Over the years, Yan has been using both comedy and magic to make people smile and truly brighten their day. From his time spent as a circus performer, working at Cirque Avaia, to honing his skills for the Toronto community, individuals, business and beyond, Yan Markson's unique magician and comedian act like nothing you have seen before.
I recently sat down to interview Yan on behalf of What to Do When Bored, to see just what inspires him and where he wants his unique act to go. Check out the full interview below.
WTDWB: How did you get started doing magic and comedy?
Yan Markson: As you know, I was raised in the circus, comedy is in my blood. I love watching the way people’s faces would light up when I perform for them and do something amazing. I think magic is even a more direct way to achieve this result, so I ended up in magic.
WTDWB: What drives you to keep performing?
Yan Markson: In a way, I’m an adrenaline junkie. I love the feeling I get from performing in front of an audience. It gives me a huge moral boost and keeps me super positive. It keeps me motivated for at least a week.
Yan Markson: I need to start performing again or else I'm going to go crazy (laughter).
WTDWB: There's no lack of you performing, that's for sure.
Yan Markson: If there are no shows, I'll go on the streets and make one happen.
WTDWB: Yes, you do have some street performing videos. Do you get all of those recorded?
Yan Markson: Not as many as I'd like because it's only when I can force my friends out with me.
WTDWB: What type of audiences do you enjoy performing for the most?
Yan Markson: My friend and I actually calculated how many people we have performed for so far and I've almost performed for a million people live. In Cirque Avaia alone, it was almost 400,000 people in two seasons. So all kinds of people; kids, teens, adults, corporate professionals, different cultures. Every audience is very different but this is what keeps my job so fun. I really can't choose one audience.
WTDWB: Do you enjoy performing for kids more or adults more?
Yan Markson: I used to perform a lot for kids when I was younger. In fact when I was a kid myself, I started performing for kids. Recently, I mostly perform for adults at corporate functions, private parties, fundraisers, weddings. I find it's more challenging and interesting but I used to do a lot of kid's stuff so it depends.
WTDWB: What gave you the idea to mix magic and comedy together?
Yan Markson: Again, comedy is naturally in my blood. Every time I try to be serious, you know, to be a serious mentalist or magician, the comedy found a way to sneak back in. So I've embraced it and realize that at the end of the day, comedy is the best way to open people up to what you are doing. Watch your magic and listen to your message.
Yan Markson: When I was younger, I thought that I would understand what I’m looking to achieve with this and where I want to take it. Then I grew a little bit older and realized I still have no idea but I know one thing – I love doing it. I enjoy learning, getting better, trying new things, bringing new skills into my performance. Hopefully one day, I’ll come up with what I’m trying to achieve with this.
WTDWB: What is the funniest reaction you have ever gotten?
Yan Markson: So hard to pick just one! I've gotten so many different kinds of reaction throughout the years. The David Blain type where people yell run away. I've been called a demon, a witch. Personally, my favourite reactions are when someone’s entire face just transforms. When their stress and worries leave their bodies. When I see their inner child awake inside of them, even temporarily. It's not always super obvious, sometimes it's just something subtle in their eyes. This is what gives me energy and keeps me going.
WTDWB: Have you ever accidentally messed up a trick in front of anyone? What happened?
Yan Markson: Of course, not so much these days. I work really hard to ensure that everything is really well rehearsed, tested and thought through with every single detail. Even those times when I mess up, the audience rarely sees it because I always have a way out. I just end up transitioning to a different effect and making it all work out in the end. This is the fun part about being a magician and interacting with people. This is where my inherent comedy comes in handy.
WTDWB: I can understand how you can combine those two because it's all about improv, isn't it?
Yan Markson: It's interesting. A lot of people see improv as you just come up with things on the fly. From my experience as a clown, as a magician, as a comedian – it doesn't exactly work that way. You have your rehearsed pieces, you have your different puzzle pieces, if you will. You go with the fly and you notice something and quickly connect it with something you know, a joke or a trick. Sometimes you do come up with things on the fly but improvisation is just a good way to adapt to a situation very quickly.
WTDWB: How can someone with an interest in performing magic get started?
Yan Markson: That's a good question. Magic has its own world and if you want to get into that world and if you’re in Toronto, head over to Browser's Den. It's a magic store, here in Toronto. Ask to talk to Jeff. Magic is a huge world, there’s manipulation, slight of hand, levitation, mentalism. There’s lots of departments. There are lots of books and DVDs, they’ll help you get in the right direction.
WTDWB: Have you ever thought of teaching magic to groups or individuals?
Yan Markson: I've actually done quite a bit of teaching, not of magic, but of clowning, comedy and acrobatics. I even taught at a private school for one year but I've never really taught magic. I think I'm still a student of magic. There are some amazing people who do teach magic. There's a talented magician here in Toronto named Baldini who actually teaches hundreds of kids, magic. So maybe one day.
WTDWB: Last question, how can someone get in contact with you if they want to hire you?
Yan Markson: Just flash a light in the sky like Batman, just kidding. Check out my website. They can contact me at Toronto Magician or email me.
There you have it! If you are looking to have a highly unique magician and comedian perform at your next event, whether it be in Toronto or elsewhere, then consider going straight for Yan Markson and you will get someone who can do things and perform like nothing you have seen before. See for yourself when you check out his video below.