Jonah is joined by Mat Franco where they get to discuss his dominating performance on America’s Got Talent, opening up a For-Real-Life show in Vegas, and knowing from an early age that Mat was destined to live his dream as a magician.
Ever since he was five, Mat has dedicated his life to learning and performing magic, from show-and-tell in kindergarten, to the college touring circuit, to winning on America’s Got Talent, to producing a show in Vegas.
No Backup Plan
Seeing magic on TV, a five year old Mat asked him parents for some magic tricks and soon after he was performing for his kindergarten class. By elementary school he was performing on stage for the local high school and from then on it’s been non-stop performing. He might claim that he went to business school as a backup plan but the reality is he never had one, it’s always been magic.
Tough and ruthless was the name of the game when it came time to get booking to perform on the college circuit and through a mix of good luck, a good show, and being able to speak the language of leadership and business to those who were doing the booking Mat found himself performing for colleges across America.
Winning Wasn’t The Plan
The idea for signing up for America’s Got Talent was to be able to get footage of his acts to use to book more gigs at colleges. It was never his intention or belief that he would progress through the competition all the way to winning in the finale. But, as Mat puts it, he was “young, stupid, naive, and tenacious” and able to problem solve his way to adapt the tricks he had in his inner rolodex to performing on the show.
Still A Beginner In Magic
Mat still considers himself a beginner in magic and it’s that mindset that he believes has helped him to achieve the success he has found. He never had big dreams, the most he hoped for was to make magic and share it with people. At the end of the day it’s all about attitude, personality, entertaining people, interaction, that’s the real magic, that’s the x-factor, that is intangible.
What do you like about modern magic? What do you not like?
Shows like the Carbonaro Effect and Fool Us which are reframing magic for modern audiences in a way that’s positive and uplifting. For a time magic was being associated with cruel pranks online and it’s nice to see it moving away from that.
On the other hand magic is currently suffering from a voyeuristic approach, where people mostly watch magic being done to other people, and Mat would like to see new ways to present magic that allow the person watching it to be more directly involved in the experience.
Take home point
I do believe experience is the best teacher. I believe you should follow your passions. And I’m also a believer in good solid technique in whatever it is you’re doing. Not to overlook a good solid base, a good solid background in technique, a toolbox to draw from, that will allow you to create better things. If you get really good at the scales you can write better songs.