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Around the Water Cooler

Posted on Sunday, December 3, 2017 at 10:00 am

You’re never too old to believe in magic

Erin McCullough

STAFF WRITER

Erin McCullough

 

Do you like magic?

No, I don’t mean that as a pick-up line.

I’ve always been a fan of the sleight of hand and illusions.

Penn and Teller are obvious favorites when talking about any kind of illusion or magic tricks, of course, but I want to talk about my friend Ben.

Have you ever known someone who ended up on national television? I have! His name is Ben Young, and he’s a magician by trade.

Ben and I were in the same couple Italian classes in college, and he had entertained our classes before with some sleight of hand card tricks on his way to becoming a well-known magician.

He even got a slot on Penn and Teller’s TBS show “Fool Us,” which sees young up-and-coming magicians and illusionists perform for the duo and try to “fool” the two. Sometimes it works, and that’s awesome. Most of the time, however, Penn and Teller prove too knowledgeable about the magic world and crack each performer’s codes.

The latter happened to my friend, Ben, but he said it was still a great experience.

Ben has since moved from Knoxville to Las Vegas and is performing nearly full-time.

In his Vegas adventures, he’s met with some other magicians and illusionists, including one named Jason Michaels, who hails from Nashville.

Jason, Ben and Jason’s assistant Jamie Keating recently embarked on a national Air Force base tour across the county, including a stop at Arnold Air Force Base here in town.

Magician Ben Young displays a rendering of his superhero persona — a childhood dream of his, he said at a magic show at Arnold Air Force Base on Oct. 17.
— Staff Photos by Erin McCullough

Ben provides the opening act for Michaels, who is a world-renowned illusionist.

Now, I had known Ben was talented, but I had no idea of the depth of his craft until I saw it in person. If you’ve never been able to see a magic show, please do yourself a favor and go seek one out, because they are incredible!

Ben opened his act with short bit about his childhood dream to be a superhero. He pulled a couple of audience volunteers onto the stage and had them pick from a cup full of colored markers to color his a drawing of his superhero alter ego.

He then displayed a precolored poster with the exact colors that his volunteers picked — without knowing which colors they would have chosen beforehand!

I know there is probably some statistics and probability that goes into making the trick work, but it was still a good bit either way.

Young proves his magical worth with a premade poster of his superhero persona. The colors on the poster match those his volunteers chose at random during the act.

Ben ended the night by donning a superhero “suit” in the same colors that his volunteers picked out — cape and all. It was a light appetizer to the main course of Michaels’s mind-bending illusions.

Michaels took the stage and immediately dove into the most thrilling illusions you could imagine.

There were boxes and baskets stuffed with swords, a grown woman fitted into a cube no bigger than a lunchbox and tricks with mirrors.

Michaels at one point cut his assistant Jamie Keating in half.

He had some audience participation in some tricks, including magic standards such as the three metal hoops, the gravity-defying rope and the self-flying table.

Jason Michaels points at volunteer Kamden Morales, son of SFC Angel Morales, as Kamden suc-ceeds in joining two metal hoops together on stage.

Michaels ended with a Harry Houdini classic: escaping from a straightjacket.

Just before he attempted the task, Michaels shared a story about himself growing up with Tourette’s Syndrome and how he’s managed to take enough physical therapy to work through his disability.

He then managed to free himself in under 10 minutes.

It was incredible.

Ben, Jason and Jamie are truly an impressive magical showing, and while you may not be able to see them together, you can still check out a magic show if they ever come around.

So I’ll ask again: do you like magic?