Francis Menotti & Impossible Answers: Interview

Jeremy Renner, David Williamson, and Timothy Wenk all feature in this wonderfully insightful interview with the talented Francis Menotti.

Magician Francis Menotti standing in lights and shadows cast against white wall
Magician Francis Menotti 

We're on a mission to ask every magician the same ten questions. This week, it's the fascinatingly talented Francis Menotti. He's been astounding audiences internationally since the year 2000, and he has a lot of value to share with magicians.

His highly innovative, intelligent presentations are sought by prestigious clientele from the sound stages of Hollywood to the Oval Office, the Hollywood Magic Castle to Fortune 500 companies.

As a consultant for film, television, and other magicians, Francis created all of the magic for ABC's crime drama, Deception. A powerful performer in his own right, Francis can be seen in front of the camera fooling Penn & Teller on their hit show Fool Us (in 2015 and 2020) and on Masters of Illusion in 2019.

He's a beloved and respected figure within the magic community and was lovely enough to drop by and answer our silly questions with some thoughtful answers.

When were you most starstruck?

Two possible answers: the first was when Teller showed up at a surprise birthday that was thrown for me many years ago. It was a surreal, amazing party. The other was when Steve Martin came to see Monday Night Magic in NYC. I was doing a set, and after the show, we (as we often did) all went out to hang at a restaurant for a bit. Just spending a few minutes chatting with him and seeing him do a pretty killer push-off second deal made for a crazy, memorable evening.

What is your favourite magic trick?

An impossible question to answer; I'm not big on hyperbole or superlatives. That said, I do particularly like Timothy Wenk's "Mislead." Classic sub-trunk (not even Pendragons-fast, just a good old-fashioned sub-trunk) is wonderful. my favorite piece to watch is Teller's "Shadows." My favorite of mine to do is "Exdysically Shunuffled," my shuffled words piece. In casual performance settings, I also love doing variations of Coins Across and David Williamson's "Torn and Restored Transposition."

Who is the most famous person you could text right now?

Jeremy Renner? Maybe. It's been a while. Teller, for sure. Also, I suppose it greatly depends upon your definition of fame.

Do you have a nickname?

Sometimes. Mostly among super close friends and family. But not really.

Has a trick you perform ever gone wrong?

Anyone who performs enough or for enough audiences has, so absolutely. The question is how one handles (not gets out of) it. Sometimes running right at the problem and casually, unimportantly shrugging it off and saying, "Welp, that didn't work. Moving on..." is the absolute best and most professional way of handling it. NEVER has a trick gone wrong and ruined my overall performance simply because of what I just said.

Who would play you in a movie about your life?

Remi Malek or Benedict Cumberbatch. (According to my wife and our friend Kate Nyx.)

How much is a pint of thumb tips?

How much are you willing to pay? I know a guy.

When did a magic trick most fool you?

Too difficult to tell. The first time was back in the late '90s when my fellow members of the Penn State University magic club attended Magi-Fest and spent some time watching and being fried by Mike Close as he did some amazing work with what we later learned was memorized deck material. It definitely prompted me to immediately begin learning and working with mem-deck stuff. More recently, a few years ago, I felt my brain leave my body at the opening sequence of Penn & Teller's Vegas show when Teller simply climbed out of the previously absolutely empty crate. Just brilliant, simple, and beautiful.

What books do you recommend?

"How to Win Friends and Influence People (Dale Carnegie. Pushed on me years ago by Denny Haney.)

Born Standing Up (Steve Martin's autobiography)

Labyrinths - a collection of short stories and essays by Jorge Borges (recommended to me by Teller)

Among my favourite magic books are Scripting Magic (Pete McCabe), Drawing Room Deceptions (Guy Hollingworth), The Complete Jarrett (Jim Steinmeyer/Guy Jarrett), and Germaine the Wizard (Stuart Cramer/ Miracle Factory). Far too many more to name, but always happy to recommend if anyone asks me directly."

Where is the strangest place you've ever performed magic?

A cave while doing a spelunking trip in college.

Or the bottom of a swimming pool when doing an intro to scuba class.

Follow Francis on Instagram.