There’s nothing up their sleeves.
That’s because the Naked Magicians — Australians Christopher Wayne and Mike Tyler — don’t have sleeves. Or pockets. Or pants. Their moniker is not a gimmick.
THE NAKED MAGICIANS
When: March 14-19
Where: Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place, 175 E. Chestnut
Tickets: $25-$50 (18+over)
“The reason we wanted to come up with a show like this is that we wanted to take magic to a place where it never went before,” Wayne said. “No one had ever made something as simple as a naughty magic show. It seemed like such a basic idea at the time; we said it will either be the best or the worst thing we ever did. We started on Feb. 14, 2014, and we haven’t had a chance to stop. [They perform more than 150 shows a year.] The show does exactly what it says: Two Aussie guys in good shape take off their clothes, make you laugh and do some incredible magic.”
For Wayne, a former cookie factory worker in his native Brisbane, Australia, who also worked as a stand-up comic and a comedy writer for radio, magic has been part of his life since he was 12, when his grandfather showed him his first magic trick. “My granddad would show me these cheeky tricks like the coin behind the ear. And all of it was just magical to me. … [As far as becoming a professional performer] I was absolutely the class clown in school; I was awarded ‘most likely to become a clown’ in grade 12. I loved distracting other students in class. I wanted more attention than the teacher.”
A competitive swimmer (he competed in the Pan Pacific Games), Tyler was also introduced to magic as a kid, but didn’t really start learning it in earnest until his 20s. “I learned a card trick to impress a pretty girl,” Tyler says with a chuckle.
Did it work?
“Well, [laughing] I’m still single. But as a kid, I wasn’t obsessed with magic. It was the closest thing to having a superhero pal. I loved Spider-Man and Batman, and [like super powers] magic is being able to do something no one else can do. It’s all about the unexplained and the unbelievable. …
“Even though I went to college and got a degree and worked in banking for about six years, I started seeing magic as a [career path]. I met Wayne at a corporate event where I was performing. By that time, we were both full-time clothed magicians. … I never did stand-up or any comedy but I knew I could be funny; I successfully had worked my comedy into those corporate shows. And I also knew I didn’t want a career as a normal magician. So [moving] to the Naked Magicians was easy.”
The duo’s magic tricks fall “somewhere between the up-close sleight-of-hand and the massive spectacle,” Wayne said. “We’re playing to 2,000 people on some nights, so the truly up-close [magic] won’t really work. The focus of our magic is on naughty and funny and the very interactive. We have one trick that involves every single member of the audience, which is everybody’s favorite.”
Added Tyler, “It’s not at all about grand illusions. Our style is comedy-driven and relies on talent and a high level of expertise and skill.”
And no, the entire show (you must be 18 or older to attend) is not performed in the buff. “We lose our clothes bit by bit,” Wayne said. “If we came out on stage naked from the start that would be fun for maybe, oh, 10 minutes. [Laughing] The show makes you work for it.”
The physique demands of their act require a certain degree of physical fitness, and the duo admit that’s the hardest part of the gig. “It’s really hard when you’re on the road to eat well,” Wayne said. “We don’t always have the best food options at the airport or while we’re driving from show to show. So we follow two rules: 80 percent diet, 20 percent exercise. And our second rule is we try to do one physical activity a day and lift weights. So we’ll walk or run each day and try not to eat too much crap.”
“We identify as much as comedians as magicians,” he said. “This is the funniest magic show you’ll ever see.”