Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Video: Sam The Magic Man at the Backdoor Comedy Club
Part-magician, part-comedian Sam Sawyers wows the crowd at the Backdoor's open-mic night.
Sam Sawyers is a calculating entertainer. As he's about to take the stage at the Backdoor Comedy Club to perform three minutes of material, the rest of the amateur comedians in the lobby are nervously reading over their act and frantically making amendments. Donning a card-themed tie and black Converses, Sam is jovial and loose.
"Everybody loves magic," he says. And he knows there's a novelty to it as well. "I hear it all the time -- 'you're the first magician I've ever met.'"
And this is the genius of Sam's act. While the rest of the open-mic participants struggle to tell topical jokes or craft scenarios which the crowd will hopefully identify with, Sam can rely on his tricks. Sure, he's funny and quick-witted, but if all else fails, Sam can throw down a mind-boggling card trick.
Already a seasoned magician
Sam has been doing magic for 12 years. He's only 22, so it's fair to say he's been carrying the moniker "magician" for most of his life. "I got into entertainment because I had a hunger for attention. I need it," he said, only half-joking. Growing up, he garnered the attention of others by embarrassing himself and playing the role of the class clown. Then he came across magic.
"When I tell people I do magic, they're just blown away. They're fascinated, and they'll start handing me stuff to do magic with," he said. Listening to Sam talk about his relationship with his craft, it is tough to tell whether the reason he does magic is more because he loves it or because he knows other people love it. Either way, this is why his act works so well.
Much like comedians who are constantly hassled in social settings to "be funny!" or "tell us a joke!", Sam says when he's at a party trying to hang out he fields endless requests to "do a magic trick!" He said it can sometimes get old, unless there is a one-upmanship dynamic in play. "My favorite thing is when someone else is showing a magic trick, and it's like a rinky-dink magic trick, and I'm like 'oh that's cool, can I show you something real quick?' And then I just blow them all away," he said.
More Dane Cook, less Criss Angel
It is tough to say what the stereotype for a magician is these days, but whatever it is, Sam isn't that. He doesn't fit the clown-like, circus entertainer-magician mold, nor does he fall into the mystic, grand optical illusion category of someone like Criss Angel from the TV series "Mindfreak." Frankly, Sam seems like a comedian doing magic.
Which explains why he feels so comfortable performing at places like the Backdoor. He said it's not necessarily tough for him to get gigs at other comedy clubs as a magician, he just doesn't really try to. "I'm the kind of person where I'll stay where I'm comfortable, and I'm comfortable here. I know people here," he said.
The "magician stereotype" also lends itself to someone who is mysterious and a bit cryptic. Sam is not. He laughs at the idea of magicians not talking about their tricks. "Magic is very simple," he said. "It's like playing the guitar: It's all the same notes, but it's just how you play them to make up your own stuff."
Despite his polished and borderline cocky delivery onstage, Sam is humble offstage. "I'm not that good, as far as in the magic community. I know, maybe, 12 tricks right now. But I will be doing this for the rest of my life. I don't care if I make a living off of it or not," he said. He currently books gigs at Backdoor and also is hired for parties and events.
And how many magicians have on their resume a short-lived dalliance in the world of modeling? "I tried it once," Sam said. "But it's really weird. People are like 'Oh, you're modeling, you think you're good looking, huh?' But if you're a magician, people are like, 'Oh you do magic?! Awesome, do something for me!'"
Sam The Magic Man at Backdoor Comedy Club
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