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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The February 2009 entrée: Bob Sheets » » Wish I Could Do Comedy Like Bob! » » TOPIC IS LOCKED (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

rockwall
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Hi Bob,

I met you at LVMI last year and thoroughly enjoyed your presentation and especially the night at the Tower show. Man, it was great listening to you, Doc and Eric reminisce about the Tower. I bought everything you demonstrated and continue to buy your stuff. I love it and love your performances!

Here’s my question. So much of your routines are so entirely made up of not just the routine but your personality. I wish I was you and could do you! Do you have a suggestion for those of us buying your material on how best to try and incorporate our own personality into it? Are you of the school that believes you are either funny or you’re not? Or do you believe that someone can learn to be funny? Do you think someone learning your routines should try and deliver your material much like you do?

Thanks,
Mike
BobSheets
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Thank you Mike!

One thing for sure is you cannot just read the way to funny. You can’t stand on the sidelines and take an inactive part and expect any result.

Get some coaching if you can. One of the reasons for joining a magic club is so you can have a place to try stuff out and be bad.

We can all benefit with some training. Take some dance, acting, improve, Fitch workshop, and comedy classes. Anthony Linden’s convention is April 3-5 in Niagara Falls would be great for anyone really wanting to go for it. A plus at that convention is the focus and everyone there is working for the same aim. Convention web site. http://www.ComedyMagicSeminar.com

I worked this convention and found it fascinating. They did a video of it and except that I was 30 pounds heavier, and looked like Jaba the Hut, I was happy with it. The line-up this year looks great and to actually focus on just this aspect of performance can’t hurt.

You are either funny or not? This is always an interesting question. Of course there is the natural ability some have for making people laugh which makes that easy. Here’s something about myself and many other guys you think are funny, and these are name guys. They think they are not funny or might loose it at any time. Not all of course but many are very insecure. It takes years to settle in and become comfortable in your own skin. For some that discomfort is why they are funny.

Other people are corny and unless they act on that as tongue and cheek it may never play well. It just sounds geeky. We all know that guy at the office who tells a lot of pad puns and jokes and laughs at stuff that isn't funny. People usually just walk away and he's always "what did I say". That clueless kind of guy.

I think the biggest problem is sounding like a robot when some performers do any kind of patter, script, or lines. That’s just inexperience. Unless that is your character. It is like boxing. You just have to get into the ring and take your punches until you learn how to defend yourself. Rigid rehearsal doesn’t hurt either.

I believe that practice is something you must develop a love for as part of the magic discipline. I love to practice and I know it’s one of the reasons I can look for pretty good results in a timely fashion. Out of the box and into the show is a sure road to catastrophe. It is possible for some to do this but these are generally performers who understand their character so well that they can quickly and almost intuitively move into the part or trick quickly. Even those who can do improv have to practice that skill to achieve any proficiency.

You should record, audio at least, video is better, every show or rehearsal you do. I know this will make you better. At first you can’t stand it but after a time it gives you the ability to stand away and look at yourself as if that person was someone else. Then you can critique him and add or take away what is needed to improve not only your comedy but also your physical movement and visible sleights etc.

There are so many different looks and styles to comedy that everyone should be able to find an actor or comedic look alike and study how they deliver lines. Bob Newhart is one of mine. I used to impersonate him when I was a teenager. I can’t really do him but I do have some of the same stammering delivery.

Knowing and understanding what other people see when they look at you is key to any success as a performer.

I sometimes at my lectures do my patter the way a lawyer might speak and it always gets laughs. I might not be able to help it. My lines are written to get a response and move the routine along from point A to B and even if you don’t get guffaws it should work a little. You can’t be me of course but I’ve coached lots and lots of guys and most at least can get to humorous. I think anyone who really practices can get really good laughs with “It’s the Rules” and “Six Tricks in Two Minutes”. At least you have something to start with in my routines. My speech pattern is very odd and so my delivery sometimes makes it look like my patter isn’t written. I’m a very scripted performer. That allows me the opportunity to stray or improvise and come back and go for the climax.

Some hope? No hope? Bob hope.
ike,

Interesting question. Of course there is the natural ability some have for making people laugh which makes that easy.

Some people are corny and unless they act on that as tongue and cheek it may never play well. It just sounds geeky. We all know that guy at the office or tells a lot of pad puns and jokes and laughs at stuff that isn't funny. People usually just walk away and he's always "what did I say". The clueless kind of guy.
BobSheets
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I think the biggest problem is sounding like a robot when some performers do any kind of patter, script, or lines. That’s just inexperience. Unless that is your character. It is like boxing. You just have to get into the ring and take your punches until you learn how to defend yourself. Rigid rehearsal doesn’t hurt either.

I believe that practice is something you must develop a love for as part of the magic discipline. I love to practice and I know it’s one of the reasons I can look for pretty good results in a timely fashion. Out of the box and into the show is a sure road to catastrophe. It is possible for some to do this but these are generally performers who understand their character so well that they can quickly and almost intuitively move into the part or trick quickly. Even those who can do improv have to practice that skill to achieve any proficiency.

You should record, audio at least, video is better, every show or rehearsal you do. I know this will make you better. At first you can’t stand it but after a time it gives you the ability to stand away and look at yourself as if that person was someone else. Then you can
BobSheets
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Critique him and add or take away what is needed to improve not only your comedy but also your physical movement and visible sleights etc.

There are so many different looks and styles to comedy that everyone should be able to find an actor or comedic look alike and study how they deliver lines. Bob Newhart is one of mine. I used to impersonate him when I was a teenager. I can’t really do him but I do have some of the same stammering delivery.

Knowing and understanding what other people see when they look at you is key to any success as a performer.

I sometimes at my lectures do my patter the way a lawyer might speak and it always gets laughs. I might not be able to help it. My lines are written to get a response and move the routine along from point A to B and even if you don’t get guffaws it should work a little. You can’t be me of course but I’ve coached lots and lots of guys and most at least can get to humorous. I think anyone who really practices can get really good laughs with “It’s the Rules” and “Six Tricks in Two Minutes”. At least you have something to start with in my routines. My speech pattern is very odd and so my delivery sometimes makes it look like my patter isn’t written. I’m a very scripted performer. That allows me the opportunity to stray or improvise and come back and go for the climax.

Some hope? No hope? Bob hope.
rockwall
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"Knowing and understanding what other people see when they look at you is key to any success as a performer. "

I like this suggestion. It made me realize that I don't really know HOW people look at me. How do you find out? Do you just ask? (I know I can go hide in the bathroom after a show but haven't quite gotten there yet.)

I've been doing Michael Finney's rope trick at parties a bit and getting pretty good reaction so I know I'm not totally lost. But, of course I'm doing Michael Finney.

Great advice. Thanks Bob.
Mark Phillips
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Wow Bob,

That's quite a lot to say! As I said elsewhere; I've been working with Bob now for several years and done the Fitch Workshop with him for the past 5 or so. I also said elsewhere that Bob really works hard to get his material where he wants it to be. At Fitch, we often talk about the many "layers" that are involved in a performance. Fundamentals like, can you be seen and heard? Your script is another layer of course. You character is another; do you move in a way that supports who your character is? Do your words support your actions (and vice versa) or do they distract from one another? Weakness in any one of these layers diminishes the whole package. Well, if Bob has any weaknesses, I sure don't know where they are.
Those of us who know him know how generous Bob is; that advice he just gave is a goldmine to anyone willing to follow it.
Mark
BobSheets
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Mark has taken a few of those workshops himself so I'm not alone. Part of the experience is watching others and seeing the growth and changes in their lives over the years. I am so lucky to have been a part of that enriching experience. I can't think of a better investment in my career than the Bob Fitch's workshop/camp.

It affects all parts of my life. It's like therapy for performers. I wasn't going to go one year and my wife made me go. She says, "I like you better after you go. You're so motivated and excited after you come back." I didn't think anyone else noticed.

If you are interested in the workshop or just want to be a spectator at one of these events check with Mark, Mark@thinairproductions.com because he has organized a few of these Fitch Workshops. I don't know if he's putting one together this year but, I'm sure if he had enough response he could be convinced.

For me I will continue to attend Bob's workshops as long as he I have that opportunity. A lot of people ask me, "You've been too this thing so many times isn't it working?" That's exactly why I continue to go because it is working.

All best. bob.
Pete Biro
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Knit final load balls are not funny. Lemons are funny.
STAY TOONED... @ www.pete-biro.com
Pete Biro
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In other words, just be yourself. If you are funny that's great. If not, be serious.
STAY TOONED... @ www.pete-biro.com
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