Performer: The Great Baldini Photograph by: Rachel Dunford Show: The Great Baldini - A Magician’s Journey Venue: The Counting House Loft Promoter: Indie
Tell me about your Edinburgh show.
The Great Baldini – A Magician’s Journey is a deeply personal autobiographical ramble through the life of one of the greatest magicians of all time. The Great Baldini, relict of the music halls, is a truly Dickensian character (think Vincent Crummles) in the mould of the great actor managers. Here he invites us to join him in a journey through space and time through his life from the early years – discovering his Grandfather’s magic case, his first magic show – to the present where, live on stage, he will attempt to rival Houdini’s greatest escape.
Tell me about your first gig.
It was a charity gig to raise money for a local children’s hospice. I created the character/persona of the Great Baldini as a performance name to add a little lustre to the posters. The show went well (we raised £2,500) and afterwards people started asking me to do their birthday parties and other charity gigs. I performed at a working men’s club in Bournemouth simply because Tony Hancock had played there as a teenager.
Do you have any rituals before going on stage?
I go into the alpha cubicle of power (the loo) punch the air with both fists and shout – ‘I am a superhero’
Tell me about your best and worst review.
Best – “Bloody Good” – The Brewer’s Journal – Toby Heasman, Head Brewer, Badger Beer
Worst – “Almost the best magician in this price range. Apparently available at short notice.” Dorchester Arts Brochure
During this Edinburgh run, do you plan to read reviews of your show?
Avidly and repeatedly!
How do you feel about reviewers generally?
They are beautiful, beautiful people – endowed with preternatural wisdom and taste!
In April 2018, YouTube comedian, Markus Meechan (aka Count Dankula) was fined £800 for training his girlfriend’s pug dog to do a Nazi salute with its paw, in response to the phrase ‘Gas the Jews’. Do you believe Meechan committed a criminal offence, and why?
Ahhhh, really? Without knowing the context, and on an instinctive level I can’t see any comedy in that. Simply it can be taken as an endorsement of Nazi atrocities. I love free speech but there is a line. Yes, he incited anti-Jewish sentiment – crossed a line into hate speak.
Are there any subjects that are not suitable for comedy?
Yes lots – fungal toenails for one – I’ve never heard a comedian attempt this universal but tricky subject.
Have you ever gone too far?
Only once – I forced a very, very uptight, self-regarding young man (the fiancée of a friend’s daughter) to participate in a very physical illusion – he was very upset. I wasn’t invited to the wedding.
Looking back over your time as a performer, tell me about the best gig of your career.
Every year I perform in the Battle of the Wizards magical cabaret at the Crown Hotel in Blandford (a charity magical comedy cabaret gig for Southern Air Ambulances). In 2014 selling tickets was a chore (we raised £2,500). In 2018 the tickets sold out in 24 hours and raised £6,000 for Air Ambulances. It has become a Dorset fixture and as a bonus I crushed the other wizard – Duncan the Deadly.