Mixing comedy with magic, students step up to the mic

The Comedy Corner Underground presents “Magic Underground Open Mic” Thursdays.

Magician open mic night, held at the Comedy Corner Underground on Thursday, Feb. 27.

Emily Urfer

Magician open mic night, held at the Comedy Corner Underground on Thursday, Feb. 27.

by Meg Bishop

If you saw someone wearing a black cape, pulling a bunny out of a hat while uttering “abracadabra,” you’d know straight away that they were a magician. 

Noah Sonie sported a hoodie and jeans, but brought enough tricks and gimmicks to make an audience erupt in applause.

Sonie is just one amateur magician who regularly performs at “The Magic Underground: Magic Open Mic.” As an open mic magic show, it’s part comedy, part magic. 

The event is hosted in The Comedy Corner Underground, the basement of The Corner Bar on West Bank, a dimly lit room plastered with comedy show posters. 

Sonie is one member of the three-man crew of Minneapolis magicians behind the theater production company The Magic Underground. He founded the group with friends Eli Sanchez and Chris Leuck in 2018. 

Since then, they’ve seen it all. “We’ve had someone be sawed in half,” Sanchez said.

On stage before a crowd of around 20 people Thursday night, Sonie’s combination of charisma and applause-worthy magic skills provided for a unique form of entertainment. 

One trick involved having an audience participant say a random letter and scroll through the list of top actors on IMDb to find the first actor with a name starting with the letter the participant had shouted out. The letter was “D” and the search resulted in Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson.

But before the trick began, Sonie had written down an actor’s name on a piece of paper. He uncrumpled the paper in front of the audience and voilà, it read, “Dwayne the Rock Johnson.”

Almost all of the night’s tricks included audience volunteers, some of which were given an item used in a trick — like a playing card — as a souvenir.

Mark Spannbauer, known to audiences as Marky Mark, was another hoot of the night. Spannbauer uses magic as a way to keep not only himself but audiences entertained. 

“It gives me something to do with my fiddling hands,” he said.

Spannbauer’s best gag was asking someone their name and responding with, “Ah! That’s my middle name.” He used the joke on every volunteer during his set.

What was clear throughout the night was the magicians’ amateur status, but that’s part of the fun. There were awkward silences, fumbling with playing cards and performers who spoke timidly into the mic. 

In short, the night was not unlike what you could find at a comedy open mic. 

The production is a work in progress, just like the magicians’ tricks. But it takes a certain amount of confidence to step up to the mic. Performing at “Magic Underground” is an opportunity for any aspiring magician looking for a place to practice and meet other local performers. 

What: Magic Underground Open-Mic Night

When: Every 4th Thursday of the month

Where: The Comedy Corner Underground, 1501 S. Washington Ave., Minneapolis

Cost: $7, free with student ID

Ages: 18+