There are no disappearing elephants or grand illusions in Brad Bonar's magic.
Rather, he wows his audience with a deck of cards, his brain power and comedic life stories.
"I had never been a big fan of stage magic or the real serious melodramatic," Bonar said. "I always liked things that are close up and that fit in my pocket. My show fits in my pocket. So I don't have the big stage illusion. I like the psychology of it more."
Bonar, a Lewiston resident, picked up magic as a hobby when a child and turned it into a job.
"Magic is one of these things that takes decades to become good," Bonar said. "You have to have old magicians to share things with you, and it's kind of a good-old-boy club in that way."
Bonar always had a funny touch with his magic. He filled the dead space between tricks recounting funny stories about his life. The audiences loved it, and several of his stand-up friends thought his stories were good enough for the comedy clubs.
"So I got up and did it and people laughed," Bonar said. "And it was like 'Oh wow, this is a different thing than doing magic.' So now my show that I do, probably half of it is comedy magic, and the other half of the show is straight stand-up."
That diversity allows him to drop the magic portion when a comedy club that doesn't allow prop humor comes calling. The reverse effect is that he can use magic to liven up his comedy act.
"Sometimes, stand-up is tough," Bonar said. "So then I have got the magic I can pull from and bring people up onstage and get the interaction that way."
The comedy comes easy for him. He talks about his life much the way legendary Bill Cosby tells his iconic stories.
"It's not a lot of setups and jokes," Bonar said. "(It's) stories about my kids and things they do. Everybody can relate to most of the things."
Attendees at the Weber County Fair can choose either style. A 5 p.m. show on Saturday will be comedy magic, and the 8 p.m. show will be stand-up more suited for the older crowds.
"Not that it's going to be a dirty show," Bonar said. "It's not tricks for kids. That is one where I will do more stand-up comedy."
Up close and personal
Bonar likes the idea of small magic tricks, like those dealing with playing cards.
That could be difficult in front of large groups, but he's performed in front of as many as 4,000 people. He simply selects several audience members to observe the trick.
"When you bring people up onstage with you, once they are there, people don't really care to see the signature on the card as long as they verify it," Bonar said. "Then the entertainment comes in."
Bonar also displays mental magic abilities.
"Mental magic is just how it sounds. It's magic that just has to do with using your mind -- making predictions, reading people," Bonar said.
One example is Bonar's ability to memorize the order of an entire 52-card deck in 30 seconds.
Whether with sleight of the hand or using his memory, Bonar's goal is to get the audience thinking.
"The most fun with doing magic is just screwing with people," Bonar said.