Q&A: Magician Joel Ward shares magic mishaps and what he loves most about Tahoe
Magician and comedian Joel Ward traces his interest in magic to when he was just 6 years old.
At a school assembly a magician invited him on stage. He was hooked.
Since those days, Ward has performed countless shows, including some pretty notable spots on TV.
Lake Tahoe Action caught up with Ward ahead of his upcoming stint at The Loft Tahoe, where he’ll be performing June 27 through July 9.
How did you get into magic?
I got into magic when I was 6 years old. I saw a magician perform at my school assembly and he picked me for a magic trick.
I was a very shy kid and didn’t really want to participate, but when he called me up onstage he told me I was going to be the magician and I believed him. And then the trick worked and the entire school applauded as if I was the magician. I wasn’t as I quickly learned, and was told that I would have to study and perfect the craft.
I became obsessed and learned everything that I could and started to perform professionally when I was about 10 years old for kid’s birthday parties. I billed myself as the “Kid – Kid’s Show Performer,” and the rest is history.
To this date, magic is the only job I have ever had.
What’s your favorite trick you perform?
Currently my favorite trick I perform in my show is a trick I designed for the TV show “Penn and Teller – Fool Us.” I borrow a ladies ring and have it disappear. I have her sign a tennis ball and that disappears. Then the signed tennis ball ends up in a sealed can of tennis balls. And the ring ends up in the sealed tennis ball.
It’s really layered and it has a lot of fun and comedic moments.
How many shows do you do a year?
I do about 150 shows a year. It varies from year to year, but that is a good average.
When I first came to Lake Tahoe back in 2008 and started to work with Paul Reder at the casinos, I averaged 500 shows a year. We were doing two shows a night, six days a week. That was the best learning experience I have ever had.
Performing that much really got me comfortable in front of an audience.
What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s happened to you while performing a magic trick?
Where do I begin? Was it ripping my pants open onstage, cutting my hand open and having lemon juice fill the wound? Or was it that time my assistant got naked onstage or was it cutting my arm open at Emma Stone’s home?
They have all happened, but I think the most embarrassing story was lighting my face on fire. I use to work with doves in my act, which I have since retired. I feel animals in show business are a thing of the past.
I was performing a month-long engagement in Japan, doing about six shows a day. On the last day of the run, on my first show of the day, my “iPhone headphones” accidently caught fire and went up in flames on my face. I did what any performer should do if they catch their face on fire; stop, drop and roll. Doves were flying all over the place, props were falling out of my jacket, and the Japanese audience looked horrified.
I got up, caressed my burned cheeks, and continued on with the act. After the show, I was transported to the local ER onsite and they ended up giving me a shot of bourbon so I could continue on with the remaining five shows of the day.
Like they say, the show must go on! And it did. For five more shows.
What’s your favorite thing about Tahoe?
Tahoe is one of my favorite places! I have been performing up here off and on for the past 10 years and I always get excited about summer. The lake is so gorgeous and I love to kayak and swim.
And the food is so good. There are so many restaurants and the people who come to the shows are just the best audiences in the world!
What do you like about performing for families/kids?
Kids are just so much fun to perform for. They are very intelligent and will always keep the show fresh. They always shout something out and I get to improvise with them nightly. They also think outside the box and come up with really creative solutions and methods to the magic tricks because they don’t use linear thinking.
I love performing for kids and families. It makes me feel like the kid who wanted to become a magician in the first place.
If you could make one thing disappear forever, what would it be?
If I were a real wizard I’d make this little thing called time disappear. It’s such a nuisance, isn’t it? I mean we get older and our bodies change then we die … what tragedy. I’d make time disappear for good. Or we could just live in space and slow down time. But time would be the first thing to disappear.
What’s the most rewarding thing about being a magician?
My favorite thing about being a magician is getting to watch the audience react to the magic. Magic is such a wonderful thing to experience. And watching people respond differently to it each night is so rewarding. As Einstein said, “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.”
Learn more about comedian and magician Joel Ward at Joelward.com.