The Fringe Performer: Matt Tarrant, Magician
Most people agree the Fringe is a magical place, but for illusionist Matt Tarrant, it’s literally where the magic began.
The perennially popular Adelaide magician has become something of an unofficial face of the Fringe since debuting there five years ago, thanks in part to his legion of loyal fans (almost 90,000 on Twitter and counting) that make his shows some of the most popular of the festival.
But none of that might have happened had it not been for his first trip to the Fringe festival, age six, to see Las Vegas magician Rudy Coby.
“I remember being really nervous to see my first-ever live show, and I just fell in love. Back then, I didn’t really realise you could become a magician; I just thought he was like a wizard, I guess,” Matt says.
“Then when I was 18, I saw another magician at the Fringe. He had a big crowd, he was doing some pretty cool stuff, but I didn’t feel the same feelings I’d felt as a kid. I was like, ‘I want to do what he does, but better’. So that’s how I started.”
Soon after that he mastered his first trick – tying his shoelaces without using his hands – and quickly learned he could pull a crowd. A star was born.
Now Matt’s act includes everything from mentalism and mind control to tricks with cards and, as he showed at last year’s Fringe, even a cardboard cut-out of Harry Styles, all with his signature laid-back, rock-and-roll aesthetic.
“Everything I Do Is A Trick, Obviously, But There’s One Piece Of Magic Which I Honestly Can’t Explain.”
“Listen, sometimes magic sucks, sometimes it’s cheesy, I know. But magicians like me are trying to prove that magic no longer has to suck. The stuff that we can do is not the clichéd magic that people are used to. There’s no dancing. I don’t have a fake tan. I don’t sing or have beautiful girls on either side. It’s just entertainment and it’s fun and it’s a good night out.”
Matt has two shows at this year’s Fringe. One is what he calls “the final chapter” in his popular Deception series with magic partner Vinh Giang, who is moving to America. Vinh is directing the show, with up-and-coming 17-year-old magician Matt Brandwood taking his place on stage.
The other is his first solo show, Honestly Dishonest, the culmination of years of planning that he hopes will eventually launch his career outside of South Australia.
“There is magic in this show which is just incredible. It’s stuff that I’m still amazed by,” he says. “Everything I do is a trick, obviously, but there’s one piece of magic which I honestly can’t explain. I look at it, and I just don’t get it. And I’m doing it! I can’t wait to see people’s faces.”
And while his solo show might feature all new material, there’s one trick Matt manages to pull off every Fringe: the incredible disappearing man.
“I always lose seven or eight kilos over Fringe, it’s awesome,” he says, laughing. “You see me at the start of Fringe, I have post-Christmas love handles or whatever. But by the end of the Fringe, oh man!”