31 August 2023

Top 5 posts in August 2023

There were 42(!) posts at Canada's Magic this month.  The popular posts statistics have been hugely skewed by the 12 part series "The Legacy of Sorcerers Safari" which eclipsed all of our regular offerings, so we're considering the series as a single post.  Here are the most viewed posts in the past 30 days: 

5. An update and wheelchair jokes from Miranda Allen - Thanks for the update Miranda.  Great example of making lemonade!
4. Toronto: There's magic at the 2023 CNE [Aug 18 - Sep 4] - There's still time to catch Double Vision, Majinx, and The Sentamentalists! 
3. Dean Gunnarson's "Escape or Die!" now on Tubi [free] - Catch up on Dean's show before seeing him in Quebec next month! 

2. Carisa Hendrix to join cast of Teatro ZinZanni Chicago [Oct - Mar] - A spectacular addition to their cast!

and the most viewed post this month  ...

1.  "The Legacy of Sorcerers Safari" - We are beyond pleased that this series was so well received!  For those of you who are curious as the popularity of the individual parts of the series, it looked something like this (in order of most viewed):
part 3 | part 1 | part 4 | part 2 | part 5part 6 | part 8part 9 | part 7 | part 10 | part 11 | part 12 
Thank you Mike and Jen for all of the hard work and dedication you put into making Sorcerers Safari Magic Camp the fantastic event that it was.  The magic community as a whole, was made better because of your efforts!





30 August 2023

Checking in with David Merry and Switched at Death

We had the opportunity to check in with David Merry and learn more about his soon to be released film, Switched at Death.


Switched at Death movie poster


Who inspires you from outside the magic community?

I lived in Las Vegas in 1981 playing blackjack for a living, while I was there I went to see many comedians as that was what I truly loved when added to my magic. I saw Johhny Carson, Bob Hope, George Carlin and finally Don Rickles. Bob Hope, Don Rickles and Rodney Dangerfield had the biggest impacts on me. Eventually I went on to become a joke writer for Rodney Dangerfield and Joan Rivers. I wrote jokes for Leno at the Tonight Show but not enough to say I wrote for him. I also love Apollo Robbins known as the world’s best pickpocket. He came to me and asked me to write a bunch of material for him… he’s off the charts good!

What is your first memory of magic?

The very first recollection of any magic I have was at a birthday party I went to as a child and watched the amazing Johnny Giordmaine.

I can’t put an exact date on it but I would guess I was 7 or 8 years old. I was mesmerized instantly. After that a friend who was quite a card guy even at 13 showed me tricks he could do with an ordinary deck. He actually is our last mayor’s younger brother, Michael Tory. He became very accomplished, very early (he attended several Tannen’s Magic Camps) and that got me hooked on close-up. Not a lot of people know I’m a hard core close-up card guy! I took private lessons from Ariel Frailich, Howard Schwartzman, and Derek Dingle.

Who from the magic community inspires you?

Doing comedy magic I had two people I looked up to, one was The Amazing Johnathan and the other was Mac King. Both became friends over the years and I truly respected their work as comedy magic performers. The difficulty with comedy magic is the extremely fine (and hard) line that needs to be found that brings the two disciplines together. I spent many years trying to figure out a way to blend the two together without having one overpower the other. I never wanted to be a magician that started one trick and after finishing it implied OK here’s my next trick. My lifelong pursuit has been to understand the importance in the subtleties of transition between the two. I have only seen a handful of people who grasp the concept. Mike Hammer is a great practitioner today as are a few others. I take my hat off to anyone who has studied the difficult process. Ali Bongo was a good friend who was excellent and of course Terry Seabrooke.

Doug Henning obviously had a huge influence but I think the man who made me want to try doing it for a living the most was Peter Reveen. After watching him many times years ago at his Toronto run as a kid I realized that’s what I wanted to dedicate my life to.

You've previously been on screen as part of the show Too Much Information and served as director and EP for the TV show Off The Hozzle.  What prompted you to make the transition from live comedy magic to television?

I had an idea for a short comedy video and asked a friend of mine who was a producer and cameraman to help me shoot it. We shot the video, had it edited and I put it up on my newly formed YouTube channel. I went out to perform at a corporate event that night and worked in front of 300 people. A couple days later I checked out the views on the comedy video and 80,000 people had seen it. I feel like I was given the gift of laughter and after 35 years of making people laugh at live shows I thought I should try creating more on screen comedic content. I’m trying to make the world laugh and if I can do it on a greater scale and leave a body of work behind when I’m gone that would have a bit of a legacy. I took shooting courses, editing courses, writing courses and finally directing courses. I stopped reading books almost altogether as I had to watch how content was shot and ultimately brought to life. I opened my production company Home Invasion Studios Inc. the following year. One thing that I always did on my “road days” was make use of my waking hours. Some comics would get up at 11 am and not be diligent in writing or creating. While I worked on cruise ships for about 10 years and had so much spare time I wrote everyday. When I got off the boats I had written 9 feature films and pilots and bibles for 6 television shows which I am very proud of.


Switched At Death logline: After his wife kicks him out, a self-centered computer analyst moves into the retirement home of the only person he hasn't pissed-off, his wife's grandma. As he starts learning how to play well with others, he uncovers a sinister enterprise, forcing him to try and save his marriage and his new friends without getting himself killed.


The Switched At Death logline and synopsis suggest a wildly entertaining plot!  The screenplay was a finalist in at least four international film festivals and it won Best Screenplay at the 2019 Canadian International Film Festival.  Where did the story idea come from?

My writing partner on this project is the very funny prop comic Marty Putz, an old and dear friend. We have written several screenplays together and have another in the works. We were spitballing ideas on a phone call one day (he lives in LA) and he said to me ‘How about a young guy gets kicked out of the house and moves into an old folks home.” That’s all I needed to hear, I loved the idea! Over the next eight months (on and off of ships) I hacked out the first draft which was originally called Senior Management. When I was done I sent the draft to Marty as he had forgotten the original concept. He couldn’t believe I had written the screenplay. This would have been about 8 years ago which gives you an idea how long it takes for an idea to come to the screen. Over the next 6 years we tweaked, re-wrote and morphed that first draft into what is now our movie called Switched at Death. We sent it off to the Canadian International Film Festival in Vancouver and basically forgot about it. Out of the blue I got an email saying it had won the screenplay festival. Immediately I sent it to several others and it did so well at all of them (placing in all) some of which had 1400 scripts we realized we needed to make it. By then I had already shot my TV show Off The Hozzle on CBS and A Little Sketchy here in Canada that I reached out to my two partners and we raised the funds needed to shoot it! CMF came up big for us which is the TV arm of Telefilm Canada. I’d like to thank them for their support as it’s not an easy feat getting a movie made anywhere.




Are there similarities in the work of writing a screenplay and putting together a comedy magic stage routine?  

Absolutely. I would say the greatest similarities are format and of course creativity. They both have to be formed in a way that follows some format conventions but also have no outer boundaries. In both scenarios we are telling stories really. Both a screenplay and live show typically need a beginning, middle and end. In screenplay writing it’s a little more complex. You need to hit certain notes by a certain page. You need to state your theme of the movie in the first few pages, you typically need your inciting incident (quite often around page 8) that is the moment that puts the story in gear. Next in both live shows and movie writing is the “middle” part. Some say the typical structure for film writing is three stages some say five. In either case the middle is the meat and potatoes of the story, as well as your act. In movie writing you are expanding on the inciting incident and plot point one to take the viewers on the story “journey” which will eventually resolve the conflict or issue at the centre. The last stage is the resolution (again quite often with stage shows as well). I have three pieces in my show that I do in the middle of my show that are called back at the very end as the climax to the evening. When I landed on this my shows had way more impact!

Here’s a golden rule of script writing, “Show, don’t tell” in other words if you have successfully written and shot a movie, you should be able to watch the movie with the sound off and still understand what you’ve seen. If the entire script has very little action and is all descriptive dialogue, it isn’t typically very good story telling. Magic quite often is the same, certainly an act to music with no verbiage tells its story visually, however, someone who only describes the action of what they are doing usually doesn’t connect with their audience. Example, "here’s a ball that I’ll put under this cup, it will now move to this cup.” If the trick does just that, don’t describe what they are about to see as it’s bad “storytelling.” With an act like mine (comedy magic) I use a combination of visual and the written word. I am a joke writer so I need the verbal aspect firmly ingrained in the backbone of my act hopefully heightening the visual optics.



Principal photography wrapped March 31st.  Where are you in the production schedule?  Where and when will we be able to see the final product?

The first process was seeing a full linear version of my film edited by my amazing editor (the editor’s cut). I then step in as the writer and director to make the changes needed from a comedic timing and (scene take) choice. I have final choice as to every aspect of what will eventually be seen on screen as I wrote, produced, and directed it. It then went to be colour graded. When you shoot the film it’s shot on very expensive cameras that capture everything in 4 K. The files are huge but when you review the scenes shot daily (dailies) they look uncoloured and drab. That process was done and I now see the vibrant colouring! The music score is being done now (we need) 59 individual pieces of music and so far 52 have been written. The composer is a friend of mine who went to Alert NWT with me a hundred years ago performing on an Armed Forces tour. The audio is being mixed by audio engineers so the entire film’s dialogue, sound effects and foley are constant all the way through. We are doing ADR (automated dialogue replacement) with a few lines from some actors that were not perfect in playback on the "picture lock" final cut. After that the visual effects will be added and I’ll go into the studio to see the final cut. We will make last changes as needed and can start shopping the movie! We are looking at a release date of Aug 31st downtown at the Royal Theatre if everything goes well. Then it will be sent to distributors, film festivals, and streaming services for worldwide sales.




Is there anything else you'd like to share with our readers about you or your film Switched at Death?

The movie took 15 days to shoot in and around Toronto. I had an amazing crew of 30 and an equally amazing cast of 45 talented actors. The web site is SwitchedAtDeath.com and I’ll send further details as they come in!

I have been green lit for my next film THE CAGE which is like the movie SAW. A nasty revenge type thriller that basically takes places in one location! More details to follow, should go to camera this fall or next spring!.



Thank you David, for making the time to answer our questions, and for giving us a peek into the fascinating world of filmmaking! 

To learn more about Switched at Death visit SwitchedAtDeath.com.

Learn more about David at his website DavidMerry.com and follow him on Instagram









29 August 2023

Breaking news: Browser's MAGIC BASH Is Back!

Browser's Bash logo  

From August 29th The Browser's Den of Magic's Facebook post:  

Browser's MAGIC BASH Is Back! 

Read more at: https://mailchi.mp/browsersden/browsers-magic-bash-is-back





The Legacy of Sorcerers Safari - part 12

There were so many fabulous people who graced the campgrounds at Sorcerers Safari.   

Timing and schedules did not permit us to obtain feedback from all of the special guests (such as Steve Valentine, Joshua Jay, the Buck Twins, Michael Ammar, and Suzanne), the regular instructors (such as Greg Frewin, Steven Kline, Dan Wiebe, Trevor and Lorena Watters, Michael Close, and Aaron Fisher), the behind the scenes crew who kept things running smoothly (we're looking at you Christina Galonska, Stephanie Kline Botamer, Lori Farquhar, and Lisa Close), or all of the amazing alumni (people like former IBM President Billy Hseuh, President of The Magic Circle Megan Swann, Nick Popa, AGT contestant Jack Grady, headliner Christian Mascia, Oscar winner Ben Proudfoot, and Brad Allen (who never missed a year!)). 

The previous 11 parts provide a pretty accurate snapshot of the Sorcerers Safari experience, and the breadth of expertise of the people involved.  We especially enjoyed finding out what everyone's accomplished since their magic camp days!

If you would like to participate but haven’t filled out the survey, we'd love to hear from you.  The survey can be found here:  https://forms.gle/umg77yj9QxUzfpm76

Otherwise, consider this the final installment of our Sorcerers Safari Virtual Reunion! 

Part 12 features Jen Segal and the two Mikes who hatched the plan to create Canada's only sleep away magic camp, Mike Toal, and Mike Segal


The Legacy of Sorcerers Safari
<< part 11


  Jen Segal 

Much like the ubiquitous "magic assistant," Jen was responsible for a phenomenal amount of the invisible work that made camp possible.  Some of her many roles included: patiently handling questions from parents, ensuring prescription medications were dispensed responsibly, cabin assignments, keeping the staff on task, and coordinating the buses. 


Since her time at camp Jen has:

  • Retired, so a little travelling, then moving, then COVID.  
  • Now she's getting back into the swing of things!

In his own words:

  • Favourite Sorcerers Safari memory?  
    • My favourite time at camp was always on the beach.  Hanging out watching the campers and staff mingle and have fun doing something other then magic.  Remember, Mike is the magician.

  • Biggest take-away from Sorcerers Safari?
    • Camp was good for the campers, the counsellors, the instructors and the guests.  It brought everyone together with one common thing… magic.  So many friendships were made. Incredible magic connections. 


Camp was an incredible 20 years of my life. I watched a lot of kids grow into wonderful adults.  Camp was good for them.



  Mike Toal  
Test Administrator.

Attended camp on and off, over the many years it was open, as staff, and co-founder!

In his own words:

  • Favourite Sorcerers Safari memory?  
    • I was the guy who built the campfires and I enjoyed spending time sitting around them talking to folks, as they came and went.  I also loved my daily walks with Mike and Jen's dog, as well as with Lee and Chris' dog.  We'd hike along the back trail to the empty camp at the other side of the lake and go swimming.

  • Biggest take-away from Sorcerers Safari?
    • While I have never been a magician, just a magic enthusiast, I was proud to see how the camp grew over the years.  I met lots of interesting folks and I continue to be the best of friends with Magic Mike and his lovely wife, Jennifer.


I'm delighted to know that so many people's lives were so profoundly impacted by their participation in the camp.  Like so many others, I miss it and come August, I'll wish I was on my way there.



  Magic Mike Segal  
Professional magician, Grumpy Old Man, Magic-Mike.com, SorcereresSafari.com.

Present for every camp from 1996 to 2016. 
Attended camp as the "Butt of all camp jokes, inviter of guests....."


Since his time at camp Mike has:

  • "Done ZIP!"

In his own words:

  • Favourite Sorcerers Safari memory?  
    • Too many!

  • Biggest take-away from Sorcerers Safari?
    • Friends for life!


Best years EVER!



Thank you Jen, Mike, and Mike for sharing your memories.  But more importantly, thank you for all of the hard work and dedication you put into making Sorcerers Safari Magic Camp the fantastic event that it was.  The magic community as a whole, was made better because of your efforts!


 Previously featured 


Learn more about Sorcerers Safari.

 part 1part 2  | part 3 | part 4 | part 5 | part 6 | part 7 | part 8 | part 9 | part 10 | part 11 | part 12

<< part 11



Carisa Hendrix at The Magic Castle [Sep 11 - 17]

From the August 24th Instagram post by Carisa Hendrix:

The Great Kaplan and I are delighted to be coming back to the Magic Castle in Hollywood with a couple new tricks up our sleeves :)

See you in September!!





28 August 2023

The Legacy of Sorcerers Safari - part 11

Recap (click to show | hide)

From Part 1 of the series:

In lieu of a physical reunion bringing together past campers and staff, Canada’s Magic is hosting a virtual reunion of sorts.  We’ve reached out to the Sorcerers Safari community with a dozen or so questions to help bring us up to date on what everyone has been up to since our magic camp days.

If you completed our survey, keep your eyes peeled for your segment!  

If you would like to participate but haven’t filled out the survey, there’s still time.  The survey can be found here:  https://forms.gle/umg77yj9QxUzfpm76

Thank you to all that contributed!


Mike, Jen, Sorcerers Safari staff, and alumni, this series is for you.


The Legacy of Sorcerers Safari
<<  part 10  |  part 12 >>


Part 11 features:  Michael Kras, David Mitchell, Ray Anderson, and Jordan Murciano


  Michael Kras  
Theatre artist, playwright, director, magic director, MichaelKrasWorks.com.

Attended as a camper in 2006 and 2009.


Since his time at camp Michael has:

  • Had the privilege of serving as the resident magic associate for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in Toronto and have directed and designed magic effects for multiple other theatre productions! On top of that, he's pursued a career as a playwright, achieving numerous professional productions and awards for his work.

In his own words:

  • Favourite Sorcerers Safari memory?  
    • How do I pick only one??? I suppose one that sticks out to me was the time I put my stubbornness aside and committed myself to unlearning a sleight I had taught myself incorrectly and relearning the proper handling after an instructor pointed out my error. I then found that instructor at the end of the week and proudly showed him my progress. 
    • Either that, or Daniel Garcia phoning David Blaine for us!

  • Biggest take-away from Sorcerers Safari?
    • At Sorcerers Safari, I learned to always be learning. I've stayed a student ever since, less intent on settling and more intent on taking steps forward at all times, big or small. 


Sorcerers Safari took me out of my magic echo chamber and introduced me to a wider world of perspectives, debates, and life lessons. Magic camp made me a more rounded magician and artist, while also putting some much-needed cracks in my social shell.



  David Mitchell  
Tech for Ellusionist.com.

Attended camp from 2004 to 2006 as a counsellor, and from 2006 to 2015 as staff (except for 2008).

In his own words:

  • Favourite Sorcerers Safari memory?  
    • My first year attending, being in initiated into the camp by the likes of Lee Asher and Steven Kline and accurately suspecting there would be some shenanigans during the event. 
    • Even though I had prepared ahead of time and thought myself to be smarter, I would be foiled by safety features of the swim docks. 
    • Thank goodness it was nighttime. 
    • In later years being able to participate in the now 'Formal' induction of new camp volunteers and staff into the Sorcerers Safari Family cemented the bond that we all shared.

  • Biggest take-away from Sorcerers Safari?
    • Though I haven't seen some of the staff and campers for a while, they are my partners in crime. We share a joy for a craft that can make the intangible a memory that lasts forever. While I only ever missed two years during my time associated with the camp (my daughter was scheduled to be born during camp week 2008, and we adopted my second daughter the last year camp ran. My oldest still remembers fondly the times she was able to go to camp and participate.
    • I also remember being able to assist in having Ellusionist donate decks and how the campers would always react to getting a new just released deck of cards that most people haven't seen before. The kids always showed their appreciation and made sure to thank myself and the owner of the company. 
    • Working for a Magic company has given me a unique perspective of the magic industry and the evolution of effects and the seasons of what is popular in magic.


I am honoured to have been a part of something that has impacted so many people in so many positive ways, and I am always thrilled to read about former campers now turned professional working magicians.



  Ray Anderson  
Professional magician, CoolMagician.com.

Attended camp during the first four or five years as counsellor and staff.


Since his time at camp Ray:

In his own words:

  • Being around those with the same mind set challenges us to be better.

  • Favourite Sorcerers Safari memory?  
    • Watching the campers enjoy each and every day .. so many great memories

  • Biggest take-away from Sorcerers Safari?
    • Life changing!



  Mind Bender, aka Jordan Murciano 
Professional magician, MindBenderMagic.com.

Attended as a camper from 2011 to 2015.

Since his time at camp Jordan has:

  • Performed suspension straitjacket escape over a bed of nails, and 
  • Placed in a wooden crate then had the crate engulfed in fire. 
  • He also had the opportunity to film a TV show about his escapes.

In his own words:

  • Sorcerers Safari gave me the opportunity to meet real life magicians and escape artist from around the world e.g. Scott Hammell.  Spending the time learning about Escapology [with Scott] was an incredible opportunity.

  • Favourite Sorcerers Safari memory?  
    • Late night jam sessions with the cabins!

  • Biggest take-away from Sorcerers Safari?
    • Skills, knowledge, experiences.


Magic camp allowed young performers to be as creative as possible while also giving them an extensive amount of knowledge.


Thank you Michael, David, Ray, and Jordan for sharing your memories!

Check back throughout the month to read updates from other Sorcerers Safari alumni and staff!


 Previously featured 


Learn more about Sorcerers Safari.

<<  part 10  |  part 12 >>



Murray SawChuck received the Society of American Magician's Presidential Citation

Congratulations Murray!  Well deserved!  


From the August 17th Facebook post by Murray SawChuck:

Super honored to receive this from the Society Of American Magicians! Thank you Rod Chow





27 August 2023

The Legacy of Sorcerers Safari - part 10

Recap (click to show | hide)

From Part 1 of the series:

In lieu of a physical reunion bringing together past campers and staff, Canada’s Magic is hosting a virtual reunion of sorts.  We’ve reached out to the Sorcerers Safari community with a dozen or so questions to help bring us up to date on what everyone has been up to since our magic camp days.

If you completed our survey, keep your eyes peeled for your segment!  

If you would like to participate but haven’t filled out the survey, there’s still time.  The survey can be found here:  https://forms.gle/umg77yj9QxUzfpm76

Thank you to all that contributed!


Mike, Jen, Sorcerers Safari staff, and alumni, this series is for you.


The Legacy of Sorcerers Safari
<< part 9  |  part 11 >>


Part 10 features:  Luis Salas, Michael Penkul, and Lee Asher


  Luis Salas  

Attended camp in 2009 as a camper.

In his own words:

  • Favourite Sorcerers Safari memory?  
    • Performing my own routine to Aaron Fisher as my audience on the boat dock.

  • Biggest take-away from Sorcerers Safari?
    • Experience.


Attending Sorcerers Safari was one of the most positive experiences I had as a teenager. From the friendships, the nature, the fun and the learning - everything was superb and I feel lucky to have attended even if it was just for the one year. I do wish I had gone again though.



  Michal Penkul  
Professional magician, Professional Wedding DJ & Magician, MichaelPenkul.com.

Attended as a camper in 2009 and 2010 (Daniel Garcia &  Dan and Dave Buck were the special guests).

Since his time at camp Michal has:

  • DJ'd and performed professionally full-time (DJ Magic Mike), and 
  • Produced music as an EDM artist.

In his own words:

  • Besides the amazing things I learned from all the lectures and special guests, it was the confidence to perform in front of larger crowds; getting to perform on the Sorcerers Safari Stage helped me overcome a lot of introverted shyness.

  • Favourite Sorcerers Safari memory?  
    • Filming Aaron Fishers DVD Revolution! Daniel Garcia was also a huge idol of mine, he left me with a phrase that I've tried incorporating into all my magic to this day - 'keep magic sexy'

  • Biggest take-away from Sorcerers Safari?
    • Being with like-minded magicians, many friends that I keep in contact with to this day. It was my first time away from my family for that long which was a huge stepping stone for me, and helped me build a lot of confidence on and off stage.


I was a shy, quiet kid who felt unmemorable at the time, but camp was one of the most memorable experiences in my life!



  Lee Asher 
Professional magician, LeeAsher.com.

Attended camp in:

  • 2001 as Counsellor / Staff, 
  • 2002 as Special Guest, and 
  • 2003 until the end as Executive Staff.

Since his time at camp Lee has been:

  • The youngest, cutest [self-reported], and longest-running President of 52 Plus Joker (the world's most prestigious playing card collectors organization),
  • The Senior consultant for the world's most extensive and expensive magic television series, Amazing Magicians, filmed in Nanjing, China, 
  • The Director of the largest stunt ever filmed for Penn & Teller's 'Fool Us' television show, and
  • The recipient of the Dawson Lifetime Achievement Award for my extensive work in the playing card industry. 


In his own words:

  • Sorcerers Safari Magic Camp fostered a true sense of community. Collaborative activities and team-building exercises allowed me to forge deep bonds with fellow aspiring magicians. These friendships taught me the value of collaboration, cooperation, and mutual support—a vital lesson that continues to guide me long after the campfire's embers have faded.
  • Most importantly, meeting my wife at Sorcerers Safari Magic Camp all those years ago was my greatest accomplishment. Through late-night conversations filled with laughter and shared dreams, Christina and I discovered a profound connection, and our hearts resonated in perfect harmony. We've been happily married for over twelve years.

  • Favourite Sorcerers Safari memory?  
    • There are far too many to mention. Yet, spending time with campers who have now grown into adults is something I treasure.

  • Biggest take-away from Sorcerers Safari?
    • My biggest takeaway is that Sorcerers Safari Magic Camp harnessed the incredible power of shared experiences, collaboration, and encouragement to unlock hidden potential, all while building lasting connections.


Best Years Ever!


Thank you Luis, Michael, and Lee for sharing your memories!

Check back throughout the month to read updates from other Sorcerers Safari alumni and staff!


 Previously featured 


Learn more about Sorcerers Safari.

part 1part 2  | part 3 | part 4 | part 5 | part 6 | part 7 | part 8 | part 9 | part 10 | part 11 | part 12

<< part 9  |  part 11 >>