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Meet John Carney of CarneyMagic in The Valley

Today we’d like to introduce you to John Carney.

John, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I’ve loved comic acting and magic as long as I can remember. I love to laugh, and I love surprises, and through my characters, comedy, and magic, I try to bring those things to my audiences to experience that same thrill and joy. I learned comedy by watching my heroes and strive to turn that inspiration into something original in my performances and character work.

I learned sleight of hand mostly through books but eventually moved to Los Angeles to be near the Magic Castle. Here I got to spend time with magicians who would visit from all over the world. I totally immersed myself in that world and saw it from every angle. The Magic Castle offered me a wonderful opportunity to develop original material and try it out in front of a live audience. As a professional, I have worked in every possible situation, from small private house concerts in living rooms to corporate work and large theaters. Theaters are the best, as I can take the time to set different moods, tell a story, and connect with my audience in a way that is difficult to achieve in a shorter act.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I’ve been full time professional my entire adult life. Great gigs and terrible ones. But I am doing what I love to do, so even in the rougher moments, I still love the creating and performing. That is my redemption. Overall, I’ve been very fortunate. Throughout, I try to keep hold of the joy and why I got into this. But to perform, I can’t wait for them to come to me, I have to always look for new audiences. Promotion is a different skill set and motivation. I have to choose between gigs that pay well and those that would that joy and kill the golden goose. That’s why the theater is my favorite venue. I can take my time, setting different moods, telling stories, and connecting to my audience in a way that would be difficult in a less focused environment. But even in the downtime, I turn to creating and writing. It’s something I know how to do. And when people respond to something I dreamed up, that’s very gratifying indeed.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I am a comic/actor/magician, who, besides being my charming self, also plays several different characters in my shows. Rather than telling jokes, I try to create comic situations with my audience members. I might draw a portrait using only my mind and telekinetic powers to move the pen, or I might bake a cupcake in someone’s shoe. I don’t care much about fooling people, but rather, I want to create a single moment of surprise and wonder, that Eureka moment when people will believe the impossible. You are seeing a marvel before your very eyes. It’s very gratifying when you see them become children again and just marvel at something for a bit.

I have also written several books and produced many videos, teaching advanced sleight of hand, and sometimes do workshops and seminars for magicians that want to up their game. I’ve won lots of awards for my work, but what means the most to me is the respect of people I admire, and the immediacy in the reactions of my audience. I do speaking engagements for organizations on Creative Courage, Achieving the Impossible, and how Perception Shapes Potential.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
When I was about four, my mother took me to see The Wizard of Oz. This was long after the film was made, and it was being shown in a school gymnasium. I think it might have been the first time I had ever seen anything on a big screen. It was full of color, and charter and lots of surprising and magical things were happening. It really was another world. That feeling that is what I try to evoke in my audiences.

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Photo by Taylor Wong

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