Recently extending his Harrah’s residency four more years, Mac King has officially been dubbed by us, (we are official enough right?) the Las Vegas King of Comical Magic, seeing that he is the longest running magician in Vegas to be working at the same hotel. “I will have been here for 15 years in January,” King explains of his Harrah’s residency.
Combining the whimsical worlds of magic and comedy, King has mastered the art of family friendly entertainment complete with goldfish…and guinea pigs…and bears…er… oh my!
But more than his passion for entertaining, King jokingly credits the longevity of his headlining act to the fact that his show is “inexpensive.” Laughing, he continues, “I think there are other people that I see who have been doing shows for a while and it seems like they are walking through it… just mailing it in, but for me, it’s different every day because the audience is different every day and the people I get up on stage are different every day and it’s always something new, even if it’s the same trick, it’s different from day to day because I just never know what’s going to happen because there’s lots of leeway for ‘stuff’ to happen.”
And the sort of “stuff” King is referring to is mostly what happens when he invites members of the audience to assist him in his tricks and improvisational dialogue typically takes over. Perfectly exemplifying this is in one of King’s favorite on-stage memories. He recalls, “My favorite story starts when I get a call from the club owner where I was [performing] and he said, ‘I am bringing a date to the show tonight, it’s our first date would you get her up on stage?’ So when I’m looking for people to help [with my tricks during the show], I am looking for specific things; I am looking for people who have expressive faces and who are really outgoing and acting like they want to be a part of this…and I am trying to look for [the manager’s date] before the trick comes up that she is going to help with… so I get her up on stage and she is just the absolute wrong person, just the meekest little mouse of a woman and I just feel, ‘oh this is going to be terrible and she is going to hate this, she doesn’t want to be here.’ I am going to do the Houdini Challenge Naked Rope Escape…and I’m thinking to myself before this happens, ‘this poor woman she might cry!’ So I say to this woman, you know, ‘we are going to do the Houdini Challenge Naked Rope Escape, I want you to take off your clothes and tie me up!’ and she whips off her dress and she is naked and [the manager] is standing up howling, laughing and taking pictures of me and the stripper he has hired… I mean it was so fantastic!”
However, it wasn’t teasing women into thinking they had to take off their clothes in front of a 500 plus-member audience that initially got King interested in becoming a magician. Rather, he was inspired as a young boy by both of his grandparents who were the first in the family to have a little magic up their sleeves.
“I have a distinct memory of being a little kid, a little four- or five-year-old, my grandfather sitting me up on the kitchen counter and wrapping up a kitchen match — just shows how long ago that was since they had to light their stove with a stinkin’ match — I know I’m old! And so he wrapped it up in his handkerchief and he had me break it up inside, I mean I could hear it, I could feel it, so visceral I mean, ‘snap!’ and then he had me shake it out and the match was unbroken… I mean I had felt it break, I had heard it break! That’s the first trick I remember seeing and then he taught me how to do that then my head exploded, so that’s the first trick I ever learned.”
King continued, “But my mom’s dad actually did tricks for people all of the time and he had magic books at his house, books that taught you how to do tricks, so when I’d go visit them, he would do a trick for me and I would beg him to show me how to do that and he’d say ‘well, I can’t show you but I will tell you that the secret is in one of those books.’ So I would spend the rest of my visit pouring through these books and I don’t know if it was intentional but it got me to read, which was cool, a life changing thing to learn to love to read but also, by looking for that trick, I read all these other tricks and learned these other secrets so it was just a great little scam for me…I think he knew what he was doing!”
With magic clearly in the family and with a completely relevant college degree in anthropology (ha, look we are comedians too!) King has worked his entire life as a comedian magician except for a brief period in high school when he tried his hand in the culinary field. “I’ve been lucky, I’ve never had another job,” King explained. “The only other job I’ve had was in high school and I was training to be a chef and that’s probably what I would do if I wasn’t doing magic. And here in town, because of that, I really like to eat… there are some unbelievable restaurants in Las Vegas.”
However, even with a long list of favorites, King’s most current favorite restaurant is MADE L.V. located in Tivoli Village, about 30 minutes west of the Strip. And should you find yourself dining there, King offers that, “the bacon cheddar biscuits are really good [and so is] the blue cheese truffle fondue.”
But when King isn’t performing or eating, he loves to take in the sights of Las Vegas off the Strip. He explained that while you’re visiting Vegas, or even if you live here you should, “…go for a walk, but not on the Strip! Red Rock is fantastic… [and] there’s a walk out by Lake Mead through the old railroad tracks, through the tunnels, it’s fantastic!”
On the other hand, if you’re more interested in staying on Las Vegas Boulevard during your stay, King recommends that you simply, “Try to do something that you wouldn’t normally do. There is so much to see and so much to eat and the shows… there is just so much!”
Mac King’s Insider Tips:
1) The shows with the biggest theaters aren’t necessarily the best shows.
2) Everything is farther than you think it is!