Kuwaiti illusionist Abdulateef Al-Saleh knows the secrets of a successful magic show in Kuwait. Hidden in each of his effects are fascinating science and engineering techniques, as his tricks are powered by concealed chemistry, physics paradoxes, baffling biology, mysterious mathematics and enchanting engineering.
Kuwait Times discovered the tricks that amaze, amuse and entertain people by getting into Saleh’s magical world. Saleh, 28, is not only an illusionist, but a comedian too. He is an oil and gas engineer and has a fulltime job. He also works at an international hotel, has his own TV show on Kuwait TV and is the founder, writer and performer in Imagine, a team of two performers and a huge number of workers. They present a comedy illusion show, which is the only show of its kind in the Middle East, and are the only Arabs that do this, Saleh told Kuwait Times.
Saleh said he only recently got enamored by magic. “It is never too late, especially when you have a passion for something. I believe age is just a number. I was a writer who used his ability to talk in a funny way to deliver a message and say what he writes on a stage as a standup comedian and on TV as a monologist. After meeting my partner Abdulwahab Al-Failakawi, we decide to create a new idea and new concept in February 2015 - the comedy illusion show - where I write and present the show with AbdulWahab, who designs, distributes and presents the illusions,” he explained.
“I have a very supportive family - no matter what I do, as long as I’m respecting people and presenting things in a nice way, they will support me. Nothing in the world is perfect, but hard work can make our show look as perfect as we want it to be. Errors are possible, but as good illusionists and presenters, we prepare a Plan B for everything,” he said.
An illusionist’s craft is implicitly dependent on mystery, and Saleh explained the margin of error he operates with. “Every magician has his own way to do his tricks to make them special. When people search on the Internet or buy a trick set to know the secrets, that makes them realize how good we are in presenting a trick, because if it’s not good, than it won’t make them wonder to a point that they go home without forgetting to Google or buy it. In addition, the revelation of a secret makes us work harder and create better new tricks,” said Saleh.
In his show, Saleh found that the Kuwaiti people are hard to entertain and convince, but he believes that what they are doing is good enough to make them satisfied. He confirmed that he has a successful show because all his five shows were fully booked and the tickets all sold out. Revealing the secret of a good show, he said: “We practice our script and illusions almost every day, but separately and not as a team. What makes us good is our friendship - we hang out together often, so we get new ideas and discuss them while we meet away from the work atmosphere and pressure.”
Magic is as much about illusion as it is the art of distraction, and like any vocation, the better the performer, the easier it’s made to look. And the greatest payoff for an entertainer is generally not financial. To Saleh, the most rewarding aspect of this is the surprised faces he sees after every trick. “The yells and the screams that we get from the crowd when we enter the stage, the love we feel after the show and the effects our show has in our country and abroad - we can’t ask for more. But people usually ask us to make them disappear,” he quipped.
Saleh never imagined that he would one day be on stage, either as a comedian or illusionist, but after his first show, he started to receive offers from many companies. He then started to deal with it professionally and that’s how he started making a living out of it.
“One of my mentors, Abdulmehsen Al-Mugatea, once told me ‘respect the people to earn their respect’, and this is how I became famous,” Saleh said. He gives the same advice to every standup comedian he meets in the field - in order to be successful, you should be yourself first, and then be professional in what you want to do.
By Faten Omar