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Topic: Picking an effect for comedy
Message: Posted by: smullins (Jul 23, 2009 07:20AM)
Hey guys,

I'm new to the forum and had a quick question or a long one I don't know.

My main thing is how do you decided that an effect will be comedy? I really enjoy watching comedy magic; like Michael Kent, Amazing Johnathan, and Justin Kredible. So you go from finding and effect, finding the comedy in the presentation and work on it, which is fine and I wouldn't have a problem with but my question more or less on how do you know an effect has potential to be a peice of comedy.

So how do you decide "this effect or illusion will work well?"

Also for a side question where do you guys purchase things? I'm looking around at different places.

Any help will be greatly appreciated! Thanks!
Message: Posted by: Floyd Collins (Jul 23, 2009 03:06PM)
First welcome to the Café. A lot of comedy magic comes from knowing yourself as a comedic entertainer.
For me I look at an effect and think “how can I change that to make it funny.” I also look at everything I see and think how can I make that a magic effect that would be funny. Inspiration for me comes out of just looking around and thinking of all the different ways to present something to make it funny. Just about any magic effect out there in some way or another can be made funny, but you have to ask yourself does this fit your style. So knowing yourself as a comedic entertainer is very important. An effect that I can make funny you may not be able too without doing it in my context.

There are many books out there that can help you and DVDs that will help you understand comedy routines. Matt Fore has a DVD called Comedy Routines. And there is a good basic book to start with called, the complete comedy text book by David Roper is a good starter, a bit old but still has a lot of good information. Stand-UP A professional guide to comedy magic by Ian Keable will also give you lots of insight into the world of comedy magic.
If you do a search here on the café you will come up with lots of resources to help you become a comedy magician.

As for buying them take a look at all the little advertisements here on the café try and support those companies who support the café if you can.
The best bet is to get some books, watch some YouTube and find yourself as a entertainer. Once you have done the research and leg work you will know what is funny for you and what will not work.
A lot of your questions have been answered many times here on the café don’t be afraid to use that search at the top, it is golden.
Hope this helps
Message: Posted by: JamesTong (Jul 23, 2009 03:15PM)
I agree with Floyd totally. The magic (straight or comedy) comes from YOU! Any effect can be used as a comedy piece.
Message: Posted by: Dynamike (Jul 24, 2009 08:27PM)
Go to a magic shop and observe different tricks. The salesman should be willing to show you different tricks you can lead to comedy.

Some good tricks that are usually performed in humor are:

"Baffling Bra" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZJXkcOI9kA&feature=related

"Professor Cheer's Comedy Rope Trick" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G4aXTCErWMs&feature=related

But remember, it will not work on it's own. You will have to supply the comedy.
Message: Posted by: Father Photius (Jul 24, 2009 09:16PM)
While there are a number of tricks, a lot like those Dynamike mentioned above, that were created primarily for comedy, I have found that most of my comedy magic came from not being able to figure out a serious way to perform the trick. I have aquired a lot of tricks over the years when demonstrated by the seller or I've read about them, sound like tremendous tricks for my more serious act. What happens is that for some reason it just didn't fit my "serious style", but for some reason there was some aspect of the trick that appealed to my sense of humor. In other words, when I couldn't make it work as a serious trick I'd start to joke to myself about it. That would turn into a comic idea with the trick and then to a comedy routine.
I once, in my poorer days, built a trick out of a box that a zombie came to me in from Abbotts. I started off doing a serious production series from this box, I'd produce silks, doves, rabbits, all sorts of things. Yet somehow I could never get it to work in a way I felt comfortable doing it seriously in my act. In my frustration I actually began to joke to myself about various aspects of the act until one day while producing the two small bunnies at the end during a practice, instead of saying the line I normally used I quipped, "Yeah and I see ol Harvey the invisible rabbit has been visiting again." From that the whole routine evolved about the box coming to me in the mail from my pet rabbit "gretta" who had disappeared, and as I opened the box and the story went on, I kept pulling out and producing all these things which were impossible to come out of this small box, until I got to the final production of the two small rabbits, which I produced saying, "and here's Thumper and Harvey, Jr." then pulled out this little scroll that I unwound before the audience that had a visible note written on it inside of a rabbit silouette that said "Never trust a 6 ft. tall invisible rabbit that tells you he is a friend of Jimmy Stewart." The audiences roared at that, and it stayed a staple of my comedy act for years.

Similar with hand cremation from Abbotts. From the description in the catalog it seemed like a great serious piece. When I got it and started performing it, I just never could find a patter or routine that I felt worked. As I practiced and tried to develop a new serious routine, one day I picked up the props and said to myself, "Time to cook the old hand again". That struck me, now when I asked for a volunteer from the audience I should ask for someone who is a "hand at cooking", that will get a little chuckle later when it becomes apparent what I'm going to do with the trick. For some reason that struck me as a sort of Groucho Marx type of line, and before long I had this whole routine where my assistant did the trick as a straight man, and I came from the audience as a Groucho type character who basically did Groucho type humor through the whole trick. That routine worked so well it literally got me hundreds of bookings. I had people calling requesting that I come do that routine for them. Pretty much all my other comedy routines evolved the same way, to the point that I dropped serious magic and did a light comedy routine from then on.
So as the others above say, it comes from within you. Yes, I did baffling bra and other "Made for comedy" tricks as part of my act over the years, but most of the things I did started as serious magic that I just couldn't get to work for me the way I wanted in a show and I started joking to myself about some aspect of the trick until suddenly something struck me as a good idea that would be funny. After that is just play them some and refine. My drunk magician doing the "kiddie magic" passe passe started as about a 3 min routine and evolved into 15 min of roaring laughter from the audience. The hand cremation became about an 8 minute routine that had them rolling in the aisles, and the production box was a great closer for me and I could take up to 20 min doing it and keep them laughing.
Magic is a prop, like a whipped creme pie. The comedy comes from what you do with it. Put it in an absurd environment or situation, do something unexpected with it, etc. The pie directly into someone's face will get a few slapstick chuckles, the pie nearly hitting a lot of people in the face but just missing and staying in tact creates a humorous tension as they await the fatal moment, accidentally hitting yourself in the face with the pie is a bit unexpected, though done before but gets a bigger laugh, sitting the pie down to do something then accidentally sitting in it yourself gets a bigger laugh, having someone come out on stage act like they are going to pick up the pie now and hit you, then you turn to ask them to show you something, or they suddenly need to button a button or something and they without thinking stick the pie between their legs to hold it and it smashes on them, gets a bigger laugh. The more unexpected or more absurd the situation the bigger the laugh.,
I understood how to do comedy in magic from an old saying from Groucho Marx. In an interview he once said, "Dress up a stuntman like an old lady and push him down the hill in a wheel chair and that is funny, when it turns out to be a real old lady, that is comedy."
Message: Posted by: smullins (Jul 24, 2009 11:43PM)
Thanks for the advice guys! I really enjoyed reading your posts.

More or less I'm just guessing on what the process you guys go through... Say like Justin Kredible and his vanishing ketchup bottle routine. It's humorous and looks fun but how do you go from a vanishing ketchup bottle to "o I invented a crappy magic trick as a kid" haha

I have plenty of books on stand up comedy I'm not worried about that haha, it's not the scripting it's the changing and effect to a funny one.
Message: Posted by: Dynamike (Jul 25, 2009 02:14AM)
It is best that you play with the effects searching for humor. Once you find it, practice it so you will get professional. If you keep asking us questions, we might not be giving you the information that fits your style. So now it is better to be on your own.
Message: Posted by: Floyd Collins (Jul 25, 2009 08:47AM)
A little exercise you can do that has helped others is to take a simple trick let’s say cut and restored rope. Practice it over and over each time look at what in contrast to every movement and word you say is funny or funny with your style of presenting it. You say you know how to script, this is awesome, well then write down ever single movement picking up the rope, getting someone to help you, using the scissors, every little detail. What can you say or do to make each and every movement funny and what can the outcome be that would be funny. Test it and re-script it till you have everything in place and every word down and timed. While your scripting make a little note where you think the laugh will be, when you test it did you get the laugh where you thought it would be if not what do you need to change. Yes the cut and restored rope has been made funny many times over and a lot of performers have a funny routine for it don't use theirs make your own for this exercise.
You have ask us how we come up with our comedy routines, well take all the above advice, and what I have typed here and you have your answer. There are many who do cut and restored rope, but none who do it like me!! Once you have master the art of re-scripting and visualizing your routines you will be on your way.
Message: Posted by: smullins (Jul 25, 2009 10:33AM)
Thanks again guys I think I'm going to go play with some effects then :)
Message: Posted by: harris (Jul 25, 2009 11:15AM)
Sometimes I contrast the way my hands work while performing magic, with my mechanically challenged hands.

Thursday while putting a chest together, my wife complimented me on my carpenter skills. Feeling more like Tim on Tool Time, I straight faced said, "PLEASE, don't say that, you know how EASILY DISTRACTED, I am." Since then, I have shared that story two times in programs. Not sure why it is funny and gets laughs, but it does. This morning someone quipped..Oh you silver tongue devil, after I spoke the line.

In the past I have actually created an act using tools and things like Doc Easons 2 in the hand with bolts.

Life is so funny you don't have to make this stuff up!

My wife and audiences, tell me I am more funny, when I don't try so hard to elicit laughter. Don't get me wrong, I do use things like windshield wiper sunglasses. Originally just did it for a quick sight gag. These days I go into a driving routine, complete with stick shift, reving engine noise etc. After some "sewious" driving, I pause and say straight face, "Actually it's my wife that has a stick shift." I gave up driving them after burning out 3 clutches on one car.." then go back to pretend driving.. A kazoo makes the engine noises..Vanishes and use of mosquito whistle...add bits of magic to the routine.

laughologist and nearly normal counselor
Message: Posted by: Dynamike (Aug 15, 2009 12:09PM)
Smullins, you might want to start with the tricks you can do best.