When: Friday, Feb. 8; 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. Where: The Berlin Theatre Tickets: $15
Jeff Copeland prefers to be called an illusionist.
“Illusionist is a fancy word for magician, which is a fancy word for liar," he says.
MOVE caught up with the CoMo resident to discuss how the awe his tricks inspire can fill a hole in our lives where the unexplained used to reside.
[MOVE]: So … magicians are still around?
[Jeff Copeland]: Yeah! You know, there’s been headlines ... there was one last year that came to my attention that magic is dead. People are always saying, "Magic’s dead. No one believes that anymore." But (I) welcome it. Bring it on. More headlines like that. Makes my job easier.
[M]: How so?
[JC]: An educated person thinks that they can’t be fooled — and therefore they become the easiest target. So, it is my responsibility to take care of them, to be gentle with them. Because that’s a good way you can offend somebody. My show’s not about offending people. It’s about lifting them up and giving them a good time.
[M]: At your shows, why do you ask the audience to clap for you?
[JC]: Well, I don’t ask them particularly, "Would you please clap for me?" (laughs) I say that you now have the opportunity to. The reason being is that in some of the stuff I’m doing, there’s tension. There’s a tension building. The coin vanishes — and people don’t know how to respond to that. You have to give the audience this release.
[M]: You also interact with the audience a lot.
[JC]: Oh man, it’s everything. Every show’s different. There’s never a repeat with all the audience participation. The audience writes my best lines. My best jokes come from the audience. You talk to any entertainer who does this style of work, and they’ll tell you that from that interaction you never know what’s going to happen … I’ve got a road map, and a destination I’m going to get to, but every time it’s different.
[M]: How do you develop that road map?
[JC]: A lot of it’s trial and error. It’s a little bit like being the conductor. I don’t think I’m stretching it too far. If I do my part, we can all finish the song together.
[M]: Usually, people expect a magician to just try to fool people.
[JC]: If you’re in somewhere like Columbia, you’re not going to find too many people that still believe in witchcraft and magic or dark arts. So I don’t think there’s any reason to come up and say that everything I’m doing is fake. But there’s no reason to try to assume that people believe what you’re doing is enchanted by spirits.
[M]: But it seems like your act transcends simple entertainment.
[JC]: There's not enough mystery in the world. There’s just not. I perform a lot in churches. I am a Christian, and I have a faith base. And I see the world around us losing a lot of faith. So I enjoy bringing back some of that sense of wonder. We’re taught from a very young age, all throughout school, explanations for everything. And we’re educated people. Those emotions belong inside of our head. They belong in our body. They’re good for our soul — and we’re missing them. My show is to gift you with that emotion, maybe a little therapy. I’m not licensed though. (laughs)
[M]: What can college students expect from your show?
[JC]: If you think magic is just for children, this show is for you. If you think magic is just for the uneducated, this show is for you. Or, if you just enjoy trying new things, this show is for you. So, for anyone listening, you are invited to come have an experience. There is no real consequence to coming to the show, but the reward ... The reward is the opportunity to be a part an experience so astonishing that you will be filled with wonder and joy and marvel at moments to remember for the rest of your life.