What do you get if you take TheatreSports but use magicians instead of actors and add magical objectives as well as theatrical ones? You end up with MagicSports, a wonderful opportunity for magicians to show their comedic side. And sometimes it's even intentional!
Tim Ellis, MagicSports' creator, ran the show with great enthusiasm. We really got the impression that he wanted the magicians to suffer, at least a little. About a third of the audience had been before, so some of them had turned up with props. Mostly, it was a small item, such as a stapler or a mouse holder with hair clips in it, but one bloke had brought a sack of things!
The teams to duel it out in the name of magic were Dom Chambers, Simon Coronel and Shoot Ogawa versus Nick Kay (aka Nick Kesidis), Josh Staley, and John Archer. I imagine John could be just as happy doing pure comedy, wandering hilariously as he did around the stage with his luggage, pretending he was late for his plane.
Two audience members plus Lee Cohen comprised the judging panel. Lee seemed to be taking the role of manipulating the scores, the way Red Symons did on Red Faces on ‘Hey, Hey, It's Saturday‘. Probably a smart move, since one of the other judges gave everything 5 out of 5.
Just as in theatresports, there's a series of games — but here they all involve magic. Audience members gave their input to Tim concerning thematic elements, such as activities or emotions, and he chose which ones the magicians would have to use in the next skit. Some of the props provided by the audience were offered to the magicians early on for use later in their grand finale pieces. In the blur of fun that followed, a highlight for me was Josh performing while pretending to be on a trampoline. I'm pretty sure bouncing up and down on the spot doesn't make magic easier.
The great bonus with shows like this is variety. If you go along, and you should, you won't see bouncing Josh, but I'm sure you'll see something just as memorable.
Despite usually avoiding anything associated with the word ‘sports', Craig Macbride occasionally makes exceptions. This is one of them!
MagicSports ran 3 July at at the Northcote Town Hall. No doubt it will return in 2017. You can catch some of the participants in their own shows this year too.
The venue is accessible.
Read our guide to the Melbourne Magic Festival for more top acts.