Train Conductor

Hello, and welcome back to Gracie Meets… When I was younger, I was obsessed with magical fantasy worlds like Harry Potter or Alice in Wonderland. Just hearing stories about magic made my heart soar. Since I still hold on to that love for magic, I invited Mr. Michael Kent, a magician who was featured on Penn and Teller Fool Us onto the show today. This is a very little talked about job, so this is one of my personal favorite episodes! Go ahead and take a listen down below!

Gracie Meets...
Gracie Meets...

Show Music: 2019 07 25 cello pizz 01 and 250109 rhodes 02 by Morusque used under Creative Commons License CC BY.  No alterations were made to the original composition. 

Cover Art: Kyleigh Kinsey. Instagram: @ato._.noodle 


Gracie Solomon  00:11

Hello, and welcome back to Gracie Meets… When I was younger, I was obsessed with magical fantasy worlds like Harry Potter or Alice in Wonderland. Just hearing stories about magic made my heart soar. Since I still hold on to that love for magic, I invited Mr. Michael Kent, a magician who was featured on Penn and Teller Fool Us onto the show today. Why don’t you tell the listeners about yourself.

Michael Kent  00:38

So my name is Michael Kent. I’m a comedian and magician. I went to college for communication. And then I worked in marketing for a while. And I decided 16 years ago, I wanted to do magic full time. So now that’s what I do. I travel around the world doing magic, I used to travel around the world. Now I just go to my basement and do magic shows for a camera. But I literally made my hobby, my career. And it’s a blast. I’m married with three dogs. My wife has two horses, I spend a lot of time at home and love it lately. And I love photography. But other than that, that’s pretty much me. I think the only other things to know about me is I’m really passionate about politics and spend way too much time on the internet.

Gracie Solomon  01:27

I really like how people can turn their hobbies into careers. I just think it’s super cool.

Michael Kent  01:35

It is, Yeah, I always tell people like there’s no, there’s no career path that’s too weird. There are people who literally like build Legos for a living. And there’s nothing that’s too strange. The trick is figuring out what the path is like how to do it. And the number one thing I always tell people is find someone who’s doing exactly what it is you want to do and just ask them questions. Because in all likelihood, they’ll tell you what you need to be doing at your level. And if they don’t, you’ve literally lost nothing other than a little bit of time.

Gracie Solomon  02:08

Yeah, and I mean that’s why I do this.

Michael Kent  02:11

Yeah, I took a look at some of your I haven’t listened yet. But I took a look at some of the like past episodes and people that you’ve interviewed and it sounds, it’s a really cool project. I like the idea.

Gracie Solomon  02:21

Yeah, well, when did you know you wanted to be a magician?

Michael Kent  02:25

That’s tough. I always wanted to be a magician from the age of like six. You know, when I just like a lot of kids, like want to be dinosaurs and stuff. Like I wanted to be a magician. But I didn’t know that I actually wanted to seriously do that for a living until I think maybe my senior year in college, I remember I sat down with my dad had set me up with an interview at a marketing firm, it was a friend of his. I was set, I probably had the job in the bag, right?  The interview was probably a formality. It’s just pure nepotism, I could have had that job. But the entire interview, we kept talking about different cool ways I could make money with magic, because that he could see that that’s what I was passionate about. So I left that interview, like, I’m gonna be a magician, I’m sure my dad was thrilled. But he was he was actually really supportive. And I did close up magic in restaurants four nights a week, after that for a few years. Until I did get that that day job in marketing. But it wasn’t until I was 25. And I had worked in marketing for a while. When I decided I wanted to make the break? I was like 25 is a good number where I’m going to kick myself if I don’t try it. And at that time, I could see that I was, I worked in marketing in the electronics industry, and the electronics industry was sort of taking a big hit from Chinese competition, and there were layoffs, and it didn’t seem very secure. I’ve always been very entrepreneurial. And I thought like now’s the time to really sort of take control of what I want to do. And the interesting thing is I have had a very stable career path since then, as stable as you can be for the entertainment industry, show businesses not stable by definition. But it’s been like, I pretty much know year to year, how many shows I’m going to do and generally how much money I’m going to make. Obviously 2020 is just a it’s an X-factor that you can never, you can never account for something like like a pandemic. But even now, like I’m still able to be in control because I’m my own boss.

Gracie Solomon  04:32

Do you think there’s a normal job that represents your career? Because this is a pretty unique one.

Michael Kent  04:38

Yeah, it’s so unique. There isn’t but I could probably combine like three or four other jobs to describe what I do you know?  What I do, some aspects of it’s very similar to when I worked in marketing. So some of it is is marketing. A lot of it is traveling. I had no idea when I was getting into this how much of my job would revolve around like, well, time to naps. Like that’s a serious, that is seriously important part of my tour, when I’m actually out in touring is like, okay, well, I need to book this flight because I will not have slept in two or three days. And if I booked this flight that gets me to the city with two hours to spare. So, I can actually get a good two-hour nap before the show because after the show, I’m not going to get to sleep. That a naps are like a big part of the job. I think any theatrical job is probably pretty similar to what I do or any traveling theatrical job. The one difference is, I’m a one man show. So outside of, you know, I have an agent in each market, that book the show, but I do the traveling and the, all the roadie stuff in the managing on my own. So yeah, it’s tough to really compare my job to to any others other than other variety arts jobs.

Gracie Solomon  05:51

So I watched your Penn and Teller show and the trick that you did, I cannot even comprehend nor explain what it was like. So, is learning the trick, like the most challenging part of your career.

Michael Kent  06:10

I don’t think that learning the trick is the most challenging part, there are tricks that are very challenging. But the beauty of any sort of art is that if it doesn’t fit, either, if I can’t master a magical move, or if it doesn’t fit my character and my personality, I can just not do it, and I can do something else. There’s no correct path when you’re in an artistic field. So that routine, while it is difficult, especially when you first start doing it, I’ve been doing it for a really long time. So, it’s not difficult for me anymore. And the producers of that show actually asked me to perform that routine. So normally on Penn and Teller Fool Us, a magician is going on the show to try to fool Penn and Teller. And the magician will submit a tape or a video to the, to the producers and say, here’s what I want to do on the show. And in this case, they asked me to come on, and they asked me to perform that routine. So, I really didn’t get the chance to fool Penn and Teller. Because the routine that I did is a classic of magic, it’s been popular for 60 to 70 years, I really did it just because they wanted it, they thought it would make better television, than you know, they, they do that they want just magic to show off magic. So, and for me, it’s a great clip on my, on my promo. I mean, it’s, you know, it’s a good way to show off what I do. And in the taping, it wasn’t difficult, because there was an audience there. I think had it just been cameras and celebrities in an empty room, I would have been freaked out. Based on the fact that there’s an audience of several hundred people in the theater when you’re performing, it really did just feel like another day like another show for me. And it really helped me relax, I was much more nervous for the airing than I was for the taping.

Gracie Solomon  07:57

Is there a certain type of person that wouldn’t excel in being a magician or can just anybody kind of learn and do it?

Michael Kent  08:05

Well, anyone can do magic. If you want to do magic for a living, a lot of the same rules apply, that would apply to a lot of Performing Arts in that you have to be comfortable with rejection and with failure. Because there is a lot of it in any showbusiness job in any creative field, there’s a lot of rejection. And you have to know how to accept that. And it’s a growing experience, too. It’s not easy at first. There’s a lot of watching other people do what you want to do, and not understanding why it is they’re able to do that, and you’re not why are they getting these opportunities, and you’re not. And sometimes there’s no reason other than just that’s just what happened. And there are nights when I do the show, and it just doesn’t the audience doesn’t dig it as much as the night before. Like that happens sometimes. And you have to be okay with that. Like you have to be okay, with not everyone liking you, which is hard when your job is a job where your job is to make people like you, you know?  That’s what, that’s what entertainment is. It’s not a job for thin skinned people. Also, it’s not a job for people who don’t like to travel because now not all magicians’ travel. A lot of magicians are able to make a healthy living in their own community doing like birthday party shows and things. For what I do, I’m mostly performing colleges, I perform a lot of military tours around the world. And cruise ships and things. It’s a lot of time away from home. And that’s difficult to get used to and I don’t think I’ll ever like it. But it’s definitely part of the job. And I’ve gotten to see a lot of things in places that I would have never seen had it not been for this career.

Gracie Solomon  09:49

Yeah, what you said about you have to learn to do it. It reminds me of something that was said in a sports counselor interview that I did where Miss Adrian was like, you can’t start where you want to be, you have to work to get to where you want to be.

Michael Kent  10:08

Yeah. And that’s really difficult when you can go on Instagram, or any like social media and see where it is you want to be so readily, like, you know, I can go on and see someone doing a gig that I want to do. And think I could do that. And you just have to remember that like, this is a marathon and not a sprint. And I try to enjoy everything along the way. And one of the beautiful things about this job is that I look back at video of a show that I did five years ago. And I’m like, Oh, my god, that was awful. What was I thinking? And five years from now, I’ll look back at video of what I’m doing now and think that exact same thing, and that will always happen. So, there’s no way you can judge your current performance, accurately. Because you’ll always be growing and learning in this. And with that knowledge, there’s no way you can just start out and be where you want to be. It is a, it’s a ladder, and you learn things along the way. And that time is like, you know, baking the perfect cake like it has, you have to let it build, you have to let it rise, it has to happen very organically and naturally. And that’s how you grow.

Gracie Solomon  11:27

Finally, is there any advice that you wish you could have given yourself when you first started learning magic?

Michael Kent  11:33

Yeah, I think a lot of the things that we just spoke about would be things that I wish I would have told myself, you know, like, just be patient and understand that this is a process. It’s a, it’s a long road. And it’s not always going to be exciting. Be okay with just being okay. Not everything that especially when I end a tour. The first few years, I started doing very heavily. When I would end the tour the college tour in November, I would get depressed because there was so much excitement for three or four months, and night after night and traveling around that when that would end, I would be in a lull. And I had to learn with like things aren’t always exciting. That’s how life is like you have to be okay with just things just being okay. That’s part of it. Another thing is, and this one is kind of hard to describe. But most of the work that I do, are things that no one will ever notice. And that doesn’t mean that they’re not important. I might spend three hours editing a piece of music that plays underneath a video while I’m talking and no one can hardly even hear the music. But that doesn’t mean it’s not important that I don’t do that work. Like I said that all those all of those little things are very important. Those little details are what make greatness so or at least help help go towards the goal of greatness. So, I think that that’s another thing I would have told myself is there are no shortcuts, hard work, and, and the last thing is just to be kind to people. I have seen a lot of careers in my field ended because people just weren’t kind. Egos get in the way. Jealousy feelings. You know, I think if you just treat people the way you want to be treated like it goes for a long way that actually opens a lot of doors.

Gracie Solomon  13:26

Well, thank you for letting me interview.

Michael Kent  13:29

Oh, you’re very welcome.

Gracie Solomon  13:32

Mastering the Art of magic is no easy task. And Mr. Michael proved that. It takes dedication and consistent practice routines in order to excel in this career. What’s amazing about this career is that you can start at pretty much any age. There’s no age limit on the joys of magic tricks. Plus, this is a job that spreads from a hobby. No normal person can be dedicated enough to learn slights of hand or mind tricks, but then again, show me a normal teenager. Thanks for listening.   Thanks for tuning in. If you like Gracie Meets… subscribe so you can listen every time a new episode is dropped and follow Gracie Meets… on Instagram at Gracie dot Meets (@gracie.meets). Tune in next Saturday for an interesting interview with a podcaster.