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Happy Pride

This weekend, I got to perform at the Pride festival in Toronto alongside my dear friend Ben Train. He neglected to mention it was a performance for children, but we should accept all people, even small vertically impaired humans who have been given too much sugar.

I often joke that I am an “indoor magician” but it was a perfect day to be outside for a show.

Photos courtesy of Patrick Nemeth.

A Cheap Victory

Judge Steffi Kay

Judge Steffi Kay

Last night was Cheap Tricks 2, the nightmarish magic contest envisioned by Mysterion, Canada’s most awesomely coiffed, sartorially resplendent mentalist and half of the mindreading duo The Sentimentalists. Each contestant receives a series of constraints and has to create their act in just a few hours before performing on stage at Revival.

I appeared alongside John Roldan, Jim Byrnes, Beyond Mental Borders, Jonah Babins, Harry Zimmerman, Jacqueline Swann and Shamus MacGregor. The contest was judged by Steffi Kay of the Sentimentalists, Ben Train, Rayn, and the previous champion Chris Westfall. (I was a judge on the first contest in 2017, but agreed to give up my spot to Chris.)

My set of constrains was that i had 3 hours to build an act using a budget of $5 with only material procured at a the nearby A&W. I also had to present in the theme of a XXX-rated Adult Film…. magic for grownups indeed. I’m so glad I forgot to invite my mother to watch. I’m more glad that magic elder statesman Mark Lewis was in the audience to witness me debasing the art of magic.

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But a contest is a contest and I played to win (much to Mysterion’s regret.) You can watch the full performance below — cheaply filmed and edited by the Cheap Tricks elves. Although there’s not necessarily any reason you would want to. And certainly don’t do it with your children around:

The tl/dw is that I won…. proud of it, but not proud of what I had to do to get it. Thank you to the judges and to everyone who attended the contest.

James Alan & Mysterion the Mindreader

James Alan & Mysterion the Mindreader

L to R: Shamus Macgregor, Beyond Mental Borders, Harry Zimmerman, Jacqueline Swann, James Alan, Jonah Babins, Jim Byrns, John Roldan

L to R: Shamus Macgregor, Beyond Mental Borders, Harry Zimmerman, Jacqueline Swann, James Alan, Jonah Babins, Jim Byrns, John Roldan

I can’t wait to get back to doing normal magic!

Photos from Impossible with Pepe Lirrojo

Design by William West

Design by William West

Thank you to everyone who attended our sold out performance of IMPOSSIBLE with Spanish Magician Pepe Lirrojo. We’re delighted you could join us.

Here are some photos from the event, courtesy of Patrick Nemeth.

Magic & Martini will return next weekend. Readers can use the secret code olive for a discount on tickets purchased online.

Remembering Johnny

I was saddened to hear yesterday of the passing of one of the truly great magicians of the past hundred years, Johnny Thompson, at the age of 86. Although he had retired his legendary stage act “The Great Tomsoni & Co” which he performed for decades alongside his wife, Pam, he was still constantly at it teaching and consulting. You got the feeling he was like the Energizer Bunny; that he would go on forever. But alas, you can only do so much impossible in one lifetime.

I first met Johnny the Niagara Falls Comedy & Magic Seminar organized by (now good friends) David Peck and Anthony Lindan. Not really knowing much about him, I got to see his legendary act close the show. It was simultaneously sidesplittingly funny and utterly baffling. The man was pulling live doves, as far as i could tell, literally out of thin air.

June 2008 - L to R Pam Hayes, ME, Ben Train, Johnny Thompson, David Peck

June 2008 - L to R Pam Hayes, ME, Ben Train, Johnny Thompson, David Peck

But then it got really good. For the next several days, Johnny and Pam were going to be visiting a number of magic clubs in Ontario and somehow I wound up as the driver. (Let that be a lesson to young people… get a drivers license! It really can work magic!)

The man literally oozed secrets. While sitting in the passenger’s seat of my Honda Civic, he would just tell stories and explain things. It was plodding along in traffic on Yonge Street that he taught me so much of the subtle inner workings of the famous “Egg” trick. I was still just performing close-up magic at that point and didn’t have a use for it. But later and to this day, it is a central pillar in my show and never fails to astonish… all thanks to Johnny.

All thanks to Johnny.

Years later I would find myself working on his monumental magnum opus The Magic of Johnny Thompson. At the same time, I was also working on digitizing and indexing performances from the Magic Palace where Johnny appeared several times. Towards the end of the project, I was assembling a 60 second highlight reel and as the last clip I picked one of the bird appearances from his appearance. What was particularly gruelling was to try and line up the clip so that the appearance of the bird was timed to the show’s theme music, which involved watching it over and over and over and over again, moving the clip over a fraction of a second each time.

However at that same time, I was reviewing early drafts of the book and planning the photos, so as I was watching this bird appear repeatedly, I was also looking at the instructions for how he was doing it. Years before, we were having coffee and (for no particular reason other than he wanted to share) he took his empty coffee cup, tucked it into his jacket and explained how he made his famous dove productions — the secret is in the little finger! Still today, I’m not entirely sure where that bird is coming from. Such is the magic of Johnny Thompson.

This is clip. Here are The Great Tomsoni and Company!

Update: March 19 - Johnny’s obituary was published in the New York Times

Strange and Unusual

My friend Nicholas Wallace will be appearing in Toronto in January as part of the Next Stage Theatre Festival with his show Strange and Unusual.

Back when we were hosting Magic Tonight, Nick was one of our most requested guests (certainly the creepiest guest), and earlier this year he received the Allan Slaight Award for Canadian Rising Star in Magic.

Unfortunately, Nick lives rather far away, out in that mysterious void on the other side of Hamilton, so getting a chance to see him perform in Toronto is rare. But he’s here for five nights at the Factory Theatre and there is an early bird discount up until this Friday, December 7. Just use the promo code EARLY BIRD (with the space) at checkout. The show is definitely worth seeing!

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Factory Theatre

Getting Ready for the Holidays

Design by Kurt Firla

The end of the year is and we'd like to help you celebrate the magic of the holidays with some magic for grownups! If you're planning a party for your workplace, your friends or family, let's make your event truly unforgettable this year.

There are a few options to choose from. Find something perfect for you:


Go big with Magic For Grownups

Bring the wonder and astonishment with a full magic show after dinner. Fun, exciting, funny and extremely interactive. 

(Audiences of up to 500 guests, 30-75 minutes, additional staging requirements for audiences over 100 guests.)


Keep it casual with Magic Up Close

Break the ice with mingling close-up magic to kick the night off with energy and excitement. Perfect when you want to keep your night simple with cocktails and hors d'oeuvres and not have a big production.

(Any size audience, flexible length)


Let the night overflow with wonder with Magic & Martini 

A complete evening of magic: Enjoy apps and shreables and finely crafted cocktails. Get a mixology lesson from the cocktails wizards at Suite 114 (Toronto) or Grand Spirits (Orangeville). Plus a full evening of magic!

(Limited to 40 guests)


The Sky is the Limit

Use your imagination, pick your own format and we will craft something special specifically for your event. 

Dates at the end of the year are always in high demand and go quickly so availability may be limited. Don't miss out and contact us today for rates and availability.