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Michael Carbonaro is an expert liar with a moral code

The "Carbonaro Effect" star doesn't want you to think he's up to no good.

MichaelCarbonarouses his magic for good — not evil. The truTVprankster regularly pulls the rug out from under unsuspecting everyday people on his hidden camera TV show, but he wants you to know that he means well.

“I have a really strict moral code as to what’s fair game and what’s not,” the 33-year-old New York native tells us. “It’s a playful trap, not a surprise you’re falling into. Words like ‘target’ or a ‘mark’ or ‘trap,’ they all feel negative, and if anything makes the show — magic and my own B.S. aside — it’s the people and how they react. They’re the hero and the star of the show. A ‘mark’ implies a decoy or a dunce, and I want to let them shine. The more they talk, the better the trick is.”

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The second season of “TheCarbonaroEffect” premieres March 23, and the magician/improvartist — who disguises himself as a clerk, service provider or other professional for each spot — puts his co-stars in seemingly unbelievable situations.For example: a farmer’s market juicer that produces gallons of OJ from a single fruit. Or a local dog washer that compresses pups into discs the size of a vinyl record. The reactions are as ridiculous as Carbonaro’s backstories, but the increased popularity of his show has made it harder for him to go unnoticed.

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“It’s a good thing if you like wearing wigs,” he laughs. “I wore a bunch of characters this season and we’d try to be savvy about it, but if people know about the show already, I find flat denial works. I had someone just tell me, ‘Oh you remind me of Michael Carbonaro.’ And I was like, ‘Who is that? I don’t watch TV,’ and I can still lead them down the path of believing something.”

Expert advice: The trick to a good fib is allowing the other person spin their own tale.Carbonarosays most of the time he’ll snag a hook from the prank recipient but allow them to build on their own deductions from there.

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“I take what they bring to the table and they’ll give me a hint as to what they believe, and I’ll just go with that,” he explains. “They’re the ones that will come up with an idea and I’ll take them on a little ride.”

Anyway, everyone loves a little magic — even Shaq.Carbonaromet the retired NBA mega starShaquille O'Neal during a press junket, heard he was a fan of the show and decided to get him involved. O’Neal guest stars in the Season 4 premiere, playing along with a prank involving a kitchen product endorsement that goes awry. Plus —Carbonaroadds, “I just love that Shaq is my lovely assistant.”

The second season of "The Carbonaro Effect" premieresMarch 23 at 10 p.m.on truTV.

 
 
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