Pete Firman: Making Comic Magic
We’ve been tracking Pete Firman’s career ever since he first popped up at the Edinburgh Festival, and the ThreeWeeks team have always enjoyed his shows.
That being the case, on hearing that he was headed to the Bloomsbury Theatre this weekend, we were keen to ask some questions about what he does, his career so far, and what his favourite playing card might be.
Yes, we really did ask him that. Read on.
CM: What inspired you to start doing what you do?
PF: I’m really lucky that my hobby as a kid became my part time job, then full time job and now my career. I suppose my inspiration, if you can call it that, was getting a magic set when I was 8. It was gift from my parents, and I began doing little shows at family gatherings. My enjoyment in performing those shows as a youngster and the encouragement I got meant I pursued it.
CM: Which comes first, the jokes or the tricks? Or to put it another way, do the jokes fit around the tricks, or do the tricks fit in with the jokes?
PF: Mixing the two isn’t as easy as you might think. Unrelated jokes don’t really move a trick along and can make it appear a bit phoney and sometimes a trick doesn’t have enough room for jokes. In both of those instances I’ll usually scrap it and move on to something else. The ideal routine has a really powerful magic trick, with in built situational comedy that I can add to with some zinging one liners.
CM: Do you think magicians sometimes shoot themselves in the foot by getting overambitious ie, doing big complicated illusions rather than sticking to the simple but stunning stuff?
PF: Oh definitely. The magic has to be easy to understand and ideally should be able to be described afterwards in one sentence.
CM: You’ve done quite a lot of TV appearances. Do you enjoy them, and would you like to do more? How does it compare to live performance?
PF: I love doing television, it’s really exciting and fun, but at heart I’m a live performer. Magic is like stand-up comedy, it works on television, but its not as good as being at the gig. Seeing a magic show live is the best for both parties. The audience get to see impossible things right in front of their eyes and I get so see looks of amazement and astonishment immediately.
CM: Are you going back to Edinburgh this year?
PF: I’m not 100% sure at the moment as I have some television filming which may clash with the festival, but I’d love to.
CM: A couple of years ago media types were all saying “magic’s kinda cool again” – were we right?
PF: It’s in, it’s out, it’s in again! I don’t know. Plus, its all down to the performers. Magic is to magicians what songs are to singers. It’s the performer that makes it interesting, entertaining and/or cool.
CM: Ever thought about incorporating magic into a play? Or doing a children’s show?
PF: I don’t think I could do a children’s show, I do too many dirty tricks. I don’t think little Jimmy wants to see me hammer a 7inch nail into my face, he wants a balloon poodle. Incorporating magic into a play appeals, I trained as an actor and its something I’d quite like to go back to at some point.
CM: What’s your favourite playing card?
PF: Really? 2 of hearts. Does that mean anything?
Pete Firman appears at The Bloomsbury Theatre on 2 Feb and at various locations around the country after that.
Photo: Steve Ullathorne