Thursday June 2 the SRS Rehearsal Stage room showcased an intimate performance featuring the comedic stylings of Dayton’s Jack Wilson and California born, Columbus based escape artist Michael Griffin. The audience filled the ground floor and balcony for the Gretchen Reise Kelly hosted event. Both were funny bringing a different humor and style of entertainment and presentation. Wilson’s was more adult orientated, displaying a sharp wit, building jokes with calculated timing.
Wilson’s set consisted of well-versed material on everything from the wonders of Grove City to Fairborn, church chides, garage sale sign grammar, gym jokes with toilet humor and Dollar store commentary. The perils and accuracy of cheap home pregnancy tests were discussed; cigarette “burns” was made along with pediatric punchlines. Though, the unintentional chivalry of kidnappers and eye popping Viagra jokes seemed to get the best reaction.
Def Leppard sang, do with me, what you will, but it’s also the credo for Griffin’s staggering resume of death defying achievement’s making him America’s Escape Hero. Recipient of Best Escape Artist by World Magic Awards, International Magic Awards and Ultimate Escape Artist by Ripley’s Believe It Or Not (escaping 200 feet of rope in Times Square tied up by the man with the world’s largest arms, Gregg Valentino). Griffin has traveled to Singapore to Canada and Hawaii performing his escapes and stunts. He’s also been tied up by Howard Stern… (publically). TV’s World Magic Awards named him “The world’s greatest living escape artist.” He’s the only 2 Time Winner of TV’s World Magic Awards for Best Escape Artist earning CNN’s approval dubbed “Simply Incredible.” It seems like only father time has eventual command over him as the grim reaper keeps walking away in shame.
He’s also appeared on Masters of Illusion, helped catch a murderer, evacuated a building during a show due to electrical fire and escaped sealed coffins, water filled, sealed oil drums, secured U.S. Postal Mailbags, high security prison cells handcuffed and chained, public hanging and weighted river/ocean submersion. He’s escaped death more times than mortality should allow. God help law enforcement or the mob if he ever does something bad.
His shows are almost all crowd participation whether standing in the crowd or assisting/refereeing on stage. He’s offered anyone $100,000 to put him in an inescapable situation. He still has the money.
As the only escape artist granted permission to reenact Houdini’s 1912 death-defying escape, he was bound, handcuffed and sealed inside Houdini’s packing crate and lowered into the ocean, escaping in 45 seconds.
He also performs the East Indian Needle Mystery swallowing 40 needles, 20 a time, without thread with an audience member inspecting his mouth, choking up the points threaded along an eight-foot length.
What’s his secret? He’ll never tell. Maybe it’s a strong mind, heart and belief system that sets him apart from the herd. Or his straight edge lifestyle away from the illusions of alcohol and drugs. Negative thinking is the toughest straight jacket of all he says.
He began, breaking special chains after an audience attempt. The needles were next. After swallowing, oral cavities were inspected, all clear. Slamming his stomach for reverse digestion he slowly pulled the needles out thread bound stage length.
He told a story about the first card trick he did for his mom, pulling out his big deck playing a number game with the crowd. Next, he tied himself up with rope to the choking point, wrangling free. As seen on YouTube the duel assisted hand rope trick impressed the crowd. A smaller deck was used for a different game with three “volunteers” tossing the deck around, in a three way dance.
After the spike was tested for legitimacy, the four cupped torture board was tested, secured, twisted and turned while Griffin faced the crowd. If he was wrong, it was really gonna hurt. Prepped and ready, after a few practice swings he slammed the first two cups down, full force… without screaming. The suspense built as he prepped for the last two, practicing, then with a 50% fatal swoop, slammed both hands down, stopping one just in time, smashing the third and luckily empty cup to a bloodless, non-ambulance finale.
The show continued with a numbers game with an air born envelope opening ending and a memory game. The final feat of the evening came with help from event co-host Jim Foreman, tying Griffin up nice and snug in the Posey straight jacket.
In 1935 the JT Posey Company created a new straight jacket with two extra loops under the arms guaranteeing escape impossible. Stated that, in order to escape, a person would have to dislocate their shoulder, dislocate and separate part of their neck and break their wrist down their back. Every escape attempt from 1935-1979 had failed. He was the first to escape it, writhing and wrangling free within a minute.
Images by Mike Ritchie