Award-winning magician Ali at the Komedia

Ali Cook
Ali Cook
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Award-winning magician Ali Cook is heading out on tour, taking in Brighton to perform at the Komedia on September 26.

The point is that magic is something we just can’t get enough of at the moment.

“I think it comes down to that old thing of seeing it live,” Ali says. “When you see a stand-up comedian on TV, it is good, but when you see them live, it is great. It is the same thing going on with magic, I think.”

The attraction is the deception - or honest deception as Ali is quick to specify.

“We spend all our time compartmentalising things that happen, and suddenly we see magic and we think for a second or two that we just can’t fathom what we have seen.

“My mum had a New Age book shop when I was a kid in Harrogate in Yorkshire. Some of the publishers that published books on meditation also published books of magic tricks, and I just got fascinated. That’s what drew me into it. People would go for tarot readings, and it just gives you an intuition as to why people are amazed.

“I then went to America and studied magic out there for a long, long time. I then entered all the magic competitions in Britain, and I managed to win all those by the time I was 17. Winning a competition is not so much about winning the competition as proving to yourself that you can do it.”

His show changes every year, but this year he is giving people the full range of tricks - street magic, mind-reading, close-up, the whole lot plus more ancient magic (such as ‘vanishing a lady’) thrown in. Ali laughs that in a way it is hedging his bets.

“A magic audience is built up of up 100 or 200 individuals, and what fools one person does not fool the next. That’s one of the reasons I try to include all the different styles. One person, when you show them close-up magic, might think that it is the best thing ever. But another person might not be wowed. That’s why I use this catch-all system so that I cover all the styles!”

On stage, Ali offers what he calls an exaggerated version of himself: “In terms of humour, I exaggerate my natural flaws. If you watch someone like Ricky Gervais in The office, that’s what he is doing. My flaw is that of a nice guy who just goes a bit nuts on stage or maybe someone who is being deliberately naive...”

In the meantime, Ali is also pursuing an acting career.

As one of the stars of Penn and Teller: Fool Us (ITV1), Ali has shocked and amazed us with his unique blend of highly-inventive original magic for some time.

But now 2013 sees his acting career take centre stage. His feature film, Get Lucky sees him playing the main supporting role of Kirby alongside Olivier award winner Luke Treadaway, James Cosmo (Braveheart) and Emily Atack (Inbetweeners).

And 2014 will see the release of two more feature films featuring Ali: Epic, directed by Ben Hopkins, where he plays the supporting role of Daniel alongside Matthew Macfayden and MyAnna Buring; and The Anomaly, directed and produced by BAFTA award winner Noel Clarke. Ali plays the supporting role of Agent Travis, a secret service agent protecting the world from mass destruction.