Ali Cook is a magician, illusionist, comedian and actor. He has often supported fellow stand up comics’ shows, as well as appearing on BBC’s Now You See It and CBBC’s The Slammer, to name just a couple of shows. Cook is embarking on a tour of his latest show Principles of Deception throughout November. MoodyComedy had a chat with him about how things are going.
Hi Ali, how has the comedy world been treating to you recently?
Pretty good. I’ve done two tours in the last year and very happy to say I’m starring alongside Jay Pharoah and Katherine Parkinson in the new political satire movie “How To Fake A War” directed by Rudolph Herzog.
What draws you to the art of illusion?
A lack of social skills at a young age.
How do you marry magic and stand-up comedy together?
Basically I do as much stand up as possible and when I begin to die, I do a trick… It’s a simple formula.
Have you ever had any major on stage disasters?
I was once trapped in a Houdini style water tank live on stage, which is a bad place to be when you’ve forgotten your keys.
Do you find it hard to create a full show from an abundance of shorter tricks and illusions?
It is hard. The average effect is over in a matter of seconds. Things don’t disappear slowly. This is great for TV but live you really have to find a good framing for the effect. Each trick is like a short scene.
What would your ideal audience be like?
I’m constantly amazed at how broad my audience appears to be and I’m always trying to define it. Perhaps the most telling: I was once doing an Edinburgh preview in Leicester before Sarah Millican to a room full of her fans – basically women in their thirties up and it was the best show I’ve ever done.
On tour though it seems to be half a comedy crowd and half families with a teenager in tow.
What can people expect from your latest show Principles of Deception?
It’s based on my favourite magic book of the same title written by Arthur Buckley in 1948. It was the first book to categorise every style of deception there is. That’s what we do. We do every type and style of effect there is from levitation to autosuggestion and I go hunting for rarely seen mysteries that no one has seen before.