Magician Ali Cook is out to transform people’s views of the genre with his new show coming to Banbury.
In his Principles Of Deception tour, he aims to give audiences some wonders and illusions that they have never seen before.
“Steve Martin said that comedy isn’t always pretty, and I think that should also be true of magic. Sometimes with magic it’s good to scare people or shock them whether it’s through an escape from a water-tank or from fire.
“Most magicians will see David Blaine and copy him whereas I try to go ‘well, that’s what he’s doing so I’ll do the total opposite’.”
And despite doing several television programmes, he said there is nothing to match the thrill of a live performance.
Ali said: “When you see something on TV like a girl getting in a box that is then crushed and she disappears before reappearing, you think, ‘well, yeah’. But live, it’s just amazing!”
It features a mix of close-up magic, a bit of stand-up, psychological mind reading and grand illusions that will open the show with a bang and finish it with a flourish.
He said: “One of them is the Blaney Levitation. Walter Blaney is 84 now and I had to ring him up and plead with him to let me have his illusion. Instead of levitating your assistant you levitate someone from the audience.
“One thing I pride myself on is that I perform big stage illusions because no one sees them anymore in this country;
“If you go to Las Vegas you’ll see it. Doing grand illusions that no one has seen makes you different from everyone else, but the problem then is that you’re touring around with a massive box and you can get back-ache.”
Ali states that his two biggest fears are claustrophobia (“which is not good for an escape artist”) and dying on stage. Both of those anxieties have eased with years of practice and he’s learned how to handle whatever kind of crowd happens to be in the room on any given night.
He said: “You have tough nights and you have unexpectedly good nights. Some nights you might randomly have a load of kids in and the next night it’s a boozy comedy club.
“Although the tricks are all the same, the scripting around
them often radically changes in the moment. That used to get me nervous but I like it now.”
The comedy is just as important as the trickery for Ali:
He said: “Because I’m with Off The Kerb, one of the big comedy agents, I think that my stand-up should be half decent… I’m a magician who is a lover of comedy but at the same time you can’t go into deep conversations about Brexit while you’re making an apple disappear.
“When Dave Gorman started doing his slide-shows he said that he was a humourist rather than a comic. That’s a good way of summing it up.”
Fortunately, audiences don’t have to worry too much as Ali is just as adept at making people laugh as he is having them gasp in awe at the conjuring. All the while, he’s aiming to stand out from the crowd.
Ali said: “There aren’t really that many magicians around, but like a comic, you want to have your own brand.
“So I’ve always thought about having the attitude of a comic that’s doing magic, and of being a normal guy who’s into weird things rather than a weird guy trying to be normal.”
He will be perform at The Mill Arts Centre in Banbury on Saturday September 29. The opening date of his UK tour.
Tickets for the show cost between £15 and £17. To book call the box office on 01295 279002 or visit www.themillartscentre.co.uk.