Highlight: Magical on 4th Street

Courtesy of Geoff Williams

A few years back, my niece decided she wanted to be a magician. She started sneaking around the house, making wallets and car keys disappear between sofa cushions and into the dog's dish. The culmination of her dream was a self-staged magic show, an event for which she hand-lettered invitations to all her closest relatives. Once we arrived, she made us close our eyes while she pulled stuffed bunnies from her shirt. Not that I was expecting David Copperfield, but I was surprised to find grown-ups with the newly formed Magical on 4th Street collective performing refined versions of the same stunts my niece pulls in her living room. This rotation of magicians and mimes has perfected all the old tricks with cards, silver rings, and red scarves--which until now haven't found an audience outside of public libraries and the Thermo King company Christmas party. On the night I attended, the best tricks were by Geoff Williams, a snarling, high-energy Yoda look-alike. He made his head shrink and swell, solved a Rubik's Cube with his teeth, and performed with an omniscient chicken marionette. His brand of low-tech, low-production-values magic has its charm, especially if you're--Look! It's a tapir!--easily duped into turning your head. But there's also a seedy, self-loathing undercurrent about these magicianly clowns. Fridley native MagicBrad, the opener, is a curly-headed funny uncle in a purple smoking jacket who likes poking fun at his fellow northern suburbanites almost as much as he likes magic dental floss. When he's not coughing up Ping-Pong balls or evading eye contact, he's making cracks about all the blockheads living up in Blaine. Being a Blaine native myself, I knowingly snickered along with these Anoka county potshots. MagicBrad, however, loved these quips. At every Blaine punch line he broke from his tight-lipped, self-concerned smirk to indulge a zany, full-fledged Popeye chortle.

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