Illusionist brings his family-friendly comedy and magic act to town

It was, of course, David Copperfield who inspired illusionist Shawn Anthony to dip into magic when he was just a 9-year-old child. But it’s his children who support the illusion.

“They’re the worst, man. Kids can spot a gimmick a mile away,” Anthony laughed.

He believes that children are much more skeptical than adults; so if he can fool children, he can fool their parents. And if he can fool his own children, ages 4, 7 and 11, the youngest of whom can even do his own small collection of magic tricks, then he knows he has a winning illusion on his hands.

“That’s why I have the utmost respect for birthday-party magicians: ‘It’s in his sleeve! He’s got a bionic arm!’ Those guys are getting it done,” he said.

Anthony will bring his blend of comedy and illusion to the Bell Auditorium as part of his Mystified Tour on March 14-15.

Being a magician is harder even than it looks, he said, because magic is a perfection art. There is no room for error when an illusionist is on stage in front of hundreds or even thousands of people, so magicians build room for error.

They have a plan, a backup plan and a last-ditch effort for a trick in their show.

“Basically, you just keep going,” he said. “It’s not possible to control everything in your environment. You’re dealing with mechanical stuff; you’re dealing with other people. So it’s all about preparation.”

The key is in faking out the audience before they get a toehold in understanding how a trick is performed.

“When you build an illusion, you start from the end and work your way back to the beginning. The first thing you do when you watch an illusionist is to try to figure out how it’s done. So if I can confuse that process, I can entertain them,” Anthony said.

But the most difficult part is being original.

“There are only, traditionally speaking, 18 effects in magic. So you have to continue to come up with new ways to present that,” he explained. Everyone wants to see a levitation or a disappearance trick, but no one wants to see the same thing they’ve seen before.

That’s where, for him, family-friendly comedy comes in. It brings hope and happiness to his audiences. It’s the reaction that directed his life’s course at the age of 9.

“I started with a Blackstone magic kit that my parents bought me. They had no idea it was going to take off the way it did,” Anthony laughed.

“But I saw how it affected people and how it made them happy and laugh. I knew I wanted to do that for the rest of my life.”

Shawn Anthony
Imperial Theatre
Saturday, March 15, 8 p.m.


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