I’ve just learned that I’ve been nominated for two different categories in Campus Activities Magazine’s Reader’s Choice Awards! The categories are:
Visit the link above NOW to enter your vote! While you’re at it, Make sure to vote for my friend Jonathan Burns for Entertainer of the Year and my agency Fresh Variety for Agency of the Year!
In 2014, I was named Entertainer of the Year by Campus Activities Magazine and Magician of the Year by the Association for the Promotion of Campus Activities. I was concerned about 2015, because how do you beat that!?
In 2015, I:
• Performed for an exclusive invite-only event as part of NHL All Star Weekend.
• Did a special performance for The Columbus Zoo, after which “Jungle” Jack Hanna told me, “You’re the best we’ve had! I’m proud you’re from Columbus!”
• Spent the entire month of April performing 17 magic shows all around the world for the United States Navy in Spain, Italy, Greece, Bahrain, Diego Garcia, Singapore, Korea and Japan.
• Spent 2 weeks performing on board a cruise ship sailing around Alaska, adding it as the 47th US state in which I’ve performed.
• Returned to my hometown to perform in The Gloria Theatre, a special place that has been returned to it’s original glory!
• Had the busiest Fall College Tour of my career, visiting 43 cities in just under 3 months.
• Performed for an amazing group of corporate meetings and events, including one of Columbus’s own new companies that was listed in Inc. Magazine’s Top 5000!
All in all, 2015 took me to more than 115 cities, 10 countries, and 83 college campuses. There are even BIGGER things on the horizon, as 2016 is scheduled to include my first ever performance on national television, more tours, more shows, more magic and more adventure! I couldn’t do ANY of this without the amazing support from my fans. Also, thanks to my amazing wife, friends and family who put up with me being gone so much and working so hard. Thank you so much for continuing to follow my journey.
UPDATE: Tonight’s show is SOLD OUT.
For the first time in over a year, Michael returns to Shadowbox Live’s Backstage Bistro for a special-one night only event! Things are about to get weird.
Fresh off a 110-city, 10 country whirlwind tour in 2015, Comedian and Magician Michael Kent is kicking off the new year with a one-night-only show exclusive for Shadowbox Live’s Backstage Bistro! Recently named ENTERTAINER of the YEAR and MAGICIAN of the YEAR, Michael Kent is one of Columbus’s busiest entertainers. He’s performed in more than 500 college campuses, for corporations such as Disney and AT&T, various cruise lines and regularly asked to travel to other countries to entertain American troops serving overseas.
Reservations recommended – Food and Drink available – Adult Language and Content
Backstage Bistro / Shadowbox Live
503 South Front Street
Columbus, OH 43215
Tuesday, January 5th, 2016
Tickets: $5 (click link above to buy tickets or call 614-416-7625)
(Parking is available behind the building in two different lots on Liberty street. Parking ranges from $2-$5. There are also meters on Front Street.)
I’m happy to announce that I will be joining the cast of the 2016 Miracles and Magic Show!
The Miracles & Magic Foundation is an organization that provides life experiences to children who are currently fighting life-threatening illnesses. At the heart of Miracles & Magic is a comedy magic and illusion show. It features the best magicians in the world coming together to help these children and their families forget, if only for a few hours, about the shots, hospital beds, treatments and other daily challenges they face. Instead, they experience the wonder, laughter and emotion of the magic and entertainers.
Miracles and Magic
The Lincoln Theater
Columbus, OH 43203
January 23, 2016
1pm and 5pm
Tickets go onsale November 13 and will range $10-45
Parking is Free
I’m excited to join other top magicians in the world for this fantastic show. For details on the show and for tickets, visit http://www.miraclesandmagic.com/.
I once again had a great time at Bowling Green State University! I performed the first show of my Fall 2015 Tour as part of BGSU’s “Opening Weekend.” Here are some photos and a video!
When I was a kid growing up in Urbana, Ohio, entertainment options were limited. There were always high-school sporting events to watch. Older kids would “cruise the lot” (I never understood this. They would literally just drive in circles in the big empty parking lot behind K-Mart). And of course, there was the movie theatre. It was a twin-cinema theatre with second-run movies for cheap prices. If you were special, you had a friend who worked there and could watch for free from the viewing booth upstairs. The theatre was originally opened in 1918 as a Vaudeville Theatre and named “The Gloria” in 1941. When the movie theatre went out of business a few years ago, it was purchased and restored to a single room theatre. The idea was to restore the Gloria to its original role: a small town venue for live performing arts.
I’m happy to announce that on September 13th, I’ll be one of the first of hopefully many touring entertainers to perform at the newly restored Gloria Theatre. The show, brought to you by The Champaign County Arts Council and Grandworks Foundation, will be a Family-Friendly show, so bring the whole family!
Michael Kent: LIVE at the Gloria
Family Friendly Comedy and Magic Show
Brought to you by The Champaign County Arts Council and GrandWorks Foundation
DATE: Sunday September 13, 2015
Click below to purchase tickets through PayPal. Tickets are $15 each and children 10 and
under are free.
I recently spent a couple weeks performing onboard the Holland American Statendam Cruise Ship and sailed through Alaska. Here are some photos from the trip!
I’ve got a preliminary list of some of the first 2015 Fall College Tour dates that have been posted. Do you live in or near one of these cities? Have you simply been to any of these cities and have a fun memory or story? If you have a suggestion of something I should try, see or do, please let me know in the comments below!
One of the new things I’ll be doing on this tour is streaming live on Periscope! Follow me there!
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 22 – Bowling Green, OH
August 24 – Springfield, MA
August 28 – Manchester, NH
August 29 – Alvernia, PA
August 31 – Manchester, NH
September 2 – Sanborn, NY
September 3 – Fort Wayne, IN
September 4 – Winona, MN
September 12 – Jacksonville, FL
September 13 – Urbana, OH
September 16 – Atlanta, GA
September 18 – Quincy, IL
September 25 – Greenville, NC
September 29 – Indianapolis, IN
September 30 – Decatur, IL
October 1 – Chattanooga, TN
October 2 – Springfield, MA
October 3 – Huntingdon, PA
October 10 – Bexley, OH
October 13 – Skokie, IL
October 14 – Dearborn, MI
October 16 – Parkersburg, WV
October 17 – Manchester, NH
October 20 – Shepherdstown, WV
October 22 – Buffalo, NY
October 23 – Savannah, GA
OCtober 26 – Rockford, IL
October 27 – Marshall, MN
October 28 – Harrisburg, PA
October 29-31 – Grand Rapids, MI
November 6 – Elon, NC
November 7 – St. Mary’s City, MD
November 17 – Barbourville, KY
November 19 – Maryville, TN
November 20 – Nashville, TN
December 4 – Dayton, OH
December 5 – Springfield, OH
December 11 – Urbana, OH
December 11 – Lima, OH
December 12 – Dothan, AL
December 13 – Newville, PA
December 18 – Columbus, OH
There are still dates available for this tour. 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!
Comedian Jerry Seinfeld recently made headlines with his statements about how college campuses are too “PC” for comedy due to college students’ lack of understanding about sensitive topics like racism or sexism.
“I hear that all the time,” Seinfeld said. “I don’t play colleges, but I hear a lot of people tell me, ‘Don’t go near colleges. They’re so PC.’ I’ll give you an example: My daughter’s 14. My wife says to her, ‘Well, you know, in the next couple years, I think maybe you’re going to want to be hanging around the city more on the weekends, so you can see boys.’ You know what my daughter says? She says, ‘That’s sexist.’ They just want to use these words: ‘That’s racist’; ‘That’s sexist’; ‘That’s prejudice.’ They don’t know what they’re talking about.”
Well I may not be a stand up comedian, but I’m a comedian and magician who has performed at over 500 college campuses in the last decade and I can say that I wholeheartedly disagree with Seinfeld’s comments.
1. Jerry Seinfeld doesn’t work college campuses.
While he may perform at an occasional college campus with a ton of money, or give a commencement speech here and there, Jerry Seinfeld admits in his statement that he doesn’t work colleges. He doesn’t have his finger on the pulse of what college students are like. He’s basing his opinion on a thing that college comedians love to complain about. “Colleges are too PC.” I suspect that comedians who complain about this use it as an excuse for a joke that goes over with a comedy club crowd and falls flat with college students. Or maybe they think they’re not getting repeat bookings with colleges and blaming it on the college being “too PC.” I can’t speak for them. But I do know that there are MANY comedians who make a decent living from performing at colleges and they have no problems with this issue. They know the audience and they know the gig (see number 4).
2. This isn’t just a “college campus issue.”
Are college students politically correct and sometimes a little too quick to claim that they’re offended? Yes. Guess who else is? F***ing everyone. College students are intelligent, quick, and connected. They GET IT. They know pop culture more than anyone else in the world and while some of them may still have naive or underdeveloped views about socio-political issues, they know right from wrong. If we’re going to have a discussion about college students getting “too PC” to take a joke, we need to be having it about everyone. College students aren’t any more politically correct than a diverse television viewing audience. There are some great debates out there about whether political correctness is killing comedy. I can see both sides of that argument. But that’s not what I’m here to write about.
First of all, the example Seinfeld gave about his 14 year old daughter is somewhat irrelevant. That’s not the type of misunderstanding of sexism that would keep a joke from being funny in a college. So what would keep a joke from being accepted as funny in a college?
3. Jokes that disparage groups of people just aren’t funny.
In my experience, college students don’t want to hear jokes that disparage groups of people. It’s not only because it’s not politically correct; it’s because gay jokes, fat jokes, sexist jokes are easy, unintelligent and lack creativity. They’re not funny because there’s not that much effort involved in writing them. I have watched nationally-known comedians bomb with college students by trying to do entire sets based on homophobic material. The crowd goes silent, the tweets and Yik Yaks start flying. I’ve personally witnessed it on multiple occasions.
This reminds me of a joke from one of my favorite comedians, Mike Birbiglia: “I wasn’t like the class clown in school growing up. I think the class clown was always the mean guy who walks in the room and was like, ‘You’re fat! You’re gay! I’m outta here!’ You know? I was always a little fat, a little gay; I never got along with that guy.”
The stuff that goes over in colleges is comedy that is relatable. Today’s audiences want the person onstage to be someone they feel like they could hang out with. There’s a reason people love Jimmy Fallon. Gone are the days of the comedian being the guy in the room who is cooler than everyone and has to prove it by making fun of everyone he can. Now before you say it, YES, I do often call a guy a “dick” in my shows. But I’m very adamant about doing it in a way that makes it feel the same way it would feel if that guy were one of my best friends.
4. These are learning institutions, not comedy clubs.
I’ll stress again that I’m not a stand-up comedian. What I do is a different game. But I see entertainers go into the college market expecting that THIS is the place they can really let go. Of all places, colleges are supposed to fulfill that Animal House stereotype of anything-goes reckless abandon. It’s like they forget that they’re performing in a student union ballroom next to an academic advisor’s office. If a joke works in a comedy club but falls flat in a college, there are many situational factors that could be blamed. Political correctness may be one of them. But there are other issues to think about. In a comedy club, people are usually there with a small group of close friends. Those people usually know each other very well and the rest of the room is full of strangers. In a college, a student is aware of the impression he or she is making on everyone around them. There isn’t the amount of anonymity in a college audience that you find in a comedy club. It’s not as easy to laugh at sensitive topics when you think the people around you might hold you responsible for your views. Everyone can be a little bit of an asshole when they’re anonymous.
5. This is a business.
Show business people often forget about the second word. This is a business. The discussion about the commerciality of art and “selling out” will go on forever in coffee shops and art studios around the world. Are we creating our art for them or for us? At a certain point, we must realize that if we are being paid to do our art, we have to accept that we’re living by the rules of the person who pays us. If they don’t like what we do, they won’t rebook us. Many times it’s not the students who are the barometer of what is acceptable in a college, but the administrator or director of student activities. They will clearly tell you if you shouldn’t drop “F-bombs.” And I hear about it when a comedian disregards these rules. I hear about it when a director or administrator says “Oh, _____ won’t be invited back here. We asked them to keep it kind of clean, but they were way too dirty.” So is that the fault of the audience? Why paint college students with the broad brush of “they’re too PC” when it’s the comedian who made a bad business decision? I know. It’s not sexy to talk about comedy or any art as a business. But we kind of have to, right? Did Seinfeld complain when the FCC censored scripts on his show? Probably not, because he was getting a million dollars an episode.
So I ask the question: What jokes do Jerry Seinfeld and others want to do in colleges that they feel like they can’t? Do they wish they could do more gay jokes? Racist jokes? I honestly would love an example of a joke that works in other venues, but not colleges. I would be willing to bet that if it doesn’t play in a college, it also doesn’t play on television. Seinfeld has always prided himself on working clean. He’s a clean comedian, so what material is he afraid won’t hit hard in colleges? As far as the college market goes, Jerry doesn’t have a dog in the fight. He can say what he wants. Most colleges don’t have “Jerry Seinfeld” money anyway. They can book one of the MANY comedians making a living on working college campuses. I’ve been asked by a lot of people about my opinion on this matter. Are people too PC these days? Maybe. But as someone who visits 80-100 college campuses a year, I can tell you that college audiences are some of the best and they love to laugh just like every one else.
I would love to hear your opinion on this matter. If you’re a stand up comedian, or a comedian who works in colleges, what are your views?