Pete Firman: 'You can't watch someone hitting a nail into their face passively'
- Brian Donaldson
- 8 February 2019
Magic funnyman on keeping it fresh
As Pete Firman takes his Marvels across the UK, the comedy magician tells us about seeing other magic shows, mixing tricks with comedy, and holding back on the gruesome stuff.
You've stopped hammering nails into your nose and threading needles into your body. At least, not on stage anyway. Do you miss doing that kind of caper for your public?
I used to enjoy doing those things and I've got a soft spot for that kind of material as it would always guarantee a reaction. You can't watch someone hitting a nail into their face passively. You're definitely engaged whether it be disgusted or entranced.
What do you think magic means in 2019?
One hundred years ago, magicians were rock'n'roll stars but there's not a lot that's left undiscovered in the world now. Maybe that's one of the reasons why the magic show is a popular form of entertainment because it's a rarity for an audience to be bamboozled. I wouldn't say that Google has ruined magic but if someone is persistent enough they could probably find out how a trick works. These are the kind of things that a 21st century magician has to deal with.
How do you strike the balance between comedy and magic?
I'm trying to do good tricks and make it as funny as I can. I'm not doing a trick and then doing five minutes of stand-up about airplane food; the jokes are interwoven and integrated into whatever it is that I'm doing. You can get a lot of mileage out of that trope of borrowing a gentleman's watch and smashing it up but where it ends up right in the end. Not only is that a good trick, it's a funny situation that you can create with someone.
Are you a good audience member at other magic shows?
I still like seeing a good magic trick and I do get fooled now and then. It's nice to have that feeling of being deceived because it doesn't happen so much especially the longer you're in the game. But it's that sensation that got me hooked in the first place.
Pete Firman: Marvels is on tour until Saturday 30 March.