Tag Archives: David Copperfield

David Copperfield and Me

Going  back about 15 years. maybe more, Phil and I were getting ready to close up for the evening and we get a phone call from Chris Kenner.

“Hi Phil, its Chris Kenner. I’m here at the Place Des Arts with David Copperfield and we were wondering if you have a certain prop.”

We did and we said we could send it down there by cab if he wanted.

“Well, why don’t you bring it down yourself and I’ll have complementary tickets waiting for you and Evy at the box office? ”

Phil said okay and then proceeded to tell me of the plans. I said I had to go home to change. In those days you got dressed up to go to the Place des Arts. I was wearing an old pair of slacks and a T-Shirt.

But we don’t have time to go home.

Then I’m not going.

Don’t be silly. You look fine. (men!) We’ll probably get seats up in the gods and no one will see you anyway.

Oh no, our seats will be front row center.

Sure, he’s going to give away two  $75.00 tickets.

Why not? What’s it to him.

Well, I’m telling you this. Whatever happens, I’m not going on stage.

Evy, no offense but did you ever notice that he usually gets these voluptuous very young women on stage.

So I reluctantly agreed to go. Like I had a choice. We get to the box office and picked up our complimentary tickets, Front Row Center! Phil couldn’t believe his eyes. We went in and sat down. A few minutes later Chris Kenner  came over and sat down in the empty seat beside Phil. They chatted for a while, Phil gave Chris the package, Chris gave Phil the cheque and they continue talking, as magicians do. Then I heard Chris call me. “Evy, you’re going to help us out, aren’t you?  I just looked at Phil whose mouth and eyes were wide open. (How could she  know?)

I’m not going on stage!

You don’t have to go on stage.

What’s the deal?

He produced a huge pair of black field glasses and said, When David does his second trick, which is a card trick, keep the binoculars on your eyes and follow every move he makes. Don’t take your eyes off him even for a second.

Now in my mind I figured that someone was going was going to select a card and somehow that card would be revealed to David in the glass of the binoculars. How it could be done I didn’t know, but since David can do anything, why not this? I agreed to do it. Chris gave me the binoculars and left.

So there we are, front row center with the binoculars on my lap and there is still some time to go before the show. We looked around to see if there are any fellow magicians we know and we saw Gary Ouellet sitting 5 rows behind us. He called out to us.

“How do you come to have front row seats?” ( Gary worked with David at that time)

I held up the  binoculars.

“Oh, you’re the one.” and he laughed. I should have known then.

The show began and then the second trick started. I picked up the binoculars and followed his every move as he did his card trick and walked back and forth across the stage. I hung in there. I was not going to spoil David Copperfield’s trick. Suddenly he stopped what he was doing. He was center stage at this point. He looked down at me.

“What’s wrong? You’re not close enough?” He looked up and said “Lights please, right there!” pointing at me. “Look at her everyone! Front row center, with binoculars!” he said as a series of spotlights landed on her, who did not want to be seen. “Stand up, will you?” What the heck. In for a penny, in for a pound. I stood up, laughing. Give me that thing he said holding out his hand. And with the spotlights following me and 3,000 people watching and laughing, I walked over to the stage which seemed like a mile and handed him the binoculars. He put them up to his eyes and followed me with them and kept them on me and said, “How does that feel? ” I had surrendered by then and was actually enjoying the attention.

Thanks for the blog David!

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The Serious Business of Comedy Magic

Houdini, Blackstone, Thurston, Dante, Doug Henning have one thing in common aside from all being famous magicians who are now dead. If you mention any of those names and many more of that era, people who are not magicians immediately conjure up a picture of a magician. They were world famous, with travelling shows and big posters plastered all over the place. Today there is David Copperfield. Penn & Teller are also well known as far as being household names. There are other magicians with great stage shows, but their names don’t mean anything to the public at large. Here in Quebec there is Luc Langevin. Thanks to television he was able to reach a large population. Is he known around the world? Not yet. But he is young so there’s time. I’m sure there are others whom I haven’t mentioned so if you want to add to my list just put them in the comments at the bottom.

Things have changed. At one time many magic shows were travelling around the country competing for audiences. Now comedians are all the rage. There are comedy TV shows, featuring stand up comedians, one after the other. There are comedy clubs like The Comedy Nest and Comedy Festivals like Just For Laughs. Its great in this day and age. Can you imagine travelling around the country or countries with tons of illusions. Ask Ted Outerbridge. It ain’t easy or cheap.

A comedian carries all the material in his head. No luggage ( maybe plenty of baggage but no luggage). All you need is yourself and you have to be funny.

Enter the magician. A few blogs back I wrote about Richard Sanders performing at the Comedy Nest in Montreal. He was hilarious and he did some impeccable magic, but you would never say you saw a magic show. There were no big illusions. He didn’t look like a magician, in the traditional sense. He looked like a regular guy you would see on the street, mussed up hair, casual clothes, and the way he spoke, it seemed like he was making it up as he went along and yet he was laugh out loud funny.

Could anyone do that? I don’t think so. I think you have to have something to begin with. But even having that, its not automatic. Furthermore, I don’t think he was making anything up as he went along. Sure he took advantage of responses from the audience which he involved to a great degree, but he knew exactly where he was going.

Eugene Burger once gave a lecture for us and he pointed out that people buy magic, they learn the tricks well, and then they go and perform them…without a script. He said it was as though they thought the right words would just pop into their heads when they needed them.  He said every word he said, every move he made, had a purpose. That was over 20 years ago, but I never forgot it. When performing a card trick he made a comment which made everyone laugh. It was to us an off the cuff remark. Later in the lecture he explained he had to do a “dangerous” move and when people laugh they throw their heads back and blink for a second. That’s all the time he needed and that “off the cuff remark” was a set part of his routine.

Mac King has a comedy magic show in Las Vegas which he has had for years. I assure you, nothing is left to chance. I saw him perform in person twice. Once he was at Magie Montreal, in 1993, and then I saw him at Club Soda. Same jokes but they appear fresh every time and they work every time.

So there is a market out there. But you have to build a show. Step by step, word by word. So if you have a tendency towards comedy and you do magic how do you go about it?

Enter the magic dealer. There is help out there. In fact the Camirand Academy of Magic just released a DVD Comedy 101 with 14 routines on it for props many of you  probably  already have. David Kaye has a book and a DVD called Seriously Silly, on how to entertain children with comedy and magic. And then there is the classic 5 Minutes with a Pocket Handkerchief for kindergarten kids.

To me, the difference between performing magic, performing comedy magic, and stand up comedy is this. In stand up comedy, the objective is to be funny. You really have to be funny. In magic without comedy, you’re hopefully creating wonder and amazement. In comedy magic, you have to be funny, but that isn’t the objective. The comedy is misdirection.You’re making them laugh while you’re setting them up. The amazement should still be there, but they won’t leave scratching their heads, they’ll leave with a smile on their face. But it all has to be thought out, and its a serious business.

Fortunately for Montreal Magicians there are 2 Comedy Clubs in Montreal with open mics. If you have a good 5 or 6 minute routine, you have a place to cut your teeth or get your feet wet, so to speak.  There’s the Comedy Works on Monday nights and The Comedy Nest on Wednesday nights. Give it a try! They’re looking for talent so if you think you have some, go for it! If you live in another city, check out the comedy clubs there and I’d bet they have open mic nights too. Break a leg!

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The Greatest Magic Illusion I Ever Saw!

These days with TV, computers and electronics there is no limit to what is possible to behold. We watched David Copperfield  make the Statue of Liberty  disappear, and we watched him walk through the Wall of China, not to mention his performances on stage, etc. There are other magicians who have pulled off other miracles that dazzle us with feats that defy explanation. But we know  certain things are true. They say what they are…illusions. In other words we know for a fact that The Staue of Liberty didn’t disappear. It was an illusion. And its great that we can be amazed even when we know better. But when I was 14 years old, a long time ago, I saw real magic.

Belmont Park in Cartierville, Quebec was an old time amusement park, with the wood frame rollercoaster, house of mirrors, bumping cars, the laughing lady, (talk about laugh therapy. You couldn’t watch her without joining in) and of course the mid-way with the hawkers tempting you to try your luck on games that you know are fixed, freak shows, and of course the magic show.

I have lots of memories involving Belmont Park, but on the midway there is one event that stands out. A magician was trying to attract people to his show by performing one illusion on a platform outside of the venue. I wasn’t into magic then but I had seen magicians on television do the guillotine where the blade comes down  on the spectator’s head, passes right though, doesn’t harm the lady, but manages to slice the carrot under her in two. I wasn’t stupid. I knew that there must be a device that allows the guillotine to bypass  the lady, but how it was done was a mystery, but possible.

So here in Belmont Park, was a magician, with a lovely assistant with a smaller version of a guillotine which was on a table. I didn’t know this then, but I’m told that the magician was Jean de Rome, a Montreal magician, clown, artist, and magic dealer. He placed his assistant’s hand through the small opening and released the blade from above. Much to my horror, I actually saw the hand fall into the basket below. It was not a fake hand. I was no more than 4 feet away from the event. It left an impression. Nothing I have seen in magic since has given me such an emotional reaction.

So yesterday, two knowledgeable and professional magicians were in the shop, Grant McSorely ( who by the way is bringing Lance Pierce to Montreal for a lecture and workshop on Friday Oct. 14, see our facebook for info) and Louis Jutras and we were dicussing this illusion. I said I was surprised that they never made one like that for a head. They promptly informed me that they had seen it used on a head but they don’t know who makes it or who used it. Has anyone else out there seen it?  and where?

Anything move you like that? Share the experience with us.

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