Thanks to YOU, my amazing fans, friends and supporters, I’ve been voted Entertainer of the Year by Campus Activities Magazine AND Magician of the Year by APCA!
Entertainer of the Year
I was voted “Entertainer of the Year” by the readers of Campus Activities Magazine! As you can imagine, this is an unbelievable honor for me. After having been nominated for the last 3 years, it’s a huge thrill.
Read the Official Press Release Here
To be recognized in your field is something that always feels good. I’m humbled and honored to receive the title of “Entertainer of the Year” and will do my best to keep putting on the best shows I possibly can to truly earn the title. I was “real-life-share-a-drink-with” friends with all 4 of the other nominees in this category and they’re all amazing, top-notch entertainers. Adam Grabowski is a guy who is taking the college market by storm with his comedy, funny charts and observations about 90s life. Daniel Martin is someone I’m proud to call a friend and someone with whom I regularly workshop new ideas. His “making an audience member disappear bit is one of the most clever “I wish I had thought of that” things out there. Peter Boie is a magician who has a thing in his show with a harmonica that I have never figured out — and never want to. It’s a magical experience to see him perform. Matt Corey convinced me that the saxophone can actually be exciting and fun to watch (not to mention, he’s a fellow Ohioan)! I’d also like to say CONGRATS to all of the winners in other categories!
Campus Activities Magazine was nice enough to feature me on the cover of their April Issue, which is distributed to 4,300 colleges and universities nation-wide and ran a 3-page-spread about me.
The self-billed “Comedian, Magician, Smart@$$” has become one of the most respected and in-demand entertainers in the campus market and this win proves it.
You can read the full story here.
Thanks again for your support. I’ll do my best to live up to it.
Magician of the Year
In other exciting news, I recently attended the National Conference for the Association for the Promotion of Campus Activities in Atlanta, GA, where I was given the “2014 Magician of the Year” Award! The title is determined by votes cast through ballots given to Student Activities Groups in colleges throughout the country. I was genuinely surprised to be notified about this award!
Click to watch a video of Michael accepting his award!
Being recognized by your peers is always a wonderful feeling, and I smiled the whole way home from Atlanta. So thank you for the honor! The beautiful trophy I was given will be placed in my office display case next to other proud mementos that serve as reminders that I really am working in my dream job.
Thank you so much to:
- The APCA Administrators, Staff and Volunteers,
- All of the Student Activities Advisors/Directors and students who have enjoyed what I do,
- Entertainer friends with whom I regularly consult for improvement and ideas
and of course,
- My agent, Laura Gilman with Fresh Variety for helping me continue to move forward in my career.
Check out some of the Fall 2013 Tour Dates! This isn’t a complete list – additional dates are still being added. It looks like when all is said and done, this tour will bring me to around 40-42 cities in something like 18 different states! There are a few days off in between some of the shows, so I’ll be visiting some touristy things like Niagara Falls and Disney World. But most of what I’ll be seeing is small-town America. I want to see all the interesting things there are to see in these small towns. Is there a city near you on the tour? Let me know what I should check out!
I’ll be constantly updating social media followers throughout the tour on my twitter and facebook.
Keep checking back! Also, see my official tour schedule for the most up-to-date information!
If you’re interested in attending a show listed in your city, let me know. Almost all of these shows are on college campuses. Sometimes they are open to the public, sometimes they aren’t.
August 6 – Columbus, OH
August 9 – Columbus, OH
August 10 – Columbus, OH
August 14 – Normal, IL
August 17 – Greenwood, SC
August 18 – Rock Hill, SC
August 22 – Highland Heights, KY
August 23 – Oxford, OH
August 24 – Urbana, OH
August 26 – Bowling Green, OH
August 27 – Tyler, TX
August 28 – Texarkana, TX
August 29 – Gainesville, TX
August 30 – Manchester, NH
September 2 – Manchester, NH
September 3 – Green Bay, WI
September 5 – Sanborn, NY
September 6 – Orlando, FL
September 14 – Rockford, IL
September 16 – Winona, MN
September 17 – Joplin, MO
September 20 – Emmitsburg, MD
September 21 – Columbus, OH
September 23 – Dayton, OH
September 25 – Bexley, OH
October 4 – Bronx, NY
October 5 – Angola, IN
October 15 – Lake Charles, LA
October 16 – Beaumont, TX
October 17 – Natchitoches, LA
October 18 – Buffalo, NY
October 22 – Columbus, MS
October 23 – Pittsburgh, PA
October 24 – Old Westbury, NY
October 30 – Eunice, LA
October 31 – El Paso, TX
November 1 – Hartford, CT
November 5 – Rochester, NY
November 6 – Gallatin, TN
November 7 – Peoria, IL
November 14 – Chattanooga, TN
November 20 – Akron, OH
November 21 – Barbourville, KY
November 23 – Dayton, OH
If you would like information on bringing me to your campus or corporate event, please let me know ASAP and we’ll get a date reserved for you!
I’ve got shelves in my office filled with things that I’ve collected during my travels. But the most valuable collection I have is my collection of stories. On July 10, I’ll be sharing many of these stories and performing the amazing magic that goes along with many of them. The event will be at Shadowbox Live’s Backstage Bistro on Wednesday, July 10. I hope to see you there.
I’m excited to announce I’ll be returning as a special guest in “The Best of Shadowbox Live” for select dates* through the rest of the summer!
This will be the 3rd show I’ve done with Shadowbox after having successful runs with “Smoke & Mirrors” and “The Best of Shadowbox Live” in 2012. My involvement in the show usually consists of 5-10 minutes of magic excerpted from my show and a few special appearances throughout the rest of the show.
*To see which dates I’ll be appearing with Shadowbox Live, check my official tour schedule.
Visit ShadowboxLive.org for tickets and information.
I’ve come a long way in my career and I am still learning every day. Along the road, there have been a lot of ups and downs that are natural with a career in the entertainment industry. I’ve put together a list of things that maybe would have relieved a little stress and anxiety had I known them beforehand. It’s my hope that this list is useful not just to magicians or to people in show business, but to all entrepreneurs.
1. Your audience will never be aware of 80% of the work you do in this business. But they would know instantly if you didn’t do it.
I recently spent 2 hours editing some bumper music so that it fit my show perfectly. The result? About 15 seconds of music that plays in my show under applause and my talking. The audience never really hears it. But I wanted it to be perfect. And though they don’t recognize it, it contributes to the feeling I’m trying to create in the room. If I didn’t put in that work, the result wouldn’t be the same. The audience might not know exactly what it was, but they’d realize something wasn’t right. It’s about details. The same can be said for spending an hour shining the chrome on one of my props. They will never know I spent that time. But they would probably notice if I didn’t.
On a tour, 80% (or more) of the “work” is the travel and preparation. In show business, there’s an old saying that “We don’t get paid for the show. We get paid for all the work leading up to the show. The show is the reward.” Keeping this in mind, I never mind spending those extra hours working on the most minute of projects as long as they will contribute to a better show. NOTE: This includes education. Those months and years we spend reading the texts on our art are invaluable. Some of the knowledge we gain will not be directly useful to our art immediately. Some will never be directly useful. But until we study what has been done before us, we will never know if what we are doing is great.
2. If You Try to Be All Things to All People, You End Up Being Nothing to Everybody.
This applies both to show marketing AND to performance. What do you want to accomplish with your show? This was a question that took me years and years to answer. A more appropriate question for many young entertainers is “Who do you want to entertain?” Many inexperienced entertainers just want to perform so badly that they will accept any gig they can get their hands on. The results can be detrimental to business, reputation and to the ability to grow as a performer. This includes taking gigs that may be biting off more than you can chew, gigs for which your act is not a good fit and gigs that aren’t in a pay rate that matches your act (both above and below). If you’re kicking butt as a kids’ magician and have been for years, you may not be the best fit working at a corporate trade show where you may be out of your element. You may have developed a skill set that works for entertaining a specific set of individuals and those skills may not translate to other audiences.
As far as marketing goes, your target buyer must be able to envision you at their event. If I’m looking for a kids show entertainer and all of your promo has you wearing clothing with skulls, it’s probably not a good fit (and you might want to rethink your style decisions). Likewise, if I’m looking for a street entertainer and all of your promo videos show you performing in ballrooms for suited business people, I’ll probably go for the kid with the skulls. You can’t be all things to all people.
3. Find Your Unique Voice
Knowing who you are onstage is key. And sadly, there’s no way to really know this until you have performed hundreds (literally hundreds) of shows. Another old saying is “Why be a second-rate version of someone else when you can be a first-rate version of YOU?” Consider this: If you perform a show that is truly YOU, no one will ever be able to duplicate that and you’ll be one-of-a-kind. For some people, performing as yourself isn’t an option. Some people are performing as a character onstage. I urge you to put yourself into that character. Make it an extension of you. Live through it. Then it will truly be unique, only because it will be you. With the hundreds of mannerisms, non-verbals, inflections and other nuances that make up our personality, an audience can tell if we are not being genuine.
I once had dinner with a comedy friend who passed some advice to me that he had received from Don Rickles. Rickles said, “The second you step foot onstage, the audience knows exactly who you are – sometimes even better than you do. And if what you say and do doesn’t match that, they’re not going to like you.” I still think this is great advice. I don’t take this advice to mean “change what you say and do to match the audience’s expectations” as much as I understand it to mean “make sure that you’re portraying an accurate picture of yourself onstage.” In everything you do, from the quickest phone call to the biggest project, be unapologetically YOU.
4. The beginning is probably going to suck.
Being self-employed, especially in the entertainment industry, is a job that requires a certain amount of ego. There’s a certain amount already there when we decided to make the leap into employing ourselves. Sometimes it prevents us from being okay with our failures. The tendency in the beginning is to react in one of two ways. We either get discouraged, or we put on blinders and ignore our mistakes. The second option here, which is the earnest beginning to delusions of grandeur, is a common phenomenon especially among magicians learning a new move in the mirror. During the part of the move that we’re not the best at, we tend to blink. Literally – many learning blink their eyes so that they experience the trick or the move the way the audience is intended to see it. This way we can imagine the way it’s supposed to look rather than see the reality of our suckiness. This is a truth as well as a nice metaphor. It’s really difficult, if not impossible to know how much we suck if there aren’t other people telling us. But we have to learn that failure is okay. Once we’re not afraid of failure, we can grow as artists. Stand-up comedians will be the first to tell you this truth. In order to be a good stand-up, a person has to be okay with going onstage and having a room full of people hate you. It’s going to happen. It’s the dharma of comedy – there’s no avoiding it. The difference between the good comedians and the ones who quit is that the good comedians learned from it and weren’t scared by how much they sucked. Ira Glass recently did a video talking about how even through we may not be that good in the beginning, there’s an underlying goodness to our work that has more to do with our taste and instinct. Check it out:
Ira Glass on Storytelling from David Shiyang Liu on Vimeo.
If we learn to keep a beginner’s mind about our work, we will always improve. It frustrates me to no end whenever I produce a new demo video. After the weeks it takes to get the video made, I look back at it and I’m never 100% happy. Mostly because since the video was shot, I’ve changed things in the show – improved things. And I always wish that I had the new, improved version in the video. But by the time I do the next video, there will just be more things that I’ve improved and it becomes an endless cycle. This cycle is a good thing. Sometimes I look back at the show I used to do and I can’t believe how bad it was. At the time, people loved it. But I know that it is so much better now. And in the future, I’ll look at the work I’m doing now the same way. I recently gave the following advice to a friend starting a business in a short amount of time. “You’ve got the rest of your life to make it perfect; now is the time to make it work.”
5. This is rare. Enjoy it.
Getting to make a living, or even supplement a living with something you’re passionate is rare. Not many people actually get to live their dream. There have been many 8 hour drives, 3 hour flight delays, insufficient sound systems, difficult promoters, and other headaches that have sometimes made me forget that. Those long hours practicing, learning, and editing a 15 second clip of music sometimes can drive me crazy. But I have to remember how amazing it is that I’m creating my own future doing something I love. It would be kind of nice to have some of those stress and anxiety-filled times back so I could enjoy the moment. And although this list is “Things I Wish I Would Have Known in the Beginning,” this is something that I constantly have to remind myself. This is rare. This is something special. And whenever you hear me complaining about it, you have permission to kick my ass.
If you want a chance to see my full show in Columbus, this will be your best shot! I’ll be headlining at Brew Ha Ha, hosted by Saturday Night Live’s Garret Morris on Monday, July 16 with my entire full-length performance. This is where you’ll get to see stuff that I normally only perform on the road at colleges, cruise ships, clubs and other venues that begin with other letters. Brew Ha Ha is a beer and comedy festival that takes place for 3 days in Columbus, Ohio’s Historic Brewery District.
10pm on a weeknight too late for you? Stop being a pansy. Laughing at live entertainment is healthier than sitting on the couch watching Pawn Stars (Sidenote: my show probably has more to do with history than anything on the history channel).
I’d love to see all of my Columbus friends out at this show. To everyone who’s asking “when are going to perform around here?” July 16. Register here. See you there!
Brew Ha Ha
Headlining at Shadowbox Live
503 S. Front Street
10pm July 16 | Full schedule here
The 2012 Winter/Spring Tour is off to a wintery start! We had to reschedule the first college campus of the year (see below) and almost had to reschedule a second one! Nonetheless, things are really clicking with the show. I sincerely hope you have the opportunity to get to one of the shows on the tour soon! See the below list of shows on the schedule to see if I’ll be in a city near you and keep checking back for updates!
2012 Winter/Spring Tour
January 12 – Chicago, IL – RESCHEDULED FOR FEB. 2
January 14 – Dubois, PA
January 19 – Adrian, MI
January 21 – Glassboro, NJ
January 26 – Cleveland, OH
January 31 – Baltimore, MD
February 2 – Chicago, IL
February 3 – Flagstaff, AZ
February 7 – Alpine, TX
February 9 – Lyndonville, VT
February 11 – Guest DJing – Powell, OH
February 15 – Melbourne, FL
February 16 – Normal, IL
February 18 – Columbus, OH
February 22 – Mattoon, IL
February 25-29 – NACA – Charlotte, NC
March 10 – Dayton, OH
March 16 – Bexley, OH
March 29-31 – NACA – St. Paul, MN
April 6 – Bennington, VT
April 13 – Ewing, NJ
April 21 – Hamilton, OH
April 28 – Manito, IL
For more info on any of the above dates, refer to my published tour schedule.
Also – remember that voting is still going on for 2012 Entertainer of the Year! The story was recently picked up by Columbus NBC4!
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These “year-in-review” posts sometimes feel somewhat obligatory, but in this case, 2011 was an incredible year and as I look back, I’m overwhelmed with topics to write about.
The Kardashians will become irrelevant. Until one of them does something stupid that acts like catnip for humans and makes television gossip shows go apeshit crazy. The American Public will be thrown into an uproar and they will get government involved, who will use new National Defense Legislation to hold the Kardashians in an undisclosed location. This will launch the Kardashians into a new Reality (ever wonder why reality shows hire writers?) show called “The Kardashians Appeal to Congress.”
Apple will come out with a product that you never knew you needed. By next December, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.
McDonalds will work with Paula Dean to introduce a new product called “McFatass.”
A Republican presidential candidate will say something stupid.
A group of people with Mayan ancestry will finally reveal the secret “Part 2” of the calendar they’ve been hiding.
Playboy will offer $50M to Betty White to pose nude. She will accept.
An asteroid will come so close to the Earth that TV News networks will actually be forced to report actual news. The Huffington Post will bump their previous lead-story about what Whoopie said yesterday on The View.
Someone will ask me If I can make them disappear.
You will receive a bad haircut.
Betty White’s Playboy spread will launch her into a career in pornography, shocking everyone who thought the first Golden Girl to do porn would be Rue McClanahan.
The Presidential race will end in chaos when Major News networks announce that the candidate with the most electoral votes was Exxon Mobil.
You will fall in love.
Here are some standout memories:
2011 was a record year for me as far as the college tour goes. So many great memories. I performed in more colleges than ever this year. While it was hard on my body and mind at times, I got through it with the help of friends, loved ones and amazing audiences.
Did some great TV with ABC6/FOX28 Columbus’s Johnny DiLoretto – some of my first experience with LIVE television. I learned that live TV can be a very difficult thing – Johnny handles it like a pro. When it goes well, it’s exhilarating!
I began my commercial acting career in 2011, and worked on commercials and industrials for Intel, Ohio Lottery, Kemba Financial and a few others!
In 2011, I offered an original creation as my first release to the magic community. repAIR is a Popped and Restored Balloon effect that has never been seen before in the history of magic. It was met with favorable reviews and has sold really well so far.
The Free Beer Tour* was an event that I put together with Corey Montie where I toured local bars and taught attendees bar bets that they could use to scam their friends out of free drinks.
In probably one of the most important things I’ve done in my career, I helped Hopeline, IMAlive.org and Post Secret raise money for Suicide Awareness through this PSA.
Predictions for 2012:
For me, I can already tell that 2012 has some exciting things coming. Two of them I can’t talk about quite yet, but soon! If you get on my mailing list by entering your email address above or clicking here, I guarantee you’ll hear about them! As always, I usually tweet about things as they happen! I hope everyone has had an amazing Holiday Season. Have a wonderful and fun-filled New Years Eve. Make sure you kiss your loved one and hold them tight. If you don’t have a loved one, grab the person next to you and smooch. The memory of the kiss will long outlast the bruise you’ll receive from his or her significant other.
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