The best magicians are funny. There are plenty of comedy clubs. Is there room for at least one magic club?
It's not a bad idea, adapting the revolving-comedian format to magic in the magic capital of the world. It's not even a new idea. Veteran British producer Paul Stone and the Gold Coast do their best to turn "Vegas Magic Theatre" into a locals-casino version of Hollywood's Magic Castle.
They can't duplicate the mysterious, Hollywood-Gothic atmosphere, but they can curtain off part of an already cozy showroom to create a preshow lounge, offering cocktails, tarot readings and a preliminary card trick or two.
On a practical level, there should always be enough magicians dry-docked between cruise-ship gigs to staff a new lineup each week. At a bargain-bin price, this thing just might take off (even though so far, the casino has not folded the show into its slot-club point redemption).
The big question is the embarrassment of riches thing. Have Las Vegans been surrounded by so many magic shows for so many years, they think they've seen it all?
Truth is, there's a whole lot they don't see in the big-box illusion shows, which play to the back row. This cozy room that long hosted "Forever Plaid" lets you enjoy card tricks without video close-ups.
As host, Ben Stone (the producer's son) is the only constant in the family-friendly lineup. He reveals himself to be a solid singer, as you might have seen in several stagings of "Variety Live," a forerunner to this. His girlfriend, Society of Seven member Jasmine Trias, is a finer singer still, as the two displayed on a weird surprise duet of "The Prayer."
Stone was more tentative and a bit overamped with the magic and hosting part, perhaps because the media-night audience included both Lance Burton and Siegfried Fischbacher. "It's always good to know you have a better show in the audience than you have onstage," Stone quipped.
Media night might also have been front-loaded with a roster that may not be possible to sustain on a $16.45 ticket. If it does, it will be the best show bargain in town.
This weekend does bring back Michael Goudeau, the comic juggler who served as Lance Burton's midshow "opening act" for his entire run at the Monte Carlo. It was great to see Goudeau back on his unicycle, and chomping bites from three juggled apples is one of the city's all-time great variety routines (kind of surreal, though, to see Burton watching from the audience).
You won't see shock-haired Murray from "America's Got Talent" this weekend, but he demonstrated that the little stage is large enough to do some wheel-on cabinet illusions along with the close-up stuff.
Stone and two other acts on the bill, Brandon Flowers and Mike Douglas, gave me the idea that no matter who is there when you show up, you will see: a card trick involving an audience member, ropes cut into three pieces and restored, birds vanishing or appearing, a newspaper torn into pieces and then restored, and money borrowed from an audience member later turning up inside a piece of fruit.
And that's the biggest difference between a comedy club and a magic club. There is very little in magic that hasn't been bought, sold, passed down, handed on or done with the same method but a different set-up.
But, as comedy-magician Nick Lewin pointed out at my table, "A new joke is actually a new joke."
The best magicians, like the best comedians, make the material so much their own that it seems original, and it's very difficult for someone else to do it.
If this thing catches on, maybe we'll even see more of those folks here.
Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at mweatherford@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0288.