The unsuspecting reporter pulled a jack of diamonds from Bryan Lizotte’s deck of playing cards.
When Lizotte looked through the pack and identified the wrong card, he told the reporter she should look on her cell phone.
There, on the screen, was a text message: “The card you’re thinking of is the jack of diamonds.”
Lizotte, a full-time magician and Shelton resident, has moved into the realm of technology, using a new magician’s app on his phone to stump his audience.
“You have to constantly change what you’re doing to reflect what people are familiar with,” he said.
Although pulling his pet rabbit Cookie from a hat is still the top crowd pleaser, Lizotte peppers his shows with contemporary themes.
He presents anti-bullying magic shows, using large cards bearing the sad faces of children who are bullied.
“I change them into smiley faces after teaching the children that they have to counteract the bully,” he said.
He also performs magic shows with “reading” themes at libraries and has done shows related to Turn Off Your TV Week and promoting recycling. “I try to put a message in my shows,” Lizotte said.
Movie connections, balloon animals
He often makes his tricks “resemble” parts of popular movies, he said, and recently used his talents as a balloon artist to create 240 penguin balloons for children attending “Penguins of Madagascar” at a movie theater in Wallingford.
He also makes balloon animals on family nights on Sundays at the SBC Restaurant & Brewery in Milford.
Lizotte said his favorite type of performance is “close-up” magic, involving sleight-of-hand tricks with cards, ropes or coins. “I like to do the close-up, because the magic happens in your hands,” he said.
Whether he’s performing magic at children’s birthday parties or for adults at corporate functions or other events, he “reads” his audiences to see how they react to the tricks he’s performing
An early interest
Lizotte has gained confidence through the years, and recalls how nervous he was during one of his first shows at the Pinecrest Country Club in Shelton. “I shook throughout the show,” he said.
Lizotte, who attended St. Joseph’s School and Shelton High School, has been doing magic shows for 24 years. But his interest in magic began as a child.
“In 1990, when I was 12, my dad took me to a magic show in Derby,” he said, to see well-known magician and Shelton resident Chet Karkut, who was also a police detective.
“I enjoyed the show, and he asked me up on stage,” Lizotte said. “As we left, I told my father, ‘I want to be a magician.’”
He sent for a catalog on magic tricks, but it wasn’t suited for someone his age. “I got frustrated,” he said, and it would be years before magic entered his life again.
He was working in a medical laboratory at Griffin Hospital at age 32 when a local magician, Amazing Andy, introduced him to local magic clubs. “I started learning the magic and started to perform,” Lizotte said.
Performs at many venues
Today, he often performs in restaurants and bars, including the Triple Play Sports Bar in Watertown on Saturday nights.
His magic shows can draw people into a restaurant to boost business, he said, which is a benefit that restaurant owners recognize.
In one Waterbury restaurant, he performed a magic trick for a few women attending a nearby conference.
“They wanted to see more and stayed,” he said, and they later brought 15 of their friends in to see his magic tricks.
He also takes his shows to child care centers, adult day care centers and nursing homes. His 9-year-old son Patrick occasionally accompanies him.
“This time of year, I do Christmas parties,” Lizotte said. He has entertained children for the past 20 years at the Echo Hose Fire Company’s Christmas party.
He starts shopping for new props in November to create new Christmas tricks each year.
Had magic stores
In past years, he ran his own magic shop, the See-More Magic Shop in Seymour, and he and his wife Michele ran Lizotte’s Magic and Toy Shop in Shelton.
These days, he’s the official magician for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and for Thomas the Tank Engine in Essex.
Although the recession cut into his magic show business, the popularity continues, and he performed magic at 15 Halloween parties this fall.
He recently performed at a grand opening of a dentist’s office in Fairfield and has done magic shows at weddings and funeral receptions.
A marriage proposal
“I helped a man propose to his girlfriend,” he said, at the former Carousel Restaurant in Seymour. As part of a magic trick, he made the ring appear, and the man “got down on his knees and proposed,” Lizotte said.
He’s also performs mind reading or “mentalism” tricks. “Someone turns to a page in a book, and I can tell them what they read,” he said.
Doing magic tricks “takes a lot of practice,” he said. “It’s very important to practice before [doing] tricks.”
He adds his own “patter” — or conversation — as he performs the magic, and gives advice to young magicians he tutors. “It’s more than doing a trick,” he said. “You have to tell a story.”
For information about Lizotte’s magic shows, call 203-924-9532 or go to the Magic Moments website at www.bryanlizotte.com.