Tricking Audiences into Laughter
Comedic magician hits Hot Springs stage
Entertainer Scott Davis says he doesn't remember a time when he didn't want to be tricky — as a magician, that is. The Benton native began his hocus-pocus journey at age 14, then took lessons at a Little Rock magic shop and started performing for pay at birthday parties soon after.
Hungry to begin polishing his skill set, Davis realized he would need assistance from someone more seasoned in the abracadabra to continue progressing. “Learning magic is probably not unlike learning to play the guitar or learning to cook,” he said, “you can only get so good without the help of another magician.”
Help came during those teenage years when he met Randall Eller and joined that magician's large illusion show as an apprentice and assistant for about four years. Davis said he realized two things during that time: “I really liked the idea of doing magic full-time and I did not want to do an act that was that big.”
Now 42, his early career goals have come to fruition, as Davis performs upward of 300 solo shows each year and said his entire act fits into a case eligible for overhead bin storage in an airplane.
This ease of transport has come in handy for visits to schools around Arkansas and the country, where he offers an educational program sponsored by electric cooperatives, teaching students to behave safely and responsibly around electricity, using magic and humor to deliver important information.
During the mid 1990s, he became more familiar with Hot Springs while performing with local magic man Maxwell Blade. And when Tom Wilkins' Bath House Show was revamped into the current Five Star Dinner Theatre, Wilkins offered Davis the opportunity to stage his act for summertime visitors to the Spa City.
His mix of comedic mind reading, re-materialization of torn objects, card tricks and more make up the 90-minute display of family friendly laughs and surprises. He said, “It's clean and not scary … there's magic that's amazing and captivating, but it's all offered in a silly way.”
Davis says comedy is one of the ways he can
make his show unique — taking a classic effect and making it quite a bit different by adding humor. Plus, he said, “If you have an act that's funny, and consistently funny, every trick you do could go badly and people will still have a great time.”
He feels the element of fresh comedy is what keeps his craft growing, because “fooling people is easier than making them laugh.”
Speaking about what he calls his “weird job,” Davis said there are aspects he truly appreciates. “I'm my own boss and I'm getting to do something that I love doing and I'm getting to do something that's of my own creation.”
Other creation in his life has been the building of a family — his wife, their four young children and another on the way have made Hot Springs home. And he's been scaling back out-of-state travel for magic over the past couple months, as he recently began a lead pastor role at Hope Church.
For aspiring magicians, his first piece of advice is to practice. His second suggestion is to practice more. “It's all about the polish,” he said, “New magicians are bad about learning 100 tricks they do poorly, when they would be better suited to have five they do really well.”
It's taken him years to perfect some tricks and make sure the audience can't tell when he's debuting something new. “It's a little nerve-wracking,” he said. But he truly enjoys the process.
“When you show up somewhere and say, `I'm the magician,' people go, `Yea!' … It's a happy job.”
His show is set to run through Aug. 8 at Five Star Dinner Theatre and reservations can be made by calling 318-1600 or visiting http://www. TheFiveStarTheatre.com.
Local magician Scott Davis performs a card trick at The Five Star Dinner Theatre.
At top, magician Scott Davis has Austin Davis of Beckville, Texas, read predictions he made, and, at bottom, he places a hat he made appear on Mykhael King, 9, of Pine Bluff, as she assists him during the show.