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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
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

    Savvy Media Ltd: Media Sales executive - Crawley

    £25k + commission + benefits: Savvy Media Ltd: Find a job you love and never h...

    Austen Lloyd: Corporate Solicitor NQ+ Oxford

    Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CORPORATE - Corporate Solicitor NQ+ An excelle...

    Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

    Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

    £45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Day In a Page

    In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

    Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

    Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
    The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

    The young are the new poor

    Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
    Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

    Greens on the march

    ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
    Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

    Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

    Through the stories of his accusers
    Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

    The Meaning of Mongol

    Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
    Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

    Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

    Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
    Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

    The last Christians in Iraq

    After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
    Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Britain braced for Black Friday
    Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

    From America's dad to date-rape drugs

    Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
    Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

    Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

    The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
    Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

    The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

    Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
    Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

    Flogging vlogging

    First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
    Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

    Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

    US channels wage comedy star wars
    When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

    When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

    When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible