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Topic: What makes a comedy act great?
Message: Posted by: Comedy Writer (Mar 10, 2009 07:31PM)
...Besides being funny. What are the elements of a great, funny act?

Message: Posted by: Floyd Collins (Mar 10, 2009 07:39PM)
Truthfully one where the comedy does not outdo the magic and the magic does not outdo the comedy. And there is enough room in the act for both to take their own life within the performance. Sounds odd I know but I think those are the elements of a great act.
Message: Posted by: harris (Mar 11, 2009 10:55AM)
1. It has truth to it
2. It is appropriate for the venue
3. It works for the performer...the same script and bits and even music for one performer might fall flat when used by another
4. It can be seen and heard by the audience.(technically as good as the on stage act)
Message: Posted by: suspectacts (Mar 11, 2009 11:22AM)
I love that Comedy Writer is asking this question. If he is lost, what chance do the rest of us have.

As far as my opinion, don't worry about what's 'beyond' funny. Get your laughs per minute first and then follow your heart.
Message: Posted by: jay leslie (Mar 11, 2009 01:21PM)
...Besides being funny. What are the elements of a great, funny act?


There are two different kinds of actors. The inner-outers and the outer-inners.
I believe the funniest are the inner-outers because they are genuinely funny and could put all props aside.


Page 81
Message: Posted by: charliemartin (Mar 11, 2009 05:05PM)
Solid magic and knowing who you are as a performer.
Message: Posted by: jay leslie (Mar 11, 2009 05:50PM)
But let's say that you know who you are, and you are serious.
Message: Posted by: Dynamike (Mar 12, 2009 04:44AM)
On 2009-03-10 20:31, Comedy Writer wrote:
...Besides being funny. What are the elements of a great, funny act?

All the alcohol the audience had to drank.
Message: Posted by: jackstevens (Mar 16, 2009 05:48PM)
Great funny acts have a specific point of view and attitude. They don't do jokes everyone else does.
Message: Posted by: jackturk (Mar 19, 2009 11:02AM)
I very much agree with Jack Stevens's post.

Steve Martin's book, "Born Standing Up" goes into a lot of detail on just this very topic. Martin worked years on uncovering exactly what it was that made him and his performances unique. He was totally focused on creative originality.

Steven Martin doesn't really do jokes. He expresses a completely original, comical perspective and persona.

IMO, that's the standard to shoot for... but man, is it a tough one...

Message: Posted by: Father Photius (Mar 19, 2009 10:05PM)
It engages the audience.
Message: Posted by: MarceloElGrande (Mar 24, 2009 06:41PM)
I don't speak English very well, so I’ll try to condense what I think about this theme in just one word... authenticity
Message: Posted by: jay leslie (Mar 24, 2009 06:50PM)
Or.... just wear your shirt inside out
Message: Posted by: Magic Enhancer (Mar 24, 2009 10:04PM)
When it is in the TOP 5 funniest shows you have ever seen and you remember the name of the act or performer.

Robert Haas
Message: Posted by: Russell Scoggin (Mar 27, 2009 02:05AM)
Besides being funny huh? Well there are multiple and also different answers to that question. Timing, I think, is one of the most important things. I've heard some people try to do jokes or comedy and they have ended up flopping. Not because of what they said, simply because of the timing problems they were having. Also, I like to make it really clear about what you are making humor about. I've seen some performers who say "They'll get it or catch on in a little bit." Some people who do get the joke will laugh, but the ones who don't will be worrying during the whole show about what it was they missed and halfway won't be paying attention to what you are doing or saying at the time. So I think it's important to make your comedy clear to everyone. I don't know about you, but I would much rather the whole audience to be laughing at my comedy than just a few people. Another thing is to remember where you are performing at and who you are performing for. There are many things you can get away with in a comedy club or night club that you cannot in other venues. And I'm not just talking about risque material. I'm talking about the way you deliver your comedy to the audience and how you treat them. There's a lot of fine points that you will only understand through time and experience. Well I could go on, but those are just a few of the things.
Message: Posted by: Flying Magus (Mar 27, 2009 04:55AM)
I would say that the best acts use situational comedy. Funny stuff just seems to happen during the show. Each audience gets the impression that this is the only time this has happened, and not something scripted. It then becomes funnier.

Hope that makes sense. My brain isn't working too well at the moment.
Message: Posted by: Sam Sandler (Mar 28, 2009 08:38AM)
Comedy begins with the performer. Some are gifted and just have teh "it" factor others spend coutless hours brainstorming, studying, and creating bodies of work that took coutless years to make funny.
My personal favorite is physical comedy and I use it a lot through out my show. Abbot and castello, laural and hardy, Jerry lewis, even Krammer.
Just as the best magic tricks are ones that are built around a personal experience so is comedy. when you can make it realte to you and the audience that is when it is golden.
buying the vanishing Bandana trick does not mean you do comedy. it means you have a funny trick but it takes time,energy, and creativity to make it hilarious. from facial expressions-Bill Cosby to physical reactions - jerry lewis, krammer.

my favorite comedy magic performers are Kole and Company. I alwasy have to where Depend when I watch them as I pee my self everytime. I love them.

my favorite comedian this one is tuff but I love jonathon winters and robin williams. I love robin because of the energy he puts into his antics.

so I end with this to make it funny make it personal
think about it kids love the I don't see effect and adults and kids love watching you get "hurt" on stage one last thought.
there used to be a trick out there where a plunger ended up on the kids head and I alsways thought is was mean, and never got great results. so I changed it up and started having the plunger end up on my head. from then on it was really funny.

Message: Posted by: MetalBender (Apr 3, 2009 04:32PM)
The question is not what makes a comedy magic act great, but what makes a comedy act great. There is a very clear distinction here. A comedy magic act is great if the comedy and the magic work seamlessly together so that the audience can't tell if one or the other is happening, while both elements are allowed to breathe on their own. It doesn't have to have wildly original magic, though that is always a plus. Phil Van Tee has a great comedy magic act, and a lot of the stuff he does is standard effects. His chop cup routine is the best, hands down. It's funny, engaging, authentic, magical, and completely seamless. If you've seen it and you can name a better one you are lying.

What makes a comedy act great is a different matter all together. You can talk about originality, quality of the writing, physicality, authenticity, ect. All of these things can be achieved, or at least simulated very well. That doesn't mean that the audience gets what it needs to elicit the proper reaction. I know many spectacular performers who have terrible acts. By the same token I know performers who many would consider awful but their act is stellar. It comes down to audience reaction. Not every act is for every audience. I am friends with comedians who perform very well for other comedians, but a real audience doesn't enjoy them in the least. Does this mean they have a terrible act? No. The audience they work the best for is an audience of comics, and there's nothing wrong with that. However there is the other side of the coin. I've met a number of road comics who have come into Los Angeles and done a show or two that I produce, and admitedly there are a lot of comics in the audience, and the road comic doesn't do so well. Keep in mind that this is the same act that they destroy real audiences with.

A great act is an act that is great for an audience. It's going to vary from audience to audience and night to night, but it depends on the audience that the act is being performed for. A squeaky clean christian comedian who performs primarily for the 700 club is going to have a terrible act when dropped into some of the dive bars I play, and vice versa.

Oh yeah, then there's the stuff about truthfulness, innovation, playfulness, and an act that the performer thinks is funny without laughing at it themselves. That however is my girlfriend's opinion, and what does she know? She's only one of the leading comedians in Los Angeles. She probably doesn't know what she's talking about.
Message: Posted by: magicgeorge (Apr 4, 2009 09:42AM)
You're all wrong. the correct answer is:
a monkey

I think.
Message: Posted by: Anatole (Apr 6, 2009 12:54PM)
You might want to check your public library or used book store for these titles:
_How to be funny: Discovering the comic you_ by Steve Allen
_Stand-up comedy: the book_ by Judy Carter
_Cartoonist's and gag writer's handbook_ by Jack Markow

They all take an analytical approach to what makes something funny. Steve Allen also wrote _Funny People_, _More Funny People_ and _Make 'em Laugh_ that would be educational.

----- Amado "Sonny" Narvaez
Message: Posted by: K-Rod (Apr 6, 2009 03:55PM)
I believe there are two things that make a comedy act great: honesty and commitment. If you are honest with your audience and give them a genuine approach to your performance/material, you will gain their trust. If you ever notice, some of the best comics and magicians get the best responses because they deliver their material as if they were talking to a group of friends. I believe that certain spark is difficult to attain and only a select few can pull it off, but that’s what makes them great.

I can’t tell you how many comics, and magicians, I’ve seen who have had great material…excellent material…that has just gone to waste because they weren’t real with their audience. I’ve seen the Vanishing Bandana flop because the performer just “went through the motions”. You have to find a persona and approach that relates to your audience -- that in which they can relate to in return. You can have all the greatest one-liners in the world, but if you don’t present that persona as true to the audience, then you’re dead. (Please note that when I say “true” and “honest”, I don’t mean as if you actually believe all the one-liners are true, but you present them as if coming directly from you as opposed to the book you found them in.)

If you are truly committed to your character and the persona at which you present your performance, it will win the audience nearly every time. I’ve been in the audience where fellow magicians (ones that I have looked up to) have presented their character at less than 100% and it just made them look foolish. While I was getting my Bachelor’s in theatre, I learned that the only way you can gain empathy from the audience is if you are 100% committed to what you are presenting to them; anything less with completely take them out of the moment.
Message: Posted by: harris (Apr 7, 2009 08:57AM)
I remember Dick Van Dyke doing a routine on slapstick versus cerebral humor...His routine was based on slapstick was old school and not appropriate any more.

Of course it proved the opposite. True in 1960 also true today.

It's two mints in one...

My programs are/is of both schools...

and yes...monkeys (and Mondays) can be funny.

hmm how about a cerebral monkey.

side question how many of you have monkeys, monkey puppets or references to monkeys in your act?

Harris..."now where is that curious george lunch box?" deutsch
Message: Posted by: sherifmayika (Aug 14, 2009 12:16AM)
Message: Posted by: sherifmayika (Aug 14, 2009 12:25AM)
This book is out standing and one of the abotts cataloge has a list of 150 comedy magic by patric page
Message: Posted by: Fitz (Aug 14, 2009 01:28AM)
I would say a great personality is key, a.k.a Character

Message: Posted by: Pete Biro (Aug 14, 2009 01:29AM)
Terry Seabrooke just finished a lecture and I was helping him sell his notes. A guy came up to hin and asked, "How can I become funny?" Seabrooke answered, "Are you at all funny now?" The guy said, "No." Terry then replied, "I don't think you can be funny."
Message: Posted by: TheAmbitiousCard (Aug 14, 2009 02:19AM)
On 2009-03-11 12:22, suspectacts wrote:
I love that Comedy Writer is asking this question. If he is lost, what chance do the rest of us have.

As far as my opinion, don't worry about what's 'beyond' funny. Get your laughs per minute first and then follow your heart.

How many laughs per minute do you have in mind?
Message: Posted by: Jerskin (Aug 14, 2009 12:40PM)
You're either funny or you're not.
It's like being pretty-not much you can do about it.
Message: Posted by: Floyd Collins (Aug 14, 2009 03:25PM)
On 2009-03-10 20:31, Comedy Writer wrote:
...Besides being funny. What are the elements of a great, funny act?


This is what he asked!! NOTE!!! Besides being funny!!!!!
Message: Posted by: Dynamike (Aug 14, 2009 03:31PM)
On 2009-04-04 10:42, magicgeorge wrote:
You're all wrong. the correct answer is:
a monkey

I think.
Are you considering I am the funniest one here? If so, thank you.
Message: Posted by: Sealegs (Aug 14, 2009 05:06PM)
There's all manner of approaches and techniques that can go towards making a great comedy act but the only thing that matters is are the audience laughing?

It doesn't really matter how you get there. You might break every technical and methodological rule in the book but if you're a comedy act and you're making the crowd laugh, then that's hard to argue with.
Message: Posted by: Mac_Stone (Aug 15, 2009 01:13AM)
On 2009-08-14 13:40, Jerskin wrote:
You're either funny or you're not.
It's like being pretty-not much you can do about it.

My mom says I'm funny and that's good enough for me.
She also says I'm special....
Message: Posted by: Dynamike (Aug 15, 2009 11:06AM)
On 2009-08-14 13:40, Jerskin wrote:
You're either funny or you're not.
It's like being pretty-not much you can do about it.
You can always get a face lift.
Message: Posted by: coolini (Nov 23, 2009 04:27PM)
It's a great show if I enjoy it and was engaging the audience all the time