The Latest Episodes of INSIGHT with Chris Van Vliet
Jan. 6, 2022

Magician Jen Kramer On Living Your PASSION and Finding The MAGIC In Everything

Magician Jen Kramer On Living Your PASSION and Finding The MAGIC In Everything

Jen Kramer (@JenKramerMagic) is a magician with a headlining show at Westgate Las Vegas Resort and Casino. She joins Chris Van Vliet at the Blue Wire Studios at the Wynn to talk about where her love of magic came from, moving to Las Vegas to chase her dreams, how a magic trick is developed, the Christopher Nolan film "The Prestige", her appearances on Fool Us With Penn And Teller, being inspired by David Copperfield, David Blaine and Harry Houdini and at the end she performs a few mind-blowing tricks!

Find out more about Jen Kramer at

Do all magicians carry cards with them at all times?

“It’s a requirement. We have to sign the magician’s oath and carry cards with us everywhere. It’s literally part of the deal. I do feel naked without a deck of cards on me.”

Well you do have that occupation where as soon as you tell someone they are like “Show me!”

“That’s true. Either that or ‘Oh what instrument do you play?’ Because they think that I said musician instead of magician.”

So how does it go from magic just being a passion to something that you can do for a living? 

“So I started learning magic when I was 10 years old. It all began when my uncle Steve, who enjoyed it and studied it for many years, he gave me a book called The Royal Road To Card Magic on my 10th birthday. I loved magic ever since I was 10. When I was in college, those years were all about how do I take this thing that I love so much and turn it into a practical reality? So I took an internship here in Las Vegas and had the opportunity to learn what the Vegas showbiz shows are all about. I worked at it through middle school and high school, I founded the young magic society, so I had many years experience performing while I was in school. I worked my way through birthday parties, corporate events and private shows. When I moved out to Vegas to do that internship, I think that it solidifies that Vegas is where I wanted to launch my full time career. Once I graduated from college in 2014, I thought that if there is any time to take a risk and just go for it, this is the time. So I moved out here and had the opportunity to launch that full time career.”   

So many people say that they are going to move to LA or move to Vegas, but they don’t think about what to do when they get here.

“I wanted to have something that I could rely on. So especially after my last couple of years of college, I really started reaching out to venues in Las Vegas. It was mainly cold calls and cold emails to people I didn’t know at the time, just pitching shows. I got a lot of people saying no, which is a big part of it. I’m sure there are people reading this and going ‘Yeah sure you moved out to Vegas…’ No, it wasn’t the first thing I tried. I reached out to many people. At the time in my dorm room, I knew that people didn’t know me, so if they said no, I wasn’t going to take it personally. You just have to keep reaching out until you get one person to say yes, because one yes is all you need.”   

With a musician, you can see there is a path. You play someone’s wedding, you form a band… How do you make money as a magician when you are not headlining a casino?

“A lot of it is charting your own course. In magic, there are so many successful magicians who are successful in different ways. There are so many different markets, you could be exclusively a corporate magician, you can be a college magician, close up magic, illusions, or even be an online magician. I think that is part of the exciting field of magic, there’s so many ways to be a magician.” 

So you went to Yale, I assume not to study magic?

“So I went there because I couldn’t get into Hogwarts [laughs]. With the architecture there it reminded me of Harry Potter, so I assumed there would be a magic society, but there was not. I managed to meet up with a bunch of young magicians, and I think that sense of community, to this day, is part of the reason why I love being in Las Vegas. I’ve valued community since I was 10.”

What did you study?

“I was a theater studies major, I wasn’t a major in witchcraft and wizardry. I knew that magic was what I wanted to pursue, I’m just grateful that I get to headline my own show now.” 

Is there a difference between a magician and an illusionist?

“I am happy with either term. The way that many magicians and illusionists explain their set is that illusionists will do more of the illusion stuff. Things like making someone disappear or sawing in half. Magic is more of a general term, it can describe stage magic or close up magic. I do either in my show, I do illusions, close up, sleight of hand, audience participation.”

When you meet a comedian, people want to say ‘Ok well tell me a joke.’ And you know, they are not always on. When someone says to you ‘Well show me something.’ Does that ever get old?

“I enjoy it, I am always working on something new. To get that time and to get those real experiences from real people. There is nothing that replaces that feeling. You can prepare as much as you think you can to prepare, but there are only so many things you can learn from being in front of a live audience. That’s one of the valuable things about learning to perform in day to day life.”   

So how does the germ of an idea form into a trick?

“I think that every trick is different. For me, it’s all about the context, where do I want to do this trick? A trick that will be done on stage in Las Vegas will be very different to a trick that I would do on YouTube or Instagram. First I will think what is the scenario and what is the audience? Then I think what will have to work with? Will it be for someone specific or something just to have in the pocket? If it’s for someone specific, then I will try and customise it and make it about their interests. Once I have figured all that out, I will think what is the dream scenario? Then I reverse engineer and think of the possible ways to make that happen, because there can be multiple ways. Then it’s about the best way and the performance. I think it’s fun to figure out all those pieces and put them together.”

Have you ever had a moment on stage where it hasn’t worked?

“Of course. I think that any magician who says otherwise hasn’t had enough shows, it’s inevitable. I think a big part of being a magician is being able to handle all of the unexpected situations that in live theater are inevitable, but that’s part of the excitement. In my routine, several routines involve audience participation, and people say or do unexpected things.”

Can you give us an example?

“There was this one guy who was super enthusiastic about being a part of the show, which is good. But he went into this monologue and was going on and on about his story. It’s not a heckle, but it can be distracting to the audience. As a performer, you have to bring it back. I am mic’d up and they are not, so if they say something funny, I can repeat it and it can get a laugh. Audiences can sense when something is real, they know when something happens that shouldn’t. But if the person is not saying something constructive, for example I do a family friendly show, I can just not repeat that. Beyond the first few rows, the rest can hear what was just said.”    

What do you think is the biggest life lesson that magic has taught you?

“Wow, I think that there are a lot. One is that when you do something you love, it shines through. When you do something that you really care about, audiences can sense that, they are really smart. People can sense when you enjoy something. Magic has also taught me how to connect with people, because that’s what it is all about, that genuine human connection.”  

I’m sure every day people ask you “How did you do that?” What is your stock response?

“A magician can’t reveal her secrets. That’s the stock response. But also I think it’s more fun to not know.”

When you go on Fool Us, is the goal to actually fool them?

“I think that fooling them is part of the way that the show is constructed. But I also think that it's really a showcase. It’s an amazing showcase for magicians to perform. Ultimately the show isn’t about fooling Penn and Teller, it’s about performing for Penn and Teller. I can’t speak more highly of Penn and Teller and their team, I appreciate it so much that I get to work with such amazing people.”

I end every interview with gratitude. What are 3 things in your life that you are grateful for?

"The people in my life, the family, friends and my crew. I'm so grateful for my health and that I get to do something that I love."

Featured image: Las Vegas Review Journal

Embedded image credit: Instagram