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Magic, the art of astonishment, and the Amazing Max

By It's My Life on November 21, 2011 10:58 AM | No TrackBacks

max 0092_prv.jpgWhen was the last time you saw a magician perform live, in front of you? Someone's birthday party maybe, or at a fair? Did it wow you, or did you figure out all the tricks in your head? Did you feel astonished by what you saw, or possibly even make you think, I want to try that?

Recently, we saw an awesome and hilarious live magic show called "The Amazing Max and the Box of Interesting Things," and it struck us how this area of performing may not be on most tweens' radar. Not only does it have the power to really entertain people, but it can also be super-fun and confidence-boosting. We asked The Amazing Max to tell us more about why he loves to do magic, and why it's something you might want to check out.

IML: Hi Max! We totally loved your show. Can you tell us how you first got started doing magic?

The Amazing Max: Most magicians will tell you that they got the magic bug when they were a kid. That's pretty much the same with me, but it was also in my family. When my dad was growing up, he did magic; my grandfather owned a hardware store and actually made him magic tricks out of wood and stuff in the shop! Then when I was growing up, there was a brick and mortar magic shop -- you don't really see any of those anymore, everybody buys stuff online these days -- and my dad would take me in. The owner, Al, would show me magic tricks. Then we'd always bring one home, so eventually I had this collection of magic stuff.

IML: What's your favorite thing about performing magic?

The Amazing Max: Well, it feels great to get applause. Any performer will tell you that! But the truth is, for me it's not so much about the applause as it is about making people laugh, and the opposite of that would be, making people speechless. Getting to truly astonish people and leave them with wonder. I remember when I was a kid, watching a magician perform at a birthday party, and the feeling I had when I saw him take a 15-inch knitting needle and stick it through a clear balloon. I was thinking, "That's not possible, but here I am watching it happen!" And now I do that trick occasionally because it brings me back to that feeling of pure astonishment. Being able to do that is incredibly gratifying. Plus, making people laugh is one of the best feelings in the world!

IML: That's a good point -- it's not often you get to really leave people astonished. What would you say are the biggest myths and stereotypes out there about magicians?

The Amazing Max: I think that there's sometimes a myth that magicians are weird and creepy. On TV, the biggest magicians are David Blaine and Chris Angel -- they're the most visible. They both have very serious stage personas. So maybe there's a misconception that magic has to be serious and about fooling people. But it can also be upbeat and fun and funny!

IML: If someone wants to learn how to do magic, where should they start?

The Amazing Max: I do see afterschool programs in and around Manhattan, where I live, and I hope there are more in other places. There are magic camps, too. But you don't really need that in order to learn magic. When I was in elementary and middle school, I would hide out in the library and find every book they had on magic. I never found a shortage -- I would always find a book with names like "Fool Your Friends With These Tricks" or something. When people tell me they want to learn a trick and ask me to teach them one, I tell them to go looking in the library. That's how I started! There are great DVD's and online videos too. I actually have my own DVD coming out that teaches kids magic tricks they can do at home. It's called "The Amazing Max's Magic In Minutes," and it's all tricks with really simple things they can find around the house.

IML: What do you think kids would be surprised to know about learning magic?

The Amazing Max: That it's easier than they think. If you really look for it, learning magic is so readily available. Especially with online videos and books that are out there. People see a magic show and think, "I could never do that!" But in reality, it's like riding a bike, and if you practice and practice you get better. At the same time, it is a performance art. You have to get up and perform for people and get responses out of them. Fool people, have fun, make them laugh! You need to want to do that.

IML: What's the funniest thing that ever happened to you during a show?

The Amazing Max: I was doing a magic show once where I had a kid sitting in the front row, and he was laughing so hard he started crying. And then he was laughing so hard he vomited into his own lap! And you know what? He just kept on laughing. His mom simply wiped him down, and he never left the show! I've also had kids pee (and do worse) in their pants because they're laughing hysterically.

IML: Does it throw you when that stuff happens?

The Amazing Max: You know, I do so much improvisation that I actually thrive off of that kind of thing. Even when kids heckle me, or when things go differently than I planned. I actually strive for moments like that. It keeps me on my toes and I like that!

IML: Thanks for sharing some of your "magic" with us!

The Amazing Max:
You're so welcome!

If you're in the New York City area, you can check out "The Amazing Max and the Box of Interesting Things" at the Manhattan Movement and Arts Center (MMAC) Theater on Saturdays and Sundays at 4:30pm. For more information, visit

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