World-renowned magician and illusionist Matthew Cassiere, professionally known as Matt the Knife, took the stage at Donovan’s Pub on Friday, August 29. According to his website, he has broken 12 Guinness World records, a feat unparalleled by any other magician. He has also performed in 21 countries across four continents, and he has made more than 50 appearances on national and international media outlets.
After starting the show fashionably late, Cassiere began his show with a disclaimer.
“For those easily offended by bad language or humor–wrong [expletive] show,” Cassiere said.
His other pre-show emphasis that those over 21 should drink to make the show more magical.
Cassiere offered the audience two choices for his first trick. The audience quickly came to a consensus: sword-swallowing. The other option he only described as a “crazy, dangerous glass thing.” We will never know what that was. Instead of a sword, however, Cassiere used a metal clothes hanger bent in the shape of an oval more than 20 inches long. He invited an assistant from the audience to demonstrate that the hanger was indeed real, and he even let the assisstant pull the hanger out of him.
Cassiere’s treatment of the audience and of his participants seemed to be a startling mix of charisma, humiliation, general discomfort and sexual jokes–almost exclusively in regards to his male audience members. It seemed to work for him–rather than becoming offended, the audience seemed to laugh uncomfortably with everyone else.
“I’m a straight guy–probably the most shocking part of the show,” Cassiere said.
“You are so awkward-looking, it makes me uncomfortable,” Cassiere said.
“It’s all fun and games ‘til the magician’s dead,” Cassiere said, preparing to swallow the hanger, yet after all the delaying and joking, he was indeed successful.
Cassiere’s other feats included guessing what an audience member would have bought if given a million dollars. He also managed to describe four random items from audience members while blindfolded although he actually only had black tape over his eyes. For one trick, he claimed to invoke some sort of Voodoo in order to affect a member of the audience by using the famous pin-in-a-doll technique. He then attempted to make 20 people from the audience feel weak through the use of a hypnotic video, such that all 20 lined up could not force him to collapse while holding his arms straight against the wall.
“Don’t worry,” Cassiere said, “the effects will wear off soon.”
His final acts were escaping from a straitjacket and swallowing a few razors. For the straitjacket, he appeared to use a wall to dislocate his arm, so that he could escape the jacket. For his last insane idea, which involved the razors, he swallowed a long length of string, and then appeared to swallow four razors. Cassiere, with an intense facial expression, slowly pulled out the string, with the razors coming back out now attached to the string in an orderly fashion.
Overall, the audience enjoyed his show.
“It’s really cool to see someone who has a passion and is able to do things that other people can’t do,” sophomore Sharon Nicol said.
Matt the Knife’s reputation as a unique performer is entirely fulfilled by his live show. His oddness and vulgarity are only matched by his charisma and coolness on the stage. At one moment, he will be discussing the ethics of the straight-jacket’s use in mental health facilities, while at the next, he would make fun of audience members.
Cassiere is a master not only of magic and illusion, but of wit. His show was enjoyably unenjoyable. One can easily become offended, while laughing at the same time.