LU senior Freeman gives magic a modern twist
The old image of the magician in the tuxedo pulling a rabbit out of a hat is, literally, old hat. Grant Freeman is changing that. By adding R-rated stand-up to his slight-of-hand magic act, Freeman is bringing magic into the 21st century with two shows at the Port Arthur Little Theatre at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m., Feb. 23.
Tickets can be purchased through the Port Arthur Little Theatre Facebook page for $16.70 each. No one under 17 will be admitted without a parent.
“If I do my job right, people can expect to laugh and be amazed,” he said. “This is my first full-length show by myself doing raunchy comedy magic, so we’ll see how it goes.”
Freeman, a chemical engineering senior, spends his time perfecting his craft — R-rated comedy. A typical performance consists of a magic routine interspersed with raunchy stand up comedy.
“I got into magic in seventh grade when my middle school actually hosted a magic class,” the Houston native said. “After the class, most kids took all the cards and the ropes and shoved them in the back of their closets, but I stuck with it.”
Freeman said that at first he just wanted to know the mechanics of how the tricks worked.
“I started doing little things to see the expressions on people’s faces,” he said. “Then I did it to entertain. I started adding jokes to the routine to make people laugh while I was ‘amazing’ them. It was more rewarding to perform a routine than to watch one.”
Both his magic act and stand-up comedy routine are influenced by some of his favorite comics, like Steve Martin (who is also a magician), but Freeman is original in his content.
“I write my own jokes,” he said. “There are particular routines that are like my babies — I’ve perfected them over time and worked on those tricks since I was probably in high school or late middle school.”
Freeman has been performing his show for audiences since he was 13 years old, and while he said his first show didn’t go well, it only drove him to keep doing it.
“In eighth grade I did my first birthday party,” he said. “The birthday kid cried through the middle of it, and ran into his room crying and locked the door and wouldn’t come out until I left. It was awesome. That moment really sticks with me because it was my first cohesive performance.”
The R-rated comedy magic show is a relatively new frontier in the realm of performing arts, but Freeman said he enjoys the ever-changing landscape.
“The entire goal is to be edgy and make people laugh while also fooling
them within the realm of magic,” he said. “Magic is generally considered to be a ‘kid’ thing, so I think it’s cool to take stand-up comedy and raunchy humor and combine the two. They are two very opposite fields but make for a very interesting show.”
Although the stand-up comedy routine was a later addition to his magic act, Freeman’s love for stand-up goes back almost as far as his love for magic.
“As a kid, I enjoyed watching the cheesy magician with the hat and handkerchiefs, so that’s what I learned to do,” he said. “As I grew up, I started watching stand-up comedy. Right now, I have a whole album on Netflix filled with specials.
“I thought ‘I want to try that,’ so I started doing open-mic nights, and began to refine my stand-up skills and then adapted it to what I already do.”
Freeman’s routines typically last about 90 minutes, and can sometimes feature other players, although Freeman said that hasn’t always been a good thing.
“I really enjoy some of my worst moments on stage, like making the birthday kid cry or when the mechanics of a trick go completely wrong because it makes for a great story,” he said.
Freeman said his main goal is to create a show that he would want to go see himself.
“A big reservation people have about coming to my show is that magic is cheesy, which it often is,” he said. “I make fun of that in my routine. I don’t hold back — I’m the first to criticize magic because it’s funny to take shots at something I love. Hopefully, I’ll be able to bridge the gap and modernize it, and make it appeal to people my age and older.”
Freeman said he tries his best to balance every aspect of his life, from his studies to his job to his magic.
“It takes a lot of time management skills, with rehearsals, and business meetings with theaters and my associates, and then, of course, getting all of my schoolwork and projects done,” he said. “Plus, I still need to sleep. It all comes down to scheduling.”
While Freeman would love to be a full-time comedic magician, he knows that there is more stability for him in the chemical engineering field.
“I really enjoy performing, but I am also good at math and science and I like my classes here — but the two careers don’t exactly mix well,” he said. “Chemical engineering is a steady job, I can expect that income, whereas magic fluctuates depending on the time of the year and the area, so that’s a dilemma.”
Freeman said he’s going to keep doing his act as long as possible and audience members for the Feb. 23 performance can expect a big show.
“In a way, some parts of the show I’ve been rehearsing since I was 13, but this weekend we’re really trying to scale things up,” Freeman said. “We’re definitely putting in the man-hours during rehearsals— these are probably the most physically active tricks I’ve done so far.”
Story by Olivia Malick, UP staff writer