By Beth Mahoney
Adam London likes rubber ducks. He is obsessed with them. When you go to his home you will notice this rubber duck theme polka-dotting the house. He has paintings, picture frames, and plush yellow ducks everywhere. It’s bizarre, but only adds to his quirky, charming, and delightful personality. “Almost every week, when I walk into my classroom, I’m greeted by another rubber duck on my desk,” his wife says of them. “The teachers I work with now think that I like them, too.” What began as a gag gift has now become part of Adam’s comedy magic act and his life.
I met Adam about a year ago when I was visiting Las Vegas on a business trip.I work for a small publishing agency in Southern California and have had the opportunity to take many clients to Las Vegas. I frequent the Improv Comedy Club at Harrah’s Hotel and Casino because of the hilarious comedians there. Any big name in the comedy world has played the Improv, including, Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, and Drew Carey. I took our client to the club that night, because I knew the headliner. The opener for the evening was a guy I had never heard of, Adam London. I remember thinking to myself, “Who’s this guy?” Most of the comics who play the Improv Comedy Clubs have had their own specials on Comedy Central, so I was very skeptical of this Adam London character. The show began, and Adam walked onto the stage.
My first impression was, “Okay, weirdo with the ducky tie, make me laugh.” And he did just that!
Adam London was born and raised in a small farming community just outside of Ogden City, Utah. Besides the make-believe friends and the cattle, he has three older siblings whom he joked and teased with often. “At our house, in our little town, the joking and kidding with one another was how we kept sane,” he said during my phone interview with him. His mother worked as a school tutor at his elementary school and his father worked at Hill Air Force Base as a civilian worker. “I think that is the reason why I became an entertainer. Our parents never wanted us to go into the fields that they got stuck doing. We were always encouraged to try new things: the football team, basketball team, track, or even cheerleading. I went in another direction, drama.”
Adam became interested in magic and theatre at a very young age. Like many in the magic community, he got started in magic because of the tricks of another. Watching his grandfather, a bit of an amateur magician, working with cards and restoring toothpicks and silverware was how Adam became fascinated by the art. “My grandpa was a wise man,” Adam recalls. “I think the card tricks were one way he got us to come and help him with the yard work.” Magic was always a part of many dinners eaten at his grandparents’ house. “My grandpa had false teeth for as long as I could remember. Being a child and watching those teeth come out of his mouth partway, was the most magical thing a six-year-old could see. The gross thing was he was just cleaning his teeth after dinner.” Adam began performing at Cub Scout and church events all throughout Northern Utah. “The cool thing about Utah is that there are always church parties. Mormons like to celebrate; we get together once a month and…eat. It gave me many opportunities to try out a new routine on an audience.” Adam became interested in theatre a short time after that. He performed in many community theatre shows in junior high and high school, and eventually earned a degree in musical theatre from UNLV. “I would not be performing today, if I didn’t have the support of my wife, parents, and teachers who were always very encouraging. Show business is a world of ‘no.’ It is so easy to get discouraged, but when you finally hear the ‘yes’ and feel that overwhelming sensation of performing, it’s unlike anything in this world.”
While in college, Adam was seen in many productions at UNLV. His favorite show was Annie Get Your Gun. He played Charlie Davenport and worked as the magic consultant on the show. “My good friend Aaron Tuttle was the director of the production and asked if I would help add some elements of magic to the show. Aaron’s idea was to have a blank stage for the opening number and to have objects morph into colorful set pieces and actors, so that by the time we got to the end of the opening number, ‘There’s No Business Like Show Business,’ the audience would be mesmerized and ready for a great show,” Adam recalls. “The opening number was the biggest nightmare for the crew; it was like a mini Cirque du Soleil show. It was an astonishing reveal for the audience and every night they were dumfounded. You don’t expect an opening like that to Annie Get Your Gun.”
While in college Adam had an opportunity to keep honing his comedy and magic while performing at many open mic nights and school events. After graduating from UNLV, Adam got a job working with one of his favorite comic magicians, Mac King. He stayed with the Mac King Comedy Magic Show for six years. “I loved working with Mac; he is like the Google of magic. If I have a question about a certain trick, he can tell me names, dates, original creators, and methods. The Mac King show was like one big family. We were always there for each other. I really feel that I have grown a lot as a magician from working with Mac.” While working on the Mac King show, Adam had many opportunities to perform. “It has not been easy,” he says. “Mac did not just throw gigs into my lap. I worked hard for them. Just after I booked the Magic Castle with Max Maven, I had a friend call me and ask if I could have Mac write him a letter of recommendation as well. ‘Mac King and Max Maven are good friends; isn’t that how you got booked at the Castle?’ he asked. I was shocked. I told him that Mac had never worked with me that way. Sometimes I wished he did. But what would I learn from that? Where is the experience that comes from hard work? If Mac just handed me the comedy-magic silver spoon, what would I learn then?”
While working with the Mac King Show, Adam had the opportunity to work with the biggest names in Comedy Magic. Nick Lewin, Jeff Hobson, Michael Finney, Dana Daniels, and David Williamson have all filled in for Mac at one time or another. “I have had the best comedy-magic education! Money could not pay for this kind of post-graduate degree. Each one of these acts has taught me something different about comedy magic. Be it character, wit, charm, timing, poise, or tricks, each of these men has his own special knack with an audience.”
Adam works many corporate events throughout the United States, and performs often at the L.A. Comedy Club, Improv Comedy Clubs, and the Magic Castle. “After I got invited back to the Castle, I was thrilled,” he says. “My first time at the Castle I performed in the Palace of Mystery. I thought that I did a pretty good job; Max asked if I wanted to play the Parlor next. ‘Sure!’ I said. I’m not going to lie; the Parlor was a challenge for me. The magic wasn’t my problem, it was my timing. Everything felt off, the reaction of the audience seemed to be a little quick in some places and lagged in others.The next night Nick Lewin and his wife Susan came to the show. I almost threw up backstage. Nevertheless, I did well under pressure. Mac King called me the next morning and told me that Nick had mentioned me in his column in Magic New Zealand and said that I had done well. Mac ended the phone call with ‘Don’t be nervous, but David Williamson and Mike Caveney are going to come watch you tonight.’ Again…vomit! Sure enough, sitting in the front row that night were Caveney and Williamson.”
Adam London is an extraordinary comic and magician. He possesses a great sense of humor. He is witty, charming, and on stage makes you feel like you are one of his best friends. I mentioned that I first saw him at the Improv in Las Vegas; I failed to point out that he pulled me up onstage with him while visiting that night. I normally get nervous about that sort of thing, but he put me at ease when he said we were going to have fun. And I did. He has worked hard and has achieved so much since his old farming days in Utah. I wanted to end this article with a quote from Nick Lewin, in his Magic New Zealand article. It speaks volumes about Adam’s Quacktacular act:
“He [Adam] has a pleasantly acerbic sense of humor that shows his roots as a performer who has developed his craft in the environment of a comedy club and not the local magic club. I am sure that London is going to be a very serious contender in the comedy magic arena. I will look forward to watching him develop and perfect his craft. If you have a chance to catch Adam performing, I suggest you avail yourself of the opportunity; sit back and enjoy the laughs.” ☆
Beth Mahoney is a writer, agent, and marketing manager of a small publishing agency in Southern California.
MUM MAGAZINE ARTICLE JUNE 2010