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Topic: Stand-up comics
Message: Posted by: Tony Noice (May 13, 2006 10:58PM)
Hi John,
First let me say that it is a true pleasure to read your answers to the various posts. Rarely do we find this level of felicitous writing in magic. I do think however that you might look at the other side of the stand-up’s complaints about comedy magicians. In a number of replies you refer to hack comics who put down magic. Well, of course, no performer should put down another but I think the root cause calls for a modicum of understanding. While I have no intention of ever retiring, I am at retirement age, so I’ve ample opportunity to change careers. In fact I have done so at least three times, for more than a decade each time. First as a magician (split fans and such), then as a stand-up, and for the last 20 years, as an actor. Believe me, in terms of facing the terrors, nothing compares to stand-up. In any other type of performance, even if the audience hates you, you still have a good deal of psychological protection. The singer has the song, the actor has the play, the magician has the magic, and the musician has the instrument. But for the stand-up, the audience is the instrument. You play the crowd successfully or you’re a bum. And no one ever succeeds every night. Bob Orben once told me that, when he was writing for Red Buttons in Vegas, one night they were coming down in the elevator to the showroom. Buttons was leaning against the panel, looking like he was about to throw up. Bob said, What’s the matter, Red? Buttons replied, “C----t, you’d think after 45 years, it would get a little easier.” So I believe you are absolutely right when you find that many stand-ups resent comedy magicians, comedy jugglers, comedy instrumentalists. The fact is, the stand-ups probably feel that they’re all in the same line of work, but that no other performer pays as much dues and the guy or gal who goes out there alone every night and works without a net.
Message: Posted by: John Carney (May 14, 2006 01:30AM)
Tony,
I agree. Stand up, well done, is an amazing thing. I have a tremendous amount of respect for many stand ups. But I wouldn't say that stand up, just because there are not props, is a more "pure" form. There are good ones and hacks, just like in the magic world.

I judge stand ups on a case by case basis. If one is not funny, I don't discount all the others. I wish this were the case with some (not all) stand ups.........judge magicians case by case. Let them stand or fall on their merit, not on their label.

The title of "stand up" does not guarantee that they have paid their dues, just as the title "magician" does not make you an "artist".

Heck, I think a lot of comedy magicians are hacks too!

thanks for the insight,
carney