We had the good fortune of connecting with Mike Williams and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mike, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I think I pursued a creative career out of a love of happiness, a search for freedom and as a personal challenge. I knew from a young age I was going to be a professional entertainer. Growing up, my fondest memories were experiencing live entertainment with my family. There was something about bringing a group of strangers together through a shared experience of joy that really resonated with my young mind. I always dreamed the best job in the world would be one that brought happiness into people’s lives. But there was also a sense of freedom in my pursuit. The freedom to dream. The freedom to create something no one has ever seen before. The freedom to express my unique point of view through my performances. The freedom to experience the world on my terms. This pursuit of freedom was also a challenge; a challenge to myself. Could I really reach a level of competence allowing this to be my career? Do I have the drive, determination and patience to go beyond the amateur/hobbyist level? As it turns out, being a professional entertainer, spreading happiness to strangers and creative freedom is an ongoing challenge regardless of your spirit. Any success in this crazy world of show business only happens because of countless failures. Ultimately the creative pursuit is the unwillingness to give up in the face of failure and when you can do that, you’re truly free.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m a comedy magician. I attempt to combine the performance art of sleight of hand magic and illusion with the performance art of comedy and humor to create an experience for the audience that is fun, interactive, memorable but most importantly mind-blowing. I offer my audience a fresh take on a magic show by presenting original presentations while involving the audience in the presentation as much as possible which leads to a good amount of improvisation creating a unique performance each and every time. I am proud to have been a part of the longest running magic show in DFW history. With the support of The world famous Improv Comedy Club in Addison, Texas we are moving into our 14th year of offering a weekly magic show for audiences of all ages. This residency has shined new light and interest on magicians and has lead to many of the other Improv Clubs in Texas and around the country to do the same. Becoming a full time professional comedy magician was definitely not easy. I knew from a young age I wanted to be a magician but, at the time, I didn’t realize all of the work it was going to take to get there. In order to present magic successfully, one must learn difficult sleight of hand which requires dedication to hours of practice and access to secret literature describing the techniques and mentors willing to help you along the way. A successful magic performer must also learn communication, speaking and acting skills which also requires hours of lessons and mentorship from theatrical instructors. And, on top of that, a magical entertainer must learn the art of deception through psychology and misdirection. The challenge of learning all of these techniques would not have been possible without an encouraging and supportive family. My mother and grandparents offered all they could to provide me with the secret books I would track down through magician mail-order catalogs, they would send me to performance camps and magician conventions as well as taking me to countless theatrical performances and live shows where I was exposed to performers like David Copperfield, Harry Blackstone, Jr. , The Amazing Kreskin, Jeff Dunham, Jay Leno, Jeff Foxworthy and countless others. In middle school and high school I took advantage of the theater programs that were offered and in college I used my electives for similar theatrical training as well as getting a job at a Dallas magic shop where I would sell jokes, gags and simple magic tricks and get hired out on the weekends for magic gigs booked through the shop. By the time I graduated college with a degree in psychology I realized everything I had learned up to that point about magic and performance was not going to do me any good if I didn’t know the “business” side of show business. So, with dreams of being a full time performing magician, I got a day job in order to learn how a business operates. I spent 5 years as a manager learning the ins and outs of a business as ferociously as I had learned the complex sleight of hand and performance techniques all the while spending my time off driving to different open mics or comedy clubs for a little bit of stage time. Finding places I could be bad and make mistakes; find places I could fail and go up again the next night and fail all over again. And then, one day, after the countless performance failures had become less and less and I knew enough about business and had saved enough money; I quit my day job and dove head first into being a full time professional magician. I’ve been performing my special kind of comedy magic full time for 15 years now and the main lesson I learned from all of this is practice and dedication can only get you so far; it’s only through failure that there is real growth, failure breeds success.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If I had friends visiting Dallas for a week, I’d show them a variety of nature, food and entertainment each day. On Monday morning we’d hit The Green Spot for breakfast tacos before heading to White Rock Lake for a casual stroll. Lunch would be at Keller’s Drive In on Northwest Highway followed by an afternoon coffee at La La Land Kind Cafe on Greenville maybe a quick stroll of Trader Joes or just people watch for a while then head to Jack Retro’s vintage clothing store before happy hour cocktails at lower Greenville’s Dubliner, dinner at Terrilli’s and then catch a show at The Granada or Sundown. Tuesday would be DART day, riding the rails throughout downtown. Starting with a late breakfast at Ellen’s near the West End, burning of those breakfast calories strolling the West End while sipping the to-go coffee we took from Ellen’s. When the time feels right we’ll hop on the train and head to The DMA for a free culture experience then hit up the food trucks at Klyde Warren for lunch and back to the DMA or The Nasher for more artsy fartsy stuff. By the time we’re finished getting cultured AF we can ride over to Deep Ellum stroll around Elm, Main, Commerce and Canton without missing the chance to stop in to Rocket Fizz for a sugary pick me up. Happy hour cocktails at Hide Bar then finding a show at Trees, Three Links or DaDa and end the night at the secret speakeasy Truth and Alibi. Wednesday has got to be a chill day because two days in and we’ve already done so much. Let’s go North Dallas and catch breakfast at the greasy spoon of J’s Breakfast and Burgers, then stroll around Arbor Hills Nature Preserve in Plano. Lunch at Legacy Food Hall then movie time at the Angelika at The Shops at Legacy. After the movie we can people watch over a Main Street Bread Company latte then stroll the shops until it’s time for cocktails at Pepper Smash then dinner at Bob’s Steak and Chop House. Catch a comedy show at The Improv in Addison. Thursday is Oak Cliff day. Breakfast at the Jonathons Oak Cliff then a hike at The Oak Cliff Nature Preserve. Late lunch at Lockharts BBQ followed by a stroll around Bishop arts and more people watching. Happy hour cocktails or coffee at The Wild Detectives the dinner at Coco’s Fire and Ice, dessert at Emporium Pies and hopefully catch a show at The Kessler. Friday is cowtown day, we’re headed to Fort Worth. Breakfast at Ol’ South Pancake House. Stroll through the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens and hit up the Fort Worth Museum of Modern Art before heading to The Stockyards for a western stroll. Happy hour cocktails at The Basement Bar and a true tex-mex dinner at Joe T. Garcia’s. Then it’s time for a honky tonkin’ good time at Billy Bob’s! Saturday is here already?! Let’s get the true Dallas experience and drive all over the place. Let’s start with breakfast at Lucky’s Cafe on Oak Lawn. We’re going to have our minds blown at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. Lunch at Kalachandji’s Indian Buffet. After lunch we’ll head to the Dallas World Aquarium followed by cocktails at Parliament and a quirky dinner and theater experience at The Pocket Sandwich Theater. We’ll end the night at The Tipsy Alchemist. Sunday- go to church you sinners!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Huge shoutout to my Mom- for playing Richard Pryor cassette tapes in the car while driving, for her love of laughter, for encouraging me to learn different skills and not being afraid to fail, for taking me to live performances and comedy clubs, for sending me around the country to learn from and study with professional magicians and entertainers, for sending me to magic camp and for all the trips to Disneyland and Las Vegas. To my entire family for putting up with countless terrible performances. The mentorship of countless magicians, comedians, directors and agents for helping me learn and grow as a performer. To Steve Martin- for showing a young kid magic can be funny and being silly can be a job.
Jubei Mercado Caleb Ray Scott Addison Improv