Urbana magician to face off with Penn & Teller on TV show

No pressure for Urbana native Michael Kent for his first national television appearance, but the self-described magician/stand-up comedian only has to use his skills to outwit two of the best-known magicians of all — Penn & Teller.

Kent will work his brand of magic on the third-season premiere of “Penn & Teller: Fool Us” at 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 13, on the CW Network.

The show is a competition where aspiring magicians perform tricks in front of Penn & Teller and a studio audience. If the duo can’t figure out how the trick worked, the magician earns a chance to perform with them at their Las Vegas show.

“It was a blast. It’s easy to see why people want to be on television,” Kent said.

Though he’d met Penn & Teller before, that had no influence on Kent’s getting on the show. Recommendations come from fellow magicians.

Kent said he was asked to perform on season two, but was already committed to performing in Japan.

This time it was different. He shot the episode in April.

They say a good magician shouldn’t give away his secrets and it’s the same here.

“(Penn & Teller) don’t know who will be on until that act walks out onstage,” Kent said. “They were very strict about protecting things, so I can’t give a hint at all as to what I performed.”

Kent said he went through several trick ideas with the producers and was happy with the result, despite the presence of two magic legends.

“It’s surreal when your idols are 30 feet from you,” he said.

Kent also met actress and show host Alyson Hannigan, who starred on the hit series, “How I Met Your Mother.”

Kent said he’d previously shot a pilot for a show that wasn’t picked up by the National Geographic Channel. But he wouldn’t mind if this appearance turned into more opportunities on television, although he sees some irony.

“I’ve done hundreds of shows over the years and in three minutes on TV, more people will have seen me than in all of those shows I’ve done,” he said.

But Kent enjoys performing his hybrid of comedy and magic, whether the audience is 50 at a private event or 1,200 people.

He’ll perform a similar show in Columbus on July 26 called “Michael Kent vs. the Scientists” in which a group of scientists will try to debunk his tricks in front of a live audience at the Backstage Bistro.

After that he’ll return to do a 40-city college tour, which he’s done for 12 years and is very comfortable doing, then perform overseas for the troops in November.

Go to www.michaelkentlive.com for for more information on Kent’s performance schedule.

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