Inside the life of Mr. Albertson

Mr. Albertson

Mr. Albertson

October 2020 – Mr. Cyrus Albertson is a teacher assistant here at O. Henry, but has many other skills. He is a former stand-up comedian, a magician, a musician, and a pilot.


Q: When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A: I wanted to be a lot of things, but I never wanted to be the obvious, like a fireman or policeman. I got to be a stand-up comedian, and you can deliver the exact same material one night and it was great, everybody loved it, and they all laughed. But the next night, nobody loved it or laughed, and you didn’t change anything, so you never knew what you were walking into. When I was a kid, I thought that being a comedian was the greatest job in the world. So, when I was about 23 years old, I started to go out as a stand-up comedian, and I did that for a while. It was horrible because you didn’t get paid much, you traveled a lot, you were hoping for a big break all the time, and it typically never came to most people. It’s one of those things where that’s what I wanted to do, but when I got it, I realized it wasn’t what I wanted to do. But that took me going out there and having to do it to realize that that’s something I didn’t want to do. But it was fun, and it had its moments.


Q: How long have you been a magician and do you enjoy it?

A: I saw my first show back in the 1980s, and I didn’t know how they did it. So, I went down to the magic store and asked them how they do it, and they sold it to me. I think I was in high school at the time and, since then, I have always been playing with cards and almost always have a deck of cards with me.


Q: How did you get into playing the piano?

A: My albums are basically piano playing and are typically classical music. I have written a Broadway musical about a magician. I have been doing music my whole life.


Q: When was the last time you created an album?

A: In 2014, I did a Christmas album, and it’s all just low-key Christmas music. My big album was called Classics By Candlelight, and it was like a romantic or peaceful kind of music. I went into the recording studio with no music and had one take for each song. In other words, I was making it up as I was playing it. So, occasionally you hear mistakes, and I left them in. Sometimes, you hear me breathing heavy or the chair squeaks. It was just something different. I don’t think it had ever been done before and I just enjoyed doing it. My album reminded me of when I was growing up in Iowa. One afternoon, I just did it. And to me, I think it is one of the things that make piano playing and art such an interesting thing. Because, most of the time, we strive for perfection more than we do emotion or how we are feeling, and what this album did for me was it expressed how I was feeling. That was more important to me than getting every note right, so I am very proud of the album.


Q: What are some things you loved about being a pilot?

A: There are several things I don’t like. Well, being a pilot is like being a taxi driver, except it’s in the air. When I was teaching up at Ridge, I called them and  I had my class go outside one afternoon. I was about 500 feet above the school, and they were like, “Is that you?!” as I did circles over the school. You can be up there and it is a pure intersection between just being free and seeing everything in science coming together. You’re so free that you can do just about anything you want to do in an airplane, and it’s all science-based. So, it makes it a very incredible moment to be up there. I really like how there is so much science involved in it, and how you have to know and understand so much information. It isn’t just like getting behind the wheel of a car and driving, you have to know the science behind it to make things work, and that’s what makes it fun for me.


Q: What is one of the most interesting flights you have ever had?

A: We had a VOR and it’s what navigates a plane. A lot of times, you can use your cell phone’s GPS, but if you don’t have a signal, you use the VOR. I was flying overnight on a vacation trip, and our VOR went out on us. So, I didn’t know where we were, and I started to panic a little bit. So I did two things. One, I had the airplane go up higher, so that I couldn’t run into anything. Then, I looked for a city and lights. I knew we were somewhere in Kansas, and I thought we were close to Topeka, and, sure enough, we were. When I got up high enough, I could see Topeka. Then, I got onto the emergency channel and said that I couldn’t navigate, and they brought me in.

Every night when I go to bed, I ask myself how did I make this world a better place, or did I just take up space today?”

— Mr. Albertson

Q: If you had the ability to do anything in the world, what would you do first?

A: I would make people stop bickering with each other. We don’t need racism, sexism, borders, and economic differences. It would be nice if we could all just get along. And that’s a dream that I don’t think will ever come true, unfortunately, but I wish it would. But if I could, I would do that. I live by a philosophy that I wish everybody did. Every night when I go to bed, I ask myself how did I make this world a better place, or did I just take up space today? But instead, we are about greed, power, and a whole bunch of other things. And so many people want to show off what they have and make others jealous, but I just wish we could have a peaceful world.