Rex and I were able to witness the magic of David Copperfield during our recent quick trip to Vegas. His show, “Live The Impossible,” was a mix of storytelling and magic, the former primarily relying on childhood memories (most of which were probably fiction), and the latter relying on big production magic, with a few slight of hand tricks thrown in for good measure.

We could talk about the magic tricks themselves, but in a strange way, that is the least interesting aspect of my personal experience. I knew the magic was going to be great, and it was. From full-size cars appearing on stage to a giant flying saucer flying directly over my head to the disappearance of a grown man right before our eyes, Copperfield is probably the best illusionist of all time and he deserves all the accolades he receives. For some who do not know his full history, Copperfield will sometimes be labeled a “big stage illusion” guy with no real magical talent for sleight of hand. This is just patently wrong. As mentioned above, he is known for the big illusions, but his skill is unmatched as a magician.

What was more fascinating to me was Copperfield himself. Since I was a child, I was mezmorized by his television appearances. I watched him make the Statue of Liberty Disappear and wondered how he walked through the Great Wall of China. And then his legacy was cemented in my book as the greatest magician of all time when I saw his Portal illusion. There is nothing like it. And never will be. What would it be like, I wondered, to see this living legend up close and personal? And I got the answer – but not before a wonderful surprise before the show….

It just so happened to be Valentine’s Day when Rex and I saw Copperfield. And before the show there were photographers taking pictures of folks, primarily couples, that could be purchased after the performance. I had to take a second (and third, and fourth) look because one of the photographers was the spitting image of Joe Pesci. I kid you not, I thought it was him. And this guy was unbelievable. He had the attitude of Pesci in one of his mob movies and he was meticulous – absolutely meticulous – about these photos. He would take 2-3 minutes per photo, making sure the subject’s heads were tilted in the right way and their hands were positioned correctly. His attention to detail was greater than most professional portrait photographers. It was a joy to watch him work.

It was then time for the show, and as you would expect, Copperfield made his appearance by mysteriously materializing inside an empty box covered with sheets. And there he was. Not more than 30 feet from me (and later in the show, not more then 1 foot from me). It was a weird blending of emotions for me. On the one hand, I was ecstatic that I was finally seeing the legend up close and personal. But on the other hand, in my mind, Copperfield was way too big for this. How can the mysterious figure on television who does the most impossible things imaginable be standing this close to me in a small theater filled with only a few hundred people? And it really is a small theater. It’s almost as if I wanted to say, “hold it man, don’t do this. You need to doing magic in 20,000 seat arenas. Go back to amazing millions of people on television. But this small theater in the MGM Grand Casino seems, well, too small. It’s strange to say, but it was almost like I didn’t want to be that close to him. And I think part of the reason is because when we are that close, we see reality – this is just a man. Just a human. He is aging. He has flaws. He is no better than anyone else. He isn’t really magical. He is an entertainer.

I think living in reality is important and necessary. But we all need times when we get away and enjoy other things. In a big way, that is what RexandtheBeast.com is for me – it’s a way to be with my brother and have a good time now and then. David Copperfield has, for me, always been escapism entertainment. This sort of “out of the world” experience of seeing him do the impossible, of seeing him woo crowds with his storytelling, and seeing him baffle me (even with Youtube and the ability to freeze, rewind, and watch over and over). But some of that was lost when he is right in front of you. At least it was for me.

Now, having said all of that, let me balance it by saying that the magic show is something I will never forget. There were moments when Copperfield looked (and acted) like the Copperfield I watched on television. He still has the same approach (go after your dreams) and is still inspirational. He is still the greatest magician in the world, and probably the greatest magician of all time. I had to keep reminding myself that he performs two shows a day – every day of the week! No wonder he might seem a bit “routine” in his delivery.

At the end of the day, Copperfield remains a figure larger than life and will always be a source of joy for me. I’m so grateful I was able to see him and be fooled by his magic in person. Perhaps one day I will see Penn and Teller – but I imagine that for me, Copperfield will always be king.