By Olivia Popp
Magic is an elusive art form and one that I am not particularly familiar with. Thus, I set out to explore the world of magic in Los Angeles by attending Magic Monday LA, a weekly show at the Santa Monica Playhouse that brings different magicians every week into the Playhouse’s intimate space to shift reality before our own eyes.
On the Magic Monday of July 9, magician HUBB — an amusing nickname he flaunts — did magic at the pre-show, performing Rubik’s cube tricks that amazed most of the children and several card tricks that even shocked some of the adults. At that moment, I began to realize how truly performative magic is — yes, it obviously is about the tricks themselves, but the performance comes from the delivery, the charm and especially the comedy. Magicians may have their own styles — some darker, some lighter, some with a particular air of mystery geared toward certain audiences — but comedy is a surefire way to connect with an audience.
From the start, host Albie Selznick (who makes frequent appearances on TV shows as minor characters) is a pure delight, making humorous comments to the adults in the audience and bantering with the children eagerly seated in the front row. He performed several tricks himself, ones of which he performed during an audition for the famed Magic Castle, an exclusive club for magicians. Selznick’s presence cemented the show together, bringing together magicians with different styles and types of magic, including a comedic performance where he dressed as his awkward teenage self.
Greg Otto opened the show as the first magician — a set most infused with comedy and well-timed jokes, some of which were cringeworthy, while others were brilliantly clever. Although the set was filled with some more simplistic tricks, Otto was a gloriously true entertainer where his magic went hand in hand with his comedy. The magician turned commonly seen tricks including ripping a bill up and turning it into a new bill and salt disappearing and reappearing into comedic bits and entertaining tricks, especially for the kids in the audience.
Frederick Falk, an ex-Marine and musician in the Marine Marching Band known for his appearance on The CW’s “Penn & Teller: Fool Us,” was a strong shift from Otto’s brand of magic. Entering dressed in a full suit, complete with adornments and slicked back hair, Falk introduced himself as a mentalist — or one who performs magic seen as high levels of intuitive or mind-reading ability. Falk exuded the presence of someone who I would see as a mentalist, a man fully confident in his abilities with a few jokes dropped in only at the most precise of moments. From reading the audience’s minds to playing cards, Falk was a pleasant introduction to a new style of magic.
David Kovac closed out Magic Monday LA, bringing forth a calming stage presence and several amazing tricks that appeared even more real as they were performed under the careful and watchful eyes of the audience, just a few feet away from him. With seemingly simple tricks involving cards going from blank to number-filled and a coin that exited a bag without opening it, Kovac’s set was the most straightforward, yet ultimately the most impressive. Simple and sleek, Kovac still infused his set with comedy, but the jokes were based off of physical gags (including a hysterical briefcase he brought onstage, which proceeded to turn into a Russian nesting doll-style set of increasingly smaller briefcases).
For those who are in the Los Angeles area during the summer months, swing by Magic Monday LA in Santa Monica for an evening of magic and entertainment guaranteed to surprise and impress both children and adults alike. For tickets and more information, visit magicmondayla.com.
Contact Olivia Popp at oliviapopp ‘at’ stanford.edu.