It turns out magic isn’t just the swish and flick of a magic wand, followed by an unexplainable force of nature. Magician Michael Carbonaro, who has built an entertainment empire with appearances on 30 Rock, Wizards of Waverly Place, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and his own show The Carbonaro Effect on truTV, says his tricks are just the tip of the iceberg.
Carbonaro will perform this Friday, May 13 at the Times-Union Center of the Performing Arts and says he’ll even cover himself in shaving cream at the end of the show if the audience is wild enough. Tickets range from $35.50 to a $149 VIP package. The all-ages show begins at 7:30 p.m.
Do you consider yourself a wizard?
“I’m not supposed to say it. But the truth is … I am”
What’s the difference between a magician and a wizard?
Have you ever performed in Jacksonville before?
“I haven’t, no. I’m very excited to come and check it out. I heard it’s pretty hot down there. I wanted to check out a whole bunch of places I’ve never been before, and this was an opportunity and I thought ‘yeah, I want to check it out,’ … That was a lie. The truth is I have no idea. The promoter just got that show.”
What sets your live show apart from the tricks you perform on The Carbonaro Effect?
“Well, it’s very interesting because the people who are coming to the show, unlike The Carbonaro Effect, know I’m a magician. So I have to work extra hard to find ways to surprise and trick them, which I do. They love it…Some people think whenever there’s magic on TV, there are camera tricks or actors pretending to be fooled. But when they come and see it live, right in front of them, they’re all saying “Oh my gosh, this is absolutely real.” I never claim to actually be doing real magic, but I’m certainly doing real magic tricks.”
What’s something on your contract rider that you need at every show?
“A can of shaving cream. I don’t have a beard and it’s not to try to hide that I’m a wizard by shaving quickly before the show. There’s an act at the end of the show, if audience is wild enough, that I love to perform where I essentially cover myself in shaving cream and morph into different creatures.
Do you ever use your magical prowess to manipulate peoples’ minds to get away with things in public?
“If I do, I’m not aware of it.”
What do you hope the audience takes away after seeing you perform live?
“One thing I here all the time is The Carbonaro Effect is a show for everyone in someone’s family, from their 7-year-old and 16-year old-daughter to their mother-in-law to their grandparents. Everybody comes together to watch the show. Now, we have all of those people there together in one theater and it’s just an awesome, fun-loving, family-friendly room full of laughter. It’s really nice to dapart from technology, cellphones and television to experience a fun family night out live.”
How does the first trick you ever performed compare the last one you’ve done?
“Well the truth is it’s the same trick. There’s some stuff in my show right now that I have literally been practicing and working on since I was 13 years old. With that comes an amazing thing. When I produce magic for the television show, we’re producing so much so quickly. But there are staple routines in my live show that I get to share with the audience that I’ve been performing and practicing for my entire life. Those tricks are like part of my soul and I love getting to share that with everyone.”
Out of Harry Houdini, G.O.B. Bluth, Criss Angel and Barney Stinson, who would you rather perform an underwater handcuff trick with and why?
“I’m going to have to say Harry Houdini because I absolutely cannot get out of handcuffs, and I’m pretty sure none of the other guys you mentioned can either. If anyone’s going to save me, it’s going to be Harry.”
Who inspires you?
“I have strong heroes in magic, ranging from David Copperfield to Penn & Teller. But I also have strong heroes in comedy and special effects like George Carlin and Tom Savini, a special effects makeup artist is also a huge inspiration to the kind of stuff that I do.”
Why does magic still matter to society today?
“When you see somebody actually experience magic and they have that ‘wow’ moment where they inhale, their eyes widen and they’re in a state of shock, it gives the ability to believe, for one second, that the universe may not work the way they thought it works. That’s a very inspiring and exciting thought. It brings us back to when we were children and everything was magical and wondrous and we didn’t think we had the answers to everything, because the truth is we don’t. I think that magic is a reminder that you may think everything works one particular way, but there are still secrets and shadows that have yet to be explored.”
You’re performing in Jacksonville on Friday the 13th. Do you believe in the supernatural?
“I grew up in a house that was number 13 and I’ve had black cats my whole life. Somehow scary and superstitious things became luckier to me then unlucky. I don’t believe it’s a real thing. But I love that I want to, because I love that connection between scary, haunted, paranormal things and magic. From the earliest magic posters with the little devils hiding in the shadows and the magicians working secret magic, there’s always been a connection to this mysterious, even dark art. I think that it’s really alluring in a fun way, like how someone likes Halloween.
Where is your creative think tank when it comes to creating new magic tricks?
“It’s pretty amazing that the people I work with right now on The Carbonaro Effect, a great bulk of them I met as a child at Tannen’s Magic Camp, which is an intensive magic week-long retreat for young magicians…Magicians just think differently. And there are many magicians in the showbiz who have magical minds, like Neil Patrick Harris to Orson Welles to Johnny Carson, who have magical backgrounds. It’s just a way of thinking that magicians have that’s unlike other people and other artists. So when it came time to make The Carbonaro Effect and come up with new tricks for my live magic shows, it’s funny that I go right back to those same people — My friends that I met when I was just a kid. We all get together, try to fool each other and try to think of the next coolest thing to do and how to do it.”