Many people are familiar with “The Carbonaro Effect” on TruTV, where magician Michael Carbonaro performs magic tricks for people who don’t realize they are on camera.
The “trick” with performing magic on TV is that people don’t know he’s a magician – while attendees at the live show do know, Carbonaro said.
But Carbonaro said he still can surprise and fool people and “lead them down one path” and then pull the rug out” from under them.
And he intends to do just that Aug. 12 at the Rialto Square Theatre in Joliet with his “Michael Carbonaro: Lies On Stage” show.
Carbonaro said he’s a little “iffy” about the title because it uses the word “lies” and “there are too many lies in our world today.”
So he clarifies the difference between “good lies” and “bad lies” at the start of the show.
“A magician is really a noble liar,” Carbonaro said. “And we’re up front about it.”
Carbonaro said his live, family friendly show is a fun, high-energy “standup comedy show meets magic” with improvisation and lots of audience participation. And because of the interaction, Carbonaro is never certain “which way the show is going to go” because the audience may react in unpredictable ways, he said.
But Carbonaro, who said he’s a showman at heart, can control his performance and said he often asks himself, “What can I do tonight to make this harder, better or magical?”
As a boy, Carbonaro loved special effects and makeup in horror films, which “is a kind of magic,” he said. He performed his first magic trick at age 8 and his first magic show at age 13. Carbonaro was a clown at a neighbor’s birthday party and was paid $36, he said.
So Carbonaro put a signup sheet in a local supermarket for people to book him. And his career took off from there.
But in terms of perfecting a new trick, nothing has really changed since he was a boy, Carbonaro said.
“At first, I get it down pat in front of the mirror or for my cat or for invisible people as if they were really in the room,” Carbonaro said. “But the real work is doing it in front of people. I really don’t know how an actual person is going to react.”
Carbonaro must perform a trick night after night after night in live shows for that trick to truly “find its groove,” he said.
And, sometimes, glitches happen.
Carbonaro recalled the time someone from the audience was to pick a word out of the dictionary and Carbonaro would guess it – and prove his guess by showing the word already written down in a sealed envelope.
He was thrilled that the audience member had picked the right word – and then dismayed when he realized he’d forgotten to write the word on the paper tucked inside the envelope. So, he simply moved on.
“I think they thought I was kidding,” he said.
It’s Carbonaro’s abililty to quickly pivot – and pivot and pivot and pivot if a trick isn’t working, he said – that keeps his magic show fresh for him and the audience, even if he’s simply showing people how to magically sort their laundry, he said.
That trick was inspired from the ordinary task of sorting socks – where do the odd ones go, Carbonaro said he wondered at the time.
Speaking of disappearances, Carbonaro said he makes two members of the audience disappear from the stage at every show.
“So I say, ‘If any parents out there are trying to get rid of their kids for a little bit, bring them down to the show,’ ” Carbonaro said.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: “Michael Carbonaro: Lies On Stage”
WHEN: 7 p.m. Aug. 12
WHERE: Rialto Square Theatre, 102 N. Chicago St. Joliet
TICKETS: $56, $46, $36. Additional fees may apply. Visit rialtosquare.com/events or call the Rialto box office at 815-726-6600.