In 25 years of performing, Toronto’s Magic Mike Segal only has one regret. “My name,” he laughs. “It’s just so obvious. I can’t tell you how many emails I’ve received from kids named Michael who have also decided to call themselves Magic Mike.” It’s typical of Segal, who rarely takes himself too seriously.
But he’s serious about sharing his love of the art of magic, and was recently honoured by IBM president Joan Caesar with a rare Presidential Citation. The award acknowledged Segal’s contribution to the “advancement of the art of magic with continuing interest and donation of time and effort by selflessly creating and building a world class magic camp, the Sorcerers Safari, and by Generously sharing his knowledge with and planting the seeds of interest in our youth.”
Caesar presented the award at the aforementioned Sorcerer’s Safari, Segal’s “labour of love” now entering its 13th summer. “The camp doesn’t make any money,” says Segal, who runs the week-long overnight camp at Camp White Pine in Haliburton, Ont., with his wife Jenn. “But every year it gets better and better.” Kids who love magic really learn a lot about performing, straight from their idols. “The kind of special guests we get — Michael Ammar, Bob Sheets, Murray Hadfield, Greg Frewin, Lee Asher, Aaron Fisher — I mean, these guys are like rock stars to a lot of these kids.”
Sorcerer’s Safari is the kind of program Segal would have loved when he was a kid. Born in Montreal in 1964, the eldest of three kids, Segal moved to Toronto with his family at age 10 as the political climate of Quebec began to become hostile toward anglos. “It was easier for my younger brother and sister because they didn’t have a lot of friends yet.” Riding transit every day, Segal was impressed when a friend made one TTC ticket turn into two. “That was cool. I set off to the library to find out everything I could about magic, but I still don’t know how he did that trick.”
By 11, Segal had joined the Silver Wand Magic Club run by Jimmy Lake and diligently went to weekly meetings in a library basement on the bus, fully turned out in a top hat and cape. When that club disbanded a few years later, he weaseled his way into the Canadian Society of Magicians, though he wasn’t technically old enough. “They let me join before I was 16 because I was such a keener,” he laughs. There Segal met the legendary Sid Lorraine, and also attended the convention at the Inn on the Park that featured Dai Vernon, Norm Houghton, Elizabeth Warlock, Howard Lyons and Doug Henning.
By 16, Segal had found a partner, Not-so-Magic Tom, and the pair were the toast of their high school, North York Collegiate. “Every time there was a Battle of the Bands or an assembly, I was the go-to guy.” With his partner, Segal describes the act as a riff on the Smothers Brothers. “I was the straight man and everything would go wrong for me and right for Tom.” The pair rode the bus to birthday party gigs with four suitcases of magic props, including a head chopper and a backdrop. “We’d arrive two hours early and set up in the kid’s basement and get paid $25, and we loved it.” The pair also taped a one-hour special for the local cable channel.
Magic was experiencing a rebirth in popular culture at this time, largely fuelled by Dough Henning, who had a hit on Broadway with The Magic How. Around this time, Segal found out Henning was taping a TV special at the CNE’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre. “When I heard about that I flipped. I begged my parents to sign the release so I could go.” Segal’s parents tolerated his growing interest in magic, especially when it allowed him to quit his job at a gas station where he had already been held up once. But Not-so-magic Tom’s parents were not so keen, and by the end of high school, Segal was solo.
With his parents insisting on a university education, Segal focused on theatre at York University in Toronto. “There was no way I was going to study anything else but performing,” he says.
After upgrading his marks for a semester, Segal packed up his magic tricks and drove west, busking along the way, until he reached Alberta where a friend was waiting tables at the famed Banff Springs Hotel. “The manager took one look at my long hair and said, ‘he’s not waiting tables unless he cuts his hair.’ Well, there was no way I was cutting my hair. I had just done all new promo and I was all about my hair.”
Segal settled for a lowly dishwashing job and set out — perhaps naively — to busk the main street of Banff. “Banff is part of a national park, so I didn’t realize that you’re not allowed to pass a hat.” A pair of friendly police officers gave him a stern warning, but that didn’t satisfy Segal. Instead, he went to the local paper. “I told the reporter to come by the totem pole on the main street the next day at 2 p.m. and she’d get a story.” Sure enough, the police were there and reluctantly issued a fine. But the stunt worked. “Two restaurants called the paper the next day and gave me work doing restaurant magic and hosting comedy nights.” The same kind of chutzpah, or what Segal calls fearlessness, took him busking through Europe with little more than airfare in his pocket later that summer. “I had no real experience or reputation to worry about.”
Segal continued to perform while studying theatre at York, a demanding program which saw its class dwindle from 100 in its first year to just 15 graduates. As Segal recalls, there were hundreds of out-of-work actors, but not as many out-of-work magicians. “I had lots of auditions and we always had to do three pieces — one classical, and I’d do Shakespeare, one modern, and I’d do something from Mamet, and one original, and I’d do a magic trick. And the magic trick always killed. These were mostly children’s plays and small theatres that I’d be auditioning for, so they would often find a way to work a bit of magic into the script.” One such audition led to a YTV series called the Brownstone Kids. The series, which lasted six years and was distributed internationally, featured Segal as the Magic Guy in the Magic Room, a part that was essentially written for him.
With a group of classmates, Segal also formed a non-profit children’s theatre group, Magic Unlimited, that performed original plays throughout Ontario.
Since then, Segal’s career has focused more on magic, with steady gigs that include 20 years as the Castle Wizard at Toronto’s Casa Loma, performing and placing magicians at the Toronto Zoo, regular appearances on CityTV’s Breakfast Television and film consulting work. He has also performed on stages all over Canada and the world. “Travel was a perc that I didn’t anticipate, but magic has really let me see the world.”
Today Segal spends most of his time performing around Canada and teaching magic in schools and clubs, but once May comes, he focuses on Sorcerer’s Safari. With Lee Asher and Steve Kline forming a core support team, Segal gathers about 20 to 30 volunteer magicians to work with the 90 campers who attend each summer. Teachers range from amateur enthusiasts to stage superstars, but all are required to “check their egos at the gate.” Indeed, this is a trick that requires a deft hand, and Segal’s blend of enthusiasm and sincerity help him pull it off.
Magic Mike’s 10 Valuable Life Lessons through the Ages
Over the past thirty years, “Magic Mike” Segal has been presenting his unique, innovative and interactive brand of comedy magic for audiences across North America.
Magic Mike was the featured magician on an internationally televised series, which aired daily in Canada for five years. Mike also has many guest spots on all the top children’s television shows, and is a regular on City TV. Performing for millions of people, Magic Mike has proven himself to be an “astoundingly funny, sure fire hit” for audiences of all ages, with clients ranging from AT&T, Liptons, Southam News Group to Young People’s Theatre.
Magic Mike is a BFA (Theatre Performance) graduate and a member of;
The International Brotherhood Of Magicians, Order Of Merlin and awarded The Presidential Citation
The Society Of American Magicians, The Magic Circle (U.K)
The Canadian Association of Magicians -Awarding Mike ‘The Canadian Magician Of The Year 2013/14’
Mike is also Director of The Sorcerers Safari Magic Camp, (the only Canadian camp where magic as an Art is taught) for the last seventeen years. Mike also teaches magic to adults and children through the Greater Toronto Area Boards of Education.
Magic Mike has designed magic and illusions for Disney, LiveEnt and many other Gemini winning theatrical productions, television series, commercials and music videos.
“Magic Mike” has been a regular fixture in the Toronto magic fraternity, performing at the C.N.E., Casa Loma, The Art Gallery Of Ontario, ROM, Science Centre, Metro Convention Hall, Massey Hall, Roy Thompson Hall as well as his frequent television appearances on City TV.
His daily children’s show on Y.T.V. has made Magic Mike one of the more recognizable faces in Canada’s magic community.
He has astounded and amused crowds in Europe, Asia and India and from coast to coast in Canada and the USA. His successful and unique brand of comedy-magic and audience participation is still a concert favorite with audiences both young and old alike!
Magic Mike w/ Poster 1
Magic Mike w/ Poster 2
Magic Mike w/ Girl On Stage
Magic Mike Logo
Magic Mike Logo w/ Name
Canadian Magician of the Year
Magic Mike on Cover of MUM Magazine
Magic Mike w/ Flaming Hat
Magic Mike, w/ Dolph Lundgren