chicago mentalist

Finish The Damn Thing!

At a show last weekend someone came up to me and said “Hey, are you still writing your Thursday Thoughts?”

I assured them I still was and that I post them regularly on my website. Turns out, he used to see them weekly on Facebook and wasn’t seeing them anymore.

As a result of my push to get off of social media and limit my screen time, it appears that FB has punished me with limited visibility. It seems stupid that an app designed to connect us all controls how connected we can be.

So yes, I’m still writing Thursday Thoughts. And yes, I’ll keep sharing them on social media. But if you want to make sure you never miss a post I set up a mailing list so you can get these essays delivered straight to your inbox every Thursday.

Only join the list if you want to keep up with my blog. (If you’re looking for updates about my upcoming TV projects or tour dates, join the list at the bottom of my website.)

I’m going to be shifting my approach to Thursday Thoughts over the next several months. I want to share helpful, digestible content that is useful to you - along with my existing personal essays about life on the road. And I want to make sure you see it, so do me a favor and click the button below to sign up:


I’ve been thinking lately about finishing projects.

I just ordered a new mattress and it sat in a warehouse for a week until I called to follow up. Then, out of the blue, the company did a same-day delivery. An otherwise perfect shopping experience was clouded by an unorganized, slow shipping process.

If you’re going to do something, then go all the way. Finish the damn thing!

Promise something and deliver. Simple as that.

If I hadn’t called I’m pretty sure the mattress would still be on a truck somewhere. It’s almost like the company worked really hard to get my business then stopped providing good customer service once I was a customer.

Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

You should work hard to get a customer, then work even harder once they’ve trusted you with their business. Customer service should be for the entire transaction - not just for the start of things.

This got me thinking about some of my own personal projects…

For instance, I’ve written a few TV episodes and a couple years ago I tried to get them picked up. I had a dozen meetings with agents, then with production companies, then with networks. The process dragged on for a year and amounted to nothing. So I thought to myself: “Why don’t I just make this myself?”

So I started rewriting it for a more run-and-gun, guerrilla style shoot. Then I started planning and preparing. And now…I’m just sitting on it.

Why? I don’t know.

Maybe because it’s easier to keep thinking about the thing instead of actually following through. If I keep brainstorming then it’s like I’m tricking myself into working on it, without having to face criticism, failure, or even a successful reception.

Maybe it’s because I know I’m good at one thing but not another. And it’s easier to put it off than embrace being an amateur.

Or, maybe I’m just a quitter. It's easy to get discouraged after you spend so long trying to accomplish something.

I think all of those might be true. But I don’t want an idea - good or bad- to be left undone. So I’m gonna finish the damn thing. I’m gonna make it happen. I’ve done everything else, so I need to see it through to the end.

Otherwise, the idea might as well be rolling around on a truck somewhere with no expected delivery date.


Here’s something you should try:

This year, I’ve been writing to people that inspire me. I’ve written to authors, designers, friends, actors, etc. I’ve written to people overseas and down the block. Anytime I say to myself “Wow, this person is fascinating!” I make a mental note to let them know I feel that way.

When I say write, I don’t mean social media. I mean actually writing a letter.

I prefer my typewriter, if possible. If I can’t find a mailing address then I write a brief e-mail.

I usually just say a few things about how the person has inspired me, how I found their work, and what it means to me.

The return rate is amazing. Every single person has gotten back to me. Sometimes it’s a quick sentence or two, but typically it’s a much longer response.

I love sending something meaningful off and wondering if I’ll get anything back. When it does arrive, there’s a magical, mysterious quality to it.

It means that somewhere in the world, this person that inspired me felt compelled to write back. They had to sit down and actively think about their response instead of clicking “like” on a screen. They had to actually take the time to respond.

It’s incredible.


Here’s what I’ve been reading:

The Power of Moments - As a person who creates memorable moments for a living, I find this book fascinating. But it’s useful for anyone looking to create meaningful moments in their everyday life.

Educated - I can’t believe it took me so long to start reading this. It’s unbelievably good.

The Coddling of the American Mind - Really enjoying this and perfectly suited to our current political climate.

If you’re on Spotify here are some summer vibes for you:

Finally, you have two chances left to see MIND READER at the Chicago Magic Lounge. We’ve been packed every Wednesday since March so don’t miss your chance to see it!

After that, I’m off to Pittsburgh to perform at Liberty Magic for six weeks. All dates, showtimes, and ticket info can be found here.



Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed this article, please consider joining my "Thursday Thoughts" mailing list. It's the best way to make sure you never miss a post. No spam, just a new thought shared with you every Thursday. Click here to sign up.

Where I've Been

It’s been about 4 months since my last Thursday Thoughts post, but I’m back!

Honestly, I needed a break. Writing each week was starting to feel like a chore. I was burnt out and overworked. And I didn’t feel inspired like I want to be. But, I've been missing posting these and, deep down, I knew it was only a matter of time before I couldn't resist getting back on the grind.

So, here’s what I’ve been up to:

• I’ve been getting closer to my 10,000 hours - 10 minutes at a time. I have a super-focused approach to improving my script, performance, and creative ideas. (If there’s enough interest, I could turn that into a future post.)

• I was invited to perform at the Orlando Fringe Winter Mini Fest back in January. Both of my shows had packed houses and I even won a small award at the end of the weekend. (I won 12 awards at 12 festivals in just under 2 years, but it’ll probably be my last fringe festival for a while. It’s been a fun ride, I just need to focus on some other projects for a while.)

• I did a show in Dubai. It was my first time in the Middle East, but I made the most of it. I saw the Burj Khalifa, the Palm Jumeirah Island, Atlantis, the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, the Dubai Mall, visited a mosque, and did nothing but eat amazing food. I can’t wait to go back.

• I just did a couple TV spots for Windy City Live and Good Day Chicago. Check out the WCL clip below!

• I was also on the Bill & Wendy Show on WGN Radio. It was super fun!

• After MIND READER won a Chicago Theatre Award last year, the Chicago Magic Lounge asked me to be their artist-in-residence this summer. The show just started this month and I’ll be performing there every Wednesday through the end of June. (Get your tickets here.)

Photo by Trainman Photography

Photo by Trainman Photography

• Also, I just announced my other show dates through the end of the summer. I’ll be performing six shows a week for six weeks at Liberty Magic in Pittsburgh, PA. (Tickets available here.)

• I haven’t really been going on social media much. Chances are you probably clicked this link on facebook or twitter, but that’s only because it automatically posts to those networks for me. I’m not going to see or respond to your comments there, so if you have something to say please comment below this post or send me an e-mail.

• I’ve been taking time for myself. To get through the miserable Chicago winter I’ve been running and working out more. I ran the Shamrock Shuffle 8K last month and am working towards a 10K next month. I took some trips to Los Angeles, San Diego, and Las Vegas. And, I just finished the second season of The OA in time for the NBA Playoffs to start.

• Finally, I’ve been searching for more mystery. More on that next week.

It’s great to be back. See you in my audience soon?



Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed this article, please consider joining my "Thursday Thoughts" mailing list. It's the best way to make sure you never miss a post. No spam, just a new thought shared with you every Thursday. Click here to sign up.

The Rise Of Magic In Chicago

Magic has seen a resurgence lately in popular culture, television, movies, and more. Nowhere is the rise of magic more prevalent than in the city I call home, where some of the world’s finest magicians are amazing audiences on a nightly basis.

These performers are my friends, encouraging me to improve and learn from each and every show. These performers are my competition, pushing me to keep getting better and working harder on my act. Most importantly, these performers are setting the tone for the next generation of magical performers so that one day, like I did years ago, a young boy or girl may sit in the audience at one of their shows and whisper to themselves “I want to do that!”

These performers are the future of magic.

This newfound popularity of magic has forged the path for some of Chicago’s most amazing venues and shows. In an attempt to highlight some of my friends and spread the word about their shows, please see below for a list of places you can see live magic in Chicago. I will do my best to keep this list updated so be sure to check back from time to time for all current shows!

Chicago Magic Lounge - The CML will quite literally blow your mind. Secret passages, great food, and unbelievable entertainment await you seven days a week. (Here's a cool behind-the-scenes video I made at the Grand Opening last month.)

The Magic Parlour - On Fridays and Saturdays Dennis Watkins presents an intimate, astonishing show that will delight and astound everyone. Plus, it's in the beautiful Palmer House Hilton Hotel in downtown Chicago, making it a truly unforgettable experience.

The Magic Penthouse - Enjoy a night of cocktails, live music, and four strolling magicians in a fancy location in downtown Chicago. The show happens once a month and you can catch me there tomorrow, March 2nd!

Lindberg & Hanthorn - My friends Eric Lindberg and Stephen Hanthorn are combining their talents for a twice-monthly show at the Uptown Underground. Part-magic, part-mentalism, and 100% fun.

Near Death Experience - Neil Tobin is presenting his award-winning show at Rosehill Cemetery starting later this month. "Grown up, dead serious fun!"

The 13th Hour - Just outside of the city, mentalist Joe Diamond presents a spooky weekly show that is limited to just 13 attendees. Oh yeah, it's in a "haunted mansion", too.

Vaudeville at Bordel - Every Thursday, three-time "Best Magician in Chicago" winner AJ Sacco dazzles the crowd at Bordel with his magical stylings.

Logan Arcade - Magician Justin Purcell will blow your mind at the Logan Arcade on Tuesdays between 9pm and midnight.

Magic & History - Magician and author William Pack's shows uniquely combine magic, storytelling, and history. His shows happen at many theaters, libraries, and clubs throughout the Chicagoland area year round.

Pleasant Home - Jeanette Andrews will be presenting elegant "sensory magic" at Pleasant Home in Oak Park starting March 15th.

And finally, there's The Mystery Show - my secret, invite-only mind reading show in Chicago. Just join the list below and you'll be the first to know when and where it happens next.


Note to performers: If I missed your show or you have something new coming up, please let me know and I'll get it added to this post.



Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed this article, please consider joining my "Thursday Thoughts" mailing list. It's the best way to make sure you never miss a post. No spam, just a new thought shared with you every Thursday. Click here to sign up.