I have performed as a magician and comedian for ten years, and recently appeared on Penn & Teller: Fool Us to do a trick with lentils:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-3fzp7hJrI

I can talk about magic, writing, the process of filming the Penn & Teller show, and general lentil recipes. Here is my website and twitter, if anyone cares:

http://kyleeschen.com/

https://twitter.com/kyleeschen

No one would ever care enough to impersonate me, but here is proof anyway: http://imgur.com/a/V9iGq

Comments: 268 • Responses: 73  • Date: 

cheebromeej118 karma

Three different people sent me your P&T routine and said you reminded them of me. Should I be concerned?

kyleeschen213 karma

Yes. I, however, am honored by the comparison.

BrundageMagic95 karma

Hey Kyle, Magician Steven Brundage here. I fooled Penn and Teller last year and had a blast on the show. I wanted to congratulate you on the fantastic act.. By far one of the standout acts of the show.

3 questions.

  1. What 5 magicians do you look up to or are inspired by the most?

  2. What is your favorite magic effect or act to perform?

  3. I'm in LA til august 4th... Want to go to the magic castle or hangout sometime while I'm here!

kyleeschen67 karma

Hi Steven! I'm glad to hear from you. I loved your clip, and would recommend that people seek it out for an extraordinary display of Rubric cube dexterity.

  1. Five favorite magicians are Derren Brown, Penn & Teller, Ricky Jay, and Dani Da Ortiz. They have all figured out their own ways to make magic into a immersive, theatrical experience, as opposed to a mere rattling off of amusing tricks.

  2. As for my favorite trick, I had an answer tucked away somewhere in this thread. Here is the text:

My favorite is the oldest trick in magic: the cups and balls. The basic plot is simple- little cork balls appear, vanish, and travel beneath inverted cups. The trick typically ends with the surprise appearance of fruit, billiard balls, or small animals beneath the examined cups. Over thousands of years, countless magicians have contributed little touches to the trick, and everybody seems to have their own version.

I almost think of it like a standardized way to compare magicians, as you can tell an enormous amount about how they approach the art by the decisions they make in constructing their routines. If you would like to see an extraordinary interpretation, here is one of my favorite routines in all of magic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FUv-Q6EgEFI

3) I would love to, but I live in Northern California now! We will find a way to meet through message.

doublenut67 karma

P & T called it: the comic magician is often attempted and often falls flat, you are accomplishing something amazing.

What comedians or comedy media are you, personally, a fan of?

kyleeschen111 karma

Thanks! For me, the world's best humorist is Gary Larson, the cartoonist behind "The Far Side." I was lucky enough to encounter the strip when I was pretty young, and it really shaped my preference toward absurdity and deadpan. My favorite standup comic is Stewart Lee, who stretches the form like no one else right now.

janeil8851 karma

When Penn told you that he loved your act you looked like you were on the verge of happy tears, what was going through your mind the moment he said that?

kyleeschen79 karma

I was deeply honored. In my eyes, those two are the finest practitioners of the art right now, so it was wonderful to hear that they enjoyed it. Given the excitement of the night, I actually can't recall specific thoughts though.

StormCrow177038 karma

Which magic trick is the most difficult?

kyleeschen76 karma

I've always found mind-reading type tricks to be difficult. There is a skill called cold-reading that allows you give the impression that you can read thoughts. This is accomplished through clever phrasings that can be interpreted in multiple ways, and requires an intimidating nimbleness and verbal dexterity. I recommend that you google it, as there are some great examples online.

reveri7736 karma

Hey man, big fan of your act. What's the one thing in this world you can't live without that isn't oxygen?

kyleeschen67 karma

Thanks! I really love books, particularly those written by someone who has spent their life thinking about a topic, and then just summarizes their years of hard-won insight for all of us to appreciate. I would be very reluctant to give these up.

reveri7720 karma

Favorite book and author? If you don't mind answering after an answer.

kyleeschen51 karma

Fiction: The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery.

Non-Fiction: Godel, Escher, Bach by Douglas Hofstadter. This one I gave up on a few times, but am so glad I eventually made through. The insights in this book totally reoriented how I view the world. I can't really describe how, as it is famously difficult to summarize, but if you are interested I highly recommend you push through to the end.

Here's an example benefit: it helps you develop an intuition for how consciousness can arise from atoms through the metaphor of an ant colony. It is full of these deep, but counter-intuitive, connections.

PM_ME_XBOX_MONEYCODE33 karma

Your proof says 7/25/16 when it is, in fact, 7/30/16

Why is that?

kyleeschen173 karma

I don't believe in time.

_tx24 karma

How long did it take to develop your character?

kyleeschen87 karma

It organically evolved over the last decade, though it is largely just an exaggerated version of my actual personality. The way I think about it is that I am "aggressively awkward" - I may not abide by social conventions, but there is no shame attached to that. Earlier versions of the persona seemed more apologetic about this awkwardness, and now there is a confidence beneath it that I think comes with age.

stupiddroid23 karma

I've seen a lot of your hilarious YouTube videos! How do you keep a straight face when making all of those dry humor jokes?

kyleeschen79 karma

Thank you! I try to rehearse the lines enough so that I no longer find them amusing. Occasionally, I will break character and smile onstage if there is an unusual laugh in the crowd (one memorable laugh sounded like a dolphin in distress).

mateybob20 karma

What's your favourite brand of cereal?

kyleeschen168 karma

Oats.

They warn you that AMAs can get very personal, but I couldn't have anticipated the extent.

BearGuru20 karma

How are Penn and Teller behind the scenes as compared to their personality on the show?

kyleeschen43 karma

I actually didn't have a chance to talk with them offstage this time. However, after every one of their stage shows they stick around the lobby to talk to everyone interested. They really care about connecting with their fans, a tendency that I admire.

When I've seen them in those settings, they have been pretty similar to how they come off in interviews. I get the sense that sincerity is deeply important to both.

hlwroc16 karma

Where do you perform? Your show seems like one that would be very entertaining, and well worth attending if a chance ever came up.

kyleeschen33 karma

Thank you! I live in the Bay Area, so around there. My performance rate has slowed over the past few years (school and a day job), but I am just starting to get back into it. Once that becomes more routine, I will post locations on my website.

Erick_James11 karma

What's your day job?

kyleeschen40 karma

I work as a data analyst. We run randomized controlled trials on behavioral interventions to encourage savings in developing countries. It's a oddly specific job, but I really enjoy the office culture and believe deeply in the cause of financial inclusion.

Erick_James7 karma

So did you goto school for CS then? Do you ever think that being a performer will be a better career than what you have now?

kyleeschen41 karma

I studied economics. I like separating my work and artistic lives because if my creative output became my sole identity, it would lead to paralyzing writer's block. Now that I have multiple things to think about, I can take risks artistically and still have something else in my life.

c10k15 karma

Sup man, just wanted to say I loved your act. Make sure to be able to throw in some non-deadpan stuff too everyone once in a while to make it nice and spicy. What are your plans for the future, just ride the wave and see where it takes you?

kyleeschen22 karma

Thank you! I agree that parts of the act should be non-deadpan, and I am working on few pieces now (more magic oriented) that should add that kind of texture. I have no current plans, other than to keep performing and improving at the craft.

ScaryCumFace15 karma

Did your experience and education at Stanford shape your approach to comedy/magic?

kyleeschen31 karma

Yes! The best class I took there was from an amazing professor named Robert Sapolsky on the biological basis of human behavior. It sparked a deep interest in cognitive science that has really influenced my magic. Magic is an aesthetic presentation of blind spots and biases, so it was great to formally learn about how the brain processes information and makes inferences.

hometowntourist18 karma

This very course was recorded a few years back and is available on YouTube! (As well as iTunes, if I'm not mistaken.) I highly recommend it, too. Robert Sapolsky provides a really engaging introduction to the many topics covered.

kyleeschen13 karma

Thank you for linking to it! I would really recommend it. He is one of those teachers that change how you view the world in ways that extend far beyond the subject of the class.

domaindetente11 karma

How have things changed for you since the show? Have you got more people booking you for shows? More people following your social media? More dates? Or are things still just about the same? Also I wanted to say great job on the show! Hope to see more of your acts in the future.

kyleeschen22 karma

Thanks for the question! There are a few things that have come up, though nothing is finalized at the moment so I don't want to announce them. There has been an increase in social media engagement, and I have been really touched by the appreciation expressed through email and private messages. If you have sent something and haven't heard back from me yet, I do plan on getting to you!

how_do_I_even_reddit8 karma

I've been trying to grow my jowls out for a few months now, and I was wondering what you think the ideal length would be?

kyleeschen14 karma

I am very, very happy that someone actually read "The Brothers Mildew."

Jowl to nose ratio should be 1.618. Either extend the jowls or shorten the nose- it's the proportion that matters.

foxehfoxes7 karma

1.) To what extent does your deadpan stage act match your true personality?

2.) If you had to choose any pet, what would it be?

kyleeschen55 karma

1) The stage persona is an exaggeration of several real traits. I have never been the most socially fluid person, and the frustrations associated with that inspires a lot of my scripting.

2) Moss.

SleepingLesson7 karma

What's the worst you've ever messed up while performing?

kyleeschen49 karma

Occasionally, audiences do not realize that I'm joking, and feel deep sympathy for the odd human being onstage. The atmosphere in those shows are deeply uncomfortable. I would consider that a failure on my part to communicate the desired tone.

arhanv7 karma

What's the best way to eat lentils?

kyleeschen37 karma

Through a boba straw.

PM-ME-YOUR-WHALETAIL7 karma

What is your writing process like? Do you write the act after a trick is perfected, or is a more combined, fluid process?

kyleeschen10 karma

I usually have a topic or theme I want to write about, then pick a trick that would be a good vehicle for it. I script and rehearse the piece, then test it out in front of audiences. Over the course of hundreds of shows I make little adjustments based on crowd feedback, and the piece slowly matures as all but the most impactful parts fall away. This iterative editing is one of my favorite parts of the creative process.

defenestrators6 karma

Why do they call you Brown Sugar?

kyleeschen13 karma

I don't know. As long as I can remember, they've called me that. No one addresses me as anything else these days.

CallMeSnyder6 karma

Have you always been indifferent?

kyleeschen97 karma

No. Three years ago, I was walking home, and suddenly within me I felt a zest for life. About two seconds later, it dissipated, and has not yet returned.

AceSLive125 karma

Mate, I love your deadpan comedy and your so very awkward looking audience interactions.. I've seen some old youtube videos of you and am excited to see you on Fool Us whenever I'm able..

I have 2 questions..

1) I'm someone who does a lot of card tricks, but struggles to get good at any other kinds of magic.. what would you suggest to be the next step after card magic?

2) Have you ever considered growing a beard?

kyleeschen7 karma

Thanks for the kind words! Hopefully, I can be helpful here:

1) What types of magic do you want to do? I would recommend learning more general presentation skills (through theater, improv, standup, etc.) and learn to do a few tricks expertly, as opposed to many half-heartedly. What seems to be the block in moving into other genres for you?

2) I have not, though as a magician it might be advantageous to have an additional hiding place.

TURBODERP5 karma

what awkward question do you want me to ask here Kyle?

WHICH ONE???

kyleeschen5 karma

If you were to walk into your room, and see a cow giving birth, how would you honestly respond? No joke answers please. Really think about this- I pay close attention to how people handle absurdity.

foxehfoxes4 karma

Okay two more.

  • When/how did you realise that you enjoy performing stage magic?

  • Looking at some of your other videos, it seems you have had the same hairstyle for a long time. Have you ever felt the urge to change it?

kyleeschen27 karma

1) I've loved both magic and comedy since the age of ten. I was fortunate enough to grow up relatively close to the Magic Castle in Hollywood, through which I was given an opportunity to grow onstage. It was there where I found that the stage was the optimal environment.

2) I have always had this hairstyle, and feel no craving for variation. The hair has been combed in this direction for so long now that I merely wake up, slam my head against a wall, and it falls neatly into place.

arhanv4 karma

I remember seeing you on YouTube years ago!

What's the secret to pleasing a crowd? Do you ever go into an act thinking "what if they don't like me?"

kyleeschen12 karma

Audiences love sincerity. This might seem like an odd thing for a comedian to say, but crowds can really pick up when humor comes from genuine frustration or passion. The best comedians make themselves vulnerable. When an audience senses that a comedian is pandering, or putting up a shield (which sarcasm and cynicism permits), the show loses a lot of its power.

Before big shows, I do sometimes get nervous. The moment the show begins however, my full focus gets locked to the present, and I just work on doing as well as I can moment to moment.

adnatop4 karma

White rice or brown rice ?

kyleeschen19 karma

Brown rice, because I enjoy the texture of the husk. White rice is a holiday food.

rxneutrino3 karma

Would you rather drink milk expecting it to be OJ, or drink OJ when you were expecting milk?

kyleeschen11 karma

Both seem like intensely pleasurable experiences. Can I do both?

FanOfGoodMovies3 karma

How do Penn & Teller have time to tape shows when they perform in Vegas every day?

kyleeschen10 karma

I'm not sure - I am astounded at the magnitude of their output. They could easily retire or coast with old material, so I really admire how they continue to push themselves artistically.

Kevin1053 karma

Do you identify with any religion?

kyleeschen12 karma

I don't identify with any religion, though I have found some Buddhist practices to be helpful in navigating life. While not a religion, Stoicism has also provided a powerful framework for handling volatility and stress.

foxehfoxes2 karma

Feel free not to answer this if it's too personal, but did you grow up in a household that identified with any particular religion, and do you think (whatever the answer is) it has influenced the way you view the world now?

kyleeschen8 karma

My family took me to a Methodist church when I was growing up, but it was somewhat infrequent. I can't really think of direct influences on my current thoughts or personality, but these things can impact you in very subtle ways so I'm not sure.

RexiconJesse3 karma

I really enjoyed your bit on Fool Us, and I'd see you live. Since there is no section for tours on your website, is your email list the only way to find out where you'll be?

kyleeschen3 karma

Thank you! Yes, I will use my email list to give updates on future appearances.

bufferjavi3 karma

Amazing job on your act! Really enjoyed watching your character on the show. What is your favorite type of magic trick? Do you perform this character elsewhere? (Street tricks, that would be more personal and maybe more risky, considering some people just don't have a sense of humour)

kyleeschen7 karma

Thank you! My preference is for "sleight-of-hand" type tricks, which depend more on manual dexterity than fancy apparatus. This is because 1) I have more control, and 2) the audience credits you, not some device.

I have only done the character onstage, and am unsure how it would come off in a close-up setting. I think that your instinct is correct in that it could be risky one on one.

jeppedahla3 karma

Will magic get you laid?

kyleeschen32 karma

The opposite.

HarrisonFordsBae2 karma

Is there any way we can support you and your magic? So interested in seeing a lot more!

kyleeschen6 karma

Thank you! I am currently working some new pieces, and hope to have that content out soon. Once I'm more certain of what will happen, I will send information out through my mailing list. I appreciate the support!

CurryInAHurry002 karma

Where do you see your career in five years?

kyleeschen4 karma

It's very hard to predict, so I have no idea. My strategy is to just keep developing as a performer for now.

homerunman2 karma

Hey there! I stumbled across your videos only in the last week, so I've been trying to make up for lost time and watch as many as possible.

I know you have preference for slight of hand - how did that come about? Was it just the style of magic that came easiest to you, or did you go out of your way to learn the style?

I love your energy and vigor onstage. Keep the spark alive.

kyleeschen5 karma

Thank you! Sleight-of-hand magic teaches you so much about deception in a way that apparatus magic does not. You learn how to sequence and layer subterfuge in a way that is more difficult to do with larger, clunkier objects. Additionally, unless it is performed expertly, with apparatus magic audiences tend to credit the prop, not the performer.

dahamsta2 karma

Bob Newhart or Steven Wright?

kyleeschen3 karma

I've never seen the former, but I do like the latter.

PM_ME_UR_CHIZ1 karma

Boxers or briefs? By the way I love your act, Kyle.

kyleeschen12 karma

Thank you! Near my house, there are a lot of bees with no sense of personal space, so I prefer clothing that guards from stings.

GrizzlyBear741 karma

Your act was by far one of the most entertaining i have seen in years. You are living proof that comedy can have the same effect as flashy stage settings with tigers, explosions etc.

Will comedy always be your driving factor when you perform, or will you ultimately succumb to do more elaborate staged performances?

kyleeschen3 karma

Thank you! Over longer performances, I have individual pieces that are more magic focused (though I avoid tigers and explosions). Usually all pieces come accompanied with a script, however.

baconcheesesauce1 karma

Ahhhhhhh!!!! I hope I didn't miss my chance to hop on this AMA... although now that I think of it I have nothing of real merit to say or even a question to ask. Damnit.

I guess I will take this opportunity to let you know I am a female who greatly admires your talent. At the age of 13 or 14 I was fascinated with standing in the mall for hours at the magic shop observing and trying to figure out how each and every trick was done. I got pretty good at sleight of hand and close up magic. I invested a ton of money and time into learning and perfecting my techniques. For the sake of not rambling any longer, life happened and I walked away from magic for about a decade. Seeing your video made me break out my shoebox with all of the old tricks I haven't messed with in a while. I actually showed a friend of mine a trick with the little red sponge balls while he was under the influence of a certain plant and I sincerely regret not having a video of his reaction. When I showed him my hand was empty he REFUSED to open his. That experience reminded me of why I got into it all back in high school. I guess I just wanted you to know I think you're pretty awesome and I have a total crush on you and your skills.

Ok, I thought of a few questions now... Gosh adhd is a bitch.

What is an average day in your life like?

How many times have you successfully used magic tricks to win over someone you were interested in?

Favorite song?

Favorite color?

Would you be willing to send me a signed copy of your children's book about the owl and what is the owl's moniker?

What is your most memorable reaction from someone while performing?

Thanks for reading this far and for doing this AMA!!!

Maybe one day I'll get to see you perform live!

kyleeschen6 karma

Thank you for the kind words, and I am glad that you have rediscovered magic!

Though I realize that the format is "Ask Me Anything", there are certain things I would like to keep to myself. I will say though that I once performed a routine called the "Kyle Eschen School of Seduction," which I might bring back.

Favorite Song or Album: I like Max Richter's take on Vivaldi.

Favorite Color: Blue

As for the book, "Olivia the Sea Owl" is currently still in the early stages. I'm not sure when I will get it done.

The most memorable reaction for a trick came when I was performing a trick called "The Chinese Sticks." There's a video of me doing it on YouTube. You will notice that it is a terrible trick, and yet in one memorable show a spectator kept bursting with expletives of amazement. I have never seen such a chasm between reaction and quality.

guykirk91 karma

[deleted]

kyleeschen13 karma

The only game that I have developed any competence in is Pokemon, Red Version.

Shermander1 karma

Yo whatsup dude? What's your favorite video game or hobby besides performing magic?

kyleeschen2 karma

I like reading a lot, particularly books on social science. I also write short stories with illustrations, a few which are on my website. I don't currently play video games, though I do feel nostalgia for Pokemon Red Version.

dnytle1 karma

With the largely positive reaction that came out of your appearance on Fool Us, would a tour be considered any time soon?

kyleeschen2 karma

There's nothing currently planned, but thank you for asking!

Punchyhale1 karma

Does it piss you off that you've been on TV but the waffle house AMA is blowing yours away?

kyleeschen7 karma

Any disappointment that I feel is more than drowned out by my housemate's glee that I am beaten by Waffle House. On net, this fact is massive positive for the house.

On the hand, it is a rather interesting thread. Waffle House comes close to being a human universal.

ManicFrizz1 karma

Do you play any Instruments ?

kyleeschen6 karma

I don't! I regret not learning when I was younger, and time is scarce these days.

ManicFrizz1 karma

How many hours do you practice your craft on an avg week?

kyleeschen3 karma

I'm always writing material in my head, so it's hard to quantify. As for sleight of hand, I spend several hours per week, though that's highly variable.

manecofigo1 karma

What is your favorite TV show?

What is your favorite quote?

What is your favorite short story?

kyleeschen4 karma

My favorite TV shows are Breaking Bad for drama, and Rick & Morty for comedy.

My favorite quote is from Lucius Seneca: "It is not that we have a short space of time, but that we waste much of it." Stoic writers (Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus) have a knack for wisdom packed tightly into succinct sentences, and they are whom I turn to in times of stress.

My favorite short story is the six-word one attributed to Hemingway: "For sale: baby shoes, never worn."

GassyWizard1 karma

Have you stayed in touch with Penn and Teller since the show and how has your appearance on the show impacted your life?

kyleeschen3 karma

I have not heard from them since the show. There have been a few interesting connections since the clip aired, but nothing is concrete yet so I shouldn't say anything. My apologies for being cryptic!

cakeslol1 karma

well done performance rivals that of mac daddy,going into it did you really think your trick could fool them or did you just do it to get veiwership?

kyleeschen3 karma

Thank you! No, I didn't think I would fool them. I took a simple card technique and combined it with a standard method for making doves appear from handkerchiefs. My goal was to to do a simple but amusing trick that served as a vehicle for the script, which is what I really wanted to highlight.

jerthall1 karma

Hey bud,

How important would you say teaching fiction writing to a bunch of bright young students was to your career in magic, if at all? More importantly, how intensive would you describe your arts?

kyleeschen2 karma

I would say that it was the most influential experience of my life, though I have had the "Oompa- Loompa Cow Song" running on loop in the background of my mind non-stop for the past two years.

As for how intensive I'd describe my arts: 3/ 10.

Some bright students are mentioned on the website: http://kyleeschen.com/#vlad

Quaek_1 karma

Hi Kyle. Love your stage persona. You said earlier that you learned most of what you know magic-wise in books. What books would you recommend for a beginner and/or intermediate level magician?

kyleeschen3 karma

Thank you! The best entry-level book is "The Amateur Magician's Handbook" by Henry Hay. It does an extraordinary job teaching both the technical and performing sides of the art. Unlike most intro magic books, the author has faith in the reader and presents challenging, high-quality material. I think if you polled professional magicians, most would list this book as a favorite.

Bumfucker6661 karma

What's your favorite trick?

kyleeschen7 karma

My favorite is the oldest trick in magic: the cups and balls. The basic plot is simple- little cork balls appear, vanish, and travel beneath inverted cups. The trick typically ends with the surprise appearance of fruit, billiard balls, or small animals beneath the examined cups. Over thousands of years, countless magicians have contributed little touches to the trick, and everybody seems to have their own version.

I almost think of it like a standardized way to compare magicians, as you can tell an enormous amount about how they approach the art by the decisions they make in constructing their routines.

If you would like to see an extraordinary interpretation, here is one of my favorite routines in all of magic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FUv-Q6EgEFI

JasperUngulate1 karma

It feels like the meta of Fool Us has shifted from, in the first couple of seasons, legitimately trying to Fool Them, into just doing your best, most memorable act strictly for the exposure. Agree or Disagree?

Related, how did you decide which illusion to bring with your to the show?

kyleeschen7 karma

For some context, television has traditionally been difficult medium for magic. The psychological techniques of magic were developed for live audiences, but lose their power when filmed. Magic is invigorating live, but falls flat on screen when compared to CGI. Also, on TV, everyone attributes the effects to special effects and audience "plants."

I believe that Penn and Teller want to provide an effective platform for the art, regardless of whether performers fooled them or not. I think that they succeeded, and solved many of the problems inherent in other televised magic. Ultimately, the goals is an entertaining show that showcases the best of magic, and this takes priority over deceptiveness.

Personally, I had no intention of fooling them - I just combined two standard magic techniques. I wanted to do something simple that allowed me to highlight the script. In fact, I tried to do something almost anti-climactic for add to the atmosphere of disappointment. Additionally, most of my material relies on the above mentioned psychological techniques, so I was a bit limited trick-wise.

prettythai4awhiteguy1 karma

Do you ever think to yourself about how bald people need to sunscreen over the top of their head too and just think about how silly that looks?

kyleeschen1 karma

I think about that all the time, although I think it looks beautiful.

thoughts-from-alex1 karma

Do the people in your office know about the magic that you do? Has that influenced the work environment at all?

I think you're rather brilliant, incidentally.

kyleeschen2 karma

Thank you! The office did discover some videos (thankfully after the interviewing process). They have been enormously supportive, though it hasn't really affected office culture.

TheWiseYoda1 karma

i just wanted to say you're an awesome guy

kyleeschen3 karma

Thank you!

whatllmyusernamebe1 karma

You were amazing!

If you quit being a magician, do you think you'd still be a comedian? Because you're very funny!

kyleeschen3 karma

Thank you for the kind words! I have considered it. I think that I eventually want to develop a solid standup set in addition to the magic / comedy combination, but this takes time to develop.

foxehfoxes1 karma

How have you entertained yourself for the last (nearly) eight hours of this AMA? Surely you haven't just been sitting in front of the computer all day?

kyleeschen12 karma

I did at one point leave the house to photosynthesize.

educatedsavage1 karma

Dude, I thought you were hilarious!!! How do you maintain the humor without it becoming overdone and predictable?

kyleeschen4 karma

Thank you! Over the course of a longer show, I try alternate verbally dense pieces with those that have more emphasis on the magic. I also try to give the character a bit of an arc the show progresses.

coryives1 karma

Kyle, I love your work. I saw you before it was mainstream (hipster). I noticed you work a lot with silk ribbons and ties, why did you decide to use these types of acts for your career? Also, do you like to focus more on the comedy, or your skill as a magician?

kyleeschen2 karma

Thank you!

Silk is an ideal material for stage magic, because it can be compressed and hidden and yet is visible in large theaters. Magicians over the years have developed a number of routines employing them.

I try to focus on both, though I spend more time writing lines because it is more socially acceptable to do that on the train.

TheToaster9871 karma

What's your favourite book? :)

kyleeschen1 karma

For fiction, "The Elegance of the Hedgehog." It is such a heart-warming and witty book.

For non-fiction, "Godel, Escher, Bach" is one I would highly recommend. I had to read it very slowly to properly absorb it, but it is one of those books that totally alters your worldview.

crafty_geek1 karma

1) What skill(s) that you honed for your act do you find most readily applicable off-stage/in your day to day life?

2) You said in a previous response that you tend to avoid apparatus-heavy tricks; however, if someone else were to foot the bill for the actual apparatus (purchase, upkeep, transport, etc), what trick would you most want to learn and incorporate into your act?

kyleeschen13 karma

1) Public speaking and improvisational ability have both proven useful in both work and everyday life. Magic also gives you some insight into cognitive biases, and it is humbling to know how easy it is for the mind to come to the wrong conclusion.

2) If someone else were to pay and provide maintenance for some apparatus, I would do something with a large animal (like an elephant seal). I would just love to do an entire act with small objects (like thimbles and playing cards), stand up and say "for my last trick," and wheel on the elephant seal.

ewilli321 karma

Do you have a favorite magician?

kyleeschen2 karma

My favorite magicians are Derren Brown and Penn & Teller. In addition to solid mastery of the art, they bring a superb theatrical intuition to whatever they are presenting.

BigPudge1 karma

Do you work another job other than magic/standup?

kyleeschen3 karma

I work as a data analyst for a company that encourages savings behavior in developing countries. Many banks are creating financial programs for the emerging middle class, and we try to use ethnographic research and data to design interventions that encourage participation. I love working there, and really believe in the cause of expanded financial opportunity.

my_opinion_is_cheese0 karma

Your website says that you recently graduated from Harvard University. How have your studies effected your act? Did you know when you went to college that you would use your degree to become a magician? Do you have plans to enter a career related to your degree?

kyleeschen5 karma

I studied economics at Stanford, where I had two focuses: international development (which looks at how to alleviate global poverty), and behavioral economics (which examines irrationality). The latter, in conjunction with an amazing neuroscience course by professor Robert Sapolsky, sparked a deep interest in the brain and its limitations. Magicians pay very close attention to blind spots, so it was wonderful study these things formally.

I currently work as a data analyst, where I use a lot of the statistical techniques that I learned when studying economics. Also, I am currently working on new material that blends my interests in cognitive science and magic.

Rockstar_Zombie0 karma

Did you go to a school to learn your magic, perhaps Hogwarts?

kyleeschen3 karma

I actually learned most of what I know about the craft out of library books. The actual "secrets" of magic are a very small part of what makes a successful magic performance. The presentation and writing skills can only develop by performing in front of audiences many, many times.