National awards acquired through trickery

A Dunedin magician who won big at a national magic convention is in it as much for the laughs as the magic.

Jonathan Usher won the highest award at Magicana — the Magicians Challenge Trophy for the best act in the evening cabaret show — which was held in Auckland on Sunday.

He also won the award for best comedy magic performance and most entertaining performance overall.

That meant he won half of the six awards on offer at the event, which was attended by about 80 magicians from across New Zealand.

Dunedin man Jonathan Usher won three out of six major awards at a national magic convention....
Dunedin man Jonathan Usher won three out of six major awards at a national magic convention. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
Mr Usher said it was exciting picking up the highest award because he had never competed at a magic competition before and had no expectations of winning on his first try.

Winning the competition would give him and his career credibility and would be good for marketing.

Mr Usher, who manages 15 Z Energy stations in the South, said despite having a day job he still found time to perform 100 to 200 magic shows per year all over New Zealand.

This included performing for birthdays and visiting schools.

Mr Usher got to magic late but quickly became hooked.

"I started because I was confused with magic and how it works."

His favourite tricks mixed in a bit of comedy.

"I like to make people laugh, and magic is hard to explain, but you have to hope people’s attitudes might change if they don’t believe in it."

His winning performance was heavy on comedy and incorporated tricks involving rope, cards and a whiteboard.

"I only had 12 minutes, so 12 minutes to have a bit of fun with the audience and get out of there."

He will be performing his winning magic show next month at the Law Courts in Dunedin.

International Brotherhood of Magicians Ring 160 president and event organiser Andy Wonder was full of praise for Mr Usher, saying he was loved by the audience and a deserving winner.

"He won three out of six awards which is unheard of, quite unprecedented really."

It was the first time the convention had been held in 24 years, which he put down to magicians sharing their tricks online instead of meeting up to compete.

Holding the convention brought back fond memories of the 1980s and 1990s when magic was much more popular.

 - Thishni De Silva

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