Friday the 13th is a day littered with often unfulfilled superstition and nonsensical thoughts that something bad is about to happen. This coming Friday (January, Friday the 13th), comedian/magician/all-around-entertainer Michael Carbonaro will be performing magic tricks at the Akron Civic Theatre that will guarantee a night full of intrigue and mystery.
Nothing horrifying, luckily. Carbonaro certainly won’t be scaring fans with machetes and chainsaws like the Friday the 13th films. He won’t be using knives, either. During a recent phone interview, Michael recalls a scary incident. “I was doing this big grandiose thing where a spectator would hide a knife in one of four paper bags. Then, I would slam my hands down on each bag, leaving the only one left with the knife. I did a private party where I slammed my hand right through the knife,” he said. “So now I’m back to card tricks and fun little tricks with fish.”
Carbonaro, who stars in his own show, The Carbonaro Effect on truTV, has been practicing magic from a young age. An attendee of Tannen’s Magic Camp at his native Long Island, Michael has continued to hone his craft and has grown from juvenile card tricks to shrinking boats and making cars disappear.
Like any type of performer, be it a songwriter, actor, comedian, or athlete, hard work and countless hours to master one’s craft is a key to success. But let’s be honest, LeBron James would not be the star basketball player he is today if he only grew 5’8 in height and was born with poor eye-hand coordination. Michael says that the same principals apply to magicians.
“When you question if it is an innate talent to be a magician, you have to ask, ‘What is a magician?’ Well, it’s kind of a showman. It’s an entertainer. It’s an all-around master of ceremonies. That’s how I imagine a magician,” Carbonaro said. “With any kind of artist, there has to be some kind of intangible, innate, born-in ability that people seem to gravitate towards things in the arts. You don’t really hear stories of people growing up and at the age of 60 saying, ‘maybe I’ll be a dancer.’
Michael could hardly contain his excitement when discussing the upcoming premier of season three of The Carbonaro Effect, coming up on February 1. For the uninitiated, Carbonaro describes the show as, “a hidden camera, magic TV show. It has me hiding out as a magician and acting like ordinary people in ordinary environments and fooling people with magic tricks. People don’t know that they are being fooled. It’s kind of Candid Camera meets David Copperfield.”
Of all the tomfoolery Michael has featured on his show… Michael’s favorite trick?
“I convinced a guy in an ordinary hardware store on an ordinary Sunday afternoon that there were such a thing as builder beetles. They were these little beetles inside of a jar that were able to make things out of nuts and bolts while in the dark. It was kind of a modern-day flea circus,” Carbonaro recalled. “When you watch it, there’s really nothing to not believe. It looks really plausible. I remember that one because this is just a regular guy who looks like he’s having a rough day. But by the end of the trick, he looks completely transformed.”
Carbonaro says he is excited to take the stage in Akron. While he loves doing The Carbonaro Effect, Michael says there is no bigger thrill than performing in front of a live audience.
“It’s the ultimate dream come true. It is absolutely the pinnacle of getting to be an entertainer; getting to perform live. It’s the same with performing in any television or movies versus live theater. The feeling of live theater is incredible. I’m so thankful every night to be out there in front of so many people and having a real blast in the time together,” he says. “The audience should be very excited. It’s a show where everybody gets to participate. You are left laughing and wondering how the heck these things are happening. It’s a great night out because it is family fun.”
“The show is a great chance to meet the fans of the show and they get to meet me as a magician. On the TV show, I spend the whole time pretending that I’m not a magician. I’m lying and saying that I’m not doing magic tricks,” Michael continues. “The live show begins at that impasse. The audience knows I’m a magician. I bring people up on stage to do magic tricks with me. I go out into the audience and play with people. Things disappear and objects move from one side to the other. People are left wondering what’s real and what’s not real.”
While fans and media outlets have questioned the authenticity of The Carbonaro Effect (which Michael debunked by releasing uncut footage, drawing public apologies), fans attending his show on Friday will be left scratching their heads with the same “how the heck did he do that?” attitude.
“People who are not fans of the TV show are wondering if some of these things are being accomplished by camera tricks,” Carbonaro concludes. “This is a chance for them to leave saying, ‘I’m in. I’m a believer. This is real.”