For all his confidence and skill, Jason Verners found himself a little nervous before competing in the Pacific Coast Association of Magicians competition.
The 15-year-old illusionist from Langford had finished third in his category at the 2012 International Youth Magic Championships in Las Vegas and felt his act had become more sophisticated, a result of hours of practice and experience performing at various venues around Greater Victoria.
Despite there only being a handful of young magicians in the closeup junior (age 14 to 19) category at the Coquitlam event last month, he knew he had to be on his game.
“I almost felt more pressure on myself, I told myself it’s a smaller competition so I should do really well,” he says. “They were all super strong performers and they were crazy at sleight of hand.”
In the end, Verners won the event using what is becoming his trademark: youth-infused comedy and smooth sleight of hand. “I was really happy with the act. It was very much me as a person … and I had fun with the audience.”
While he’s glad to bring another competition medal back to the Capital Region, contests are not necessarily where Verners sees his future.
Eight years after he received his first magic kit – after ignoring it at first, he went on to master every trick in the box – the Grade 11 Belmont student is looking at making magic his career.
Where he once was focused on the technical aspects of magic, he has become more interested in entertaining his audiences and lending his personality to his act.
“Now I like (magic) because I like comedy, I like dance,” he says. “You need good showmanship, you need good comedy and misdirection.”
He enjoys doing corporate gigs and community festivals, such as the B.C. Day celebration in Victoria, where he performed at St. Ann’s Academy.
“I like company Christmas parties when it’s almost like standup. I don’t have a lot of props, although I do have a bag that I use. I like to get to know people.”
While he’s still learning his craft and perfecting his illusions, both on his own and in co-operation with other magicians, Verners wants to work as much as possible to keep connecting with his audiences. He hopes to study marketing after high school and incorporate those skills into promoting his magic act.
While details are still being planned out, he’s in the process of planning a major Christmas theatre show that will feature closeup magic, where people can actually see what they perceive is going on.
“I’m not worried if they leave fooled,” Verners says, “I want them to leave happy and say that was fun.”