The Fishin' Magicians

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Published on: Oct. 2, 1999

Last revision: Nov. 3, 2010

"That was refreshing.' A comparison we use is the television program Home Improvement--you don't need to know carpentry and plumbing to enjoy the show."

Craig is now fast-talking and fast-handing his way through a "commercial" reminiscent of the old television ads for slice-and-dice machines or fishing gadgets. As he extols the virtues of "Fishco's Miracle Marinade," bottles keep appearing and disappearing in front of him with astounding speed, until finally there are eight fishy flavors of the marinade. Use them, Craig promises, "and any dish will taste like fish." Most audiences laugh at the line.

All audiences are alike, yet each is different, says Craig. "The best one is any group that is in the mood to have fun. Whether or not they fish is irrelevant." He will acknowledge, though, that fishermen "get the jokes quicker." Craig and Short have entertained their share of anglers; their resume is crowded with appearances at family fishing fairs, sport and boat shows, industry trade meetings and nature centers. That the "general public" appreciates them is evident from the invitations they have had to entertain at business retreats, wedding showers, college special events and the Iowa State Fair.

The fact that Craig and Short left day jobs behind in order to pursue the things they love hasn't made their work weeks any shorter. Performing only takes up 15-20 hours a week, but more time is invested in rehearsing, building props and developing new tricks to fit the theme of the show. "Because it's not a typical act, we can't just go to the magic shop and buy it," says Craig. The biggest change from their health care days is that now their work fills odd hours--lots of evenings and weekends and lots of split shifts.

"We work when everyone else plays, because we're part of their play," explains Short. Lately, they are working a lot. They are immersed in successful careers as entertainers, and--though the occasional recruiter still calls Short to offer her an occupational therapy job--they have no thoughts about going back.

And there is still a little time for fishing. The couple has graduated to fly-fishing now, either at Bennett Spring State Park or, when the window of free time is smaller, on the James and Finley rivers, five minutes from home. "Because of the kind of work we do, we can go during the week and have places to ourselves," says Craig. "And we can do it together."

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