It was by the literal the luck of the draw that Darcy Oake, the Winnipeg magician gone viral, got interested about the trade.
He was a little boy in Manitoba when his dad, CBC broadcaster Scott Oake, asked him to pick a card, any card. “He put it back in, shuffled the deck, then picked my card. As a kid, that was just amazing to me.”
From that point on, “I was wowed, and hooked,” Oake told The Globe from the Winnipeg airport.
For weeks, Oake says, his dad let him believe he was a card wizard – until the elder Oake finally confessed that the trick wasn’t a trick at all, it was an absolute fluke.
“Oh yah, I can do that actual trick now,” he laughs. From there, he started watching every magician’s VHS tape he could get hold of, and began his career as a magician on cruise ships to the Carribean, Alaska and a variety show in Paris.
Fast forward to today, and the 26-year-old year old is a viral hit. His appearance this week on Britain’s Got Talent, where he made not one, not two, but six birds appear out of thin air, has been viewed over 5 million times on YouTube.
Watching the clip now, it’s evident that the four judges were wowed instantly when the first dove appeared from a sparked piece of paper – his signature bit, but Oake had no idea.
“I remember intentionally not looking at them, I was too focused on the performance. It’s a packed theatre too – I wanted the whole crowd to be entertained.”
Watching the clip, it’s hard not to be stunned – but for Oake, the disappearing dove trick is always a work in progress. “It’s never perfect – there’s still thing about that I need to change and tweak, I can’t tell you exactly what that is, without giving everything away.”
He says it’s been a process, to bring his style and flair to his performance (if you’re hooked, watch more here.) He performed on Britain’s Got Talent – which he calls the biggest talent show in the world – in casual leather jacket and jeans, adding to his effortless showmanship. “I always want it to be something I’d want to watch – not some guy in a top hat and a tuxedo.”
Buzzfeed called performance mind-blowing, while Gawker declared him the next in line for the British throne, with his “army of doves.”
The segment causing such a stir was taped in February – but he won’t know if he’s chosen for the next round for at least a few more weeks. Whatever happens, the up-and-coming star remains humble.
“My Twitter feed has just been nuts. I have to restrain myself from tweeting ‘thank you, thank you, thank you, to everyone showing me such support.”
So how does he hope to trump the buzz around the disappearing doves?
“Most people would say they hope for a show in Vegas, but I’m not sure. It’s hard to say what this leads to – but just to be able to do this as my job, I’m so grateful for that.”