Not everyone grows up to have the career of their wildest dreams. But Jason Bishop is one of the lucky few, and he worked really hard to get there. Since he was a teenager, Jason has been obsessed with making the impossible possible by performing slieght of hand tricks that amazed his family and friends. Now, he gets to perform in a theater where Houdini himself made a big splash!
We sat down to talk with Jason and his dog Gizmo about their start in magic!
Why did you first start performing magic?
I always appreciated and enjoyed magic. I'd watch it on TV or live whenever I could. But I never thought I could do it. I didn't think I was special enough or figured I didn't start early enough. But I was a fan! Then at about 15 I just became totally consumed. After that, every day was filled with studying books, videos and practicing or dreaming about magic.
Without telling us how the trick works, what was the first trick you ever learned? What's the most difficult trick you've ever done?
Probably the first was a simple sleight like the French Drop. It's a great utility sleight. Most magicians learn it early on and yet most big magicians will still use it when they need to! It's the method you use to make something vanish in your bare hands.
The most difficult is the card manipulation. It's something that requires concentration and lots of practice to keep up on. Making cards disappear or appear or bounce off the stage requires constant attention and effort. Although some of the big illusions require a lot of effort and attention, too, like the Double Levitation.
When and how did you decide that you wanted to be a professional magician?
Growing up, I never for a moment felt I had to be anything anyone else wanted me to be. I always had my own idea of what I wanted to do. When I decided on being a magican early on, it just seemed right. My thought process was, "Yup, I'll be a magician, that's that." Looking back I can see why some people had big, big reservations and doubts about my choice. But, at the time, I honestly couldn't understand why they doubted it, since I could see it so clearly. Of course, I didn't know all of the challenges I'd face along the way, but now I'm glad I didn't doubt myself and took that leap of faith!
Houdini once performed at the New Vic! How excited are you to follow in his footsteps and perform in the center of New York City?
Extremely excited! I was never really into reading about tricks as a kid, but I loved reading about the history of magicians. Houdini was around in an amazing time for magic with other top magicians as well. To perform at The New Victory, to be at 42nd and 7th, an area steeped in the rich history of magic and vaudeville, is completely breathtaking. I have to pinch myself thinking of the caliber of performers who havestood where I'll be standing. It's a total honor.
What advice would you give to aspiring magicians?
Learn, learn, learn, learn. And never in your life stop learning. Always look for the way to improve what you do. Don't quit. But, at the same time, seriously evaluate yourself and your magic. Be honest with yourself and then improve where you find any weaknesses.
Do the best magic you can and always look for ways to be yourself as a performer.
What magicians inspire you?
Rob Zabrecky is a favorite, a very new and extremely different performer. I love that! David Copperfield set the artistic bar in magic extremely high. Also, I find Penn and Teller to be refreshingly creative. There are so many more, I could take all day talking about them!
How did you first meet Gizmo?
I met Gizmo 4 years ago. I went to see him when he was 8 weeks old. After I fell in love, I used that night to decide if I'd get him. I called the next day and his owner said she was selling him to someone else! I was very persistent, made my case, never quit and she agreed to sell him to me if I arrived the very next day before 1pm. It was a snowy mess, but I got there, got Giz and he's been my buddy ever since!
Question for Gizmo: What's your favorite part of performing with Jason?
Running onstage to gasps of love from the audience! And the catering. I love the catering!
And Gizmo, what are you most excited to sniff in New York City?
I've heard there are very exotic dogs here. I want to know what they smell like!!!