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.
Here are some standout memories:
2011 was a record year for me as far as the college tour goes. Somanygreatmemories. I performed in morecollegesthanever 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.
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.
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.
While the 2011 Fall College Tour is really starting to take shape, we’re still adding dates to the calendar every day.
7/19 Tampa, FL
7/23 Eureka, IL
7/25 Bloomingburg, NY
8/11 Grandview, OH (Pecha Kucha Presentation)
8/13 Columbus, OH
8/15 Pembroke, NC
8/20 Pemberville, OH
8/25 Bowling Green, OH
8/26 Manchester, NH
8/27 New Concord, OH
9/1 La Crosse, WI
9/2 Winona, MN
9/4 Oxford, OH
9/6 Camden, NJ
9/7 Pomona, NJ
9/8 Tiffin, OH
9/10 Greensboro, NC
9/12 Cleveland, OH
9/16 Monmouth, IL
9/20 St. Petersburg, FL
9/21 Mattoon, IL
9/24 Jacksonville, IL
9/28 Allendale, MI
9/30 Allentown, PA
10/1 Lebanon, IL
10/9-11 Buffalo, NY
10/13 Mt. Sterling, OH
10/15 Reading, PA
10/20 Crestview Hills, KY
10/22 Bridgewater, MA
10/24-26 Columbus, OH
10/27 Pemberton, NJ
11/5 Fairfield, OH
11/9 Urbana, OH
11/10 Covington, KY
11/17 Tiffin, OH
11/18-19 Hartford, CT
11/29 Flint, MI
12/14 Maineville, OH
For an up-to-date look at the performance calendar – check out the Online Tour Schedule!
If you’re interested in bringing my act to your event or college, send me an email ASAP and we’ll get you hooked up! Keep checking back for calendar updates.
I performed last night at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, MD. Emmitsburg is a really neat old town with tons of civil war history – just down the road from Gettysburg. I spent the day touring Gettysburg (I won’t bore you with all of those pictures) and later performed for a fun audience at “The Mount.” Here are some photos!
“Hi, I’m a Magician.” I said this last night more than I have in a long time. It was part of a social experiment.
Ever since I was young, I’ve had an issue with saying “I’m a Magician.” When I was young and first studying magic, it was difficult to determine at what point I WAS a Magician. After I had mastered one trick? Three tricks? One show? One year of performing? Later, the issue became whether or not I wanted OTHER people to call me a Magician. I always thought being a Magician made me look nerdy, and I wasn’t okay with that. So I did what many other Magicians did. I used other terms. At first, it was “I’m an Illusionist.” Then I realized how ridiculously pretentious that is unless you’re doing large-scale illusions (in magic jargon, the terms “illusion” and “illusionist” are generally reserved for large-scale tricks involving people, large stage props, big animals, cars, etc.). Then I was a “Magical Entertainer” because that’s what my boss at the time told me to tell people.
As my act developed into a comedy act, I would learn to tell people I was a “Comedy Magician,” but no one knew exactly what that was. So I started saying “Comic and Magician” or “Comedian and Magician” which is easier for people to understand. There are common social situations in which people commonly ask what you do. One of them is when you’re getting your haircut. This has been a time for me to play with different ways of explaining what I do and giving my little elevator speech. Sometimes I’ll simply say “I’m a comedian” because that way I know they won’t ask to see a trick. Another fear is if I say “I’m a Magician,” the next words out of their mouths are “Aww, my 6 year old daughter would LOVE that!”
Last night I attended a Speed Networking event for the local Chamber of Commerce. For those of you who don’t know what that is, Speed Networking works the same way as Speed Dating. There are several small tables set up and you rotate every three minutes to meet someone new and briefly explain who you are and what you do, exchange business cards, then it’s off to the next table. Just enough time to tell someone what I do – not enough time to do a trick. It was the perfect opportunity to try an experiment. I wanted to tell every table there very plainly and very openly nothing but the words “I am a Magician” and see how they react.
It may not seem like a big deal, but it actually was for me. It’s been a really long time since I’ve simply introduced myself as a Magician without adding some sort of other word to help distinguish me from what my insecurities told me was already going on in his or her head. In my head, they’re asking questions like “when are you going to grow up and get a real job?” “you can make a living out of that?” or “Aww, my 6 year old daughter would LOVE that!” So I added things like “I am a Magician for adults,” or “I am a Magician who makes fun of magic while also doing magic.” These are fairly accurate descriptions and they set me apart from the other Magicians. But part of what I’ve realized is that most of the people I meet have never met another Magician. And some might not ever meet another Magician. So instead of trying to distinguish myself from the other Magicians with words – why not just tell them “I’m a Magician,” and see where their imagination takes them?
I used the Speed Networking event to do just that. I sat down at the first table and said “Hi, I’m Michael Kent. I’m a Magician.” I said it with bright eyes and it was kind of fun to say. Every set of eyes I said it to lit up. It was a different reaction than “I’m a Magician, but…” or “I’m a Magician who…” It wasn’t confusing. It was straight forward and direct. I am a Magician. I am. That’s what I do. I would let my personality, my appearance and my rapport with them tell the rest of the story. Maybe THEY would go home and say “I met a Magician, but he wasn’t like other Magicians.” I don’t need to tell them that. If I’m a Magician who’s also funny, I would tell them “I’m a Magician” and simply BE funny. Otherwise I’m not telling them the truth. Don’t call yourself an Illusionist if you don’t do Illusions. Don’t call yourself a Mentalist if you read minds for 10 minutes of a 60 minute magic show. I’m a Magician. All of the other things will come out socially and naturally. But the core of what I do – the most marketable aspect of what I do is just that – magic. The experiment was a success. I received so many interesting reactions last night that from now on, I believe I’ll be thinking differently about how I introduce myself to people.
I just returned from performing at Marietta College in Marietta, OH. Marietta has a very unique space – it’s a converted market turned into an activities building with pool tables, table tennis, a snack bar, arcade and one of the strangest backdrop murals on the stage I’ve ever seen.
Here is recent footage from the live segments I did with Johnny DiLoretto in December. This was a challenge for me, because in addition to battling an awful head cold, I had to come up with 7-8 bits that were mostly 15-20 seconds each and I wanted to do all stuff that I hadn’t done on ABC6/FOX28 before. Some of the bits worked out great, others came off a little rushed. Directly after the shoot, I performed two shows at the Franklin Park Conservatory and then went home and slept for an entire day.
The best part of the video is when the meteorologist, Dana, reacts to Amy’s mention of Johnny having “two balls in his hand.” He loses it throughout the entire forecast.
What an awesome year. If there’s anything I can say about 2010, it’s that it gave me some pretty damn good stories. Here are a few:
KOREA: – Embarrassingly pulled the General’s daughter onstage for the chicken trick during a military show in South Korea. Found out it was the General’s daughter AFTER the show when the General tried to scare me.
– Was given a special gift by a soldier after a show.
– Created some amazing experiences eating Korean food, shopping in open markets, slamming up against a language barrier and seeing things I’ve never seen before.
– Befriended a bunch of Professional Wrestlers also touring Korea.
– Got the hell out of South Korea just in time.
– Was driven, without military escort, by an unfamiliar Korean bus driver through the DMZ and left stranded on an Army base.
Blog posts about South Korea here.
– The orange ball trick produced some hilarious results in 2010, including phrases like “Fish Shit” and “Shit Fountain.”
– Experienced (and handled) a student with an open laptop in the front row, skyping during my show.
– Performed a late show outdoors in Florida and apparently interrupted one angry student’s sleep.
– Traveled to 35 cities in three and half months.
– Performed two showcases at Regional Campus Activities Conferences.
– Some shows had AMAZING audiences and TONS of fan support (St. A’s, BGSU and Viterbo – I’m lookin’ at you)!
– Almost got caught in a tornado at OSU Newark.
– Repurposed my high school band uniform as stage attire.
– Created some amazing memories on the road.
– Realized that the corporate crowd is the drinking crowd (in most instances).
– Returned to two fantastic company parties that I had previously wowed.
– Performed a show in Canada, where I witnessed a girl literally rip her shirt off like Hulk Hogan at the hotel bar after the show. Most amazing thing I’ve ever seen in a bar.
It was an awesome year. After telling some stories at dinner the other night, a friend’s mother said to me “And you’re HOW old?” It really put things in perspective. I’ve gotten to experience some really cool things the last few years and from what it looks like, there are even more on the horizon.
“TSA must have a lot of fun with you.” I hear this a lot when people see me packing up my show for travel. Between rubber chickens, beer bottles, hammers, rubber gloves, portable paper shredders and a handful of wireless devices with antennae and LED number countdown displays, yes – it’s sometimes quite tiring to go through airport security. Many times I’m traveling either very early in the morning or very late at night – and the TSA doesn’t know that I’ve already heard all of their comments before. I am “on the road” anywhere between 100-150 days a year. I fly a lot. Here are a couple things I deal with and how I deal with them so my life doesn’t end up like one big real-life version of Planes, Trains and Automobiles.
1) How I pack my show for the road.
I bring slightly different items for my show if I have to fly rather than drive. I would say my shows are 50/50 flying/driving. For the most part, the show is the same – but I bring slightly different props for weight/airline reasons. First of all, I have enough props to perform a decent show in my carry on alone. This way if my checked luggage gets eaten by the luggage gnomes (as it does a couple times a year), I can still go onstage and put on a good show. It’s just a little less entertaining than my “A” show, but hey If onlys and justs were candies and nuts, then every day would be Ernte Dank Fest.
Packing the show is sort of a fun thing to figure out and something I take pride in. My main show case is custom made and has foam cut-outs for every prop so I can still pack and know if I’m missing anything even in a dark backstage area at 1am when I have the swine flu. The rest of my bags change from tour to tour based on whatever new theory I’m testing out. This last fall, I used a bag that I bought for 5,000 won ($5) on the streets of Osan, South Korea. I was testing the “how functional can I make one tiny bag” theory. This next tour, I’ll be testing out the theory of “my agent made a deal with bag company and I can’t turn down a good thing.”
I have to also separate what items I’m allowed to bring in carry-ons versus checked bags. I use a ball peen hammer and a pair of scissors in the show, so I put them in the checked bag. Also, as a general rule of thumb, if it’s an item that can be found/replaced at a local store, I’ll check it. This allows me to follow the airlines’ rule of one carry one plus one personal item and still have enough stuff with me to do a good show.
Oh – also I have to carry some coins/cards with me in case the person sitting next to me asks what I do.
2) The airline ticket counter.
I’m a huge fan of Southwest Airlines. They have better customer service, happier more cheerful employees, better airplanes, cheaper rates, no baggage fees and they treat people like people – not cattle. Having observed the airline employees at different airports and the way they deal with frequent flyers versus occasional flyers, it’s easy to see that they have an appreciation for customers who “know the drill.” Having your ID ready and knowing whether or not your bags are overweight are two quick ways to make the experience pretty painless. My bags are rarely overweight – with the exception of extended trips where I need supplies for many shows. Almost always, my main show case is exactly 50 lbs. Occasionally it’s a pound over. If I don’t have anything extra in my case, I know that it’s just their scale that is off. But rather than argue with them about it (they hear “But it was fine at the last airport” ALL the time), I just take the hammer/heavy things out of the case and throw it in my second checked bag. In general, I go out of my way to be nice to the ticket counter people at the airport, because on those rare occasions when you’re having a bad travel day, they’re really the only ones that can help you.
3) TSA Security Checkpoint
Ahh – the thing that everyone’s talking about. I have mixed feelings about the TSA. I have always been really nice to them and thanked them. But lately, I’ve been getting more and more frustrated with them. Last year, I had good reason to believe the TSA caused $300 in damages to one of my cases by bending the latches and the result was this:
I had every bit of documentation you could imagine – boarding passes, bag check slips – even the TSA note that they inspected it stamped with the airport code. Filed a claim – nothing. They blamed the airline.
Things like these are funny at first, but when you think about the fact that it’s YOUR SHIT they’re going through – you start to get angry. So now – all I can do is try to follow their rules and make the process as simple and painless as possible. Which is getting harder and harder. I don’t have a problem going through the AIT scan machines that can see my junk. If they’re that desperate to see it, have at it. It’s much better than them touching me. And I hear mixed reports, but it seems like the fears about the radiation exposure are a bit overblown. I do have a problem with who’s making money off of these machines. Can you say conflict of interest? One of the stupidest things I’ve heard was someone say to me “If you don’t like it, don’t fly!” These people don’t understand that a lot of people make their living in jobs that require them to fly. I can think of two other than mine: Pilots and Flight Attendants.
Usually my security checkpoint goes like this – If I’m flying Southwest, I don’t have to wait in line at most airports, so that’s nice. I have to remove not only my computer, but my iCue2 which is the remote music player I use for my show. It pretty much looks like a bomb. It has a large antenna, remote controls, wires, and a LED display. It goes on the conveyer by itself in its case. Once I go through the X-ray, I would say 1 out of 4 times they want to look at my bag just because the stuff in there doesn’t look like normal stuff. One of my props always gets their attention. I can’t say exactly what the prop is without giving away secrets, but I can tell you that the reason they look at it is ridiculous and has nothing to do with security. A lot of times, they will search my bag and pull out the rubber chicken and show it around to other TSA agents as a joke. This is both irritating and humiliating. One time, a TSA agent took the rubber chicken around to EVERY other TSA agent and stuffed it in their faces, making stupid noises. Another time in Boston, one of the TSA agents had seen my show and demanded that I show her coworker a trick. I was nice to her and complied that time. But most of the time I don’t. They will inevitably ask why I have these weird props. I explain, and after the “show me a trick” conversation (I will say no), they stop being so jovial. I don’t treat them with disrespect – I just don’t feel like because they have the ability (not the right) to go through my stuff, that I should have to be subjected to watching them playing with all my magic “toys.” But I get it – I was excited when I saw some of this stuff for the first time too. For the most part – most of what the TSA is doing is theater. Many threats can still get by them. I accidentally brought a ball peen hammer through security once without them knowing it. I tried it again to see if they would let me through. They did. I went through 4 different security checkpoints before they found it. Turns out TSA is more interested in seeing my balls and peen than my potentially dangerous hammer.
I would say that because I’ve learned how to deal with them, my normal security experience isn’t that much longer than the average person, except for the extra time it takes me to remove and replace items from my bags.
A lot of people think its a glamorous job to fly all over the country, and sometimes it is. But dealing with airport security isn’t one of the highlights. It’s one of the annoyances. I rarely complain about my job. I love what I do. Sometimes whenever I hear myself complaining about my job, I have to stop myself and say “Shut up, moron – you have an awesome job.”
So with that said, “Shut up moron, you have an awesome job.”