Comedy: Pick a card, any card

Comedy has moved on from the obvious. No more raps on domestic crises and workplace angst. Now, magic is bringing a taste of mystery to audiences

I will resist the very strong temptation to say magic is the new rock'n'roll, but there's no doubt it's the Next Big Thing on the circuit. Martin MacMillan has certainly noticed a boom in his shop, International Magic, in Clerkenwell Road. "We get quite a few people from the City interested in buying tricks to show to clients," he reveals. "It's a good ice-breaker."

MacMillan is also organising a huge gala at the Haymarket, Theatre Royal tomorrow night, which is rounding off a weekend magic convention attended by 700 prestidigitators. Topping the bill is Silvan, a man with his own TV show in Italy who specialises in making cards vanish. Also appearing are Junge Junge, who recently won the World Magic Championships in Dresden performing a magical mime set around a shoeshine stall, and Richard McDougall, a comic magician who does a bit of goose ventriloquism. People are advised to arrive early because performers will be practising close-up magic in the foyer and bars an hour before the show starts.

According to MacMillan, magic is becoming so popular because "it's a mystery and a fantasy. Some things happen that can't possibly happen. The workings are often simple, but our brains don't work that way so we're baffled. It's quite nice to relax and be baffled."

Some critics object to the inherent deceptions involved in magic, however. "You are deceiving people," MacMillan concedes. "But magicians use that for entertaining rather than challenging people."

There is also a lingering whiff of end-of-the-pier naffery about magic. "There are tacky things in all forms of entertainment," MacMillan argues. "Just because some people have seen bad magicians, they mustn't tar us all with the same brush."

MacMillan remains starry-eyed about the business. He was born into it and took over the shop from his father. So just what is it that makes people want to become magicians? "A lot of magicians started in childhood and never grew up," he laughs.

The World Class Magic gala is at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket SW1 (0171- 930 8800) tomorrow night

EXTRA

There should be quite a wild night down at the Hackney Empire 96th-birthday celebration next Tuesday. Heading an impressive bill is Al Murray's inspired creation, the pub landlord. He will be supported by, among others, the likeable Boothby Graffoe, the always accomplished Mark Steel, and the sharp Junior Simpson. A special guest appearance by Griff Rhys Jones is also promised. All proceeds will go to the Empire's Lottery "Get the Ball Rolling" Fund. Tickets are available on 0181-985 2424.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
News
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
people
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
News
i100
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: UI / UX Designer

    £25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm are focussed on assis...

    Recruitment Genius: General Processor

    £7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a General Processor ...

    Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - B2B

    £18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

    Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

    £14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

    Day In a Page

    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
    Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

    What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

    Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
    The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

    Setting in motion the Internet of Things

    British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
    Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

    Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

    Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
    Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

    Cult competition The Moth goes global

    The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
    Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

    Pakistani women come out fighting

    Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
    Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

    Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

    The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
    LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

    Education: LGBT History Month

    Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
    11 best gel eyeliners

    Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

    Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

    After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot