By Kris Kelly, CBS 62/CW50 Community Affairs Manager
I was in the Fisher Theatre audience last night to see THE ILLUSIONISTS – WITNESS THE IMPOSSIBLE™ – the world’s best-selling touring magic show – and I’m still talking about it. Each one of the seven magicians from around the world performed some jaw-dropping, “how-did-he-do-that” illusions, but my favorites were the two award-winning magicians who have ties to Michigan.
I did this interview before seeing the show, but I’m sharing it again with observations from last night’s performance.
Meet Jeff Hobson
Jeff Hobson is one of the most in-demand comedy magicians working today. He’s appeared on television, worked for years in Las Vegas, entertained at functions for Fortune 500 companies, and even created a one-of-a-kind, immersive, magical-dining entertainment experience aboard Norwegian Cruise Line.
In this show, he’s known as The Trickster. Jeff is described as “the epitome of glamour and showmanship. Don’t be fooled by his innocent appearance; Jeff has audiences laughing long after the curtain goes down.”
- I’m still laughing at some of Jeff’s pranks. He came into the audience during the show and at intermission to interact with the guests. Friendly, personable, and so funny. I laughed until I cried.
What part of Michigan are you from? When did you live here?
I was born in Detroit and raised on Albany street in the late 60’s/early 70’s. The house burned down years ago and is now just an empty lot.
Michigan seems to have quite a history with magicians. Did you visit Colon or Marshall when you were learning magic?
I spent many years at the Abbott convention in Colon. I entered and won the magic competitions in 1975 – 1978. I also visited the American Museum of Magic over the years. The very first time I visited it in the 80’s, the owner then, Bob Lund, had amassed a large file on me of many flyers and press pieces that I didn’t even have in my collection.
How did you develop your comedy-magic persona?
I was the class clown and often got in trouble for it in school. I couldn’t help myself. I started to perform serious magic but then found that I was much better at making people laugh. So, in my late-teen years I focused on getting “yucks” out of my audience rather than “ooohs and ahhhs”.
- Just because he was funny, didn’t mean the magic wasn’t impressive. I’m still wondering how he did it. I’m blaming the tears blurring my eyes and rolling down my face for making it impossible to figure out.
Of all the illusions you perform, which is your favorite and why? Is there one that is an audience favorite?
I have two favorite signature tricks. One I call, Sleight-of-Tongue, which is exactly as the title suggests. I find a chosen card with my tongue while the deck of cards is in my mouth and I fold the card 3 times! Sounds gross but I try to make it as classy as possible. The other is a very old Egg and Bag trick. No sense in explaining it – you’d just have to see it to believe it. Those are my favorites and they just happen to be audience favorites as well. What a coincidence!
- My friend, Tony, was randomly pulled from the audience for the Sleight-of-Tongue trick. It was definitely not a set-up. His reaction to the trick was hysterical. The entire audience was laughing. When Tony returned to his seat, I asked “How did he do that?” Tony had no idea…and he was standing right next to him. During intermission and after the show, audience members stopped him to ask the same thing. This trick is definitely an audience favorite.
How has all this new technology changed magic?
Not much at all. The internet has simply made the audience for magic bigger and more people wanting to see it live. There’s nothing like a live performance of magic to recapture a person’s sense of wonder. That’s what magic is really all about. That, and in my case, making the audience laugh its butt off.
Kevin James, the other magician with ties to Michigan, “appears” in this web story: http://cwdetroit.cbslocal.com/2015/04/30/the-illusionists-are-here-meet-magician-kevin-james/
THE ILLUSIONISTS – WITNESS THE IMPOSSIBLE™ appearing April 28 – May 10, 2015 at the Fisher Theatre, located at 3011 W. Grand Blvd. in Detroit. Tickets available at all Ticketmaster locations, by phone at 1-800-982-2787, and online at http://www.broadwayindetroit.com or http://www.ticketmaster.com.
Kris Kelly is the Community Affairs Manager for CBS 62/CW50. She has a passion for theatre, dance, and television and, of course, her two daughters.