So, what came first? The comedy or the magic?
It was the magic. My first ever trick was with a Paul Daniels set: you had ten card tricks - those naff ones that you’d show your nan, and she’d go "Oooh, very nice." Later, you would realise how bad they were. The classic way everyone starts is by getting that Paul Daniels set when they’re younger, learning the basics. I couldn’t do serious stuff like the mind reading or manipulation, so I thought to go down the comedy route and it took off from there really.
Do you develop your work on your own or with others?
I’m actually very lucky. I’ve got a good friend who’s a superb writer, he’s a magician as well but doesn’t perform; he’s more technical and writing and I’m more performing. We work together to think of ideas – with magic, you have your trick first and then base a routine around it.
Is your stuff more sleight-of-hand?
It’s more stand-up. Magician-wise, you get your classic, tall, handsome guy that does illusions or doves with big tables, props and girls. I walk on with a small bag. Although it is magic, I’d much rather make people laugh and entertain them than fool people. Some magicians are more about making sure people are baffled, I’d much rather make sure they have a good time.
You know when magicians pretend that they got the trick wrong... has that ever happened to you for real?
It hasn’t happened recently. But years ago there was one routine where I had to grab this massive flaming torch from a jacket – I went to reach for it and it wasn’t there. I’d forgotten to load it. Luckily it was part of a longer routine so all sort of things happened. I stopped and moved on to the next thing. You just have to get on with it. The beauty of magic is, most of the time you don’t tell the audience what you’re going to do next, so they don’t know what’s coming - if something goes wrong, you have to change your plan, think on your feet, do something different, and then everyone's none the wiser hopefully.
Have you ever had any hecklers?
I’m very lucky with that and I’m not sure why. I’ve done a show in London where it’s quite notorious for having a tough audience, but in the end it’s gone down okay. I think magicians tend to not get heckled as much, just because the audience aren’t always sure of what’s coming on next, they tend to watch, listen and wait, then get so engrossed it in that they forget to heckle.
What can we expect from the show?
It’s a nice mix actually. There’s five of us on the show, we’ve got two halves of forty minutes, so a nice, long show. There’s me doing the magic, comedy and the hosting. Then there’s Bethany Blue’s burlesque dancing –she’s fantastic, very alternative, and she’s got a comedy angle to it. I don’t want to spoil anything, but she wears different costumes that aren’t expected.
We’ve got a mimic who’s really good – Steve Owen Williams. He does a super routine on all the characters on the Mock the Week and it’s so funny. He does Dara O’Brien, Andy Parsons, Milton Jones... it’s actually brilliant.
There’s a sketch act – two girls from London, Revan & Fennell, who’ve broken through in recent years. They’re really funny, winning awards and everything now. They can do anything from silly slapsticks, right up to clever and intellectual sketches and I think people will like those guys, they’re very, very funny.
There’s another guy, Phil Reid, who does stand-up, but also ventriloquism, so it’s a nice mixture of everything. There are two shows – one in the afternoon that’s more child friendly... sort of twelve plus. Then there’s the evening show that’s not exactly filthy, but not aimed at kids.
There’s an aspect of surrealism to your own act...
It's kind of a mixture of one liners, visual gags and clever magic, so I try and add in a surreal gag now and again. Nothing too horrendous, but enough to make the audience think "What was that about?" For example, during the middle of my act, I stop and say "I have a stone in my shoe!" I take my shoe off, smack it, and then out pops a full can of peas.
Is there anything else you’d like to say to LeftLion readers?
If you want a night full of fun and laughs, come along. You don’t have to think, just come along and enjoy the show.
A Bit of Magic with Stu and Friends, Nottingham Arts Theatre, Saturday 12 November, 3pm and 8pm, £10/£12. Get tickets here.