Reuben Bresler is a stand up guy, literally. He does stand up comedy but is also the host of Magic: The Newsening. And when he is not hosting the show, he is doing commentary for Star City Games. Many people have seen his show online and I had a chance to catch up with him last weekend during Grand Prix Louisville.
In addition to making him extremely late to his side event, I was able to find out more about the man who is quickly becoming a major Magic personality.
How is it going Reuben?
Reuben: I’m doing okay
Perfect. I just want to ask few questions. first of all, how did you kind of get into magic?
Reuben: I learned magic when I was 12. I used live in Columbus, Ohio. I was at a friend of mine’s house and we were boy scouts together and we would look at comic books and MAD magazines and stuff like that. One day I was over my friend, Alex’s house with my other friend Chris and they were playing Magic. I was like, what’s that? They were like, it’s just a game. I watched them play for a little while. I was like I want to try and we jammed dragons, elves, and fireballs against each other and I had a good time. I started playing with my local card shop, just went every week, over like twice a week for years. I didn’t win a sanctioned magic event for the first year to year and a half that had a DCI number, but yes, I was hooked ever since. It’s a really fun intellectual pursuit and that’s the main reason why I like it.
So, I don’t if a lot of people know but you’re also a stand-up comedian. How did you get into that?
Reuben: I’ve always sort of been a performer. My parents have a video of me telling bad jokes on our back porch when I was 9 for like 10 minutes, just bad jokes, laughing at myself. I started doing actual stand-up comedy when I was 17 in between my senior of high school and college and, started going to shows. About a year before that, I’m Jewish, and I went to Israel on pilgrimage with my youth group. My youth group adviser was like you’re very funny, you’re very talented, you should do something for our talent show at the end, and I was like “I don’t know what to do.” He said just come up with something and so I came up with this 5 minute bit and ever since then that’s my favorite hobby. I love Magic, but doing stand-up comedy is where it’s at.
You still do it?
Reuben: I still do it.
And are you still in Columbus?
Reuben: No, I now live in Roanoke Virginia. I work for Star City Games in an office.
Do you do comedy at local Roanoke locations?
Reuben: There’s one place that does it weekly on Wednesdays. The problem is most comic open mics in smaller cities like Roanoke are on Fridays and Saturday nights when I’m travelling, and open mics larger cities like Louisville, where we are now, they’re on the weekdays because they have the paid gigs come in on Fridays and Saturdays so I always miss various days, but now we have an open mic on Wednesdays that I’m taking part in, so I’m glad that I have another thing going. It’s not three hours away from where I perform at.
Good. So how did you get hooked up with Star City Games?
Reuben: My freshman year, no. My sophomore year of college? Somewhere junior year, somewhere in there. Me and my buddy Nick, who I’m here with. I’m actually staying at his house. We played Magic with each other in college and we noticed the show called “The Magic Show” was just getting started on YouTube. That’s Evan Erwan’s show, who’s now my boss. Evan went on vacation one week, and he was like, hey if you guys want to try an episode of The Magic Show and I think it’s good, I’ll air it. So Nick was like hey we’re both comedians, we both play Magic, we’re both good on camera, we’re both writers, let’s do one of these, so we filmed an episode of The Magic Show. Episode 43, the future is bleak, and a future site preview show of The Magic Show. We sent it in, Evan liked it and the story goes that he has wanted to hire me ever since then. It took me a few more years to do that. I had some success on the Grand Prix circuits, some success on the open series circuit, fell away from Magic to focus on studies and stand-up. I came back, started writing for Star City, fell away again, came back, started some videos and then Evan decided to hire me one day. That’s the abridged version.
Now, Evan did not get picked-up by Star City until an episode of a hundred or so. Okay, so by that he was still doing his own thing?
Reuben: Yes, he was still doing his own thing, but he knew he wanted to work with me and then he got hired [at Star City Games]. He was like, someday Reuben’s going to come work here.
How do you like your experience there so far?
Reuben: I love it. It’s my dream job at this point in my life. I majored in English and Film. I’ve played Magic since I was 12, I’ve done stand-up comic since I was 17. This is the confluence of all that. I get to go Magic tournaments and hangout with people. I am much better talker than I am a Magic player, so I would much prefer to do commentary than actually play for the most part. I don’t have that competitive drive any more that I used to have when I was heavy PTQing when I was 19. Now I love doing commentary. I can travel around the country, see the insides of the finest convention centers and airports in all of the land, watching all of my friends do well in these tournaments. A bunch of my friends are doing really well in this tournament and yes, I love doing this stuff.
Do you love the Newsening more or doing the coverage?
Reuben: It’s a trade-off. I love them both. I think I like doing coverage more and I don’t do the Newsening as much as I used to because I’m very busy with lots of other house stuff and the directors are very busy as well. I do the Newsenings at Pro Tours and at Invitationals and I do Interviewsenings with the same character for Invitational also, whereas I could get to do coverage more often, to hone my skill more often. Being the voice of a Magic community in serious terms, like actually being a voice that people recognize, being a Steven Corbell is nice, but being the Brian Williams for Magic is more interesting for me and a more interesting challenge to try and go for. I love them both, but I get my comedic outlet outside of Magic as well, whereas I don’t I don’t get a broadcaster outlet. I don’t host a radio show or anything like that. I think at this point I like doing commentary more slightly.
As for the Newsening, did you come up with that title?
Reuben: I came up with that title. I came up with the idea. Evan messaged me on Twitter one day, this was before I got hired, and it was like “hey you haven’t done anything in a while but you did this like…” I had a tournament report for a topic of an SCGO open that people really liked and missed my writing for some reason, and Steve is saying “come and write for us full time again” and so I started writing a bi-weekly or weekly column. Evan was like “what are you doing writing? Make more videos,” and it got retweeted 15 time. I was like “oh geez they still remember my old show”. It’s called the Main Phase, it was like 5 years ago.
Is it still on YouTube?
Reuben: Episodes of Main Phase are still on YouTube. It’s like 15 episodes. It was very internet, very YouTube, cut, jump, cut, and stuff like that. I liked it, it was fun, but it was too much of a time constraint and then I fell away from Magic again, but then Evan was like, “start making another video show” and I got a ton of response so I was like I guess I should do this. I’ve always wanted to do the news for Magic because there isn’t a weekly news update like a round up or wasn’t at that time. I was like “I want to do that”, but Magic players don’t really have the patience for an actual news show so I’m going to make the fake news, the joke news. While still delivering lots information, I get to make people entertained and I have very good dry wit so I delved deep and became the Steven Colbert for Magic and then I filmed the first episode and then a week later I went to Grand Prix Nashville and they hired me.
[Episode one below!]
Reuben: I write about 95% of all jokes that have been in the Newsening. I have had “guest authors”. There’s a guy from New York City who used to send in jokes every once in a while. He’s another comedian named Shawn McCarthy and he would send me jokes, I think it was like 1 or 2 episode. Some of the folks who are big in the Magic community have written jokes before. Matt Sterling has sent me a couple of jokes. Evan Erwan has written a couple of jokes. Folks that I’m not allowed to tell you have written some jokes but lots of people from the Magic community have sent in jokes.
So you’re open to joke submissions?
Reuben: I am open to joke submissions. Whenever people send them to me, I take them. A major shout out that I should make here is, Peter Johnson is a Magic player who writes for LegitMTG every once in a while and he is very instrumental in the style of the Newsening, so often I will introduce someone as an avid something or notable of something or a practioner of something, that is very Peter-esk, I basically stole that from him for the character and he also writes jokes occasionally, so I’m a big fan of his stuff and his a big part of what the character is now.
Well, I know you got to go so I’ll just finish it up here. Since you were a film major and are a comedian, what is your favorite film and comedian?
Reuben: Princess Bride probably is up there. Princess Bride is like the perfect movie in terms of how it’s structured in that it doesn’t take itself too seriously but every little bit is like meticulously worked on. I can continuously watch that movie for the rest of my life. That’s pretty close to my favorite if it’s not my favorite. Favorite comedian is probably George Carlin. He was very instrumental. Carlin on campus was one of the first albums I listen to all the way through. I would probably pick George Carlin.
Thanks a lot for your time.
Reuben: Thank you. I appreciate it.
Thanks again to Reuben for his time, I’m sure he will be in Indy this weekend for the SCG Invitational.