It was announced today (28th February) that the magician and comedian Ray Presto had passed away. While he was certainly no household name, the instantly recognisable Presto had worked the clubs for years and became a legend on the open-mic circuit as well as being the type of ‘so-bad-it’s good’ act that also made him loved and adored on the alternative comedy scene.
I saw Presto a couple of times, usually at nights run by The Fix, who embraced his shabby showbiz style with great gusto (he makes a cameo in one of their promo videos below). Last year I even had the pleasure of reviewing one of his performances at The Fix’s Raybot comedy night. On a night that was born out of a desire to highlight video and viral comedy, Presto, with his comedy hankies and magic wand was (aside from compere Trevor Lock) the only comedian actually allowed to perform live on the bill. Amazingly, but perhaps unsurprisingly, his was the name on everyone’s lips come the end of the show.
No one could ever say his jokes were the funniest or his tricks the most magical but every set he did seemed to be played out with an unfaltering twinkle and energy that won him fans wherever he went. He was one of a kind and he will be greatly missed.