If you haven't discovered "The Carbionaro Effect" yet, give it a try. It mixes magic and hidden camera in fresh ways, thanks to Michael Carbonar's improv skills. The show seems to rerun often; here's the story I sent to papers at the beginning of this week, updating the times listed at the end of the story:
By Mike Hughes
For most magicians,
the task is simple (sort of): Do something impossible, right in front
But for Michael
Carbonaro, whose cable show is starting its second season, that's
just the start. Next, he has to convince them that that it really
happened ... and that it's no big deal.
shoelaces? A three-foot object in a one-foot box? A postal shipment
bearing a birthday cake, its candles already lit? Carbonaro shrugs,
offers a faux explanation and waits for people to react.
they'll just go, 'OK,'” he said. “I'll think, 'Really?'”
Hey, you can
convince people of anything if you combine magic skills with a look
of deceptive innocence.
The idea began in
2011 on Jay Leno's “Tonight Show.” Carbonaro set up as a
convenience store clerk, startling customers while hidden-cameras
roll. Now he's expanded that; he's in stores, hotels, supermarkets,
mail-drop places. As “The Carbonaro Effect” continues, he adds
“I asked one
woman, 'Do you ever watch 'The Carbonaro Effect'?” he said. “She
started to tell me all about the show, but she still didn't reconize
This requires a
skill-set that happens to fit Caronaro neatly.
He grew up on Long
Island, in the days when tricks weren't just distant things sold on
the Internet. “You could go to the magic store and see them done
right in front of you.”
Then came a key
moment: “A neighbor guy dressed as Big Bird for birthday parties.
My mom said, 'You could probably do that and make some money.'”
Soon, a 13-year-old
Carbonaro was spending three hours in a clown suit, doing puppetry,
magic and more. He made $35 and became a show-business professional.
At New York
University, he tried “dance, music, acting, voice-training,
everything.” Afterward, he got some TV guest roles (comedy,
mostly), but it was magic that let him stand out.
Carbonaro said, have a “wedge of belief.” He just has to concoct
some explanation for the impossible. “When we're getting ready, I
come up with a few little things .... I might say, 'Oh, it's because
of the molecular structure.' But a lot of it I have to improvise on
And sometimes, he
succeeds. “It's joyful,” Carbonaro said. “We're not making
people look like fools.”
Besides, in modern
times that wedge of belief is widening. We've seen driverless cars,
smart glasses and smarter watches; self-tying shoelaces could be
-- “The Carbonaro
Effect,” Tru TV
-- New episodes at
10 p.m. Wednesdays; season-opened
-- Reruns include
11:31 p.m. Friday (July 31); Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., 7-10 p.m.,
10:30-11 p.m. and (latenight) midnight to 2 a.m.; Sunday, 6-8 p.m.,
-- On Wednesday,
Aug. 5, reruns start at 3 p.m, leading into the season's second new
episode, at 10.