stupidist mistakes


Active Member
im creating this for people to post their incredibly stupid mistakes, and ill kick it off with mine.

a few months ago i decided to try the strip of lights above the fly system that is designed so the fly op can see what they are doing and discovered that it would not work... today i had some time so i figured i would try and figure out what the problem was. before i started screwing around with it majorly, i climbed up onto the rail and discovered that.... someone had unscrewed all the bulbs!!!!!!!!! (yes bulbs, i dont call regular incandessant household bulbs lamps)

ok next story, i was setting up a PA in my friend's basement for a party i was DJing that night (about two weeks ago) after a very very very long week, so i told him to help me set up the speakers and it didnt occur to me that he wouldnt plug them in to the amp, so i spent appx. ten minutes trying to figure out wtf was going on because i was getting sound outta the speakers but everything told me i should... kinda like the time the contractor who put in our new system at school unplugged my amp on me then didnt mention it when i asked him to check the amp
i was working with ropelights for our musical last year. (jesus christ superstar) and i pluged one in, somethinig wasnt working so i unpluged it. but i really didnt i just pulled the cap off of the edison plug. thus revealing the fuse. i didnt realizethis tho. so i went again to unplug it and i grabed a huge hand full of live electricity. the funniest sound ive ever made.
Standing on a roadcase whilst tying a black to a rail. Roadcase was about 2m long and the rail about 6m. Tied on the first 2m without any trouble before walking off the end of the roadcase!
well this is not my fault but its a big opps. during the shoot of a tv show i worked on for CBC its a kids show with big rock numbers in the end. we had a huge moving and conventional light rig. it looks amazing there is a truss arch at the back but they wanted to adjust a light above that on the grid (keep in mind this is a tv studio not a theatre) so we had a lift that had an extending plat form so the grip went up and extened over the truss arch which is like 25 feet tall its high. he moves the light and backs up a few feet and comes down. well he forgot to retract the platform and crushed two pal 1200 a very very expensive lite well a few taste less jokes latter and we finished the rig it was lots of fun.

heres the web site its on at 7 and 10 am every week day on cbc check it out iits like the monkeys for pre schoolers its very cool and it should be in the states soon.
I was working with one of the guys from work and we were setting up a show. I was told no moving lights but we decided to add them that day (turned out if we hadn't, the manager would have made us add them the day of the show). They aren't getting signal. We re-run everything check cables, etc. When I figured out what happened, I offered the guy a break and it would my treat (we ended up with some shakes) before I told him what had happened as we had just spent a couple of hours trying to figure it out....turns out the cable needs to be plugged into the DMX out, not the worklight out (3 pin data for the lights, so I stuck the 3 pin cord into the littlelite 3 pin out on the top of the board....he didn't get too mad and we had a good laugh).
i went to change one of our cove lights that burnt out. i took the back out and took the old lamp out. then i had the new one wrapped in foam in my hand and well if you think i missed the part about unplugging it you are correct. i melted the foam and burn my hand very little. from now on i never touch those lights while the are plugged in unless im focusing.

i have a lot mroe of stupid mistakes i made but i dont want to waste everyones time and it 11:30pm and i just got doen with a dress rehearsal so thats all that came to mind.
oooh do I have a lot of these. Most of them involve the actual theatre not the equipment itself oddly enough. I'm very careful around the equipment

Story number one: While in a preview of a show, I was onstage singing and was exiting when I found myself dropping into the pit. Now I've trained myself to drop in safely, which is not an easy feat considering it's a very long drop. (Probably... 10-12 feet?) Fortunately, I didn't drop onto anyone and reflexively landed softly, the audience loved it. However, it was quite a scarey moment in my life. Suddenly, while walking calmy offstage, I'm falling.

Story number two: I had to go to the lighting booth to grab my bag, and the booth is set up in the back of the stage on the second floor. I can scale the wall easily, and not to sound arrogant, but I'm sure many people would find it quite difficult. I used to do rock climbing. Anyways, I scale the wall, get the book, and jump back down. (Another 12-14ft drop.) Unfortunately a freshman saw me do this and tried it while I was coiling mics. He had a rather spectacular fall, but didn't hurt himself seriously. Now I won't show any of them how to climb up the booms to get to the catwalk. (This would be a fatal fall.)

Story number three: I was hanging upside down on the catwalk, checking a light that shorted out and got a nice handful of live wire. Somehow, part of the pigtail had stripped off at one end into the wire itself. This is msot likely WHY the light wasnt working but I couldnt see the wire in the dark. Gravity pulled me off the wire pretty quickly though and I jerkily got back on the catwalk and shivered.
"The Show Must Go On!"

Or so I thought... big mistake!

I was playing Li'l Abner at one of our community theaters. The Saturday performance came and I was feeling a tad fluey. At that time we didn't have the personel to understudy rolls, so I went on stage. That was my mistake...

Throughout the show I was starting to feel better! However, during the second act, Abner gets into a fight on stage and gets knocked unconscious by a blow to his head with a wine bottle. Everything went off well with the choreography. The sugar bottle burst like it was supposed to and I went down like I was supposed to. Then my stomach started gurgling. When the "Dogpatch Citizens" came to help me stand, somebody pushed fairly hard on my stomach and *BLAAAAT*. It is embarassing enough to pass gas on stage, but the true hell of it was that my rear was right by one of the plate microphones... and of course the sound engineer had it at the maximum level he could without feeding back... so of course the whole windy experience was amplified.

The cast knew but didn't break character. I was really happy with that and I thought the show would move forward. Nope!

Now we all have had that grandmother or elderly family member who has developed the "screw it... I'm old and will speak my mind" attitude. A little old lady who was a regular patron and who was also deaf as a post, leaned to her neighbor and asked in a voice that she, in her diminished hearing capacity, could hear...

"Did he just fart?"

700+ audience members started rolling and the majority of the cast, who were trying desperately to NOT break character, broke. I truly think that is when the stage manager should just signal somebody to close the curtains.

The show went on well from there and the audience, who noticed my palid features even with make-up, were very understanding.
I've done my share of really dumb things too.

1) We were building platforms (4'x8'x3'), and I was putting the carpet on the bottom of a platform that was stacked on top of another one. Well, I moved it a bit too much off the top platform - it made a large crashing noise as it crashed down about 3 feet. It didn't help that our director was briefing new techs on construction further downstage when this happened.

2) I was putting SourceFour's away one day after school with the shopping cart (don's ask). Anyway, I loaded as many in the cart itself as I could, then started hanging them on the handle. I rolled it into the closet, and started unloading. Well, you can probably guess what I unloaded first. The cart flew backwards and down, but fortunately I only damaged one fixture badly. It's still broken, but we have enough fixtures that its transparent - though we'll eventually have the county fix it.

3) I was working in the booth while study hall was in the auditorium. Now, you should know that if a CD is in the CD player, it will automatically play when its turned on. Well, it happened that I had the CD player going to the Pit monitor speakers earlier, and never turned it down when I left before. It as amusing watching the study hall monitor come running up to the booth waving his hands to turn it off.

4) Another study hall story - I was taking out our IPS status monitor to send it off for repair last Wednesday (if you have an ET dimming system, you may know that this is). Well, the DMX loops through the monitor, and sits between all control systems (including the house Unison system) and the dimmers themselves. So I take the monitor out, and just leave all the cables out on the counter. I pack it up, and am backstage when I go to turn on the dimmed work lights. The switch doesn't work, so I think "this is odd." As I'm walking downstage, the lights going down in the house under the grand drape, hear the usual screams associated with the lights being turned off (kids like to do this as a prank). Then I realize I disconnected the DMX cables and didn't connect them back together - oops. I go in to the house, mini mag in hand, get interesting stares and comments, and walk up to the booth and reconnect it.
My biggest screwup was droping a gel frame onto a brandnew (less than 1 year old) Baby grand Yahama piano. Man i put a nice 1cmx1cm dent down to the wood in it. Man that was a depressing day.
I was running sound for MacBeth and the sound was working, after frantically trying to figure out what went wrong for 20 minutes, I discovoured that I forgot to turn the amp on.

Last year, someone took one of those Craftsman Sureshot staple guns, the ones with the handles that go backwards so you can easily put more pressure on the gun. The direction of fire was clearly labelled in big bright yellow letters, hard to miss and will haunt you in your sleep if you look at it too long (we repainted it to look like that when we got it). He takes the staple gun, thinking it was the normal ones and puts it to his and and pulls the trigger. The staple goes into his hand. Luckily, I only had 1/4 inch staples in there instead of our usualy 3/4 inch ones.

This year, we have rented wireless mics and compressors, and the sound guy that set everything up told me that if you don't get anything from the mics, unplug the compressor. Well, we got nothing from the mics and I spent ten minutes trying to figure out why before I rememebered what he said.
Not checking the fly system and almost being killed by a flying screen!
falcon said:
This year, we have rented wireless mics and compressors, and the sound guy that set everything up told me that if you don't get anything from the mics, unplug the compressor. Well, we got nothing from the mics and I spent ten minutes trying to figure out why before I rememebered what he said.

Why on earth would you unplug the compressor?! Chances are all you needed to do was change the gate threshold to let the sound through.
avkid said:
Not checking the fly system and almost being killed by a flying screen!
1) I have almost got whacked by a light batten weighing over 400 lbs falling on me.

2) The other tech and I were loading an electric and it was misweighted and we both ran over the the fly system to try and stop it and we both got pulled up about 6 feet into the air before he caught his foot on the fly system.

3) Also Thursday I was lowering our back batten that has not been used in years. Little did I know there were lights that were installed there some time ago that had been removed. The wires were sticking out and when the batten hit it "KABOOM!!" There was a nice fireworks show followed by the old wireingcatching on fire. Luckly we could blow them out. That was a scary day!!
DJErik07 said:
2) The other tech and I were loading an electric and it was misweighted and we both ran over the the fly system to try and stop it and we both got pulled up about 6 feet into the air before he caught his foot on the fly system.

ive done that too! right after our show, we removed all the fixtures from our 1st electric, but it was still weighted for a full batten. we knew it would be heavy, so we were both ready to pull it up, but we still went a few feet into the air!
Ya that is scary. I have heard stories about people getting killed because they were flown to the top.
the old director form ym school has flown up 40ft twice when re-weighting, once without gloves and the other with.
I did get some good rope burns, even though I only went up a few feet.

The way counterbalance fly systems are made to work is to have a loading dock at the top of the fly system. You load weights while adding lights so it will be balanced when you go to fly it.

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