corporate magician, corproate entertainment, corporate mind reader, corporate mentalist, corporate event entertainment, conference entertainment, corporate magician, interactive corporate entertainment

The Magic of Center

When I lived in New York, I had the opportunity to spend time with some of the best magicians and variety artists on the planet. I was privileged to introduce many of them, watch their acts repeatedly and spend time with them backstage. I took in a lot of information during that time. It doesn’t mean I “learned” anything at that point. I was just taking in the information — the learning comes later.

There was a moment at Monday Night Magic which I clearly remember. I was hosting the show and the theater had just got their liquor license, so they could serve alcohol in the lobby before the show and patrons could bring their drinks into the theater.

We were about halfway through the first half of the show and I was speaking the audience when suddenly, out of the darkness, a man said something to me. The house was full that night and with the bright lights on stage you can only see the first couple of rows. I couldn’t quite tell where it was coming from but my head turned in his direction, near the back of the house just off center.

I didn’t say anything at that point, I just stopped mid sentence and let him finish what he had to say. When he was done, I continued. A moment later, it happened again. It naturally stopped me again for a moment. This time I could feel the audience get a bit tense and my mind started to churn:

“Are they expecting me to say something back?”

“How do I respond here?”

“Why the hell are they serving alcohol at the show?”

I took a breath, settled into my body and continued. There was one more comment from him and what sounded like another voice as well. But this time they were both a bit softer. It didn’t seem to be directed towards the stage. Then, nothing. It stopped and life continued.

It wasn’t a conscious decision for on my part to respond this way. I never thought in advance “if there’s a heckler tonight I’m going to…” This was a spontaneous response to the situation and it felt completely natural for me.

It had been something I struggled with for some time because I would see other performers tear the heads off of hecklers at the show. I considered — and still do consider — some of these performers to be my mentors and I was there to learn from them so what they were doing was right. Right?

Well, maybe.

Maybe it was right for them based on their experience and worldview but it didn’t feel right for me.

With 20+ years of aikido training, I don’t know why the answer didn’t come sooner. But like I said earlier, while you’re in the moment of the lesson you’re simply taking in the information. The embodiment of the learning doesn’t come until later.

As I see it, there are really only two options available to deal with a heckler: either you let them be part of your show or you don’t.

____

I had seen many of my favorite performers at Monday Night Magic deal with this situation quite differently. The moment someone decides to send a comment in their direction all bets are off. They chase after the heckler like a rabid dog for they must be put in their place. They respond with “heckler stoppers” they’ve written for this exact situation. The problem is if they’ve already written these lines and have them in reserve because of what might happen some night, they’re not really functioning in the present. They are now canned lines and that is scratching the surface of the hack. That lacks taste and compassion.

After experiencing those moments by other performers, I would listen to audience comments during intermission or after the show and they were all the same. “Yeah, he did some good magic, but what an asshole.”

That’s not the impression I want to leave but I was in a quagmire. I looked up to these performers. I was there to bathe in their light and learn from their experience.

How would I handle this situation? It’s me up there. What’s my response?

Control your emotions. Control your response.

One of the things that dawned on me while practicing aikido is that I can’t control anyone. It’s impossible. No matter how well you apply a technique, you can’t control anyone. The only thing you have control over is yourself. Period.

What you can do is set up the situation so they have no other choice but to realize the mistake they made and give them the opportunity to back off.

It’s simple, really. But not easy.

If I were to engage with the heckler during my show, it would have been an invitation to him to be part of my show. I’m literally opening the door.

Would you invite a stranger into your home to run amok? Of course not. You don’t know this person or their intentions.

So, I don’t invite the heckler in. They may knock on the door with their first heckle. But I’m not answering. They may even obnoxiously ring my doorbell countless times. I’m not answering.

This is my home and I’m in control. You are not welcome here.

Doing Nothing is Doing Something

They just started serving alcohol so my assumption is the heckler had something to drink. He decides to interject something or interrupt my speech with something he thinks might be funny or obnoxious or whatever. The reality is, I don’t know what he was thinking and it doesn’t matter.

He calls out a couple of times. Why? Because he wants a reaction from me. The reaction he wants and expects is that I fight back. I prop up his attack by pushing back with a “heckler stopper.” If that’s the response from me, now there is conflict.

Instead, I do nothing. I simply let him say what he has to say — allowing him to express himself — and move on. I remain centered and in control of myself. This makes it clear to him and everyone else watching that I cannot be upset and that I am in control.

Eventually, the person he was with whispers something in his ear and he’s quiet of the rest of the show. That person could have been his spouse or partner. What did that person say? I don’t know and I don’t care. Perhaps it was that things won’t be so pleasant back home if you continue down this path. Regardless, he received the message.

____

In the ensuing chaos that is intermission at Monday Night Magic, I was chatting with a couple of friends who were also on the show that night. Rocco, one of my favorite performers at the show, came over.

Motioning in my direction, he said the the producer, “Michael, that guy right there is a class act.”

Ricky Jay

“You wouldn’t want to live in a world where you couldn’t be conned. Because it would mean you’re living in a world where you never trusted anyone or anything.”
— Ricky Jay

Sadly, I never got to meet or see Ricky Jay perform in person. You’re lucky if you ever did because I can only imagine what it would be like.

Mr. Jay’s obituary in the New York Times can be found here.

2016: In Technicolor

We performed at dozens of events in 2016. Here are just a handful of highlights from some of our favorites.

Enjoy!

Toyota President's Award Dinner

Toyota Motor Sales rewarded their top dealers from the Boston Area to a weekend at Calistoga Ranch. We entertained these VIPs and their spouses on the closing evening of the festivities with our after-dinner mind reading show

#bringingyoutoboston

This way to the reception. please.

This way to the reception. please.

Stage is set for 30 minute mind reading show.

Stage is set for 30 minute mind reading show.

A short testimonial from the Toyota President's Award Dinner. #bringingyoutoboston

Team Building at Facebook

Facebook brought us in for a Team Building event for Halloween.

The recruiting team were working overtime and were in "lockdown mode" for months. We were brought in for a 30 minute mind reading show that brought down the house. What a great group.

Hands down the absolute highlight of the event! His performance was beyond incredible...off the charts, exceeded anything we expected and pushed the boundaries of what everyone thought was possible.
— Vivian T., Meeting Planner, Facebook
Post performance photo with some very happy Facebook-ers.

Post performance photo with some very happy Facebook-ers.

"The Year of The Trade Show"

2016 put a number of big IT Security shows under our belt. In fact, we were in Las Vegas twice in August for two different shows! 

We helped to build huge crowds with custom=scripted presentations and amazing magic over the course of multiple days on the trade show floor.

And 2017 is looking even better.

VM World, Mandalay Bay Convention Center, Las Vegas

VM World, Mandalay Bay Convention Center, Las Vegas

AWS re:Invent, Sands Convention Center, Venetian Hotel, Las Vegas

AWS re:Invent, Sands Convention Center, Venetian Hotel, Las Vegas

RSA Conference, Moscone Center, San Francisco

RSA Conference, Moscone Center, San Francisco

San Francisco Lithuanian Community Awards Gala

Performed at and hosted the SF Lithuanian Community Awards Gala.

We were honored to introduce and share the stage with Lithuanian dignitaries and ambassadors who were invited to celebrate with the local community.

Hosting and performing for the SF Lithuanian Community Awards Gala

Hosting and performing for the SF Lithuanian Community Awards Gala

Ken Fulk's Magical World Book Release Party

In October, we were invited to entertain at the book release event for Ken Fulk's Magical World.

Ken is San Francisco's interior designer du jour, having created some of the most elegant, sophisticated, and fun spaces and homes in San Francisco and across the country, including The Battery, where I entertain on Thursday evenings.

This event took place in the lobby and penthouse of The Harrison. A new, luxury apartment building, with interiors design by Mr. Fulk.

Ken Fulk's Magical World

Ken Fulk's Magical World

Lobby of The Harrison, in San Francisco. Awaiting to entertain guests.

Lobby of The Harrison, in San Francisco. Awaiting to entertain guests.

 

 

Blackstar Rising

If you feel safe in the area you’re working in, you’re not working in the right area. Always go a little further into the water than you feel you’re capable of being in. Go a little bit out of your depth. And when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.
— David Bowie

2015: In Technicolor

Thrilled to be recognized as the  "Best of the Industry"  for Entertainment by the Silicon Valley Chapter of the National Association for Catering and Events. Back when my company was known as Miracle Magic Entertainment.

Thrilled to be recognized as the "Best of the Industry" for Entertainment by the Silicon Valley Chapter of the National Association for Catering and Events. Back when my company was known as Miracle Magic Entertainment.

Holding the center and entertaining the masses at a holiday event at The Regency Ballroom in San Francisco

Holding the center and entertaining the masses at a holiday event at The Regency Ballroom in San Francisco

The stage is set! Mentalism performance for a 60th birthday party at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel in San Francisco. Most of the audience flew in from Chicago that afternoon to surprise the guest of honor.

The stage is set! Mentalism performance for a 60th birthday party at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel in San Francisco. Most of the audience flew in from Chicago that afternoon to surprise the guest of honor.

Entertaining at an corporate incentive weekend in Santa Barbara

Entertaining at an corporate incentive weekend in Santa Barbara

Cocktail reception for corporate incentive weekend in Santa Barbara

Cocktail reception for corporate incentive weekend in Santa Barbara

Yet another corporate incentive weekend for one of my favorite planners. This time at the Fairmont Princess Scottsdale, in Arizona

Yet another corporate incentive weekend for one of my favorite planners. This time at the Fairmont Princess Scottsdale, in Arizona

Entertaining as part of a team of international stars of magic in Las Vegas

Entertaining as part of a team of international stars of magic in Las Vegas

Opening reception for corporate conference in Sonoma.

Opening reception for corporate conference in Sonoma.

An intimate fundraising event in our home for my son's elementary school. Couples purchased tickets to an evening of wine, cheese, and magic.

An intimate fundraising event in our home for my son's elementary school. Couples purchased tickets to an evening of wine, cheese, and magic.

Watch this blog for more magic in 2016!

Best of the Industry

Back in 2013, I entertained at the annual gala for Silicon Valley National Association for Catering and Events. Had a great time and made some new friends.

Last night I was booked on an event by the past president of the SV NACE Chapter and before I took the stage, she presented me with this award for Best of the Industry 2014.

Had no idea and it caught me completely by surprise. Flattered and honored. Thanks, SV NACE!

A Beautiful Mystery and The Ugly Truth

I'm often asked if I know how all the magic works. If I were to see something performed, would I know how the secret. Sometimes yes, sometimes not.

So, let me introduce you to a beautiful mystery of the Piddington's -- a performance they gave over the radio, mind you. The Ugly Truth behind it is only a click away. I choose to #wonder about it. How about you?

Do let me know what you decide.