As an entertainer, Denny Corby uses all of the tools at his disposal — illusion, comedy and mind reading — to reach an audience.
The 29-year-old Clarks Summit magician and mentalist has had a penchant for variety since he got a taste for performing as a child.
“Any time I could do anything to entertain people, I would,” Corby said. “I’ve been drumming since I was a kid too. I always loved being on stage, trying to be the life of the party, whether it was through music, magic, comedy or just being goofy.”
Corby will perform during an evening of entertainment that begins at 7 p.m. Saturday in the Chandelier Lobby of the F.M. Kirby Center in downtown Wilkes-Barre, and his friends and fellow illusionists Kid Ace and David Garrity will join him.
The magic aspect of Corby’s show ranges from sleight-of-hand tricks to larger-scale illusions.
“I’ve had the opportunity to do so many different styles of magic,” he said. “I worked with the NEPA Auto Expo a couple of years ago, and since I love magic and I love cars … we made a Lexus RCF appear at the expo. I like bringing my passions together from all aspects of my life.”
Practicing his craft since boyhood, Corby got serious about magic around 13, attending magic camp, where he met Kid Ace.
“We would say, ‘One day we’re going to be professional magicians,’” Corby said. “Now, he and I both tour the country.”
Later, while living in New England, Corby met Garrity, who became a friend and mentor to the younger entertainer. Garrity, Corby said, was among his biggest sources of encouragement when deciding to perform full time.
“(David is) a world-renowned illusionist,” Corby said. “He makes girls appear and floats them in the air, and he was the resident magician at Six Flags New England. I would help him set up his shows and try myself out at that, making girls appear. Any opportunity I can take to learn something new and improve my act, I take it.”
Whether Corby is fishing for a laugh or involving an audience member in an illusion, he said about 95 percent of his show engages the crowd in both seated and onstage capacities.
“That’s what I love. That’s where the fun is,” Corby said. “People are fascinating. What are people going to say; how are they going to say it? They have potential (to provide) comedy moments.”
And while some of his jokes are scripted, the humor element of his show finds Corby at his most improvisational.
“That’s my favorite part,” he said. “That element of the unknown is what I love. I like knowing the show and tricks are going to work, but not knowing what the audience is going to say, how they’ll respond, keeps it fresh for me. Interacting with people … finds those one-of-a-kind, pure moments.”
Corby said he gets the chills thinking about sharing a bill with his longtime friends and industry colleagues.
“The show has three different personality types,” Corby said. “Kid Ace makes birds appear and all other kinds of stuff. It’s going to be a really fun night for the whole family. I use a lot of people in my show. They use a lot of people as well. I’m super excited to do such a cool show in my hometown with some of my best friends, performing for some of my other best friends.”
Experiencing live magic and other forms of entertainment, Corby said, is important for people to do in the age of pervasive technology and entertainment streaming.
“We try to keep people engaged as long as we possibly can,” he said.
Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or on Twitter @TimesLeaderMatt.