20 November 2021

A peek behind the curtain with Alex McAleer [2021]

A peek behind the curtain with Alex McAleer 

Learn more about Alex, in the fourth of a series of interviews leading up to the Champions of Magic World Wide Wonders Tour shows in Kitchener and Peterborough early next year.

Read our 2019 interview where we learn Alex's thoughts on:
- Canadian audiences,
- keeping his performance fresh,
- advice for touring magicians,
[Editor's note: there's some great advice here!]
- non-magic interests,
- pre-show rituals, and
- Broadway dream role!

And the 2018 piece in which we learn about his
- first memory of magic,
- non-mentalism magic,
- creating new effects
- non-magical inspirations,
- our fascination with magic,
- performing in different countries,
- memorable touring mis-adventures, and
- his connection to Canadian magic.
Champions of Magic performed in Canada in 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020After a two year absence, what are you most looking forward to on your return to Canada in early 2022?

I’m looking forward to being in front of a Canadian crowd again, they always give good audience. And the food - I managed to find a vegan poutine last time we were there and I suddenly saw what all the fuss was about.


The Great Pause (COVID Lockdowns)
Did you experience any silver linings? 
Time with the family has been wonderful. My son turned 12 this year so frankly it was a great opportunity to have so much uninterrupted time with him at this age.

Also, for the past 3 years we’ve had hotel room Christmas mornings, and as fun as they are, it was great to be home with the family for Xmas 2020.

What was your comfort binge?
We’d never watched Downton Abbey so we watched it all - from episode 1 right up to the film. Great British Bake Off (it didn’t help the baking skills). X Files. The Simpsons… thank goodness Disney plus launched in the UK when it did. Also I found myself watching very niche things on YouTube… Documentaries about theme park rides, or Adam Savage from Mythbusters making an iron man helmet or a place to keep drill-bits.
Were you able to explore your personal passions (film, art, cooking, gym, laughing, and anthropomorphising)?
Those are all still very much at the top of the list.

I’ve done plenty of laughing.

I’ve cooked lots but baking still remains an absolute disaster.

I got to explore my passion for film by watching nearly everything on Netflix and Disney plus… turns out when you ‘complete’ Netflix, all the film titles bounce around the screen like when you win Solitaire on an old Windows PC.

[Editor's note:  Must keep watching Netflix to unlock this bonus!]

I also made a series of short films with my partner Daisy, combining her skills as a circus performer and writer.

I started running/jogging as the gyms were closed. Almost immediately gave myself shin splints but then I got some better shoes.

Did The Great Pause allow you to do anything that you wouldn't likely have been able to accomplish if you were touring?
Yes. For several years I’ve had a sideline in teaching and lecturing to other performers but The Great Pause allowed me to do more of that. I created a few online lectures discussing my work including a full course on stagecraft. I also launched a few niche products for fellow performers. The feedback has been great and I’ve made some new friends and connections along the way too.

Did you have to adjust anything in your set to incorporate COVID precautions?
This is something tha'ts still very much in a state of flux, I think. For example, throwing the Chimpion of Magic out into the audience… that might have to change. Essentially it’s all about keeping everyone safe and comfortable… anything people handle, such as a pen or a pack of cards, is cleaned before, during, and after shows.
Kelly and Dave help out Alex McAleer. 
Photo credit: William Balfour, Spectra Experiences. Oshawa 2019.

How did you keep your skills fresh and performance ready?

I’ve done a few smaller shows and events over the past 18 months or so, and it took me awhile to get the rhythm back. I felt a little rusty but the energy from an audience brings it all back.


What was it like travelling and performing with Champions of Magic in Mexico during the pandemic?
It was strange, mostly because the airport and trains were so quiet, security took no time at all! Also, on the plus side for me, because of the airlines social distancing measures I got upgraded to first class! Strange was absolutely livid.

The show was great, we performed a version for streaming plus some live shows. We had to change certain elements of the show not just because of COVID related restrictions but also because of the language barrier.

There was a panicked moment backstage when the venue staff were using this sort of disinfectant-fog-machine. It filled the whole dressing room area with fog. None of us knew it was going to happen and we thought the place was on fire!
Was there anything particularly memorable about your first live performance after The Great Pause?
I did a show in my hometown and I felt it didn’t go as well as I’d hoped, it wasn’t bad but not as good as it could have been. Speaking to people after the show however they thought it was great. It just reminded me that my perception of a performance has very little to do with the audiences enjoyment, and they are the ones the show is for!
Have audience reactions to live magic performances changed after Lockdown? 
They seem the same, but I think the thrill of seeing a live performance has added to their enjoyment.
In September, we learned that Hollie England will be joining the Champions of Magic family.
How will you welcome Hollie into the Champions family?

By showing her where we keep the kettle backstage.

What advice do you have for Hollie to help her thrive in the Champions family?
I don’t think I can really offer her any advice, Hollie has toured with other shows and performers many times before so I’m sure she’ll fit right in.

If you could go back in time to study (magic or otherwise) under anybody, who would you choose to be your mentor?
Hmm… a silent act of some kind. I’ve done some silent work on stage before and I enjoy the challenge. Probably comedy based, not magic… I guess I just want to be Buster Keaton (who is funnier than Chaplin, don’t @ me)
What’s your go-to Karaoke song?

4’33’’ by John Cage.

[Editor's note: Now there's a "pro-tip" I can implement immediately with excellent results!]
If you could only perform one effect for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Despite how egotistical this may come across, I think it would have to be my own routine, the first one I do in my first set in Champions. It’s a very simple and direct piece of mind reading.
If you could eliminate other performers performing an effect forever, what would it be?

That one where an audience member colours in a Lego Man.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
Now please wash your hands.


Thank you Alex, for making the time to answer our questions!

Catch Champions of Magic in Kitchener and Peterborough early 2022! 

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