Coal City resident Tim Hannig was named Chicago’s “best magician” last month when he won both the first place and the People’s Choice awards at the Chicago Magic Competition 2012 held Saturday, Aug. 12.
“I was elated,” Hannig said about earning both awards. “I thought my set went really well. The crowd was extremely responsive.”
Eight other “professional and highly skilled amateur” magicians competed with Hannig at the Chicago History Museum.
At the same time, the museum was hosting a new exhibit on the history of magic, including items from Harry Houdini, Wizzo from the Bozo Show and “everything in between,” Hannig said. The exhibit will be open through the beginning of January.
The contest, sponsored by the Society of American Magician and co-sponsored by the museum, was judged by the chief theater critic from the Chicago Tribune, the executive director of the Mercury Theater in Chicago and the competition’s first first-place magician from about a decade ago, Hannig said.
The Coal City magician performed his show entitled “Tim, that’s amazing!” He also convinced the audience to shout that cheer throughout the set.
“No matter who the audience is, I use a ton of audience participation,” Hannig said. “My biggest prop is the audience, by far.”
Hannig learned his first magic trick when he was 7 years old from his pastor at church. From that point on, magic was a hobby for him, just like any other kid, he said.
It wasn’t until he was 14 years old that he started performing magic in front of live audiences. He took his show anywhere he could, including nursing homes and community events.
“They say you have to have a place to be bad before you can get good,” Hannig said jokingly, remembering his first performances.
His big break came three years later at the age of 17. He performed at a convention for magicians during an amateur hour late at night.
“A guy approached me afterward and said ‘I like what you did. I produce shows for Six Flags,’” Hannig remembered.
For three summers following that conversation, while he was in college, Hannig performed at Six Flags theme parks. In the end, he had performed about 900 shows in parks in Illinois, New Jersey and Georgia.
“If you’re not good at a theme park, they’re going to get up and walk away. They don’t have any allegiance to you,” Hannig said about why he appreciated his Six Flags experiences.
Eventually, being a magician overtook his “real job” and became his career.
“I called my parents and said ‘Hey ... You know that college degree?’” Hannig said.
He now performs his PRO-KIDS show at local elementary schools and an adult show at various events, including company outings and churches.
Hannig has performed in Nashville at the Country Music Association’s Music Festival in Nashville Tenn., the White House Easter Egg Roll on the White House lawn and churches such as the Lakewood Church in Texas and the Saddleback Church in California.
The theme for PRO-KIDS this year is Seeds of Character.
“Every time we make a choice we’re planting a seed,” Hannig explained. “My topic is planting good and growing great.”
To learn more about Hannig and his shows, visit pkshow.com or timthatsamazing.com. His award-winning Chicago Magic Competition show can be seen also at pkshow.com/firstplace.