Corporate event entertainment NYC Ryan Oakes
It’s been quite a while since I last published an interview for my “Trivia Questions For…” series, where I get to sit down with leading events industry experts, team building professionals, trivia lovers and corporate event entertainers in New York City and beyond. I’ll be re-igniting this series in earnest this fall, kicking things off by shining the spotlight on some of the extraordinary talent whom I am honored to work with as TrivWorks “Special Talent” hosts. And there is no better person to start with with than award-winning illusionist/mentalist Ryan Oakes!
Ryan and I have actually known each other since high school. Confident, captivating and flawless in both execution and professionalism, it’s no wonder that he is also one of the most in-demand event entertainers working the corporate circuit today. Two years ago, he and I embarked on a collaboration to offer a unique trivia/magic experience, and the response has been phenomenal! I am truly thrilled to be working with Ryan, and love seeing audiences go crazy for these special events we produce together (follow this link for more information on our unique partnership).
Ryan’s such a busy guy, especially headed in to the holiday season – however, he and I had a chance to catch up recently and talk shop. Here are answers to some of the questions I’ve been dying to ask him. Enjoy!
Why do people enjoy magic? Why is magic effective as group entertainment?
Magic makes us feel wonder, an emotion we rarely get to experience in our daily lives. Magic works so well in group settings because the feeling of wonder is a universally-enjoyed state of mind; it transcends age, culture, and oftentimes even language. The groups I get to work with are oftentimes highly educated and sophisticated, which means they appreciate the feeling of bewilderment and astonishment even more.
Is there something about magic which disarms groups, particularly corporate audiences?
I present a serious show, but I don’t take myself too seriously. I think that merely stating I’m a “magician” is a disarming claim to most audiences. Clearly, I’m not a WIZARD who will be casting spells upon the group, and I think that my lighthearted approach to what I do onstage helps open the minds of my audiences and makes them eager for astonishment.
You’ve been hosting hybrid trivia/magic events with TrivWorks for two years. Why do you think audiences have responded so well to this unique offering?
I think magic and trivia both stimulate similar parts of the brain; both encourage analytical thinking, problem solving, and recalling memories.
Besides technical skills (sleight of hand, etc.) what skills does a professional magician HAVE to have, in order to become a successful illusionist/mentalist?
First and foremost, a performer needs to personally connect with an audience, and that’s a difficult skill to hone. There’s a old piece of conventional wisdom in our field that postulates, “If they like YOU, they’ll like what you do.” It’s important for me as an entertainer to understand my audience, so that I can better connect with them.
What lasting impact do you hope to leave on audiences?
Every once in a while I get a particular compliment that I enjoy; someone will come up to me after a performance and say, “I usually don’t care for magicians, but I really loved your show.” The word “magician” tends to conjure up very specific imagery, and oftentimes I enter an event with very narrow per-conceived notions of what I will present. If I can successfully break those stereotypes and create a unique, shared memory for a group, then I feel great with a performance.
Can you provide ONE great trivia question for readers?
Many magicians have professional stage names; Erich Weiss is the real given name for which famous magician?
You can learn more about Ryan by visiting his Website, www.RyanOakes.com, or by following him on Twitter @RyanOakes. Also, be sure to check out Ryan’s exclusive line of magic sets – including some new ones which have just debuted this fall!