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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.