Last weekend at the Magic Castle, I was performing my closeup magic show at the tables. At midnight, I was thinking about leaving when a group of Japanese walked up to the table.
And so I launched into my main show, which lasts about 20 minutes. I had to pronounce my words more slowly because of the language barrier. Sometimes, I would deliver a joke, look up, and be greeted with uncomprehending silence. Such are the wages of national identity.
Still, there were heartwarming moments of commonality in my show.
“Morpheus asked, ‘Do you want the blue pill or the red pill? When you make the choice, you will discover how deep the rabbit hole goes.’”
I was referring, of course, to the moment in the movie The Matrix when Morpheus offers Neo a choice between a blue pill, which will allow him to return to his life, or the red pill, which will allow him to see the whole truth about his reality. But one man took a different meaning.
“Blue pill?” he asked “Like Viagra?”
Pharmaceuticals are apparently an international language.
And so is magic. Whenever I finished a trick, Masa would gaze at me in wonder and express his astonishment.
“I have not seen this type magic,” Masa said. “Is best I have seen. Is very attractive.”
When the show was over, though, it was my turn to be astonished. Masa turned out to be Masanori Takumi, a thirtysomething composer/musician from Tokyo who was in town for the Grammys, which were to be held the following evening.
“I show you my medal,” Masa said, and pulled out a bronze medal with “Grammy nominee” embossed on it.
Turned out the other men in the group were his agent, his producer, and three other business associates. Apparently, Masa writes a lot of music for anime and video games, and is quite famous in Japan. After the show, I was so impressed that I gave him a guided tour around the Castle. I didn’t get home till 2:30 am.
The next evening, Masa didn’t snatch the big prize. He was entered in the category of “Best Reggae Album” (a song he wrote was included on an album by Sly & Robbie and the Jam Masters called Reggae Connection), and seriously, how can you win against Bob Marley’s son Ziggy, who won for a live album. It’s like competing against Zeus’s son in the category of Best Roman God. Not only that, but Japanese reggae is, to be frank, a long shot, like kiwi salsa. But still, I let him know via email how impressed I was.
“Just being a nominee means that you’re officially one of the five best this year,” I wrote.
“And you were the best I seen,” he wrote back.