When he was just four years old, Nicolai Friedrich saw a magician perform. He was so amazed by the experience, the young lad instantly decided that he would one day be a magician. Then on, the German invested all his time and money in learning new magic tricks. And India will be privy to his intelligent trickery (Mumbai – February 2, New Delhi – February 6 and Bangalore – February 8) as part of a three-city tour by Ashvin Gidwani Productions and AGP Talent.
Illusionist Nicolai Friedrich brings his unique mix of visual artistry, comedy and mentalism for a refreshing brain tease
Part of the new generation of magicians who not only perform technical tricks but illusions and mind games, Friedrich calls himself a
mentalist. “A mentalist is someone who has great knowledge about the psychology of human nature. Instead of sawing women in half or making wild animals appear from big boxes, a mentalist will try to enter the most sacred place – the mind,” he explains, likening it to being a good story-teller. “I would fool you if I said I possess supernatural powers. But magic is a beautiful art of entertainment. Like in the movies, you know the dinosaurs are not real but you will not call the film maker to be a great fooler. Instead, he is a great story-teller, just like a good magician,” he reasons.
The boundaries of real life. Very often we come to a point where we wish we could do magic to overcome a problem. Those ideas are always the best, because they make sense and often touch people on an emotional level.
I have lots of them! But the strongest impact is always when you can touch the audience on an emotional level or surprise them. Like the borrowed photo or ‘my quick time travel’ with a newspaper which will guarantee a wow effect.
The first magic show I saw was the cornerstone of my career. Star Wars, Jedis and Salvador Dali too.
All-time favourite illusion.
I still love the flying illusion of David Copperfield. I cried when I saw it the first time although I knew the secret.
Favourite magic films.
The Prestige and The Illusionist.
Biggest challenges on stage.
To keep a connection with the audience and high levels of concentration.
To innovate, inspire and have fun, all at the same time.
Great and powerful
Adding to his proficiency in psychology and magic, Friedrich is also charming with tremendous stage presence, captivating the audience, even the likes of former F1 racers Michael Schumacher and Mika Häkkinnen, with spot-on comic talent and mind reading. “Showmanship is probably the most important part of all, because what are the greatest tricks if people don’t like watching you?”, questions the magician who originally began learning the art with simple magic box tricks to enchant friends and family at parties.
But he’s come far from those days, even winning awards such as the Artist of the Year at the Artist All Stars Awards 2010 and the Best Mentalist of the World in 2009. “Though I like and still perform classical magic, I was always fascinated by the art of mentalism because it has such a huge impact on the audience. This is because the idea of somebody being able to look inside your head or even manipulate your thoughts is both exciting and also frightening,” shares Friedrich, who calls David Copperfield one of his most revered mentors for his ability to turn a magic trick into an emotional experience.
But giving us the darker side of this trade, he reveals that there is, of course, room for human error. “Oh yes! I have painful memories of a trick where I had to find a sharp nail that was straight up, hidden under one of five paper cups. I had to smash my hand down onto four of them and unfortunately it was hidden under the third one, so I ended up in the hospital,” Friedrich laments. He’s even dared to perform the act again.
The magician’s code
Telling us about the fine balance of magic, illusion, comedy and mental experiments, Friedrich admits that it is hard. “If the comedy is too strong, it kills the magic and if the magic or mentalism has no dramatic structure or is too monotonous it gets boring. It took me a lot of time to develop the right feeling to balance those aspects perfectly so they enhance the magic,” explains the professional, who is looking forward to performing in a country where magic and mysticism is part of life. “I am curious if there are still people who believe what I do is real and rely on supernatural powers. With a cultural background like India’s, this would be no surprise to me,” he says, elaborating, “I hope the audience in India will have great fun and an unforgettable experience. It has been my dream to perform here and it would be true magic for me if I could inspire people here with my performance to outgrow themselves,” he concludes.
By invitation only. At Vivanta By Taj, MG Road. Details: 66604444
— Aakanksha Devi