The Jay Sankey Interview


"We sat down in Jay's Toronto home to talk performing and his approach to stand-up and magic. We chatted about the power of making people feel invisible, the theory of not getting caught starting, the close-up to stand-up changes we should make, the innate need to perform, and how to develop courage and confidence as performers. 

Jay Sankey is a friend and someone I consider a national Canadian treasure. If you're a performer, the things he says here will enrich you." -Bill Abbott

Jay Sankey

Jay Sankey is a true magician’s magician and is widely considered to be one of the most original thinkers and finest magic teachers alive today. He is also one of the most prolific magic creators on the planet.

While many of his creative contemporaries have a few dozen original routines to their credit, at last count Jay has created well over 1500 original magic effects.

Jay’s uncanny gift as magic inventor was evident from an early age. For his 11th birthday he was given a toy magic set, and by the age of 18 he was traveling the world lecturing on the subject of sleight-of-hand magic to both professional and amateur magicians.

Somehow, Jay still made the time to graduate from the University of Toronto where he studied psychology, philosophy and film. As a performer, Jay has mystified audiences at private parties, trade shows, banquets and corporate functions including work for Coca Cola, Honda, Chrysler, Panasonic, McDonald’s and Club Med.

Jay has also worked as a consultant for many of the world’s most famous magicians including David Blaine, Criss Angel, Keith Barry and David Copperfield.

In conjunction with the Ottawa-based production company GAPC, Jay and his company Sankey Magic created the magic-based children’s television series SPELLZ. Jay also hosted the show for two seasons, and starred in all 26 half-hour episodes.

As a stand-up comic, Jay headlined comedy clubs for years and performed at the numerous festivals including two appearances at the prestigious JUST FOR LAUGHS comedy festival in Montreal. And as a monologist Jay has mounted several live one-man shows including CONTENTS UNDER PRESSURE and BORROWED BREATH.

CONTENTS UNDER PRESSURE was later produced for television by Sleeping Giant Productions and starring Jay it aired on BRAVO!

Jay’s experiences as both a professional comic and a monologist inspired him to write ZEN AND THE ART OF THE MONOLOGUE as well as a book that is considered to be one of the modern bibles of stand-up comedy ZEN AND THE ART OF STAND-UP COMEDY. Both books are published by Routledge in New York.


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  • Great lesoons for any profession. Another wonderful segment. Thank you

    Bill Irwin
  • Bill and Jay, thank you so much. This interview was really helpful. Thanks for the other interviews too. Awesome.

    Bob Cammack

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