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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,
MK

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Originally Posted on 2/23/08

Hey! Just found out I’m doing a show at WVKO 1580 AM’s Democratic “Party” featuring Nationally Syndicated Radio Show Host, Stephanie Miller!

Tickets are still available! The event also will have free pizza, a cash bar, a 50/50 raffle, WVKO promotional items and more! (Adults only please!) Entertainment provided by The Spikedrivers, Donna Mogavero Michael Kent and the Ukulele Man.

I’m fairly certain this is going to be an AWESOME time!

Tickets and Information HERE.

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Originally Posted on 2/14/08

Had a great trip up to Bangor, ME this week. it’s pronounced Bang-gore, the locals will tell you. But it’s fun to hear them say in a thick New England accent “Bangah? Hahdly Know Eh!”

I performed at Husson College. Husson sits right next to the Bangor airport, so I didn’t get to see a great deal of Bangor, but flying in, it was beautiful. I’d never seen so many pine trees! I hope I get to go back sometime and see a bit more of the area.

Bangor is the hometown of Stephen King. My host at Bangor kindly took me by the house!

Stephen King's Home

He had a pretty cheesy yet slightly spooky gate.

Stephen King's Creepy Yet Slightly Cheesy Gate

My hotel was connected to the airport, which was kind of funny considering the hotel was larger than the airport! Here’s the view out of my window:

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At Husson, the crowd was excellent! Huge turnout and very receptive, warm people. They laughed at all the right stuff and stayed with me on a couple new things!

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Thanks to everyone in Maine for a great show. They were so hospitable there! I’m lucky I got back through all the nasty winter weather. Yesterday was a LONG travel day.

Coming up, I’ve got Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. My show there is dedicated to Banana Awareness Week. Then its off to perform for my great friends at St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire.

I’m having a blast this spring performing and I think it really shows in my act. I hope so, anyway.

Peace, love and baggage claims,

MK

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Originally Posted on 2/11/08

This last week of shows brought me to Fairfield Career Center. It’s a vocational-type school for Juniors and Seniors in high school. They had me come in and do my normal hour long show as the end to a day full of special events.

At first, I didn’t know what to expect. I don’t perform for high school students very often. My relaxed attitude and laid-back style of performing is understood by college students, but I never know if high schoolers are going to “get it.” They totally did. There were something like 350 students in there and they were actually a really great crowd!

Then Friday I performed at Seton Hill University in Greensburg, PA. Greensburg is about the hilliest city I’ve ever seen. Beautiful old buildings, though, and a magic shop (although it was closed). Seton Hill lies just outside of town and was founded by some Catholic Sisters of Something in the 1800′s. Driving into the campus is a bit creepy. My agent told me it was like going to Hogwarts and he was totally right.

There was a cemetery in the middle of the campus, which was set up on a big hill. All of the buildings felt super old. I’m fairly certain at least 80% of them are haunted.

The show went well. I didn’t get any photos of the room I played, but it was a lecture hall and very steep seating. They could totally see my bald spot. Near the end of the show, one girl was laughing so hard, I had trouble keeping it together for the closer.

All in all, a good week of shows. This week takes me to Bangor, Maine, where I will perform at Husson College. Should be a great time. I have to fly through Philly, though – and you all know how I feel about the Philadelphia Airport.

Peace, love and flight delays,

MK

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Originally Posted on 2/8/08

So I just got done performing at Illinois College and Valparaiso University before that. Had a great time at both.

Valpo was a sibs weekend. Those are always fun and unpredictable. It’s amazing to me how much kids like my act, especially since I don’t do your typical magic act. In this particular show, I asked for a $20 from the audience and a 11 or 12 year old girl, Serenity, had one and wanted to be part of the show. Her reactions were PRICELESS and had the entire audience rolling. I had to stop for a moment to keep my composure I was laughing so hard.

I’m trying out a couple new tables/ stage layouts for my act. Here’s a photo of the stage at Valpo:

The roads in Illinois and Indiana in the winter are really straight and really boring. Nothing against those states – it’s just that they’re so flat. Ohio’s flat — but Indiana and Illinois are moreso. I got bored on the drive:

I got to Illinois College in Jacksonville, IL a little early the next day so I stopped by the local Wal Mart. Never before have I felt so out of place in a Wal Mart. I really felt like I was the only one there not wearing camo. Also I noticed an abundance of bearded folk.

I got to the school and there was a really crazy stage built on top of the normal stage that extended the front out over the first few rows of the audience:

It didn’t matter to me. But I used some of my day-glo spiking tape on the edges to make sure I didn’t trip during the show (ended up only tripping once).

The show went well. The auditorium was HOT (broken thermostat?) but we got through it and on to the next show.

Sidenote: Sometimes I get sidetracked in my show. So here’s how I cheat:

Peace, love, and set lists,

Michael

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Originally Posted on 1/19/08

Hey! I haven’t written anything in awhile, so let me just tell you about some of the things going on lately.

The month of December was great – lots of fun corporate gigs. Sorry I don’t put more info about corporate gigs on my site. It’s just kind of my policy to not disclose the names of the corporations when they book me for a gig. Had another great one last weekend in Columbus.

Before that gig, I met with Slapstik Magazine for a quick interview. We had a good time laughing and talking before my show and you’ll be able to read that piece in Slapstick’s February Newsletter.

Had the opportunity to perform for Penn State University in Abington this week. My trip to Philadelphia went a bit better this time than in November (I won’t get into it, but let’s just say I had an unpleasant experience at the Philly Airport). The crowd at PSU Abington was AWESOME and according to them one of the largest they’ve had. Kudos to the gang there for putting on a good event!

One funny thing to note. I once created a goofy “thank you” graphic to post as a myspace comment when people added me. It was me holding a sign that says “Thanks for not being a douchebag!” Well the PSU Abington people thought it would hilarious to use that on the posters! haha. I can’t believe they did that. But I secretly loved it.

As you can see from my schedule – I’ve got a busy Spring ahead! I think something like 8 or 9 states in February alone — pretty crazy. But I love it! Can’t wait to see all of you at the upcoming shows!

I’d love to show you more photos of my last few shows, but I dropped my camera after the last show and I’m taking advantage of my MacGruber-like instinct and I’m repairing it myself. Hopefully I’ll be able to update here soon! Until then – check out the “Photos from the Road” section of my Flickr account to see LIVE uploads from my cell phone.

Peace, Love and Electronics Repair,
MK

My Flickr Account: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kentmagic/sets/

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