Rick Lax used to practice magic tricks at Caribou Coffee as part of Royal Oak's little street performance scene. He moved to Las Vegas in what was supposed to be a short stint to work on a book about magic, but his stay has since extended to seven years, in which he successfully developed and pitched a new SyFy show called Wizard Wars, a reality TV competition
that premiered last week.
"You can peek behind the curtain without fully lifting the curtain away. It's a peek," Lax tells us by phone. "Each episode, you will be let in on the creative process, but also in each episode, you will walk away fooled. You're going to get a hint of the magician's process, and that's real — you're going to learn the terms, and see the way the magicians think — but we're never going to give so much away that you know 100 percent how the trick is done in the end." Lax describes the show as like "Iron Chef
for magicians," with Penn and Teller serving as the show's judges.
Lax and a magically-inclined friend, Justin Flom, filmed a version of Wizard Wars
in Lax's apartment to use in their pitch. He called up a bunch of his buddies, and had them compete to devise an original magic trick using the same items. The video was a YouTube hit, and helped them seal the deal with SyFy. While Lax worked on the show behind the scenes, Flom appears on the show as part of the "home team" that the contestants compete against.
Lax says the show's first episode got more than a million viewers "(It) surprised some people, but it didn't surprise Justin or I, beause we've always known how entertaining the magician's creative process can be," Lax says. "When you see the process behind it you develop this deeper appreciation for the art form."
You can check out the original Wizard Wars
YouTube video here
. Below, watch Lax and Flom perform 13 magic tricks in two minutes: