Mat Franco is a cool dude; as a matter of fact, he’s just like any other 20-something guy. He plays guitar as a hobby, can tell some pretty funny jokes, likes really spicy Thai food and can ghost out of a party like it’s his job…
A Rhode Island native, we Las Vegans can’t quite put a finger on his East-Coast-type of charm, but let us be the first to warn you he’s the kind of guy that you might cause you to lose a little sleep; since seeing Mat in action, a portion of our once peaceful shut-eye has been spent questioning our entire existence however, he is only guy we know that can make wine bottles multiply like bunnies, which (obviously) qualifies him as a keeper in our books.
So yeah, Mat is seemingly normal, right? Well, yes… until the clock strikes 7 p.m. at The LINQ and he gets to entertaining his audiences with 90 minutes of mind-bending magic so convincing that trying to figure out if Hogwarts actually exists is our legitimate claim to our newfound insomnia.
Since opening his headlining show, “Mat Franco – Magic Reinvented Nightly,” the young magician who was the first in history to win the massively successful reality television show “America’s Got Talent,” has been astounding Las Vegas with his unique style of magic that is unlike anything the Entertainment Capital of the World has ever offered.
“I’m not a close-up magician, I’m a stage act but, I’m not an illusionist either — I’m this in between.” Mat told us when we chatted with him in his theater at The LINQ Hotel and Casino last week. “What we do here is really just so different from anything else that Vegas has ever seen; we take ideas and sort of spin them upside down and on their head.”
Becoming “obsessed” with magic before he could even read, the decades of practice this magic man has dedicated towards perfecting his craft is possibly the only certainty the audience can actually wrap their minds around during his show.
Performing never-before-seen material, Mat takes his audiences on a journey that, as his show slogan confirms, is reinvented nightly. However, while (unbeknownst to his viewers) Mat is consistently changing the methods behind his tricks for his own performing pleasure, the main element that keeps his show fresh is actually the audience.
“The crowd really does guide [the show] quite a bit…. I never know what’s going to happen each night,” Mat explained. “I never know how people are going to react to things. This is a show I can’t phone in even if I wanted to, which I don’t want to but even if I wanted to, I can’t do it because it’s just too interactive and that’s what I love about it.”
For those of you who caught Mat during his time on “America’s Got Talent” you may recall the time when he made Mel B.’s phone appear in one of the upholstered seats in Radio City Music Hall or perhaps you saw his audition act that involved a shuffled deck of cards that magically told a story of the show’s three judges. Even if you saw these acts, Mat has revamped these tricks as well as dozens of others (one of our favorites includes a mountain of ramen noodle packages), that gives audiences no choice but to surrender all logic and just accept what you’re witnessing as… magic.
“You can’t think, just enjoy,” Mat advised during his grand opening performance last month. When we chatted with him he elaborated on this statement saying, “Sometimes when people watch magic, they think that you’re supposed to just sit there and observe it; if you figure it out, it’s not a good trick… if you don’t figure it out, that’s what makes it a good trick and I feel like if you watch it with that mindset, you basically miss the point. I relate that to watching a movie and ignoring the story line and just trying to figure out the special effects – you’re missing the whole steak to it, you gotta watch the sizzle and the steak.”
However, if you’re the TiVo-slow-mo-must-know type, you and your insatiable curiosity will be in rewind heaven with Mat’s latest project, NBC’s “Mat Franco’s Got Magic.”
“NBC has not had a special like this since Lance Burton back in the late ’90s… that’s insane!” Mat explained. “It is a sort of travel log from Rhode Island, where I’m from, to Las Vegas where we are opening this show and that’s what the whole story is about and man, some of the magic… we came up with some cool stuff that’s just never been done before that’s just really, really, in the magic world I think, earth-shattering stuff.”
Pulling off small and large-scale tricks (we are talking High Roller large-scale) with people you’ll recognize from television like Rob Gronkowski from the New England Patriots and musician Jason Mraz as well as random people in the streets. It’s a magic special that Mat humbly describes to us as, “Amazing. I can’t believe that we pulled this off and it’s all real. I mean, everyone, all the reactions you see are authentic; it’s really got a nice sort of organic vibe to it because that’s what it is.”
And while “Mat Franco’s Got Magic” is a one-time special (it aired on the silver screen on Sept. 17), you may get your chance to catch him in his natural habitat (magicians are kind of a breed of their own, right?) that is now Las Vegas.
Moving here from L.A. to pursue his resident gig after filming “America’s Got Talent” and closing the chapter on his traveling act, Mat is already confirming that Vegas “…feels like home to me.”
“Nothing against Los Angeles, but [Vegas] feels much more homey, if that’s a thing,” Mat explained. “You know, warm and sort of community-based and just a really, really nice and easy adjustment. It’s a place I’ve loved since I was a little kid so I can’t complain about being here, I mean, it’s awesome.”
So, for a man of many secrets, there is no sleeve big enough to hide the fact that this one-of-a-kind magician has settled into Sin City and we have feeling that he will not be disappearing any time soon (unless you go to his show.) Oh, and sleep soundly assured in the fact that we will be the ones staying awake at night trying to figure this all out.
Get your Mat Franco show tickets and see him perform at The LINQ Hotel, every Thursday through Tuesday at 7 p.m.
Check out this sneak peek of “Mat Franco’s Got Talent” when Mat meets up with Rob Gronkowski for a touchdown magic trick.