Meet Jewish Mentalist- Jason Suran
Where did you grow up?
What did you do Jewish growing up?
The most Jewish aspect of my childhood was without a doubt my Jewish private school. I went to Solomon Schechter of Metropolitan Chicago, so growing up studying and practicing Judaism was a part of my daily life.
Where did you go to school?
New York University
What do you do Jewish now?
Truly, these days the most Jewish part of my daily routine is probably my gluten free bagel. I also live in New York.
What was your favorite Jewish event in Chicago?
My bar mitzvah. We rented a paintball arena and invited the whole school. Nothing has topped it yet.
How did you end up being a mentalist?
While studying theatre at NYU, I first picked up magic as a hobby. I used to be an actor and I never thought being a mentalist would become my career. When I started to dive deep into mentalism, I realized it was a convergence point for all the things I was passionate about learning and interested in expressing on stage.
What do you do for work?
I make my living as a mentalist. It is essentially like being a magician, but more focused on understanding how people think and behave and then creating illusory experiences from that. After I graduated NYU, I spent about two years teaching after-school magic classes to make ends meet so I could audition and gig in the evenings. I’m lucky enough that for the past several years I’ve been a full time performer and lecturer with my own show in New York City.
What is your favorite part about being a mentalist?
I think the thing I love most is the constant sense of surprise. No two shows have ever been the same in my experience. The difference between mentalism and traditional magic is that you can not practice mentalism in a mirror. It revolves around real living breathing people, and what they are bringing to the show that night. Being perfect is difficult and not usually possible, but it also means I’m never bored or on auto pilot. I’m always with the crowd in the moment.
Who is your favorite Jewish magician?
There are not a lot of us to choose from, but I would say Werner Reich. He is not a name you would know, but he has an incredible story. Werner first learned magic while incarcerated in Auschwitz. My friend and fellow Jewish magician Joshua Jay has been helping to tell Werner’s story because it is an incredible tale of survival.
What do you do to relax?
After gigs, I usually go home and play a video game, watch a movie or read a book until the adrenaline wears off. It usually takes a few hours to decompress.
What is your favorite way to spend shabbat?
Disconnect from the internet, read a book, be with friends and family etc. I think Shabbat is probably Judaism’s greatest invention followed directly by Curb your Enthusiasm. Unf
Top three things on your Chicago bucket list?
- Throw a pitch at Wrigley Field without embarrassing myself
- Be a sword fighter at the Renaissance fair while absolutely embarrassing myself
- Be in a MainStage show at second city. I don’t even do comedy anymore but it’s still a dream!
When the Tribe Gatheres…It can be LOUD