To a 10-year-old, magic tricks are fleeting wonders: sleight of hand and mind tricks appearing intermittently at birthday parties or during encounters with funny uncles. But by the time he was 10, LSA freshman Alan Smola wasn’t just marveling at magic — he was booking jobs as the magician.
Smola’s passion for magic began when he received a magic set for Christmas. Soon after, he was performing at family gatherings and was hired by the YMCA to do a show within a year of starting.
For many kids, an interest in the world of illusions would be a passing phase, but Smola’s focus remained. At 12, he got a pair of birds and transitioned from performing disparate tricks into weaving a show of many tricks together.
Throughout his career, Smola has performed at birthday parties, fairs, restaurants and corporate events. He doesn’t have a stage name but presents his act with the slogan, “The Artistic Magic of Alan Smola.”
Even when he’s not onstage, Smola is poised to perform.
“I always carry something with me so if anyone bumps into me and says ‘Hey, you’re that magic guy, show me a trick,’ I’ve got something to do,” he said.
Smola has his own website to book shows and performs mostly on weekends. He also started a club on campus called Shazaam that performs and does charity magic shows. The group did its first show last semester, raising over $500 for Dance Marathon.
Last February, Smola competed at a competition in Las Vegas called “The World Magic Seminar.” He was chosen along with 14 other contestants from around the world to make the finals.
Smola said he doesn’t have a favorite trick but loves working with his doves, even though they can be challenging and unpredictable at times. Stylistically, Smola said he tends to favor more classical magic tricks as opposed to the work of contemporary artists like David Blaine.
A career in magic, while enticing, is unstable, Smola said, so he made the decision to pursue a college career in lieu of moving to Las Vegas. Regardless of whether magic becomes his livelihood, Smola said it will always be a part of his life.
“I would love to do it full time, but if that doesn’t end up working out I’ll get a regular job,” Smola said. “But I couldn’t imagine not doing it.”