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Topic: Niagara Comedy Magic Seminar 2008 (belated review)
Message: Posted by: jocdoc (Jun 30, 2008 12:12AM)
This is a belated review of the 2008 Seminar. Let me begin by apologizing for writing and posting this nearly 2 1/2 months after attending. I came back to my office to deal with the tail end of flu season amongst other things. I felt it very much worth the effort to write about my experience. My recollections are (hopefully) reasonably accurate - other attendees please feel free to post addendums.

I can't say enough good things about this wonderful conference. Anthony (Lindan) and David (Peck) put together a superb program that included personal insights from the perspectives of different well-known performers. The location was great, too, as it was held in beautiful Niagara Falls (Canadian side). [I did the tourist thing the day before the conference started.]

James Bliss started things off on Friday evening by discussing how he messes with minds. An excellent mentalist, he elaborated on key elements for a comedy routine: appear (visually funny, but not over the top); react (to the obvious); surprise; surrender (put the magic in the audience’s hands/make it about them; don’t be afraid of going off script); hook (naturally occurring funny elements that can be recalled/brought in later); and observe (the obvious). He demonstrated how these all tied in together with some excellent routines.

This was followed by a pubic show at the Greg Frewin Theatre. The show featured David Acer, The Great Thomsoni and Co (Johnny and Pam Thompson), Greg Frewin, and special guests Glenn Ottaway and Wes Zaharuk,. After the hilarious show, we stayed for a Q&A with the performers that was fascinating and enlightening. What a great opportunity!

Ian Quick closed out the night with a midnight lecture on the business of magic.

Saturday morning kicked off with talks by David Acer and Jay Sankey. David discussed his experiences as a comic and a magician and how he did he tried to keep things in balance. Jay’s talk was a highlight as he discussed “Zen and the Art of Being Funny.” No tricks; just Jay exposing his soul to us all about his philosophies and experiences. Think Robin Williams improvising about magic philosophy and you’ll get the idea. What an amazing mind…

After lunch, we were treated to a lecture and discussion with the great Johnny Thompson and his lovely wife/partner/assistant, Pam. Johnny reviewed some of the classic comedy magic routines and the logic behind the misdirections, etc. He and Pam shared some great stories from their many years of taking their show on the road. They are just about the sweetest couple that you’ll ever meet.

This was followed by a panel discussion that included Jay, Johnny, James, and Glenn Ottaway. Again, this was a phenomenal discussion about their experiences and lessons that they learned over the years on the road.

Saturday evening was a treat; Many of us attended Greg Frewin’s Illusion show (which was better than most of the Vegas illusion shows that I’ve seen). Greg built his own theatre in Niagara Falls and, after the show, he sat down with us for a Q&A during which he outlined how he got to where he is today.

Late night discussions were led by Anthony Lindan, followed by more sessioning in the hospitality suite.

Sunday AM was an opportunity for attendees to have works in progress watched and critiqued by fellow attendees, and moderated by comedy magician, David Merry. We watched some fun routines and I believe that the magicians who performed picked up some valuable feedback. Canadian magician Danny ZZZ also filled us in on what it was like to be involved with the Phenomenon television show.

The conference ended at noon and I was smuggled back across the Canadian/U.S. Border by Buffalo magician (and 4F board member), Mike Hilburger who introduced me to the famed “Beef on Weck” sandwich and, of course, authentic Buffalo wings before dropping me off at the airport.

Once again, this was a wonderful experience. One thing that I particularly liked about the seminar was the fact that it’s very intimate. The attendance is limited so that everybody got to know everybody during the course of the seminar. We sessioned with each other, testing out new routines. (Mike Hilburger taught me Eddie Fechter’s “That’s it”). Ego’s were checked at the door. This was all about the craft. No outside sales people. Early registrants also received a DVD highlighting the 2007 Niagara conference which was also a nice touch with some good people on it including Bob Sheets.

Attendees came from all over, but primarily from Canada and the eastern U.S.. Coming from San Diego, I was probably the attendee who travelled the farthest to get there. Was it worth it? Definitely. I’m looking forward to next year’s program…

[If you'd like to see some pics from the seminar, check out my 'magical scrapbook' link below.]

jeff in san diego
Message: Posted by: magicoftomh (Jul 11, 2008 10:07PM)
Thank you for sharing that. It looks like one I would have enjoyed until...slowly I turned. Step by step. Inch by inch. I grabbed Kyle.....
Message: Posted by: God-glorified (Jul 12, 2008 12:07PM)
I fear where this is going
Message: Posted by: jocdoc (Jul 12, 2008 12:51PM)
Don't go there!!!!

Instead, attend next year's seminar... you won't regret it.
Message: Posted by: God-glorified (Jul 14, 2008 10:03AM)
Haha thank you for your post jocdoc, hope one day I could make it out there, your review makes it far too appealing to turn it down.