Mat Franco: Making memories in Las Vegas

Something very interesting happened at a recent performance of Mat Franco—Magic Reinvented Nightly I attended (and I’ve attended a lot; it’s one of my favorite shows in town): Midway through the show, an audience member, to whom Franco had earlier tossed a bag of ramen noodles as a souvenir (ramen plays a huge role in one of Franco’s signature illusions) tossed it back to him, got out of her seat, and began an incoherent rambling about something or other. It went on for minutes, and Franco’s attentive ushers were about to intervene, but Franco shooed them away, pleasantly engaging in a conversation with the audience member until she left the theater of her own accord.

As soon as she left the theater, Franco sat down, let out a huge sigh and said, “I’ll never forget this night!”

And that, in a nutshell, is the appeal of Mat Franco and his illusion-filled show: Not only is each show unique because of his interaction with audience members of all ages (and states of inebriation), but Franco genuinely enjoys that interaction. He’s a people person of the highest order, remembering the most specific details at the end of the show, in which he “customizes” each performance to reflect the people he meets, their stories, and maybe a few embarrassing moments. This is where the show gets its title, and it’s precisely the reason why Franco’s show continues to have infinite appeal more than seven years after he won America’s Got Talent.

And then, of course, there are the close-up illusions themselves—Franco’s skill at making objects appear from thin air—cards, coins, wine bottles, you name it—is on full display here, and the various volunteers Franco brings on stage are in a constant state of amazement. No matter how close they are to him, they can’t figure out how the illusion works. And, as Franco is quick to ask, why would you want to? The memories of his show are what are important.

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