North London’s Pete Firman was given a magic set by his mum when he was an eight-year-old lad in Middlesborough and proceeded to wow his friends and family with his amazing cigarette trick. Now the 34-year-old star of The Magicians and Monkey Magic is off to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for the eighth time with his all-new comedy and magic show. He talks to Rosy Moorhead about bamboozling audiences, defying gravity and not wearing a cardigan.

You’re coming to artsdepot next week, have you ever been before?

Oh yes, I did an Edinburgh preview show there last year and I’ve toured there before as well. It’s lovely, a nice little arty hub in wonderful North Finchley. And this is a nice little local gig for me as I live in the London Borough of Barnet.

What’s the purpose of these Edinburgh Festival Fringe preview shows?

These shows are a case of taking some stuff out, adding some stuff in, and smoothing things out. I change the material from show to show. I’ve got all the material, so now it’s just about polishing it to make it the best it can possibly be. Because I’m doing magic and comedy, I’m trying to make it as funny as I can – trying jokes, tweaking jokes, getting rid of crap jokes – and then trying to make it as amazing as possible. I want the audience to be bamboozled.

This will be your seventh solo show at Edinburgh – do you still enjoy it?

I enjoy it hugely. That’s my main reason for continuing to do it. I’m lucky that people are still interested and want to come and see the show. And it’s great because I get to hang out with all my mates from the comedy circuit for a month and it’s a bit of a giggle.

Is there anyone else’s show up there that you’re hoping to catch?

A guy called Seann Walsh is a good pal, but I think our shows overlap, and another good mate called Danny Buckler is doing a show – I don’t think we clash – those are two that I definitely want to see.

What are we going to see in this show of yours, then?

I’m a little bit reluctant to say exactly what’s going to be in it because it would be a little bit like giving away punchlines to jokes! But I can tell you there will be some mind reading – I will be reading minds and also the audience will be reading each other’s minds, which is pretty exciting. And I’ll be trying to make a lady float in the air I’ll just be defying scientific law, as you do.

When did you first get into magic?

It was the usual story, I got a magic set as a kid and fell in love with it as a hobby. I did it all through my teens and then I was doing a little bit of part-time magic for some pocket money when I was about 16 or 17. I always knew I wanted to do some sort of performance. I was really keen on becoming an actor, but some opportunities presented themselves to do some TV work with magic about ten years ago and one gig lead to another gig and I just found the magic work was increasing.

Can you remember your first trick?

I had this little plastic box that had a drawer that you pulled out and it looked empty and you closed it and snapped your fingers and opened it again and it was full of cigarettes. I don’t know if that’s what my father ought to have bought me as an eight-year-old! I did it for anyone who came round, they were forced to sit on the settee and watch Pete’s never-ending magic show.

How did you get into comedy from magic?

I’d always been a fan of stand-up so I thought ‘I wonder if my little magic show might play in a comedy club?’ and that’s how I got into that area. I think from the club’s bookers’ point-of-view I think I was appealing as I broke up the line-up of young, middle-class, white men in cardigans!

  • Pete Firman – Edinburgh Preview is at artsdepot, Tally Ho Corner, Nether Street, North Finchley on Friday, July 18 at 7.30pm. Details: 020 8369 5454,