John Archer


If you know John Archer then you’ll probably recognise him as a Stand-up Comedy Magician with a penchant for the visual pun, and full-on audience combat with a mentalist slant. But he is also an accomplished close-up performer in the corporate field and does a fair share of comedy writing for TV. A comedy magician who attacks the audience with all the skill and panache of a rampant bull and then takes them on a roller-coaster ride of idiotic sight gags and baffling trickery.

Married to Julie and with three children, Amy, Sam and Tom, John was a Police Constable in the Cleveland Constabulary for ten years until 1996. His interest in magic began earlier, while studying for a BA honours degree in Industrial Design at The Central school of Art & Design in London in 1981. The Magic Spot (A Magic and joke shop, now sadly closed) owned by Alan Alan, proved to be a regular haunt for John, as he delved into the art of trickery.

On returning home from college John teamed up with musician Nick Haigh, to form "Take Two," a musical comedy duo which lasted for 6 years. Performing various musical styles interspersed with traditional double act comedy and gentle magic treats. After a short break, John formed another double act with John Dixon. This duo - strangely named "Fresh Fish" placed more emphasis on comedy and magic, concentrating less on the musical side of things.

In 1993 John launched his semi-pro solo career, working all over the British Isles, in venues both large and small. During this time, John continued his job as a full time police officer with Cleveland Constabulary. In 1995 John worked with Mike Smith, another member of the Middlesbrough Circle of Magicians, in an act called "Archini and Smith." This act won the "Alistair wand" in the International Brotherhood of Magicians stage competition (1995). The act was subsequently performed at many magical society dinners and conventions all over the country. At the Opus Convention on the Isle of Man, none other than David Williamson said of the act "The funniest thing I’ve seen in years." He obviously sobered up before he got back to America and forgot to tell all the bookers...

In January of 1996 John finally left the police force, and became a full-time entertainer. In his first year as a "Pro" John was taken on by Mark Aynsley of Almara Music Productions to work a summer season for Haven Holidays, performing over 120 shows in 7 months. This proved to be a great though tiring experience. You can learn a lot in a very short time when you do a touring summer season.

1997 took a different turn, when John was asked to be a writer for a close friend, Tim Vine, on various TV projects for BBC1, Channel 4 and 5. It was also an important year magically, as John won the "Theo Speaker Cup" and the "Tom Harris Cup" (for comedy) in the British Ring's International Brotherhood of Magicians stage competition.

1998 held many new and exciting opportunities. At the Blackpool Magic Convention John was awarded "The Ken Dodd Presidents Trophy" for the best new comedy magical entertainer. John was also asked to perform at the Edinburgh Festival in August at the Gilded Balloon. As a result of this, Jan Kennedy of Billy Marsh Associates became John's new agent. A great privilege for John, as Billy Marsh Associates were the agents for Morecambe and Wise, childhood hero's of John's.

1999 and 2000 saw John continuing to perform around the country as well as writing for several TV projects. John appeared again at the Edinburgh festival with comedian friend Tim Vine. He also appeared in, and co-wrote an alternative pantomime "Hoodwinked" which was performed at the Edinburgh Festival in 1999 by Jakes Ladder Theatre Company. For his performance in this show he was awarded a "Spirit of the Fringe" award by Mervyn Stutter. It was during this period that John also began to conduct Comedy Writing Workshops for various Magical Societies around the country. John was also commissioned to write for the second series of "It’s a Knockout" for Channel 5.

2001 was a very busy year for John doing his usual mix of Private functions, Comedy clubs, Church events and corporate work. He also wrote for "Alter Ego" a one-off show for ITV starring Impressionist Jon Cullshaw, and 8 episodes of The Sketch Show also on ITV (Nominated for "Best New Comedy Show" at The National Television Awards.)

Between all of this John could also be seen performing at a variety of Magical events. At the Blackpool Magic Convention John competed in the British Magical Championships and won the Comedy award (photo). In February he performed at The Magic Circle Supper after which President Michael Bailey was quoted as saying "An absolutely Brilliant Act." In September he appeared in the Gala Show of the IBM Convention at Scarborough. And in November John Lectured/Performed/messed about at "MindMagic 2001" in London. To end the year off John finally appeared in the four day run of The Magic Circle Christmas Show.

2002 looks set to be another busy year with John already booked for a three month run of corporate events for British Gas. Commissioned to write for a second series of "The Sketch Show." And also commissioned to write a pilot script for a sit-com idea for the BBC. Though John's real love is to perform in front of a live audience and so the year will still hopefully be packed with regular performances around the country.

Top Trick?
"It's very difficult to choose a top trick since I hold to the view that there is no such thing as a bad trick and I think that the opposite is also true. If the presentation and performance are right then simplest of tricks can be stunning entertainment. It's like asking, "What's your favourite cooking ingredient?" Sugar is nice but not sprinkled on Tripe… I don't think? Having said that I would love to see a live performance of "The Blue Room," if it looks as good as it reads then it could be great. Magicians are not the best people to ask about what is a good trick because so often we judge things by the wrong criteria. It is impossible for us to see tricks as a non-magician does. A top 50 tricks chosen by magicians would be very different to those chosen by Mr. Joe Public. Both are valid but different."

Top Book?
"My favourite book at the moment is Mind Myth and Magick by T.A Waters (thanks Ian Keable for putting me onto that). I like books that make me think rather than just repeat the tricks in them. This book does that; many things in the book are just thoughts or suggested combinations of methods. I liked some of Eugene Burger's early writings too, like "The Performance of Close-Up Magic." Basically I like to read about the when, where and why's of magic rather than the how's. I think the vast majority of magicians already know enough about how to do things they just don't know when to do it, or where to do it, or why bother doing it at all… The people who are making a mark on TV at the moment have thought through these questions."

Top Magician?
"I really do have lots of favourite magicians. There are many, many, big and small names who I love to watch performing it would be pointless trying to name them all because I would inevitably miss some names out. A few though? Well I loved Harry Blackstone Junior. He had great stage presence. I think that Paul Daniels was fabulous, it's a shame that his time as a main screen performer seems to have gone. I was rather proud that a working class lad from up here in the North East could make it big in Magic. Without Paul Daniels I may not be having such a good time doing what I’m doing.

On the Close-up front I love what Guy Hollingworth does because he makes it look so "non-movey" (I invented that word). When you watch Guy do an effect you only see him doing what he is meant to be doing. I'm not a big fan of riffling and twisting the deck and asking lots of unnecessary questions as a pack of cards falls discreetly to your side, though I do it all the time, because I'm not as good as Guy. And like I said many more. If your name is not mentioned here then you are probably one of them."

Top Magic Quote?
"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion, which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed." Albert Einstein. (Heavy stuff indeed.)

Top Magic Moment?
"I think one of my top magic moments was attending and performing with Mike Smith as Archini & Smith at The Opus Magic Convention on The Isle of Man in May 1996. With about 50 registrants all of whom you’d heard of and an atmosphere of pure brotherhood and fellowship it was 3 days of Joy. It's about time Chris Power and JJ pulled out the stops and did it again.

A close second to that would have to be at the IBM 50th Convention Gala Show when Harry Blackstone Jnr performed his floating light bulb routine for the first time in the UK. It probably wouldn't do much for me now but then everything came together for me at that performance and I stopped being a magician for just long enough."


Associate of The Inner Magic Circle.
Member of Middlesbrough Circle of Magicians.
Member of The International Brotherhood of Magicians.
Member of The Fellowship of Christian Magicians.


© MagicWeek 2002