Known for his original hidden camera magic series, “The Carbonaro Effect,” on truTV, Michael Carbonaro has been a performing magician since his youth. He went on to study experimental theater at New York University with aspirations of entertaining audiences through a variety of theatrical mediums, including hidden-camera magic, which he later showcased frequently on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.” A trickster at heart, Carbonaro performs inventive tricks on unsuspecting members of the public who are unaware that he is a magician. Whether posing as a coffee shop barista, museum curator, or seemingly unremarkable store clerk in the real world, Carbonaro’s illusions – along with his absurd, matter-of-fact explanations – leave people bewildered and families at home laughing out loud.
Carbonaro’s extensive list of accolades includes Magician of the Year, bestowed upon him by the Academy of Magical Arts in 2015. In 2016, he was the inaugural recipient of the Copperfield Prize, which recognizes an individual for elevating the art of magic.
SpaceCoast Living had just a few minutes with Carbonaro to discuss the tour, magic, and how much he loves coming to Florida!
SpaceCoast Living: We are so excited that you’re coming to perform in Florida, especially at The King Center!
Michael Carbonaro: I’m stoked. I have to tell you, one of the questions people always ask is, “What’s your favorite place to perform?” And I know this sounds crazy, because I love my hometown and I love New York, I love California, but man, the crowds in Florida, they’re so good. They’re the best. We just loving coming back. I don’t know what it is; everyone is generally happier or something. They’re just so joyful and giving and wanting to play every time we’ve toured there. So, I always look forward to Florida.
SpaceCoast Living: You’re bouncing around Florida; you’re in Orlando and then Alabama and then here again. You’re all over the place!
Michael Carbonaro: …and I love it. It’s been such a treat to get out on the road. My first love was performing live. My venture into magic really began with a love of horror movies and monsters and special effects, and I talk about this in the show. I share a little bit about my adventure into magic, but I don’t think anybody really knows what they’re in for when they come to see the live show. I love, dare I say, taking advantage of that. Some real diehard fans of the show can’t stop wondering if it’s done with camera tricks and actors. And then they see it right in front of their face. I can almost see the relief, and that’s the ultimate joy.
SpaceCoast Living: Does this feel full-circle with the stage shows, starting out doing magic on a small scale and then going really big-time with “The Tonight Show” and your other appearances, and now coming back to stage shows?
Michael Carbonaro: I do love the more intimate venue, talking to the adults on one level and the kids on another. It was a groove that I really developed as a young performing magician, finding my voice. It’s a back and forth with the audience, bringing people up to play. It’s all very improvisational because I don’t know where it’s going to go, what people are going to say, how it’s going to happen with each new person. Every night’s different. It’s a real thrill ride for everybody.
SpaceCoast Living: How do you keep a straight face when people in front of you are completely in awe or completely know what they’ve seen just cannot happen?
Michael Carbonaro: It’s funny you say that. When I’m out there, I just don’t know who’s going to walk up sometimes, I never know what they’re going to be like. So, when I get someone totally baffled, I’m thinking, “I want this to win. I want them get it. I want it to work.” But to be honest with you, when I watch the video back later, I ask myself the exact same question.
Michael Carbonaro will showcase his bizarre antics and mind-blowing magic through his highly-acclaimed national theater tour, “Michael Carbonaro Live!” when it comes to The King Center on December 5.