Most stories you read about magicians will tell you they began treading the path from an early age, with childhood fascinations. Matt Tarrant, who is widely regarded as one of the foremost magicians Down Under (Australia, but you know that), only got into magic at the age of 19, when he saw a street magician for the first time.
Matt worked a top-end job at one of Australia’s top four banks before leaving at the age of 27 to pursue a full-time career in the mystical arts.
Presenting his skills in a novel manner, Matt steals the limelight on every show line-up and leaves his audiences mesmerised and confounded at his ability. South African audiences will be able to see him in action at the Jive Cape Town Funny Festival, which runs at the Baxter Theatre from 1-28 July 2019 for its 15th year. The Festival’s unique characteristic is that it presents international speciality acts alongside local stand-up comics.
Commenting on his relatively late start, Matt says the biggest difference he’s found is that he has been able to take the knowledge he learnt working for a big business for more than eight years into his career in magic. “Which has allowed me to take my marketing, promotion and branding to a different level, whereas many magicians may focus entirely on the performance itself,” he says. “Which I think is obviously very important, but not always the most important.”
The biggest lesson Matt learnt while working for a big corporation, however, was that we can become very complacent and stuck in our ways – despite seeking more. “I was surrounded by hundreds of staff members and most of them had stories and dreams that far exceeded what they were achieving working a job they didn’t always necessarily love,” he shares. “I’ve been lucky enough to follow my passion and achieve a lot of success; I hope to inspire others that they too can do the same.”
Mainly performing at parties and small corporate events, Matt’s first fringe festival show in 2012 was unique in that it was not a stage show, but more a roving performance at multiple venues across Adelaide. “It allowed me to perform for thousands of people and have a face-to-face interaction with more audience members than a small stage show would allow,” he says. “From there I was able to begin growing a brand and audiences for future larger shows.”
The Jive Cape Town Funny Festival is renowned for its line ups; organiser extraordinaire Eddy Cassar has a finely honed instinct for sourcing exceptional acts from all over the world. Magic has shared the stage with comedy before, and Matt intends to bring something new and fresh to the event.
“I like to have my magic connect my audience, but also connect the audience to my magic – and myself,” he says. “The performance I will be bringing to Cape Town does just that; it’s my favourite piece of my touring show and the version I have made for Cape Town is likely my best yet.”
Matt says the most significant thing sport has taught him about magic is the emotional attachment you can get as an audience member while attending a show. “As an audience, we experience highs – and lows – and through that, build a lot of passion and emotion. As magicians and entertainers, we can replicate that by including emotional impact into our own shows. That’s something I very much try to achieve in each of my shows.”