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Archive for month: February, 2016

Nebraska-based festival seeking young magicians

February 24, 2016
February 24, 2016

Calling all young, aspiring magicians: A Nebraska-based comedy and magic festival has an opportunity that may be too magical to believe.

A select number of magicians ages 10 to 18 will be chosen to take part in the “Magic & More” portion of the ninth annual Great American Comedy Festival in Norfolk in June. The festival pays tribute to the legacy of Johnny Carson, who grew up in Norfolk. In addition to being the host of “The Tonight Show” for 30 years, Carson got his start as a magician and continued his interest in magic throughout his life.

The 2016 festival kicks off Wednesday, June 15, with the “Magic & More” performance featuring Derek Hughes, a 2015 finalist on “America’s Got Talent” and the host of last year’s “Magic & More” show in Norfolk. Also performing in Norfolk will be Chipper Lowell, a master of magic, juggling, comedy, illusions and circus tricks, as well as Les Arnold & Dazzle, who combine humor and dance with strong magic tricks.

Derek Hughes

Prior to the performance, the young magicians will be given the opportunity to perform their favorite trick for those attending the festival. They’ll have the chance to meet the professional magicians and get some pointers from Hughes. Also on hand will be Richard Barrett, manager of the famed Comedy and Magic Club in Hermosa Beach, Calif.

“For young people interested in magic, this will be a fantastic opportunity to perform their favorite trick and get some feedback from professionals,” said Susan Warneke, who is coordinating the youth involvement for the festival.

For those interested in auditioning to participate, here’s what they need to do:

 Shoot a video performing their best trick and either upload it to YouTube or copy it

 Provide your name, mailing address, phone number and email address to the festival along with either the DVD or the YouTube link. The information can be mailed to Susan Warneke, Great American Comedy Festival, Box 2435, Norfolk, NE 68702.

 All submissions must be received by April 15, 2016.

 Festival representatives will review the submissions and select 3-5 magicians to be guest performers at the festival on Wednesday, June 18. They’ll be provided tickets to the festival performance and be given the opportunity to meet with the professional magicians.

 For more information, young magicians (or their parents) can contact Warneke at or 402-860-2500.

“The festival’s magic show is one of the highlights each summer. This year, instead of offering magic classes for young people, we decided to give them a chance to actually be part of the festival,” Warneke said. “It should be a great opportunity for all those involved.”

About the Great American Comedy Festival 

The “Magic & More” performance set for Wednesday, June 15, kicks off the 2016 Great American Comedy Festival, and there’s plenty more to come.

The festival features 20 up-and-coming comedians from across the United States who will compete for the festival’s top prize. They’ll be joined by headliners Tom Cotter and Rocky LaPorte, whose stand-up comedy qualified them as finalists on “America’s Got Talent” and “Last Comic Standing,” respectively.

The Johnny Carson Comedy Legend award also will be presented during the 2016 festival.

The festival will take place Wednesday, June 15, through Saturday, June 18, primarily at the Johnny Carson Theatre in Norfolk.

For more information about the festival, go to or contact Lori Williams, the festival’s executive director at 402-750-3516.

‘Magic & More’ Show promises to entertain and astound

February 24, 2016
February 24, 2016

‘Magic & More’ show promises to entertain and astound

This year’s comedy-magic show at the 2016 Great Amerian Comedy Festival promises to entertain and astound, hearkening back to the days of variety shows. The festival kicks off Wednesday, June 15, with its annual “Magic & More” show as a tribute to Johnny Carson’s lifelong interest in magic.

Richard Barrett, manager of the famed Comedy and Magic Club in Los Angeles, again selected the lineup of performers for this year’s show. “I’m really excited about the show this year,” he said. “Norfolk and the surrounding community have been so great to me and this show. I’ve really tried to book acts that are appropriate for kids but still appealing to adults. And I’ve think we’ve done that again. If you’ve enjoyed the shows in the past, you’re going to have a blast at this one.”

Scheduled to perform are Chipper Lowell, Les Arnold & Dazzle, and a return visit from Derek Hughes.

Derek Hughes

Hughes, who also will serve as the show’s host, has had quite the year after hosting the “Magic & More” show in Norfolk last summer. He spent much of the summer appearing on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” where he advanced all the way to the finals. That led to him touring across the country, headlining at sold-out comedy clubs, theaters and colleges. He has spent the first few months of 2016 working alongside Michael Carbonaro to create bewildering effects for the upcoming season of the hit TruTV show, “The Carbonaro Effect.”

Barrett said, “It’s pretty cool to see the rest of the country realize what we’ve known for years: Derek is one of the brightest minds, quickest wits and most mind-blowing magicians in the world.”

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Les Arnold & Dazzle are universally respected and admired in the magic community, Barrett said. “They combine humor and dance with some very strong magic tricks. The act is fun, upbeat, playful and timeless,” he said. What appears to be the typical magician with an assistant are actually two superior entertainers equally skilled at delighting audiences, he said.

Chipper Lowell is a master of many skills – magic, juggling, comedy, illusions and circus tricks.  “He’s as funny as a headlining comedian while he’s performing world-class magic and juggling dangerous items. Chipper’s energetic and engaging persona whips the crowd into a frenzy each time,” Barrett said. “He’s delightful and astounding at the same time.”

Continuing the festival’s tradition of engaging young people in the art of magic, the festival is inviting aspiring magicians ages 10-18 to audition for the chance to perform their best trick to those attending the “Magic & More” show and meet with the professional magicians.

The Great American Comedy Festival will present its ninth year in June, with performances from Wednesday, June 15, through Saturday, June 18. Headlining the festival shows will be comedians Tom Cotter and Rocky LaPorte. The Johnny Carson Comedy Legend award also will be presented.

For more information on the festival, go to or contact Lori Williams, the festival’s executive director, at 402-750-3516. For more information on how young magicians can audition to be part of this year’s festival, contact Susan Warneke at