For a while, Michael Kent was afraid to admit that he was a magician.
If asked about the hobby that became a career, the young illusionist would amend his answer. He would quickly insist that he also did comedy - and performed for adults.
Only recently has the 32-year-old Hilliard resident really come to terms with what he does.
"I've grasped the idea of just saying, 'I'm a magician,' and letting the rest speak for itself," Kent said.
Hearing that might make you imagine a dude working birthday parties with a rabbit and a hat, but Kent has some seriously mind-boggling tricks up his sleeve.
"I got to college, and it became something that people asked me to do, rather than me asking people if they wanted to see a trick," Kent explained. "I used to have a day job in marketing, and magic sort of took over."
His fascination with illusions started decades ago when he purchased a floating wand at a Disney World hobby shop. He brought it home, took it apart to see how it worked and nearly lost his eye.
"I remember when I got excited about seeing magic," Kent said. "Being able to buy a magic trick, learn it, take it home and practice it - that became a passion immediately."
Since then, his passion has led to gigs at corporate events, colleges, bars, restaurants and motivational seminars across the world.
"It's a really cool way to express an art and make a living," he added.
Billing himself as a comedian, magician and smartass, Kent's act uses everything from cards and rubber chickens to Scrabble tiles and mind-reading devices. It's a multimedia performance powered by props, pop music and his likeable, satirical charm.
On Friday at the Columbus Comedy Festival, he'll perform a 25-minute set that combines witty stage banter with the skilled sleight of hand that's made him famous.
"The comedy is a thing that came second, and now neither one plays a background role," he said. "I've been doing this a long time, but I think I'll always feel like a beginner, just because I'm always changing."