This Performer Spotlight is all about the amazing mentalism and mind-reading duo, The Evasons. Get to know Jeff and Tessa, and why they’re so great for corporate events!
How did you get into magic?
Jeff: As a young boy I was always fascinated anytime I saw magic on television. The first live magician I saw was when I was 14 years old. I was very fortunate that year because my grandfather took me on a Caribbean cruise aboard the SS Rotterdam and there was a magician on the ship, Bernard Reid from New Zealand. I caught every one of his shows, and after that show was over I would wait in anticipation for the next one. At the end of the cruise he gave me a book called The Amateur Magician’s Handbook. I must have read that book from cover to cover over a hundred times. By the end of that year I did my first show at a children’s holiday party. Soon after I was placing classified ads in our local newspaper to help advertise and book more shows.
Tessa: My entry into the world of magic was pure serendipity. I was twenty years old. I had just moved back to Toronto, Canada from the island of St. Lucia in the Caribbean. While waiting to attend university, I started modeling to earn some income but mostly for fun. One of the designers I modeled for came up with the brilliant idea to have a magician perform one of his tricks with a model as they walked down the runway. She got my attention! Although I had only seen a magician once as a child, and just a 3 minute illusion, I just knew this was one of those moments in life not to be missed. I convinced her to let me be the one. Jeff (Evason) turned out to be the mysterious handsome conjuror. Thanks to his effective tutoring, my first magic performance was a hit. I was hooked! Within a year, we were working full time and the rest as they say is history.
When someone asks what you do for a living, how do you respond?
Jeff & Tessa: We tell them that we are entertainers. Sometimes that’s enough, but often they’ll want to know what kind of entertainment we do. We’ll go on to explain that we are Mentalists/Mind Readers and that we travel all over the world doing shows. Sometimes we might even do a demonstration for them. We’ve managed to put smiles on the faces of a lot of serious people by doing impromptu mind reading. Like the many times we’ve read the thoughts of airport security officers and officials at customs and immigration checkpoints around the world!
How much time do you spend practicing magic?
Jeff & Tessa: There’s a difference between practicing and rehearsing. We rehearse before every show, and if we have a few days off without performing, we’ll usually rehearse between shows too. Mentalism is ‘magic of the mind’, so a lot of our rehearsal actually happens in our minds. We use our creative imaginations to mentally run through the show together, talking through presentations and techniques. We practice often too, sometimes together but not always. Much of what we do has been correctly described as mental gymnastics. It requires constant practice to stay in top form.
Why is magic so popular?
Jeff & Tessa: People have never been as exposed to magic as they are now. There’s been some really good magic on television, and some awesome live touring shows around the world. Magicians have managed to harness the power of the internet through social media and a lot of magic videos have gone viral, allowing millions of people to enjoy it. And for anyone wanting to get into magic as a hobby, it’s never been easier to gain access to magic secrets.
What do you think makes a great show?
Jeff & Tessa: To us, a really great show has comedy, mystery, beauty, personality, and originality. It engages the audience and speaks to everyone’s senses. People should always be made to feel important and respected. Audience participation is essential, so that everyone in the audience feels as though they are part of the magic. A great show should energize people and give them new and unexpected experiences.
How long does it take to develop a new trick?
Jeff & Tessa: That depends, it really varies. There have been times when we’ve come up with an idea in the car, while driving to a show. And sometimes we’ll even put those ideas into the show that same day. Other times, ideas will roll around in our minds, and on paper or electronically, for years before we actually develop them into something that we can perform in our show.
Do you come up with all your own ideas?
Jeff & Tessa: We come up with a lot of our own ideas, but a lot of them also come from other performers and creators. Occasionally audience members who have seen our show might share an idea or inadvertently suggest something that sparks our imaginations.
What’s your ideal length show?
Jeff & Tessa: We think 45 minutes is the magic number for most corporate after-dinner banquet/award shows. Sometimes we go longer, but it depends on the demographics of the audience and the dynamics of the event. Even Hollywood knows that 45 minutes is the perfect length show – the average TV show runs 45 minutes plus 15 minutes of commercials.
By the time the show starts, most audiences have probably been seated and focused for a few hours. And if they’re at a convention event, they may have been sitting through an entire day of presentations. By the end of the day, they could be tired and ready to go home or back to their hotel room.
In addition, we often stay after the show to do a meet & greet. We love doing it, and it’s a very effective way to increase the positive experience for the audience. People really enjoy speaking with us and maybe sharing their opinions on how we do what we do. We might even get challenges. When the believers, non believers and skeptics are all gathered with us, it makes for a unique and fun time together. People share their stories and take selfies with us, and they might even get an impromptu one-on-one demonstration.
Overall in 45 minutes we can pack a lot of amazement and laughter. People often tell us that the show seemed much shorter than it was. That’s a great sign – always leave them wanting more, not less! If the audience walks away happy, we’re happy… and our client is happy. In the end that is what it’s all about. Creating a memorable positive experience.
What’s the most unusual show you’ve ever done?
Jeff & Tessa: In front of 18,000 people during halftime at an NBA game. Not an ideal situation for a mind reading act! In fact it had never been done before. We were presented with a lot of challenges for that show, but we put our minds together and we came up with ideas to make it work. We were thrilled with the results, and so was the client. We’ve been booked to do more NBA half-time shows in the future.
Who is the most difficult volunteer or audience member you’ve dealt with?
Jeff & Tessa: We were being interviewed for a television newsmagazine program in South Africa called Carte Blanche. The program’s host sprang a challenge upon us that was unplanned and completely unexpected. She wasn’t trying to be difficult, she unintentionally put us in a difficult situation. Near the end of the interview, with cameras rolling, she removed a sealed envelope from her bag and asked if Tessa could guess the picture inside that she had sketched at home the day before. Under pressure, without any hints given to ether Tessa or Jeff, Tessa started to describe feline energy, strength and pride. She saw a drawing of a lion and she was exactly right!
Why do you like performing at corporate events?
Jeff & Tessa: In many ways we can be our strongest at corporate events. Most people in a corporate audience have never seen a mind reading act before, so right of the top they’re very interested in what we do. Corporate audiences love to interact and get involved in the show. They’re interested in learning fun new facts about each other. And they have a great time seeing each other react with nonstop amazement during the show!
What’s the best type of comments that you get after your show?
Jeff & Tessa: We love meeting people who have been deeply touched by something that happened in the show. Sometimes they want to share a personal story, or elaborate on something we said. They might come to us with tears of joy or laughing about something that happened. People are often speechless and in a state of awe because their mind was just blown so badly. But the absolute best comment after a show is “how can we book you for our event?”
What advice would you give someone planning an event and using an entertainer at it?
Jeff & Tessa: Be sure to get a list of everything the entertainer requires, and then deliver everything they need so that they can do a great show for you. And be sure you get everything you need too. If you’re in doubt about anything, you’ll want to get answers to all your questions. A smooth communication flow between you and the entertainer or their representative is vital.