2016 was my busiest year yet!
The year started with shows in Rhode Island, Florida, NYC, Iowa, Houston, Boston, Lubbock, South Dakota, Kansas, and Illinois. After that, I took my lovely wife to my show at the National Museum of Wildlife Art. Our road trip led us through Utah, Idaho, and into Wyoming where Stephie fell in love with everything about Jackson Hole.
Shows kept me busy. I performed in an airplane hanger, on the rooftops of New York City, a barn full of neon signs, giant conference rooms, small meeting rooms, casinos, large theaters, small stages, and more. Plus, I headlined at The Chicago Magic Lounge once a month. It's been great to be a small part of such a cool project and to help magic flourish in Chicago once again.
In May, Stephie graduated from Columbia College in Chicago with her Masters of Arts Management. (She had a full-ride scholarship and graduated with top marks!) She came with me to a gig in Vegas a few days later to celebrate. The gig went so well that the client got me drunk in the bar at The Cosmopolitan. I came back to our room upstairs and woke Stephanie up. You'll have to ask her for the rest of the story...
Then, I spent a couple days in Los Angeles with my best friend Frank Fogg. We went to the beach, spent a night at the Magic Castle, and saw Derek Delgaudio's fantastic one-man show "In & Of Itself." It was a great trip.
After a gig in NYC I slept two hours then woke up to get to the airport. An hour later my Uber dropped me off at LaGuardia. I was tired but I was on time with my bags in tow. Everything was perfect - except my flight was out of Newark. I always fly in and out of LaGuardia but had booked this last-minute trip into LGA and out of EWR. Oops! One hour and $100 later I walked through security and straight onto my flight in Jersey. You learn not to panic on the road. It may be terrible in the moment but nothing's ever as bad as it seems.
Laugh it off, learn from it, and move on.
In July, Stephie and I took a week off for a trip to London. We were there right after Brexit, which was quite interesting to say the least. We did the usual touristy things - museums, Big Ben, the London Eye, the Tower of London, Sherlock Holmes Museum, and more - then went on to Blackpool to see the last night of Derren Brown's "Miracle" tour.
The show was fantastic. Derren is the reason I got into mentalism so I was thrilled to finally be able to see him live. Stephie patiently waited with me at the stage door following the show and after an hour, Derren emerged to say hi to the ten of us who were still waiting. It was a perfect night!
By the end of the summer, I had made a few new friends in the theatre community and lost another friend to suicide. I logged a couple hundred miles training for a marathon, then injured my feet and lost all of my progress. In the midst of it all, I wrote a new show and performed it three times at the Chicago Fringe Festival.
In the fall I performed in Utah, Nevada, Napa Valley, Seattle, Ontario, Buffalo, Albany, Houston, South Carolina, Cleveland, and of course Chicago. We went back to Rhode Island for a show in Watch Hill. It was just down the street from Taylor Swift's house! We saw the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Pier 39, the Space Needle, the Grand Tetons, the St. Louis Arch, Niagara Falls, the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, and Zion National Park.
At the start of October I turned 30. THIRTY! My only request this year was to be able to perform on my birthday. I remember mentioning that I could "think of no better place to spend my birthday than onstage" and having a fellow performer say "I can think of a dozen better places."
Well, I disagree. So I spent my birthday blowing minds onstage at the Chicago Magic Lounge.
Best gift ever.
At the start of November I watched the Cubs win the World Series alone in my hotel room after a gig in Las Vegas. After the election I produced the "Be Happy Variety Show" to raise money for the ACLU. We raised over $1500. I also joined with my friends Nick and Sin and started performing at their monthly private event in downtown Chicago known as The Magic Penthouse.
In December I had an extremely busy schedule of holiday shows and private appearances. My final flight out of Chicago was cancelled due to snow, so Stephie and I loaded the car and drove 6 hours over to Cleveland to make it happen. I never miss a show.
After losing my friend Jacob I started writing more. I needed an outlet to express the thoughts I was feeling. I've stuck with it and now I publish my thoughts here on my website every Thursday. I call it: Thursday Thoughts. Original, I know.
It took going halfway around the world to see Derren Brown's show for me to have an artistic breakthrough and ascend to the next plateau of my art. I've taken my work in a completely new direction and am truly excited for the months ahead. I already have bookings in three countries next year, so it's shaping up to be pretty incredible. (Stephie's looking forward to going to Cancun in March. For some reason I can't convince her to come to Omaha in January, though.)
2016 was hard. There was loss and pain. The election sucked, great icons passed away, and I spent much of the summer in physical therapy. But I spent the year looking ahead. I went to as many shows as I could and the best ones I've mentioned here. I studied Stoicism and became obsessed with figuring out how to be truly happy. I read and watched and studied and practiced and dreamt about everything that's important to me. It was time well spent.
I don't know what 2017 has in store but here's what I plan to do:
Travel even more. (Hopefully Stephie can come, too.)
Write every day. (Currently I write 1,000 words a day. I'm going to stick with it.)
My name was just drawn for the 2017 Chicago Marathon. Let the training commence!
Get off the Internet. Read more, create more, make more eye contact, take more pictures.
Make more videos.
One last thing.
I love telling stories through video. For three years now, I've been recording every moment of every day. A few months ago my Canon S120 stopped working. That's the second S120 I've busted. When you use it as much as I do it wears out pretty quickly.
For Christmas I asked for some gift cards to put towards replacing my camera. Thanks to some generous family members and some extra savings I just ordered a new camera. I've been filming everything I did in 2016 - good or bad - but for the past few months I've had to use my iPhone and GoPros to capture those moments. It's just not the same so I can hardly wait for my new camera to arrive!
For now, in the spirit of making more vidoes, may I present to you my newest project: My 2016 Year In Review Video. If you're looking for me in 2017 I'll probably be onstage somewhere in North America. Maybe you'll be in the audience.
See you next year.