Arts preview: Erik Tait: 'Suspicious Wizard'

Jim Fischer
Columbus Alive

Erik Tait's experience on “Penn & Teller: Fool Us” was magical. (Insert groans and boos here, but reserve them for the writer and not the uber-talented local comedian/magician.)

Tait's appearance on the CW show was filmed in March and aired earlier this month. He submitted to be on the show last fall, but heard nothing back until receiving what he described as a “cryptic email” in early 2018. A follow-up email exchange ended in congratulations, Tait said, and eventually a week in Las Vegas to prep and shoot his appearance on the show, which features magicians trying to “fool” the famous co-hosts.

“The technical difficulty of the trick [I performed] is high, so it's kind of nerve-wracking, because you do the trick once,” Tait said. “I worked with consultants for the show and directors to make it look as good as possible for TV. I did rehearsals with a stand-in for [host] Alyson Hannigan. Penn and Teller have no idea who you are until you hit the stage. Alyson had no idea what was coming.”

“It's the craziest thing I've ever done, but I'm glad I did it,” Tait added.

Feedback from the appearance has been positive, and Tait credits detail work done preparing the trick, The Invisible Three Card Monte, for his victory at the 2018 International Brotherhood of Magicians Gold Cup Close-Up competition.

The trick highlights the close-up, sleight-of-hand magic for which Tait is best-known, and was featured in his show, “Please Shuffle the Cards,” which he debuted last year.

Tait said he builds his shows from back to front, starting with a moment he wants to create and then building toward that. His new show, “Suspicious Wizard,” is a bigger, broader show than “Please Shuffle,” which was heavy on detail.

“I have always wanted to do a standup, cabaret-style act where it could fit anywhere,” Tait said. “It's still designed around a moment and an idea that I want the audience to experience, but the texture and style is different. [I wanted to] have a bare stage, a bit of a throwback show almost. And it's funny. And it's got good magic.”

A comedian, as well (he co-hosts the monthly “The Quiz Box” show at Backstage Bistro), Tait holds to the notion that one can't do comedy and magic at once, because comedy is about telling the truth and magic is about lying. Yet, he added, “Suspicious Wizard” will, like most of his acts, have moments of comedy, designed around “bringing people onstage and putting them in uncomfortable situations.”

The show will feature a through line concerning whether or not Tait will get to keep $500 as part of a trick involving envelopes. He will also perform a version of the “silk to egg” trick, as well as a straitjacket stunt, two classics Tait “has always kind of hated” but which he gives a new treatment.

“If I had to pick a theme for this show, it would be that you can't trust anything I tell you. I'm more honest about my dishonesty with this show than anything else. There's a tremendous amount of lying in the show. I could be lying to you right now,” Tait said.

“I think you should always be suspicious of a wizard.”

Backstage Bistro

8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 28

503 S. Front St., Brewery District

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