Pete Firman has been working as a magician for an awfully long time. His act has the pleasantly retro feel of grandma’s prized pyrex—perhaps at times it’s very obvious that it’s been around a while, but at the same time it’s aged so gracefully it’ll probably outlast us all. In Bag of Tricks he operates under the fairly simple premise that it’s been a long lockdown and he has plenty of things he’d like to show an audience.
Bag of Tricks is a bit of a misnomer, one of the first items that Firman brings out on stage is a large packing box, big enough to fit him like makeshift overalls as he stands inside it. His relatable storytelling brings his tricks to life. If a few of his jokes don’t quite land with every generation of the audience, he is quick to gloss over the moment and press on. A highlight is when he leans in to his retro vibe in performing odd pointless parlor games that he perfected during lockdown. It’s a nice break in the traditional magic while still showing off magic-adjacent skills of quickness and manual dexterity.
Whether it’s due to his history of televised work or his preference for performing his show as half stand up comedy, half magic, Firman invites relatively few audience members to the stage. With his larger than life performance, for much of the show he doesn’t really need the audience representative onstage to make the magic feel close to us. However there does come a time when this is necessary, and he chooses well. All of his participants at the reviewed show are great sports. Firman generally treats them well in turn—when he gives one a hard time, immediately after he performs one of his prettier effects dedicated just to her.
Firman’s act dovetails perfectly into current trends favoring upcycled found object maximalism, with his parlor game interludes and frenetic larger than life style. It’s not at all surprising that he’s attracted a decent proportion of audience members who don’t understand some of his older references, magic aside the aesthetic alignment is there. And his old fans certainly won’t be disappointed by Bag of Tricks. Firman’s here for a good time and for a long time.
More information on Pete and his performance dates can be found here.