Jeff Newman with a key audience participant from his mind games performance on Feb. 16 at the Observatory. Photo credit: Alex Lambert

Jeff Newman is the perfect example of following your passion long enough to turn it into a lifelong vocation. When he told his family and friends about his commitment to perform magic full-time, he recalls them all saying “are you sure?”

He never hesitates to reaffirm his choice.

“I’ve always said that my job is booking the shows,” Newman said regarding his professional career. “Doing the shows is the reward I get for putting in all the hard work because I have a blast doing the shows. It’s getting them to happen. That’s the tough stuff.”

The Students’ Association hosted Newman for a magic show at the Observatory on Feb. 16. Newman’s performing experience at Algonquin College was electric from the crowd’s compounding energy. It was the first time the Calgary-based performer did a show in Ottawa, and he affirmed his appreciation for the college crowd.

Viewers in the audience exchanged looks as Newman fooled them with his mind games. For example, for one trick he accurately guessed the serial number of a $20 bill pulled randomly from the crowd. Members of the audience would then look at each other with smiles, jaw drops, and comments exclaiming “what?” or “how?”

The show featured various acts with Newman reading the minds of the crowd. Including Mahima, a randomly drawn crowd participant, there were plenty of friendly and helpful crowd members pulled into the show.

Gregory Obi (Left) and Jeff Newman (Right) are getting a photo taken after the show.
Gregory Obi (left) and Jeff Newman (right) have their photo taken together after the show. Photo credit: Alex Lambert

One of the five participants pulled into Newman’s first trick was Greg Obi, a business accounting student.

“I’ve always wanted to be picked for a magic show,” said Obi. “It’s great, honestly. Mind-blowing, unexpected.'”

The show's halftime activity tied into the second part of the Brain Bending Magic show on Feb. 16.
The show's halftime activity tied into the second part of the Brain Bending Magic show on Feb. 16. Photo credit: Alex Lambert

In addition to countless crowd-based activities, Newman’s mind games featured a halftime activity that tied into the show’s second part. The game’s premise was to create a random pool of results and develop crowd involvement further.

Newman’s professional career in magic began in 2011 when he was doing magic part-time. He decided to make his “full-time jump” in 2015 and has not looked back.

On track to become a physiotherapist, he changed paths after he found it wasn’t for him. He initially graduated with a degree in kinesiology from the University of Lethbridge, returning for a year in 2013 to study drama theatre arts and stagecraft.

Newman’s shows are called magic, but he’s really a mentalist. He’s enjoyed magic for the longest time, but he now gets to travel the world and bring people together for a good time.

Newman offered two insightful suggestions for college/university students that he discovered after graduating.

First, whatever interests you most is where you should you point your energy. If not, it may not work. “You’re gonna be bored out of your tree because you’re not gonna care what you’re doing,” Newman said.

Second, he said to take at least one business/marketing course. From Newman’s experience, he believes not knowing how to promote or sell yourself and push your creations out in the world makes your education worthless.

Some members of the audience also enjoyed the show’s venue.

“I haven’t been to the Observatory since 2020,” said Austin Campbell, an electrical engineering technician alum of the college. “To come back to the Ob, hang out and watch a show. I was excited to come back here.”