought she was assisting a realtor (Michael) when he pulled a small lizard out of the kitchen sink...and then one nearly twice that size. He eventually told her that this trope was so common that there was a "lizard law" in realty.
  • Technobabble: Yet another way Michael convinces his marks that what he's doing is real.
  • Title Drop: Happens Once an Episode.


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