Trick­ing Au­di­ences into Laugh­ter

Comedic ma­gi­cian hits Hot Springs stage

The Sentinel-Record - HER - Hot Springs - - Culture - Story by Lorien E. Dahl, pho­tog­ra­phy by Mara Kuhn

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.

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