Looking for a Laugh? You Might Like Vincent C’s Magician for Adults Show

Looking for a Laugh? You Might Like Vincent C’s Magician for Adults Show

Review by Mark Lindenberg

A day before I go to see Vincent C, who bills himself as a Magician for Adults, on March 15, at 8 pm in the Théâtre Petit Champlain in Quebec City, my wife says to me “He’s not a stage hypnotist, is he?”

Having checked out his website (which is in French, as is his show) beforehand, I said “No, he isn’t. As far as I can see, it’s actual magic tricks.” But I second-guessed it: I hope not. Can’t stand stage hypnotists. Provoking embarrassment isn’t showmanship.

The Théâtre Petit Champlain is a cozy, reasonably well-appointed theatre. At floor level in the very back, red-upholstered chairs surround small tables. Row seating fills the rest of the space, and a bench on the left also seats audience members. Not sure how many the mezzanine seats, but there is one. It and the floor level were at capacity, with a varied and enthusiastic crowd on this night. Beer (maybe wine too, the website doesn’t say, and I didn’t see wine glasses) sales take place in the lobby. They appeared to be brisk, with three busy wait-staff behind the counter.

The show starts 10 minutes late, with a booming beat, to which the audience claps along. The curtain rises on a set that looks like the inside of someone’s garage, while a see-through box materializes on stage, and starts to fill with what looks like smoke. Ten seconds later, Vincent C emerges from stage left, and the crowd goes wild. The first piece of misdirection aced. The first subversion of expectations comes when, seconds later, a disembodied arm bangs on the smoke-filled box, from inside. Vincent opens it to reveal his assistant, and his sweetheart, a coughing, bewildered Caroline.

In a two-hour show, including a 20-minute intermission, Vincent goes through a varied repertoire of magic: card tricks, tricks with doves, illusions with balloons, knives and swords, all interesting to watch. But what is almost more interesting, and more telling than the tricks themselves, is the way this performer keeps the audience engaged. He makes himself the butt of the joke (in one case, very literally) before he’ll laugh at the audience. Which he does, very liberally, and with a nonstop back-and-forth patter – all the better to misdirect us with.

I was not at my best as a reviewer this night: I’d had a busy, not entirely enjoyable day. I was disinclined to laugh, cynical, and most decidedly not happily drunk and willing to let go and have a laugh. But I found myself laughing. Not just reflexively, as in “Did I just see what I thought I saw?!”, but honestly, too. Not as much or as hard either, as some of the people around me, but their good-natured, go-with-the-flow attitude may have rubbed off on me just a touch, though I couldn’t recognize it at the time.

Only later does it strike me: Provoking embarrassment can be showmanship, as long as everyone’s in on the joke.

And (almost) everyone was.

Categories: Arts & Culture, Opinion

About Author

Mark Lindenberg

Mark Lindenberg's essays have appeared in The Globe and Mail and Maclean's Magazine, among other publications. In a career spanning 15 years, three provinces, and two official languages, he has written, edited, and translated work on a wide variety of topics for employers and clients alike. Mark lives in Quebec City with his wife and two cats.

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