The next magician I’m lucky to sit down and interview is no stranger to The Melbourne Magic Festival. In fact, in any given year if you attend the festival it is likely he will have a show on! My next guest is none other than talented local magician and card whiz Josh Staley!
Describe your show in 3 words: Conjure. At. CardTable (if we pretend Card Table is one word)
To be serious, the show is about pulling back the curtain and revealing skills both the conjurer and the card cheat use, skills like sleight of hand, psychology and misdirection and I think this is a really intriguing concept for audiences (especially those who have been to the Melbourne Magic Festival before) and are perhaps are a little bit more interested in the methods behind magic. So my 3 words would be – Intriguing, rule-breaking (hyphen saves the day) and fun, because I still want to keep the high energy, humorous style I’m known for, even when breaking the magician’s code.
Your show title is card focused – do you have a favourite card? why / why not?
My first year at the Magic Festival was not performing a show, but instead, I competed in the Australian Junior championships. In my act, I had someone choose and sign a card, which was the 4 of hearts. I was lucky enough to win the event and be crowned “Australian Junior Champion of Magic” and I had the card and a few other pieces from the act framed as a memento, so the 4 of Hearts has become a bit of a lucky card for me after helping launch such a successful run of Melbourne Magic Memories.
You’ve performed shows at The Melbourne Magic Festival for many years – what keeps you coming back to perform at this festival?
I have 2 answers to this; First of all the Magic Festival is without a doubt one of my favourite times of the year, because it brings me so many different opportunities and each year is always a little different. Last year I performed a sell-out run of close-up shows for 50 audience members, whereas this year I get to perform for nearly double that in a larger parlour show. Combined with highlights such as Magic Sports (easily the year’s funniest show) and running along with hosting the Australian Junior Championships and special appearances at events like The Galas or Best of the Magic Fest means there’s such variety each year that it always excites me to see what happens next.
Second, for each of those shows and events, the audience is so enthusiastic that it would be impossible to stay away. It’s really rare to do a show where each and every audience member is nearly as obsessed as I am, and yet every year I’m blown away by the passion the MMF fans bring to every show they attend.
Do you have a favourite memory of performing at The Melbourne Magic Festival?
Before international change (thanks, Covid!) the MMF was lucky enough to host some of the greatest living magicians from all over the world, and being able to meet and then perform for my heroes was a dream come true. From world champions like Shoot Ogawa and Helder Guimarães to prolific creators like Eric Jones and Dani DaOrtiz to magic legends like Wayne Houchin and Joshua Jay, sharing our love of magic, and being able to become friends with these industry giants have led to some incredible memories and opportunities.
What do you enjoy most about performing magic?
Ever since I was a little boy, the wonder and joy magic created for me was the greatest feeling. Being able to create those sensations for others is easily the best part of performing. Every spectator enjoys the show for different reasons; some people love to be fooled, whereas others want to try to unravel the mystery. Some people really like the comedy and humour, others like the storytelling. Regardless of what attracts you to the show, when that moment of something impossible hits, everything else fades away, and you’re left with that feeling of wonder. I think it’s one of the best feelings in the world, and it is a true gift that I’m able to share that with people every night.
This interview helps sum up what makes Josh so passionate about magic and sharing his magical talents with his audiences. If you’re headed to The Melbourne Magic Festival this year, make sure you stop and enjoy Josh’s show.
The Conjuror at The Card Table runs from July 5th – 9th (8pm each night) at The Cardini Cabaret – Arrow Hub, 488 Swanston Street Melbourne. Tickets are available here.