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Topic: "Comedy in Magic: It's you, not the trick" - Article
Message: Posted by: BrianMillerMagic (Oct 9, 2010 12:39PM)
I posted this in the That's So Funny forum, but because posts over there tend to get buried by gag-tag threads, I'm also posting it here:

Hey everyone,

I was recently appointed the Hartford Comedy expert for Examiner.com. Obviously a large portion of the articles I write are about local Hartford comedy events, profile pieces, reviews, etc. But I will also be writing frequent articles on the Art of Stand-Up Comedy and Comedy in Magic.

My first article on Comedy in Magic is titled "It's you, not the trick" and you can find it here: http://www.examiner.com/comedy-in-hartford/comedy-magic-it-s-you-not-the-trick

If you're interested in what I have to say, please leave comments on that page and subscribe! The Examiner cares about my viewership and subscriptions, which I'm in the process of building.

I will do my best to write at least 2-3 articles each month about Comedy in Magic, and 2-3 articles each month about The Art of Stand-Up Comedy. Both of these kinds of articles will clearly be cross referenced and intertwined.

Enjoy and spread the word!


Message: Posted by: misterillusion (Oct 9, 2010 10:53PM)
I have posted the following as you requested:

I enjoyed your article. It is funny, but the way I found out that I was a comedy magician was at the conclusion of a stage show quite a few years ago. A lady came up on the stage while I was packing up my props and she had a hand on either side of her face. She said "Ooooh, my face hurts." I asked her what was wrong and she said she was laughing so hard that her face hurt. From then on I concentrated on my humor, timing and kept all the lines that went over well and threw out all the ones that did not. Every audience has its own personality, so I had to try everything over a period of time to make sure that my humor worked all the time. What a surprise when I thought I had it all dialed in, I got booked to do a stand-up performance at a large dinner party gathering of a middle eastern audience. The jokes and one-liners that had worked so well in the past played as flat as a pan-cake. I dropped all the humor for that show and did straight magic. It was a lesson learned and a que to constantly work on my humor as much as I work on my routines.

Today I have humor that I use for children's shows and humor that I use for adults--both different. I get a lot of laughs now without even trying it seems. One of the spin-off advantages of using humor, I have found is that it is great mis-direction for any moves I need to make--even the bold and brash moves. In my advertising and marketing I tell my customers that:" there is a shortage of laughter in the world today, and I am doing my very best to reduce that shortage."

Have a good day, Charlie
Message: Posted by: BrianMillerMagic (Oct 10, 2010 12:37AM)
Excellent response Charlie, thank you. I too discovered that I was a comedian during magic performances with no intention or thought given to comedy, but not quite in the same way as you. I remember a specific performance I gave where there were multiple moments of off-the-cuff responses that each resulted in a powerful laugh, and it occurred to me in those moments that I relished the laugh more than the awe-moment after a magic effect.

From then on I started working on writing moments of comedy into my magic. However, I realized over a few months that what I was doing just wasn't cutting it; as you said, it was too inconsistent. So I dropped the magic, wrote 6 minutes of pure stand-up, and did an open mic comedy set. I killed.

I went on the following week with the same set to a new audience and bombed. Then I bombed the next ten gigs. Over the course of the following year I learned the art of stand-up the hard way. If I hadn't refused to use magic as a crutch, that never would have happened, and I'd still be giving inconsistently funny magic performances.
Message: Posted by: misterillusion (Oct 10, 2010 11:03AM)
Right on Brian. There are those who think comedy is easy, but it is truly an art, and until you have been there and done it in a variety of situations, you do not realize what it really takes. Last year I did a magic show at a wedding rehearsal dinner in New York, and I took about 5 or 6 minutes during my act to do some stand-up comedy. My style is kind of like Bob Newhart. It was the first time that I did any straight comedy without a prop in my hand, but it went well and there were a lot of belly laughs. It was taped, but I am still waiting for the promised tape. I need to see myself in action in order to evaluate how it went from the audience perspective. I am super critical when I watch myself. I know what you mean about the feeling you get when there is laughter. It is a real "high" which is different, I think, than the high from the ooos and aaaahs of the magic.

It is a great way to make a living--isn't it?
Message: Posted by: BrianMillerMagic (Oct 10, 2010 11:09AM)
The oohs and aahs of magic often feel somewhat forced or ingenuine to me, much like the automatic applause following a live band finishing a song. When a band finishes a song, the audience is trained, indeed conditioned, to clap. When a magician finishes a trick, the audience is conditioned to "ooh, aah" and clap. When a comedian finishes a joke, if the joke isn't funny, the audience doesn't do a *** thing. It's a whole other beast that many "comedy magicians" who have never done stand-up comedy don't understand. Comedy audiences don't laugh just because a joke is over. Silence has never been so loud as when you bomb a joke on stage. It's a humbling experience I believe every magician should go through.

Hm. These are thoughts I'll expand on in my next Comedy in Magic piece.
Message: Posted by: gman (Oct 10, 2010 01:48PM)
Just left a comment...Great Article.
Message: Posted by: BrianMillerMagic (Oct 13, 2010 04:28PM)
Glad you all enjoyed it. New article in my regular "The Art of Stand-Up" series is published now. http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewtopic.php?topic=384995&forum=24&0
Message: Posted by: gman (Oct 14, 2010 01:16AM)
Brian another great article.
Message: Posted by: Jerskin (Oct 14, 2010 09:43AM)
Nicely done.
Message: Posted by: BrianMillerMagic (Oct 17, 2010 03:13PM)
I have many more topics to discuss, but I'd rather write about what you guys would like to hear about. So what kinds of issues regarding comedy and magic would you like to hear? Let me know and I'll definitely get on them!