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Sunday, June 19, 2011

June 19: Nathan Burton & Mac King

Happy Father's Day, fathers. My dad gave me my first magic book as a kid and since then I've always had a soft spot for magic. Whether it's close-up magic, extravagant magic, or artsy magic, I love it. But of course my favourite is comedy magic. As a kid I watched as much comedy as I could, and as much magic as I could. One week I was home sick from school and one channel ran the same movie all five days at 1 o'clock. That week it was Houdini, starring Tony Curtis. I watched it every day I was home. The Great Ballantine was the best of both worlds: he really had very little to do with magic but still was way ahead of the curve in the comedy department. Then Penn & Teller hit it big and brought the magic up to par with the comedy.

I was in Las Vegas last week watching comedy. Three of the shows I went to were magicians and I've got interviews from two of those Vegas magicians for you tonight on What's So Funny? The first happens to be the first show I saw on my first trip to Sin City, Nathan Burton. I got to my hotel at 2:30 and was sitting in the Flamingo showroom watching Burton at 4:00. I'd never heard of him before but he made a splash a few years with a David Blaine-like stunt, locking himself in a rectangular plexiglass box with seven Vegas showgirls for seven days and night – no food, no water and no bathroom breaks. He does a really fast-paced show with lots of big objects appearing and disappearing right before our eyes. I sat there shaking my head in amazement. His is also a variety-type show in that he invites other performers from around town to do a short set. After the show, I headed up to his dressing room to talk to the man and you'll hear that chat first tonight. We talked about his history, his appearance on America's Got Talent and what it was like being in close quarters with showgirls 24/7. (On a side note, on my way out, who should stroll past me on her cell phone and into her dressing room was none other than Marie Osmond, who does a show in the same theatre with her brother. I won't say that was the highlight of my trip, but I might think it.)

The second half of the show tonight features an interview with Mac King, who has been a fixture at Harrah's since 2000 doing two shows a day, five days a week. I loved his show so much I took a buddy there the day after I saw it alone. He is such a warm, kind and funny performer. And a pretty damn impressive magician, too. His is a smaller brand of magic as opposed to the Copperfield-type that Burton practices, but no less impressive. Half the fun is watching his interactions with his volunteers, both adults and children. His props include rope, cards and goldfish. We talked about his audience interaction, some bloody and drunken horror stories from his past and his experience performing on Late Night with David Letterman.

One thing you can't appreciate on radio is the magic itself so here are two clips of the respective magicians.

Nathan Burton:

Mac King:

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