My Most Memorable Meal: Magician Joel Ward
Just as Cirque du Soleil redefined what a circus act is, magician Joel Ward has brought contemporary style to the venerable show biz art of magic.His high-energy, highly original actcombines classical magic with modern touches, running the gamut from comic audience participation to interactive sleight of hand to flashy Vegas-type illusions.
Introduced to magic at the age of six when a magician at a school assembly chose him to be his on-stage assistant, Joel began performing at children’s birthday parties when he was 10. By age 15, Joel became the Current World Champion Teen Magician after placing 1st at the International Brotherhood of Magicians annual competition, the World’s Largest Magic Organization. That same year Joel was picked out of hundreds of magicians to appear on television with Master Magician, Lance Burton. The show, “Lance Burton-Young Magicians Showcase,” was filmed at the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Joel currently performs hundreds of shows a year, including a gig this week at the Comedy & Magic Club in Hermosa Beach.
GFG:Do you cook?Can you make magic in the kitchen?
JW:I do cook! My dad was the cook in the family growing up, so I learned form him. As far as making MAGIC in the Kitchen? Maybe not. I think it’s pretty good when I am hungry, but I stick with standards. My favorite things to cook are breakfast foods.
GFG:You were born and raised in California.Are there any foods that take you back to your childhood?
JW:Yes! I grew up with my Dad’s cooking, and love the Southern California favorite, Mexican Food. The town I grew up in, Cardiff by the Sea, had this Mexican Restaurant called, Las Olas, and it has the best Mexican Food around. Other things I remember are my dad’s beef jerky, probably the best in the world, VG Donuts in Cardiff, and the world famous, “Pipes,” home of the Breakfast Burrito. You go there after your done with a morning surf and it just fills your body will greatness.
GFG:Any food you crave that you can’t get when you’re ordering from room service?
JW:All the time. Room service only has a few good things. I was living in Tahoe for a year where I was performing my show at the Horizon Casino & Resort. Since I lived at the Casino, I ordered Room Service all the time. I wish they had had better steaks and Fish, and Caviar, oh ya, and Sherbet Ice Cream. Ya that’s good. And a good fettuccini Alfredo is never a bad thing. I just remember the boring food like burgers, and chicken fingers. I think I lived off the fruit bowls for the year.
GFG:What do you eat on the days you’re performing?Do you eat before or after a show?
JW:I try to eat light on performing days. There is nothing worse then eating something heavy and wanting to fall asleep during the show. I normally start the day with a cup of coffee and something light to fill my stomach like an omelet or a bagel. Then in the afternoon I like a healthy sandwich from a place like Wholefoods or Henry’s. They have fresh avocado and good breads. Then before a show I usually have a small salad or sometimes just an orange. The orange gives me natural sugar, which I like because it gives me this burst of energy when I run out on stage.
GFG:You’re on the road a lot.Are audiences different in different cities?Countries?
JW:Yes! Every city has a different vibe. I just got back form doing a run of shows in a small town of Savanna, IL. The audiences were very quiet and conservative. Vegas has crazy audiences, mainly drunk, Lake Tahoe had a mix of the two, California usually has very fun crowds, depends on where you perform. But I think I loved performing down in Brazil the best. The audiences down there were not use to seeing magic performed live. So when it happened right in front of their eyes they were super excited. I love watching the reactions of people. It brings me back to when I was six years old watching magic for the first time.
GFG: You just got done performing in Illinois.Any favorite restaurants you hit while you were there?
JW:There are two restaurants that stood out. Dominick and Maria’s, and Poopy’s. D&M’s is a family owned Italian restaurant. It has good everything. Poopy’s is an American restaurant, but everything you order form the menu has distinctive name: The Poop Burger, etc. It’s funny!
GFG: Your performing style is simultaneously casual and elegant (You make it look so easy).How did your style evolve?
JW:I started doing magic when I was six years old. As a kid I performed as the Kid’s-Kid Show Magician. I was able to mess up tricks and just smile because I was so young that no one cared. If I mess up now, people just laugh at me. As I grew up my style has changed. As a teenager I was able to incorporate things that I liked at the time. Today I can’t wear a tuxedo and bow tie because I wouldn’t actually wear that out. Instead I wear a nice sports jacket, a pair of True Religion Jeans, a Seven Shirt, and some Aldo’s. My style now is upbeat and fun. I don’t like to be the serious type that convinces my audience that I am doing real magic. I am up there entertaining, having fun with what I do.
GFG:You’ve been performing since you were a kid.What was your most memorable show (so far)?
JW:I have done so many shows, but I think that best one I can think of was for an Orphanage in Mexico. I was dating my girlfriend at the time who is a female magician, and we both went down there to donate a show for these kids. There were about 750 people there. We had a translator because my Spanish is not perfect. It was so much fun. These kids were so happy. I loved that show. Watching people who actually really enjoy what I do makes it all worth it, even when I am not getting paid.