True Showmanship

I’ve become one of those creepy people that hangs out at shows. Sure I was on the show and had to be there, but I was really excited to be there. I didn’t actually want to do a set, but of course that’s what I was there to do. I was there for the magic, literally the magic. Another Tuesday night in the Mystery Lounge.  With comedy there are those magical nights. The nights that the crowd is with you. They are having a good time, laughing and loving everything. Those nights are fun and playful and rare. I don’t know how rare those nights are for magicians, but last night was a truly magical night. Sure I say that every time I write about the magic show, but last night was truly special.

The place was pretty full with a Christmas party of twenty and at least twenty more. I was told ahead of time that there would be some religious people in the group so no religious jokes, nothing too dirty (I work clean anyway) and nothing really offensive. Easy enough for me although for some reason I swore more than usual and the crowd wasn’t really having it. They were there for the magic and I don’t blame them. So was I. That’s more than enough said about my set. It was fine and actually some audience members found me after the show to tell me that they enjoyed it. My job done, back to the magic.

The crowd was crazed for the magic. Crazed. In watching the magicians last night sure I was impressed by their mastery of the tricks but even more so, I was impressed by their showmanship. These men are true professionals. They worked the crowd, they were true to their art and they killed. Everyone of them. Bob Riordan opened the show pulling coins from no where. I’ve seen him before and was equally amazed last night. Where does he get those coins?!?!?!? As his set progressed I realized that the “trick” part of the trick is reasonably quick. The stuff between the set up and punch (I’m not sure of the magic terms so I use joke terms) is where you can probably tell the men from the boys. Bob is fun and feisty with the audience. Charming and playful. His big and little card trick for instance would take literally ten seconds – audience member pulls a card and then Bob has a card ready for the punch- but it’s everything that happens in between that’s the magic. He plays with the people, gets them lost in the fun and they were having fun last night. People were laughing and smiling and the energy was fun and festive.

That pattern continued throughout the night. Joe Howard, who has a more street performer persona, mystified people with his rope trick which was impressive to say the least. His “explanations” of the tricks really pulled you into the act but then he’d go and do something that so impressive like pulling a rope through his neck that you knew you would never know how these tricks. The most impressive part of his act was the end, of course you save the best for last. He led us down a path figuring how the trick would work. He even let the audience guess correctly how many balls were under a cup. So just when you think “Oh not so impressive”, he FILLS the table with fruit right before your eyes. Oranges don’t even fit under the cups and a cantaloupe in the hat?!?!?!?!? Amazing.

The cherry on the Mystery Lounge show was Steve Kradolfer. First off, he read the crowd like I’ve never seen before. As a comic, I’ve seen lots of people go into the crowd and the best hit the right people and set a tone that the audience will accept. Steve went right in and was non-stop, relentless and they loved it. He worked the crowd into a frenzy and he was funny. Funny. He could take his act, sans magic, to a comedy show and kill but why would he? His magic was amazing. Truly amazing. The card trick he did where he draws on a tablet is something that I will remember forever. Forever.

As a rational woman, I know that magic is slight of hand, distraction and illusion. I don’t think a cantaloupe appeared from no where and I doubt the Studio air is littered with magic coins. What I do know is that the mastery of the tricks is far more impressive to me than pulling 10 cards out from under a girls bum. The time and effort put in to learning, refining and mastering is inspiring. Beyond the trickery, the presence and professionalism of the magicians that I have seen is inspirational. Add it to the “Work On” list.

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