When you hear the words "magic show" do you imagine rabbits pulled from hats? Endless silk ribbons threaded through shirtsleeves? Bumbling illusionists in tailcoats? Well, forget all that: "The Jason Bishop Show" is not your average magic show.
Jason Bishop is young. Smart. Funny. And his shtick blends classic magic with contemporary technology: pulsing Technicolor lights, larger-than-life LCD screens and original tricks performed using iPods - yes, iPods!
"I take an iPod touch and show a little goldfish swimming around on the screen. Then I make the goldfish come out of the screen, pour it into a glass and it becomes real," said Bishop.
“The Jason Bishop Show” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 22 at the Community Arts Center, 220 W. Fourth St. For ticket information, visit www.caclive.com or call 326-2424. For more information about “The Jason Bishop Show,” visit www.thejasonbishopshow.com.
Bishop's sleight-of-hand tricks are projected real-time onto plasma screens so the audience can see close-ups of his every movement.
"People can tell very easily it's all happening live and there isn't anything chintzy," Bishop said.
Bishop began performing magic in college and now "The Jason Bishop Show" tours nine months out of the year across the United States.
"We've been selling out all over," Bishop said. "We're about the largest touring illusion show and we have really unique pieces of magic."
For example, he'll borrow a $1 bill from an audience member and transform it into a $100 bill.
"And yes, they get to keep the $100," Bishop said.
Audience participation plays a large part in Bishop's performance.
"We probably pull about 30 people onstage over the course of the show," Bishop said.
"I love seeing the response of the audience, especially when you can see their faces with jaws dropping," Bishop's assistant Kim Hess said.
A former gymnast and Reading native, Hess helps Bishop pull off his impressive stunts. Hess' warm personality and frequent costume changes enhance the show's impact.
"Jason totally relies on me, so I have to make sure I'm on top of my game or I could cause problems for the entire show," Hess said. "It's a huge responsibility on my shoulders."
The most dangerous trick the pair performs is a double levitation, where she and Bishop fly 15 feet in midair with no supports above or below. When asked if levitation was scary, Kim said, "No, it's actually kind of relaxing."
Hess' easygoing attitude fits well with Bishop's magic style.
"I don't take myself too seriously," Bishop said. "I enjoy funny things. There's a lot of impromptu humor in the show."
When asked if he had ever made anything disappear, Bishop cracked a joke: "Yes, people: myself, my assistant - but not through the mob, just for entertainment."
Bishop's show features hand-picked tunes by artists like Dave Mathews Band and Mumford and Sons.
"The contemporary music really sets our show apart from those you might have seen before," Bishop said. "It might sound like a cliche, but this is not your grandfather's magic show."
In terms of influences, Bishop puts Howard Thurston (1869-1936) above Houdini.
"The greatest turn-of-the-century magician was hands-down Thurston, not Houdini," Bishop said. "Houdini is bigger in death than he was in life. Thurston's shows were better-attended."
"Thurston's tricks are things that I do to this day - like making cards disappear into my fingertips," Bishop said. "In Thurston's time, they didn't have automobiles, so his illusions were pulled across the country in huge horse-drawn wagons."
How does "The Jason Bishop Show" haul illusions?
"On horses," Bishop said with a laugh. "Just kidding. We have a big, 20-foot trailer with about 10,000 pounds of equipment in it."
Bishop was hesitant to say which piece of equipment was the heaviest.
"Magicians are secretive with laypeople and with each other," he said. "You come up with an innovation in magic and other magicians want to steal it. Or they try to hire your assistant away to figure out how you do a certain trick. But once you know how a trick is done, the amazement and wonder disappears."
Even Bishop's assistant doesn't know the secrets to all of his tricks.
"It's fun to watch something over and over again and still not know how he does it," Hess said.
One of Bishop's most embarrassing moments onstage was when he accidently revealed the secret to one of his tricks.
"I can't go into details, but let's just say the audience definitely knew," he said.
Bishop takes snafus in stride.
"My show is down to earth," he said. "There's nothing heavy about it. It's just a fun night of escape from stress."
"I work hard to get the best pieces of magic and I really hope people come out to the show," Bishop said. "Bring a friend who says they're not into magic and they'll leave saying they liked it."
"The Jason Bishop Show" will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 22 at the Community Arts Center, 220 W. Fourth St. For ticket information, visit www.caclive.com or call 326-2424. For more information about "The Jason Bishop Show," visit www.thejasonbishopshow.com.