Howdy, I’m Mac King! If those words don’t sound familiar to you, they soon will. Magician and Comedian Mac King was just named "Magician of the Year" by the Magic Castle in Hollywood, just broke a Guinness World Record, just appeared on his seventh TV special for NBC-TV, just got voted the 6th best show in all of Las Vegas, and his book from Random House just entered it’s 5th printing. How did a kid from Louisville, Kentucky find himself in the enviable position of being perhaps the funniest magician in America? Let¹s find out, as we examine...
Big Events in Mac King¹s Life (in roughly chronological order)
Mac became interested in magic as a kid because both of his grandfathers (Elwood Huffman and Pax King) were keen amateur magicians. Elwood would perform a trick for Mac, and when asked how he did it, Elwood would point to his shelf of magic books and say, "It’s in one of those." Mac would then have to sort through all the books looking for how to do that particular trick. A few years later it finally occurred to Mac that this was merely Elwood’s little scam to get Mac to read more books!
As a kid Mac would do a show for his family and friends just about any time he could, but his first paid show was for one of the Herbert kid’s birthday party when Mac was 10. He got a whopping five bucks cash (plus cake). The first show he was paid by check was for his Grandfather Elwood’s Kiwanis Club in Greenville, Kentucky. Mac got 35 dollars for that show (but no cake).
Mac attended Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota on a National Merit Scholarship. After graduating with Highest Honors in 1981 with a double major (Anthropology and Magic), Mac took his show on the road, eventually headlining all the major comedy clubs in America. Mac met his wife, Jennifer Sils, at one of his shows. She was a volunteer from the audience! They were married in Louisville, Kentucky in 1985.
After moving to Los Angeles in 1987 Mac’s amazing visual style of magic, and offbeat (but decidedly friendly) approach to comedy eventually caught the eye of the producers of all the stand-up comedy TV shows like An Evening at the IMPROV and Comic Strip Live that were so popular in the late 80’s.
Because of the visual nature of Mac’s act he discovered that he wasn¹t limited to American audiences. He’s performed both live and on television in Spain, Japan, Australia, Denmark, Sweden, England, Argentina, Holland, Finland, Canada, Chile, and Portugal.
Because Mac’s act is not only original and extremely funny, but also very clean, he found that corporations around the country were vying for his services. In addition to simply performing his show as their after-dinner entertainment, Mac has had great success as a congenial host for their various meetings.
In Los Angeles Mac garnered a showcase for the producers of NBC-TV’s The Worlds Greatest Magic shows. His unique hilarious tricks, including his ability to make his head cave in, landed him a spot on the first of these highly rated annual specials. After seeing him on that show, they hired Mac for six more network specials. Which, in turn, lead to him being featured on Penn and Teller’s Sin City Spectacular. At the end of 1999 Mac made his first appearance on the new syndicated Donny and Marie Show, where he performed his Amazing Goldfish Trick. His October appearance was so successful that it made their year-end highlight show of The Best of 1999. Mac made 4 appearances on their show before it was cancelled (not Mac’s fault). And a couple of months ago his house was featured on Home and Garden Television. Obviously, you should keep your eyes peeled for reruns of all of Mac's TV appearances.
Because all of those NBC TV shows were taped at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Mac began to get the attention of some of the bookers of Casino showrooms in that fabulous city. He and Jennifer moved from Los Angeles to Las Vegas in early 1997. Mac has appeared in Spellbound at Harrah’s, The Great Radio City Music Hall Spectacular at The Flamingo Hilton, at The Desert Inn with Comedian Rita Rudner, and in Splash! at the Riviera. Before moving to Las Vegas, Mac was working on the road an average of 220 days a year. Given the hilarious nature of Mac’s act, and the broad spectrum of folks it appeals to, it was inevitable that a casino would come calling with a full-time offer. Mac began a two-year run with his own one-man show (The Mac King Comedy Magic Show) in Las Vegas at the Harrah’s Casino and Hotel on Jan 11th, 2000. That initial run has now been extended through 2011!
A couple of years ago Mac and his cousin Bill King (who is a wildly successful commercial artist in Chicago) got the crazy idea to start a weekly syndicated comic strip called Mac King¹s Magic in a Minute. This Sunday color feature presents a handsomely drawn Mac King teaching a simple magic trick to his monkey sidekick, Lewis. This comic strip is syndicated by Tribune Media services and is featured in Sunday papers around the US.
The popularity of the strip and the hilarious Bill King artwork have led to many offshoots. KFC has featured Mac King’s Magic in a Minute on it’s kid’s meals, KOL (the kid’s version of America on Line) now features special Mac King video magic teaching segments, Barnes and Noble continues to offer the sell-out smash, Mac King's Magic In A Minute Suitcase-O-Magic boxed kit at retail outlets everywhere and online, and Fundex Games now sells 11 different toys (available at major national toy retailers like Toys R Us) based on the Mac King Magic in a Minute comic strip.
Mac is the spokesperson for Optimist International’s JOOI of Reading program. "The skills you develop when you¹re learning to read really do make a huge difference in how you do in school and therefore how you do in life," he said. Mac started volunteering to read in public schools years ago and, after seeing how many school libraries were inadequate and how many second- and third-graders were unable to read, he was inspired to promote children’s literacy. His involvement with the JOOI of Reading program is an extension of that work.