‘A little wonder, even for a moment’
We have no idea how you got the card!, yells Penn Jillette, the famous illusionist as the audience loudly applauds the magician on stage who fooled him.
Jillette and his mute fellow magician Teller are clearly flummoxed.
Grinning from ear to ear, Shawn Farquhar is thrilled. He has stumped the duo on their T.V. show.
"It was the most amazing experience ever," says Farquhar, who won the International Federation of Magic Societies Grand Prix World Champion for close-up magic in 2009.
Magic is something Farquhar "eats, sleeps and drinks."
He jokes: "When I was born the doctor slapped me and I said, 'Pick a card."
A fourth-generation magician, Farquhar did his first trick at the age of six in his backyard.
By the time he was a teenager, he had his own show on a local T.V. station in P.E.I.
"Most people think magic is all about the secrets," says Farquhar, who is from Maillardville, Coquitlam but now lives in Maple Ridge.
"The real secret is: magic is in believing. If I told you how it works, you probably wouldn't believe me anyway."
A world champ twice, Farquhar has earned many accolades in the past 20 years.
He has been crowned Magician of the Year by the Canadian Association of Magicians twice, won awards for stage magic and sleight of hand from The International Brotherhood of Magicians and the Grand Prix D'Honneur by the Pacific Coast Association of Magicians.
His magic has been seen on T.V. shows including the X-Files and Highlander and the movies Spooky House and the Fly II. He also speaks at magic conventions, teaches other prestidigitators and cooks up tricks for other magicians, who he can't name.
Although recognition from his peers is rather nice, Farquhar revels in the effect he has on a mesmerized audience.
"I don't do tricks. I do my definition of magic," says Farquhar, who'll be making a rare appearance at the ACT on Saturday.
"It's the ability to put a little bit of wonder in your life, even for a moment."
Comedy is always part of his act - it's his way to break the ice but it's also a clever ruse.
"When people are laughing they aren't looking that closely at the card. I always look for that person who looks like a grouch in the crowd."
A master of both stage and close-up magic, Farquhar's win at the world championships and magic Olympics in Beijing set him on the path to stardom.
These days, he criss-crosses the world, leaving audiences agog. Magic, in these times of economic crisis, is seeing a resurgence.
"It's a really special time, not since the days of Houdini had magic been so popular," says Farquhar, who performs around 200 shows a year, but almost none in Canada.
"People need somewhere to escape."
Farquhar knows he's got that special gift - an ability to make people forget, to smile and gawk in amazement.
"I am hoping a long time from now, if people remember who I was and what I did, I hope they remember how they felt."
Celebrate Canada Culture Day and The ACT's 10th Anniversary season launch on Saturday, Sept. 29.
At 4 p.m. the ACT's new season begins with Secrets, a show by Maple Ridge resident and world renowned magician Shawn Farquhar. Tickets are $10 for students/children and $20 for adults/seniors.