Originally Posted on 2/26/08

Source: Northeastern News
By Sean Leviashvili

Michael Kent worked his magic as he performed a stand-up routine at afterHOURS Wednesday.

As part of BananAwareness Week, Travis Weisberger, showcases chair for the Council for University Programs, arranged for Kent to perform at Northeastern. Kent is known for putting his own spin on a series of magic tricks by interacting with the audience and treating his act as a comedy routine, a task he admits can be a challenge.

“I started doing comedy in college,” Kent said. “It is the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. A comic only has his personality to use [on stage], and I try to bring it to the magic tricks and give them personality.”

Performing in front a crowd of about 200 people, Kent brought forth a series of magic tricks that made audience members like Yuliya Sysevich, a sophomore marketing major, wonder what his secret was.

Syesevich was initially called to the stage when Kent asked for an audience member with “excellent intuition.” To assist Kent with a trick involving a broken glass bottle, four inflated paper bags and Kent’s left hand, Syesevich had to guide him through a step-by-step process in eliminating the bags. One contained the glass bottle with the sharp side up.

With each elimination, Kent crushed the bag with his hand.

“Remember, I’m using my hands here,” Kent said to Syesevich. “If you screw this up, it’s the end of my career and social life as well.”

The only bag Syesevich did not select concealed the jagged glass bottle.

“All of his tricks were really surprising,” Syesevich said. “With each one I was like ‘Wow, how did he do that?'”

Syesevich had an intuitive hunch that everything would turn out all right, but other students, including Grace Turnbull, a middler behavioral neuroscience major, were not as confident.

“I was terrified when he was smashing those glasses,” Turnbull said.

The tricks, along with the jokes and sarcasm, continued for about an hour as Kent brought Nani Stoick, a middler music industry major, to the stage, only to have her volunteer her $100 bill for a trick. After writing her name on the bill, Stoick placed it in an envelope and left the rest up to Kent and his magic. She watched as Kent pretended to shred the bill.

After five minutes of brewing curiosity, Kent returned Stoick’s money to her, retrieving it from a small metal box.

“For a split second I was worried,” Stoick said. “I had a feeling it would be in the box but I have no idea how it got there. I was impressed.”

As Kent’s routine continued, he left the audience pondering the question: what came first, the chicken or the egg? In this case, it was the chicken – a rubber one. With a volunteer from the audience, Kent conducted a card trick in which he managed to transfer a card selected by the audience member to a plastic egg inside a rubber chicken.

When Weisberger first saw this trick performed at the National Association for Campus Activities conference in November, he knew Kent would draw attention at Northeastern and arranged for him to perform.

“It was the chicken trick that sold us,” Weisberger said, “and his smart-ass personality.”

Prior to his performance, Kent eased audience members into his techniques by speaking with them at afterHOURS and promoting the event at the dining halls during the day. Making the audience comfortable and entertaining them is the priority, Kent said.

Whether it involves a rubber chicken, the chance of a bleeding palm or the money to pay for it, Kent said the most important thing is giving people a chance to enjoy themselves, rather than get frustrated, which Kent said is often the result of magic tricks.

“As a kid,” Kent said, “I was interested in magic and used it to compensate for my lack of a social life. I did magic in college to meet girls, and now I do it to pay the bills.”

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Originally Posted on 2/28/08

Last week, despite having a nasty cold, I traveled to Boston for a show at Northeastern University. My show was part of Bananawareness week. The CUP at Northeastern had a week of events dedicated to the theory that bananas are going extinct. Not sure how I fit into it (they scheduled me for that week anyway, haha) but I played along.

I appreciate the 220-some folks who came out to the show, including the 20 or so local friends that stopped by to see me! Very nice of everyone to come out. The NU “AfterHours” venue is really awesome for a show like mine. Here’s a snapshot of the venue:

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Went out with some friends after the show and then woke up for what proved to be a really scary day!

Woke up with the sensation that an elephant was sitting on my chest and my heart thumping so hard I thought it was going to bust through the skin. I showered and drive to Manchester, New Hampshire despite the fact that I was now sweating bullets and couldn’t feel my fingers. I was supposed to be at St. Anselm College for a promo at noon and a 7pm show on Thursday. I showed up at St. Anselm at noon and walked into the Student Activities office not feeling the best (and according to them, not looking the best either!). By now I couldn’t speak two sentences without being out of breath. Kristen, a student and Arlene, the director, insisted that I see the nurses down the hall at the health center. My blood pressure and pulse were up and so we decided to go to the hospital.

I have to say thanks SO MUCH to Kristen, who stayed with me all day at the Emergency Room. It was a scary day and I’m lucky someone was nice enough to stay there with me. At one point, the Doc told me I might be in the risk category for a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lungs) due to flying! They tested my blood for that (6 freaking vials of blood) and it was negative. An EKG showed that my heart wasn’t experiencing any serious cardiac conditions. Turns out that they thought maybe I had a bad reaction to medicine (I’ve been on a lot of cold medicines all week) possibly combined with chest muscle spasms from coughing and over exerting myself. Maybe a touch of anxiety/exhaustion involved too – which is weird because I really didn’t feel anxious about anything.

Needless to say – we had to cancel Thursday’s show (to be made up at a later date) and I felt awful about it. Sorry to everyone. I was actually sitting in the E.R. yelling at Kristen that I wanted to do the show (while simultaneously clutching my chest).

I made it home Friday and am home now resting up until I leave again to perform at Rutgers University in Camden, NJ on Wednesday, Bradley University in Peoria, IL on Friday and the WVKO Democratic “Party” with Stephanie Miller on Saturday.

Thanks so much to those of you who kept up with status messages on Facebook and Myspace and were concerned. I appreciate your messages.

Peace, Love and Doctor Bills,

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