On 'Wizard Wars,' Contestants Must Make Magic From The Mundane | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

On 'Wizard Wars,' Contestants Must Make Magic From The Mundane

Play associated audio

Reality TV seems to have a competition for everything these days: singing, dancing, cupcake-baking — and now magic.

This week, SyFy launches Wizard Wars, where magicians do their best to wow a panel of judges. Angela Funovits, a mentalist, is one of the expert magicians — or "wizards" — that contestants must take on during the second round of the game.

She tells NPR's Arun Rath that the show is set up kind of like Iron Chef, and contestants are given a collection of objects they have to use to create a mind-boggling presentation. Forget top hats and scarves, though: these items are far from traditional magic props.

"[They're] things like Spam, things like earthworms," Funovits says. "That's definitely not something that, prior to coming into Wizard Wars, I would've ever conjured up in my own mind as something that I wanted to use in my own acts."

Funovits tells Rath about when she fell in love with magic, and how her talents help her in her day job as a physician.


Interview Highlights

On how a mentalist differs from a magician

A mentalist is someone who creates this illusion of a sixth sense, so to speak — almost looking as if they're psychic. Of course, they're not claiming anything, but they can very much seem to be able to read your mind. ... And I loved that. I loved that there was almost a scientific element to it. I loved that it was very real, very visceral. People, when I first began performing some of the mentalism-type effects that I did, were responding in much different ways than they were to just tricks.

You always make a disclaimer and you say, "I certainly don't have this actual type of ability and it's something that we do for fun, for entertainment." But, you know, there's always an element of wanting to believe, as well.

On breaking into magic as a woman

I loved magic from the time I was 10 years old; that was when I really got hooked. My inspiration on those shows was always the female assistants. And so I thought what I would have to do one day was to meet some male magician and marry him and become his assistant or something if I wanted to do magic all the time. So it was challenging.

On how she uses magic in her day job

I'm actually a first-year dermatology resident physician. I work at Metro Health Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio. ... I love it. If you have a child that needs some sort of treatment that's going to be painful or something that they're afraid of, you know, what a beautiful thing it is to be able to bring an actual little piece of magic right there ... something that distracts them entirely. That's very much a very passionate area of mine.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Picasso, Nazis And A Daring Escape In 'My Grandfather's Gallery'

As a little girl, Anne Sinclair knew Pablo Picasso. She talks with NPR's Scott Simon about why she didn't want the master to paint her picture, and her new memoir, My Grandfather's Gallery.
NPR

Syrup Induces Pumpkin-Spiced Fever Dreams

Hugh Merwin, an editor at Grub Street, bought a 63-ounce jug of pumpkin spice syrup and put it in just about everything he ate for four days. As he tells NPR's Scott Simon, it did not go well.
NPR

Texas Gubernatorial Candidates Go The Border To Court Voters

Republicans have won every statewide office in Texas for 20 years, but the growing Hispanic population tends to vote Democrat, and the GOP's survival may depend on recruiting Hispanic supporters.
NPR

Tech Week: Smartphone Privacy, Cyberstalking, Alibaba's Big Debut

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba makes the biggest debut on the NYSE ever. The details, and the other tech stories that piqued our interest, are in this week's roundup.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.