Erik Tait's 'Shuffle' a show of skill, not magic

“I'm going to lie a lot the night of the show. I'm lying to you now as you interview me.”

The candor and confidence with which magician Erik Tait speaks about his upcoming show, “Please Shuffle the Cards,” is as refreshing as his honesty about dishonesty.

“The one thing I'm not lying about is there are no trick cards. There are no trap doors. The table is not special. The cards are not special,” he said.

Tait's show at Shadowbox Live's Backstage Bistro, which takes place Tuesday, March 14, will be a one-of-a-kind display of close-up, sleight-of-hand card magic that's unlike anything you've seen — or likely will again. Oh, and don't just expect an evening of “pick a card, any card” tricks. This is a display of skills Tait has honed for over a decade going back to his time at Los Angeles' world-renowned Magic Castle.

“You can look at this as either it's a magic show or the entire thing is just a demonstration of skill, and I tend towards [the latter] route,” Tait said. “Because I'm not crazy and my audience isn't 6 [years old]. We all know it's not real magic.”

In order to pull off this kind of show in a room designed for more than 100 people, Tait got creative. “There will be a live projection of what's happening on the table the entire time,” Tait said. “So the audience can choose to watch us or choose to watch that.”

The birth of this show came from an idea Tait had for a great final trick — we won't give away anything except it's literally amazing — which he then wrote a one-hour show around that features card magic, “cardistry” (“basically fancy cuts and shuffles”) and gambling demonstrations.

Tait has a special passion for the gambling portions due to its formative relationship to card magic. “Cheating with cards happened well before anyone thought to do magic with it,” he said.

But don't go in thinking you'll come away with ways to make money at modern casinos, which have long since adopted protocols to prevent this sort of sleight of hand.

“It's a demonstration of what someone could have done to cheat at poker in like 1840,” Tait said with a grin. “So it's kind of like being a Civil War re-enactor, but without guns.”

Tait is also an accomplished stand-up comic and host of the Bistro's monthly comedy live game show, “The Quiz Box,” but you won't see those two skills intermingling much in this show.

“Comedy is fundamentally about telling the truth, and magic is fundamentally about telling lies,” Tait said. “So doing those two things at the same time, it just doesn't work.”