Has Google killed magic? Justin Willman doesn't think so
What's up guys?
Brian Tong here, and we have a special interview, a special guest.
Let's just describe him first.
Justin Willman, here in the house.
What's up, Justin?
Thanks for having me on.
All those, all those titles makes me sound schizophrenic.
And very important too right?
I mean, can we elaborate?
Important, or you know, Jack of all trades, master of none.
My business card is very wide.
[LAUGH] No, without a doubt.
Now, Justin, people who may not be familiar with your work.
Or may not know you.
I kind of like to do this thing: You know the Simpson's and they always had; hi, I'm Troy McClure.
You might recognize me from, so maybe you could help out the audience and tell them where they might have seen you or things you have done before.
My name is Justin Willmont.
You might recognize me from, my Comedy Central special Slight of Mouth, which airs tonight.
I've also been on the Tonight Show, Ellen, Conan Chelsea Lately, and then I hosted Cupcake Wars for a long time.
You get recognized a lot for Cupcake Wars cuz, I mean, you've been doing that for a while, right?
Recognized a lot for Cupcake Wars because now it's on Netflix, and the logo, like, when you're scrolling for, through is, like, my face.
How you been?
And yeah, and I'm wearing like some horrible pastel shirt, and which I never look, I never look like that.
But people still stop me.
And I also, like a lot of young, like teenage, teenage girls watch that show, so like 12 and 13 year olds, so and they're not, they're not shy about saying, hey aren't you the guy, or hey cupcake boy.
I get that a lot.
And the pastel color is not your choice.
Not your choice.
Not to match the frosting.
Wardrobe, not my choice.
Now tell us about Sleight of Mouth.
This is exciting for you.
It's dropping tonight, like you said, Midnight.
I think it's 11:30 Central Time.
But on the East Coast and on the West Coast we'll see it.
Just, just give that a little, you know, what are, what can people expect to see out of the show and really what is it?
So, the show, it's like, it's like, you know, it's a half hour comedy special, but it's comedy via the art of magic.
So it's like a half magic, half comedy kind of hybrid mash-up, and it really was a chance for me to do all these different genres of magic that I love in one place.
I love performing on stage for a live audience.
You get some of that.
I love going out in the field and messing with people.
So here you see me and Doug Benson.
We actually went to a pot dispensary and did magic for high people, which was easy, surprisingly.
And it's a little bit of everything but it's also the theme really is kinda magic versus technology.
Technology these days is so amazing.
My job as a magician is to amaze people.
Technology makes it hard for me to do my job.
So, I kind of, have an if you can't beat 'em, join 'em type of mentality.
And, in the end, I think magic kind of prevails.
What really, specifically, makes magic, has magic kind of lost it's, you know, the, the wonder and amazement that people have because of the internet?
What have you seen because it's something that you've been doing for.
You know, a long time.
Well, you know, like, I feel like people are, people are a little bit hard to impress with magic, because, you know, like, on Vine, people will use, you know, when they're shooting videos, they'll use stopping and starting, and final cut, like Zach KIng, who's so amazing, and, and does these things that are so amazing using visual effects.
And they're so magical that people love them but they're also like, I think the, the bar for what's possible what's not and what is amazing like, what's real like, when I do something I don't use the special effects.
And it's obviously sometimes.
The highest compliment I get is when people think that there's editing or fake or fake studios and stuff like that.
But I think it's kind of made made people just a little desensitized to, to wonder, you know.
Like technology is, is amazing like, I don't know how my phone does what it does.
I don't, I don't know how it works.
It just does.
[LAUGH] And, and on the earth like that's, that's amazing stuff like that's magic.
A hundred years ago they would think that this is some like voodoo witchcraft device.
Now everyone has them, so it's no big deal.
My, my job as a magician is to share wonder, but this is so wonderous.
I feel like we've kind of lost touch with how it feel to be amazed.
Like, we should be walking around just like, in awe of all these things.
Like in awe that I can.
You know, do a face time with my mom and see my mom.
In awe that I'm talking to you right now on Skype.
Like this is crazy, this is crazy.
But it's just.
it's just our life now.
And so, in order to, I think, have magic compete with this wonderous world, I feel like you mix in an equal amount of comedy, you know, tongue in cheek.
Acknowledge the cynicism and then also embrace technology and do magic with technology I think is the way to take it to kind of a new level.
You do that iPhone disappearing trick all the time.
Almost every time.
There's no, there's no one like you know, with a string right now, right?
No one with a string.
[INAUDIBLE] Where, where, where, where's your producer with a string down there?
He's got a fishing line.
He's above me.
But here's the thing.
Like here, you've got a defined plane.
Like I could do, I could do anything and, and amaze you.
You know, I've got.
Punch, just take a piece of paper and I just ball it up and it disappears.
And, and you didn't drop it on the.
Threw it over the back of the lap top.
[LAUGH] It's very easy to impress somebody via Skype.
But I can try to do a trick for you if you want.
You know what you I'm I'm already impressed with I mean I've seen the actual pilot of the show and I just want to encourage people that it's I love what you're doing because it's a very unique in this way that you describe it.
You're mixing all of these things together.
I, really I don't think there's anything like it out there that we've seen lately.
So that's what makes it pretty hot to me.
And that's why we wanted to bring you on here.
If you want to show me some of that magic, what you got, you know, what the magic thing, you know, let's go, let's go.
Let's see this.
What do we got here?
Cuz I'm, I'm at the, I'm in the green room for at midnight right now and they have all these.
Snacks over here.
Oh man, some Oreos.
I love to, I love doing magic with food.
So I'll do this little Oreo trick.
Try to get close here.
I'm going to just kind of.
This is not a trick by the way.
You're just hungry.
You're just hungry.
but watch the cookie part here.
Just give it a little shake.
And I'm just gonna put that back in the pile and nobody will ever know.
I don't, I don't know what I just, I don't even know where that came from.
Do you have like a squeeze bottle in your thumb?
I don't know.
I, I do.
I have the power to mentally just control, creme.
That doesn't sound right.
I should revise that.
Yeah, no, you know what?
That sounded perfect.
[LAUGH] So, you know what?
We, we also have questions, when we talked about the mystery and the wonder.
In the magician culture, I don't even, honestly, if I'm speaking ignorantly please let me know.
But, right, people that reveal the tricks, or people that have in the past.
I remember watching on, on a, a channel when I was younger, they, they had this magician who was trying to spoil all those great tricks that you saw, to let people know, this is how it's really-
Wearing a mask.
Yeah, yeah, exactly, right?
He didn't, he didn't want to, he didn't want to break the code of the brotherhood, or-
Or what not.
Because of that do you, are there actually between ma, magicians.
Is there any, is there any like beef, are you guys friends?
Within that community like is there competition?
What's, what's it like?
Well it's super competitive.
I think like, the magic community is very similar I think to the comedy community in that.
You know where they're supportive but there's kind of a lot of like frenemy action happening.
Because everyone, you know, even more so magic because comedy, music, like, people acknowledge that you can have many favorite comedians and many favorite bands in different genres and that it's a wide art form with so much to love.
With magic I think equally wide art form to love, so many genres, but people don't really think of it that way.
They think of kind of like.
There's like room for one or two magicians, and because of that, magicians tend to be very competitive.
They all wanna be that one or two guy.
So hopefully I think, since magic's kind of making a resurgence, I think people are realizing that they're.
There is, you know, there's a wide scope.
There's close to magic, there's comedy, there's illusions.
You know, mentalism.
There's so much to, to take in.
Um,In terms of, you know, the exposure.
Like yeah, people, magicians were pretty pissed-off about the mask, the masked magician.
I, I think most people what, who watch that show probably couldn't tell you what trick, how it worked.
You know, they don't really remember it.
But what it does is I think it puts the mindset to people that magic is just a puzzle.
You know, like, figure this out.
Can't figure it out?
Here's how it works, you know?
And magic is so much more.
Magic is like, it's an art form that can be used as a metaphor.
You know to express so many things, that I think if you are just thinking about magic as to the how your missing so much of the potential for why.
You know, I think magic can be really beautiful and poetic and you know, political and make you know, statements about society like I try to do in slight of mouth..
Magic you can actually I think be even more controversial and edgy and you know, push the envelope more when you're, cuz magic takes the edge off of things.
So my comedy, I can push the envelope more than if I was just a straight comedian cuz something about when you're a magician kinda makes it just a little more warm and fuzzy and your message can kinda go down a little easier.
Justin really quickly favorite magician growing up or anybody that inspired you?
Oh yeah I mean like when I was a kid it was Lance Burton and David Copperfield that I first saw.
And now I'm so lucky I can actually call them friends.
Like they've become you know I idolized them and now you know we tweet back and forth with each other.
It's super cool.
I think, as soon as I realized how subversive magic can be, and that you can, you know, really reinvent the art form, and have magic that means something and makes a statement.
They were really inspiring to me, and they still are.
I mean, they're always doing new stuff.
They've been together for forty years as a performing team, and they're you know, they're making such strong statements and always putting new things in the show.
And then there's great comedy magicians.
David Williamson, Mack King so many great guys out there that have inspired me over the years.
You know I saw your shoe pop up in the corner and I thought you were going to do some shoe trick.
I was like, what is he gonna, what, what is he gonna do now?
You made the iPhone disappear, I thought something was gonna happen to the shoe.
I can magically make the room smell bad.
That's a great trick that I do if I remove this.
You're a sweaty foot type of guy.
Puff of smoke.
We all have our bugaboos.
So Justin thank you so much for hanging out with us.
Again, Slight of Mouth it airs tonight, 12 midnight, that's east coast and west coast.
11:30 pm central.
Oh you got a deck of cards, you gonna do a little something?
Let's do it baby.
'Cuz so you know, we viewers don't know this but we I kinda switched the Skype to get a better connection.
And before I before I dialed you up just now I took a deck of cards.
And I went through the deck and I turned well I won't even show you yet.
I turned one card the other way.
So there's one card facing the wrong way in the deck.
This might be a good luck omen for me.
Would you do me a favor?
Think of a deck of cards, just Ace, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, Jack, Queen, King, clubs, hearts, diamonds, spades.
Name any card like, not, not an obvious one, a, a random one.
A random one?
Go with my favorite number.
And I'm a lover, not a hater, so I'm gonna go with hey, show, show him, show Justin right now.
Don't show me because.
He could be, we don't want, we don't want people to know that he's moving the cards around so let's go back to Justin [UNKNOWN].
and I'll let you, you just take,
There you go.
say what you're thinking.
Four of hearts.
Come on man.
You ready for this?
I'm ready for this.
Thought I'd do this slow okay.
You, you, do it nice and slow [INAUDIBLE] style.
The camera will not cut away.
Of the 52 cards there's one card facing the other way in the deck, one card.
The four of hearts.
[UNKNOWN] magic, magic.
Magic over Skype.
Justin, thank you so much.
Thanks for taking the time to chat.
We wish you the best of luck and we will be definitely watching Sleight of Mouth and best of luck to you moving forward, all right buddy?
All right, see you.
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