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Topic: Do Comedy Clubs Hate Magicians?
Message: Posted by: Andrew Zuber (Jul 8, 2009 01:20PM)
I started out doing stand up about nine years ago up in Seattle. When I realized I wasn't that funny, that's when I decided to start adding magic to the act to make it more appealing and to cover up my lack of humor.
I did four holiday shows up at my home club in Seattle this year, all using magic. I know the owner quite well and have frequented the club since I started, so I'm not a newbie to the stage up there.

When I emailed him about a booking for later this year, he said he'd have me back (he's always got a spot for me, I just email to confirm dates with him) be he said "no magic." Actually he said "no majic" but I digress. Have folks run into this? I didn't carry a very large set up...one small table in the corner of the stage, and I mean really small...about the same size as a hat on a cane. No fire, no confetti...just a few rope bits, a signed card-to-orange routine and a couple of other small gags.

I've also done magic in clubs down here in L.A. and gotten quite a nice reception. I had the DJ at one club get very excited when he saw me come back for a second date there because he loved that I had incorporated magic into the act.

What have people discovered as far as this is concerned? Seeing as how comedy is both in my background and embedded into my personality, I like doing shows in clubs, but I'm wondering if there are certain places where magicians are either welcomed or shunned?

I have an upcoming gig at The Comedy Store and would love to hear from anyone that's worked there (I'm in the Belly Room upstairs) and if they have opinions on that or other comedy clubs in L.A., and would certainly love to hear from anyone doing magic in comedy clubs to see what their experiences have been.

Message: Posted by: Floyd Collins (Jul 8, 2009 01:55PM)
Never did any work in LA, but around the northern states, most will book you if youíre good and can keep the laughs at a steady pace. The key is how you present your act to the club. I always say I am a prop comic, most will allow a prop comic over a comedy magician, same thing but you get a chance to show yourself before they cast judgment. The other key is how much you bring with you to the stage. You said one table and that may be too much for most chain clubs. They like to get you on and off as quickly as possible. Also audience participation coming up to the stage may be frown down upon by some clubs they want them sitting there buying drinks. I make sure to go out in the audience or use just the front row for helpers when needed. I try and only carry on a small DR. bag and place that right on the stool or chair they normally have on stage.
Sounds like the owner has been burnt a few times by those who are less comedy and more magic, for clubs it has been my experience they want more comedy and magic is looked at as just a prop.
If you like comedy stand up magic, I suggest you walk away from the clubs and do college venues. The student unions and student clubs pay more and appreciate you more and most donít care how much you lug around as long as you entertain. Keep the clubs for breaking in new materiel on open mic night.
Just some thoughts.
Message: Posted by: Andrew Zuber (Jul 8, 2009 04:45PM)
Thanks Floyd!
I definitely like to keep the props to a minimum. Since I know the club up in Seattle well I was always there early to put my table up on the stage in a corner. It's not a chain club but hosts so well known acts when they come through Seattle.
Any thoughts then on how to book those college venues? I haven't played them in the past but would love to.
Message: Posted by: jay leslie (Jul 8, 2009 05:13PM)
Comedians feel they are better then us because they do not rely on the props, They feel that we need props as a crutch and that we all copy each other with store bought routines whereas they invent their own material.
Message: Posted by: Andrew Zuber (Jul 8, 2009 05:32PM)
As a comedian I can safely say that MANY comedians "working" today aren't the most pleasant and friendly people to be around. Humor can certainly be used as a defense mechanism but some of them take it way too far...and when I say "working" I mean playing the biggest clubs in Bartsow on a Monday night and calling themselves professional comedians.
Yeah so maybe I'm slightly bitter :) I've just had my fair share of experiences dealing with the guys who think they're hilarious AND are far too good for the rest of the world. I'd like to be able to bring something unique to the stage which is why I like the idea of working a comedy club and doing something that's still funny but also unexpected.
Message: Posted by: Floyd Collins (Jul 8, 2009 05:54PM)
I hear ya Andrew, I have done both, pure stand up and magic stand up. Its not easy as soon as they see you have props look out the pointing and snickering starts to happen. No big deal for me though, I am a big guy and I will often ask to seat the audiance as they come in and take drink orders. Since I mainly work opener when I am called to start, I stop taking drink orders right there and jump up and do my thing. If your looking for unexpected this worked for me for years.

The best way to break into college venue is to get yourself linked up with a booking agent that hires performers. To find out who is hot as a booking agent just go to a local college and ask them who is in charge of student services/activities. Ask that person who they book with and see if they will allow you to submit your promo kit. You kill two birds with one stone. You do this in your own back yard enough sooner or later someone will pick you up. Another way to break in is to offer an act that will help with college recruiting offer that as a little extra service to your stand-up. When they bring local students in for dog and pony show they may hire you to entertain them for 30 min while they are there. Just keep plugging and you will get your foot in the door.

Message: Posted by: Andrew Zuber (Jul 8, 2009 06:06PM)
Thanks Floyd! I hate a talent agent here in L.A. who calls me once every three years or so to let me know she's still alive and offers me an audition here and there...maybe I should suggest it to her that I can do that sort of work as well. I'll take a look into the college thing though as well...seems as though that's the best road to get there! ...aside from learning a magic trick. I can do that later though.
Message: Posted by: Floyd Collins (Jul 8, 2009 06:52PM)
If you need a trick or two I have a few on the market hehe shameless plug...
Message: Posted by: Jerskin (Jul 10, 2009 02:45PM)
Comedy clubs generally don't use magicians more than once or twice a year. Even the Comedy & Magic Club with Magic in their name doesn't use magicians every week.
Message: Posted by: magicgeorge (Jul 10, 2009 07:07PM)
On 2009-07-08 18:13, jay leslie wrote:
Comedians feel they are better then us because they do not rely on the props, They feel that we need props as a crutch and that we all copy each other with store bought routines whereas they invent their own material.

If that is so, then they are probably right on both counts (with a large percentage of magii).

Over here, I think comedians don't have that opinion, maybe they've seen less magicians...
It's more my opinion than their's.

I have found that people love the unexpected. So if your introduced as a comedian and you throw in a trick, they love it. Probably works the other way around too
If you're introduced as a magician and are hilariously funny...

My advice would be to try to write a comedy set. If you can be funny without the props you then have a strong backing to be funny with them.

Message: Posted by: Andrew Zuber (Jul 10, 2009 10:39PM)
Unexpected is exactly what I was thinking. As I mentioned above, I've been doing stand up for nearly ten years, doing as many as six shows a week at some times. While just straight comedy is certainly fun, I've seen some truly painful acts in a comedy club, and I'm not just speaking for myself. The whole room was silent. You'd think a club owner would want someone who can make a joke while doing a color changing silk routine over the guy who gets tuned out by 90% of the room because he's so bad.
Message: Posted by: Andrew Zuber (Jul 10, 2009 10:41PM)
By the way George, I know what you mean about the difference over there. I did my act in Newcastle, England and the club owners thought it was great. Looking forward to playing the UK again soon.