In January 2018, Bakersfield resident Chris Lopez was waiting in line to see The Ellen DeGeneres Show in Los Angeles when he was pulled out of line by one of the show’s crew members.
Lopez was asked if he wanted to audition to participate in DeGeneres’ new Game of Games TV show on NBC, which tasks participants with playing different types of games, which involve physical challenges, puzzle-solving, trivia and more.
After doing an audition and a few follow-up interviews, Lopez was offered to participate in an episode last June.
“I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “Nothing like that had happened to me before. I was in shock that they had picked me.”
Lopez said he is in about 10 to 15 minutes of the episode, which he spent playing the game Blindfolded Musical Chairs with a few other contestants.
“It was overwhelming. There were so many things going on before and during filming,” he said. “The game itself felt like it went by fast, but that was probably because there was a lot of adrenaline pumping through my body.”
Lopez said participating in game shows is more challenging than it may seem to spectators.
“When you see it on TV, you think it would be easy and come up with all these strategies, but when you’re there, all that goes out the window,” he said. “With this game, you really are blind and have no idea what’s going on around you.”
Now, nearly a year later, Lopez’ episode will finally be aired at 7 p.m. on Sunday. Lopez said he’s somewhat nervous about watching himself in the episode and for family and friends to see it.
“People are going to see what I did on stage,” he said. “Did I make myself look like a fool?”
Lopez, 36, has familiarity in working on a stage and performing in front of audiences. He has spent the past several years working as a magician. Currently, he does family comedy shows at parties, schools, libraries and more.
Lopez was first exposed to magic at 7 years old, when his father, Frank Lopez, showed him his first magic trick — a disappearing dime. Since that moment, he was hooked.
“I thought it was the coolest trick ever,” he said. “I was fascinated about how it all worked. Since then, I’ve been learning as much as I can.”
Lopez said he did magic initially as a hobby when he was a juvenile, performing for friends at birthday parties and other small gatherings.
After graduating from high school, Lopez worked for the Bakersfield City School District as a cafeteria playground supervisor, while doing magic shows on the side, until he got his big break in 2014, when he was hired full-time as a magic consultant for the Ronald McDonald Magic Show in Minnesota.
Lopez was in charge of teaching Ronald McDonald the magic tricks for the show, which travelled to various elementary schools. In addition, he also helped set up the shows and make sure things we running properly.
In some cases, he also served as a substitute for Ronald McDonald and did the magic tricks himself for the kids.
“I like doing magic because of the feeling I get from being on stage,” he said. “Seeing the amazement on people’s faces when I do a trick is indescribable, especially with children.”
After his contract was up around the end of 2016, Lopez said he decided not to renew it, as he wanted to return to Bakersfield to be with his family.
“I learned a lot while doing the contract. It was a great learning experience,” he said. “It got me to a point where I felt confident enough to make this a full-time career and decide that I’m going to invest in myself.”
Since returning to Bakersfield in early 2017, Lopez said he’s been working as a full-time magician, doing various shows locally, across the state and beyond. Lopez said he wouldn’t be where he is today if not for the encouragement from his father.
“Magic is something special between my Dad and I, something we really bonded over,” he said. “He would take me to shows, help me set up and watch me perform. That’s the real magic for me, and one of the reasons I still do it.”