Tim Ellis is a dangerous magician.
Nice guy, sure. But dangerous.
Not because he does dangerous magic and teaches others how to do it during his five-star lecture but because he makes the difficult look easy.
Mr. Ellis is from Australia – a land where danger and adventure await all and at all times.
We have never been there but have developed our conception of what it is all about from television, movies and Outback Steak House. It is a place where people are always friendly, helpful, genuine and innovative. We have met seven people from Australia and every one of them met that stereotype. Ipso facto, QED.
Mr. Ellis has been a supporter of Inside Magic since the early days of this virtual news source. We first met him in Garden City, Michigan where he and his former partner and spouse Sue-Anne Webster lectured a capacity crowd on how to be innovative (and have fun) with magic. It was a great experience and we accurately reported about it on the old rendition of Inside Magic.
Mr. Ellis took the time to correct our various grammatical mistakes and word choice and we developed a perfect – if co-dependent – relationship with him from that day. He is a great writer and so we gladly accepted his submissions and story ideas over the years. He was kind enough to send us several items for review and, not surprisingly, our reviews were almost always glowing.
Longtime readers likely recall the one exception to our effusive praise for his work. We dismissed his 24 Years of Living Next Door to Ellis DVD but retracted this criticism once we realized we needed a DVD player to watch the disk. We had spent hours trying to fit it into our GAF ViewMaster — a technology that apparently was not compatible with the new DVD format.
We revised our review to hide our error and tried to delete the negative reviews from the internet. But you know how that goes. The stuff you don’t want to live forever does and the stuff in which you have great pride, doesn’t stay a day. That is why you can still find videos of our unfortunate scuffle with security backstage at the H.R. Pufnstuf National Tour but our classic articles on the history of magic cannot be found.
But we digress.
Tim Ellis is to magic what diamonds are to minerals. He is the best and brightest and can cut glass and liked by women.
He is charming and clever and generous. His lecture begins with his silent Razor Blade swallowing trick and is followed by attempts to switch a coin from the clutches of a mouse trap and then a bear trap. Sure, not the best stuff for kids’ shows but then again kids today are growing up so quickly and it will give them something to talk about with social workers later in life.
To be fair, Mr. Ellis does not believe the Razor Blade swallowing or bear trap trick is for kids. In fact, we are pretty sure he explicitly said they were not. But that is just one magician’s opinion. Perhaps kids in the US are more able to handle such magic. After all, we have more television channels in the US than they have in Australia. We think we read they only have one or two channels and one of them is ABC but not our ABC – a different one where the A stands for Australian. Sort of like how people knock-off Dairy Queen by calling their ice cream stores, Dairy King.
Again, we are far afield of the true purpose of this post. We are here to praise Mr. Ellis, not to bury him in ephemera and trivia.
Mr. Ellis provided attendees with a simple mnemonic to improve their acts. He speaks from a wealth of experience. His message is woven like a high-priced hair transplant throughout his lecture. And like a great hair-transplant, we left with something with which we can work. Sort of a virtual comb-over to hide the glaring bald spots in our routine. Perhaps the hair transplant metaphor has limited usefulness. Perhaps we need a better copy editor.
[Editor: You have a better copy editor, you just ignore me].
Mr. Ellis performed later in the Parlor of Prestidigitation and was outstanding. He has adopted a somewhat more serious persona on stage – still playful but less non-stop comedic – and it works very well for him. He endears himself to the audience in the opening fifteen seconds with a simple, silent entrance that is quirky and engaging. He performed his Razor Blade routine and did so with such great effect that audience members were genuinely concerned about his safety. They were urging him to not swallow the blades and were relieved when the trick was complete. He clearly connected with them from the outset and held their attention for the remainder of the show.
To return to our thesis: Mr. Ellis is dangerous. He performs so effortlessly that one (namely us) could easily assume that what he does takes no effort. We would be wrong. His smooth presentation is perfectly timed to the music selections and yet seems spontaneous. Clearly it cannot be that his spontaneous interaction with his audience just happens to end perfectly and at the exact same time as the music ends but it sure seems like it. We are guessing it has something to do with planning, rehearsal and experience. But this is just our guess. It could be that he is incredibly lucky to find audiences that interact exactly on cue to help him perform tricks they have never seen to music selections they do not choose.
Mr. Ellis will be heading back to Australia soon. If you have had a chance to see him on this most recent tour, consider yourself fortunate. If you haven’t seen him lately, we dare say you haven’t really seen him. Check out his website, get his DVDs (particularly 24 Years of Living Next Door to Ellis – if you have a DVD player) and seek him out.
Mr. Ellis is a dangerous talent and one we are proud to consider a friend.