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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The May 2006 entrée: John Carney » » Comedy » » TOPIC IS LOCKED (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Donnie
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John,

My name is Don, we have met several times at the magi-fest, and each time I was stunned by the warmth and sincerity that radiated from your performances. Now onto the inquisition. Who are some comedic performers you idolize or feel are worth studying? I once read that since an early age you had always wanted to be a comedian, how does that mesh with your magic? Finally what is your favorite film?

p.s. I get the vibe you like Woody Allen, is that so?
John Carney
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Hey Don.

thanks......

I wanted to be a comic actor, but never really a stand up type. I marvelled at how such simple things could make me laugh. How my heros could get laughts from a reaction. A deadpan Bob Newheart, a confused Tim Conway, a frantic Dick VanDyke. If acting is reacting, these guys were the masters.

Of course I also loved Woody Allen, for the clever word play and situations he wrote. His jokes look easy, but are actually the result of countless hours of writing and rewriting, to find just the right idea, just the right timing. His album of early stand up is a masterpiece.

When I look at Mr. Mysto, I can see bits of WC Fields, Conway, and the several others.......I have watched them so much, I have absorbed little bits of them, which come out in my performance. No actual jokes or gags, just learning by example. I don't pretend to be at their level, but rather look up to them for inspiration.

Of course Steve Martin is at the top of the list. He does not tell jokes, per-se, he creates absurd pictures and ideas. He's a brilliant comic, but he also writes books, plays and screenplays, plays the banjo, and from what I hear, does magic very well.

I love characters, so Jonathan Winters was a big part of my childhood.

I love Carl Ballantine and wanted an act like his......pure character. Johnny Thompson was the first guy that I saw that did really good magic, and didn't just parody it. This is a very delicate balance. Most comic magicians are mediocre comics that need magic as a gimmick, or mediocre magi that use pedestrian jokes to prop up their magic. Magic and comedy are both crafts that need lots of study and work.

My favorite film? That would be tough to name just one. But here are a few......Annie Hall was not only hilarious, but managed to combine many different elements into a new format for a film. A Night at the Opera is beautiful in its chaos and deconstruction of social behaviour. A Thousand Clowns has fantastic, clever dialogue. Its A Gift is Fields' best movie, a masterpiece of character and comic timing. The scene with him trying to sleep on the back porch is a great lesson in comic construction.

There are many more, but that is a good sample.

I feel like I have comic ability, but do not feel like a great comedian. I use what I have in combination with any other talent I might be able to muster, to create something that works for me.

Thanks for asking!

best,
carney
Donnie
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John,

I very much appreciate your reply. I definately see some Conway and Fields in your Mr. Mysto. Do you think that a slightly tragic element is neccessary for good comedy? Also, how do you feel about Woody Allen's Stardust Memories and Crimes and Misdemeanors? I understand you worked some up comedy clubs, were you exiled as a prop comedian/leper? Lastly, what do you think of Bill Hicks and Lenny Bruce.

Thank you,
Don
Pete Biro
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Mr. Mysto makes me think of Percy Dovetonsils (Ernie Kovacs' character)...
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Bill Palmer
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John:

What you have done with Mr. Mysto is something that takes a lot of work. Only a few other comedy magicians have been able to achieve it. You have combined comedy and magic in such a way that the magic does not get in the way of the comedy, nor the comedy in the way of the magic. They work together to produce a synergistic effect.

Johnny Thompson has also done this.
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John Carney
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Spot on, Pete.

Ernie Kovacs character is a big part of Mysto as well. Not a copy, but definitely a big influence. Kovacs was brilliant and fearless.

carney
Michael J. Douglas
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You may be revealing more about Mysto than we need to know. Smile
Michael J.
�Believe then, if you please, that I can do strange things.� --from Shakespeare�s �As You Like It�
John Carney
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Donnie,
No, I don't think comedy needs a tragic element. But tragic elements can be funny if exagerrated. Check out Martin Scorcesse's After Hours. Brilliant, funny, tragic.

I love all Woody Allen's stuff and appreciate that he has stretched beyond what people expected of him. He could have done Bannanas over many times, but he continued to challenge himself.

Bill Hicks and Lenny Bruce were brilliant as well. They challenged their audience and went out on a limb. They had something to say, they didn't just tell jokes.......they told truths.

No, I was not exiled from comedy clubs.........I just got tired of the venue and the lifestyle of travel and living on the road in crummy condos for low pay. I got into them just after the peak. Clubs were closing and salaries were going down. I learned what I needed to learn, then moved on.

I was not a prop comic, but yes, many comics can be snobs.....they have seen so many hack comic-magicians with the same lines, they sometimes don't give you the benefit of the doubt.

As Bruce Lee used to say........"Walk on".

jc
Donnie
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Thank you for your reply. You are completely correct.

Sincerely,
Don
Simon Lovell
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John, interesting you mention Lenny Bruce. He was a huge influence on my performance character. As his wife, Honey, said of him after his tragic death, "He was just so ***ed funny"

Simon
John Carney
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Simon,
thanks.......and good luck with your show in NYC.

carney
Simon Lovell
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If you are ever in town I hope you'll find time to be a guest!

Simon
markyeager
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John,
Your performance at the Magic Fest in St. Joe, Mo was a life altering experience for me. Performing the slot machine routine in the close up show, even after reading it previously. Created a new appreciation for doing the hard stuff in front of a group!!! Thank You!!!
Mark Yeager
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