Rick Morrill has been a magician for over 20 years. His star has been rising, however, since he was the subject of a Frisco police officer’s body cam video. While Morrill was pulled off the road to make a phone call last month, Officer Aaron Steensma did a routine check in case Morrill was a stranded motorist. What came next was an impromptu magic show that garnered plenty of infectious laughs from Steensma and a now-viral routine. To see Morrill’s work, visit rickmorrill.com.
How did you get started?
Completely by accident. I was working for Texas Instruments, and I went on vacation and found myself in front of a magic store. They were demonstrating the Chinese linking rings, and I bought a set for $70 and found out you get $10 worth of rings and $60 worth of instructions. I was a little disillusioned, but I thought I would try this trick on my friends when I meet them at a restaurant. When I got to the restaurant, I said, 'Hey, guys, tell me what you think of this trick.' And at the end of the trick, somebody from another table came over and said, 'Are you a magician?' I said, 'This is my only trick, but I like doing magic.' He says, 'Well, buy some more tricks. I'm about to hire you for a party.' And that was my first gig.
Did you know then that this was what you would end up doing?
I realized pretty quickly that I had finally found my niche. I wasn't really a good fit at Texas Instruments. It was production work and I tend to have a mouth that keeps going, so the production numbers weren't always the best. And I realized right away that I had a talent for magic and making people laugh. It just so happened that when I went to buy the tricks for that guy's party, I hit it off with the store manager and he hired me on the spot. So I got up to speed pretty quickly because I started working in the magic store right away.
So you learned a lot on the job at the store.
Absolutely. If you work at a magic store, that will get you up to speed really quick, because there's books and videos around, plus you're demonstrating tricks all day. t
People would see me perform at the store and ask if I do events. The next thing I know, I'm a full-time magician.
At what types of events do you perform?
I specialize in corporate events, but I do wedding receptions, trade shows, birthday parties, assisted living centers and places like that.
Do you reveal your secrets?
I actually do reveal some secrets. There's a misunderstanding about the magician's code. It's similar to an oath that you would take in order to learn a trick. There are certain tricks that I've learned from other magicians that I promised to never tell anybody. And I don't – I never reveal those secrets. But there are other tricks that are considered in the public domain, and these are like Christmas songs that have been done by everybody because there's no longer a copyright attached to them. These tricks get taught in my seminars when I do workshops and teach kids how to do tricks that are in the public domain.
How do people respond to your act?
I mostly just want them to laugh. Being a magician is just a platform to run my stand-up comedy routine.
There's something intrinsically funny about being tricked. I'm not sure why, but when the thimble disappears, there's something funny about that – it's strange to your mind. So that already makes you want to laugh, and if you deliver a funny line at the same time, you get the kind of reactions like you see on the video, and that's what I'm shooting for.
Let's talk about that video.
I didn't get pulled over, thankfully.
I needed to return a phone call and felt like it would be safer to do it with the vehicle not moving. As luck would have it, I saw a barricade that said 'road closed,' so I pulled in behind it. I was completing the phone call when the officer just appeared out of nowhere. He was simply stopping to make sure my car hadn't stalled, then what ensues is what you see on the video. I was actually trying to solicit his police department to let me do a free show because I'm working on a highlight video. I was going to, at least. Little did I know, he and I were about to do a highlight video. I had no idea he was wearing a body camera – I'm glad I didn't, I might have been nervous.
When did you find out it had all been recorded?
My first clue was when a friend called and left me a voicemail saying, 'Hey, I saw you on the news.' I'm thinking I would remember whatever I did that got me on the news. Then I remembered a couple of days before, one of the sergeants from the Frisco police called and asked if they could use my video on their Facebook page. I said, 'sure,' thinking it would get four likes and one share and that would be the end of it. As it turned out, WFAA picked it up, put it on their site and ran it on their TV news, and then Fox 4 did the same, and a couple of other networks followed suit.
I got on Facebook, and it wasn't hard to find. It was the first time I'd seen it and realized it was a body camera. It's hilarious because his reactions are priceless. There's never been an audience member who's reacted like that, and that's what really makes the video so good.