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Topic: Magic in Comedy Clubs
Message: Posted by: jeffdell (Jul 3, 2011 12:34PM)
Hi All;

So I've been doing stand-up comedy for about 6 months, performing at open mics 1 - 3x per week and I'm considering performing an effect in place of doing my usual set. I was hoping to get some feedback\ideas from folks who are doing magic at comedy clubs as to what your overall experience has been. A little bit of background about myself -- I live in the Boston area and I've been an on\off magic hobbyist for a few years. In the past I've focused on close-up magic, though on stage I would be focusing more on parlor style effects with "props" that are common to the venue (ie beer bottles etc). I have concerns At the open mics I've attended I see very few (if any) prop comics and no other magicians performing, which makes me wonder if 1) this is the right venue for incorporating magic into and 2) what type of audience reaction I should expect at said venues.

I guess some questions:
- What is the general experience of performing magic at a comedy open mic or in a comedy club?
- Who are some magicians that have been successful in comedy club venues? The only name that comes to mind for me is Michael Finney, but there must be others.
- Most of the venues I go to the spectators are there to watch comedy and not participate in show. What is your experience with selecting effects that require audience participation?
- The owner of the local magic shop was pushing very heavily the effect "Silent Treatment by John Allen, which looks like a wonderful effect -- just not in that environment. Any suggestions\ideas for the types of effects that are more successful at comedy clubs? I realize this is highly personalized based on character, etc, but there must be some common traits (apart from making it funny).
- Any general suggestions on writing material? Mostly, when I perform stand-up I talk about my own life experience and add punch lines to it embellishment based on personal experience.

Any suggestions\feedback you can provide is greatly appreciated!


Jeff
Message: Posted by: Floyd Collins (Jul 3, 2011 02:41PM)
Jeff,
Comedy clubs are a great place to introduce some magic into your stand-up routine if you are so inclined to do so. There are many many magicians who work the comedy club circuit. I have in the past but have decided not to do them unless I am filling in, the main reason is that the pay is just not there for me to do that and your on the road alot. With that said, some magicians who work or worked the comedy clubs are, Cody Fisher, Nathan Kranzo, Rich Marotta, John Farentino, Jay Sankey, Brian Miller and many who post here on the cafť.

My suggestion to you is to keep your material organic. While it is true that many of the prop comics have not returned to comedy clubs as in the 80s, there are many who still employee props for their comedy, if done sparingly they seem to become a bigger hit then those who rely solely on props as in the 80s.

There is a difference in comedy magic, and being a comedian magician. The main difference is when you perform a comedy magic show, it is not as important to get a laugh a minute like it is in comedy clubs. However there are many effects you can employee that will give you the sustained laugh you need in a comedy club. For example Cody Fisher Sweet Dreams rope trick is very organic yet perfect for a comedy club. Nathan Kranzo The Mind Reading Crotch is a great routine for comedy clubs as well. Be careful of magic effects that are labeled Comedy Magic, most are for comedy magic shows and what you are looking for is totally different.

You will want to look for simple to the point effects that you can re-script to work in the comedy club environment. The good news is if you are writing your own material already then you can re-script just about any effect to make it funny and get the punch you need. My comedy club set employees about 50% gags and 50% magic. When I worked the comedy clubs, I did not worry about my magic over toning the comedy or vise verse, however when I perform a comedy magic show I do worry about that and make sure there is a good blend of both. In my comedy club set, I am a little freer to create effects that donít have the entire needed splendor as much as the needed laugh. This can be challenging to most magicians because we are trained to amaze and create wonder where in a comedy club that is not your main focus.

I hope this helps, if you are serious about making yourself stand out from the other comedians you are on the right track. Just keep in mind you will have to create what you need and keep it organic and fresh try and add just a little at a time to your normal set and see where it takes you.

Hope this helps.

Floyd
Message: Posted by: jeffdell (Jul 4, 2011 06:08AM)
Hi Floyd,

Thank you for the feedback. This helps immensely. One of the things that I've been having difficulty with is determining how much of my set should be straight stand-up versus how much should be magic. There definitely needs to be a balance between the two and a single effect doesn't need to constitute my entire set. I will definitely look into the Cody Fisher sweet dreams effect. Professor's Nightmare is definitely an effect I've considered performing in the comedy club environment, though I'm leaning more towards Neilsen's Vanishing Bottle. I use a flip to record most of my sets so I'll review some video and see where Sweet Dreams might fit in.

Thanks!

Jeff
Message: Posted by: magicgeorge (Jul 5, 2011 06:33AM)
Both Sweet Dreams and Silent Treatment seem great. I may even look into purchasing sweet dreams to adapt for my non-comedy club adult show.
But I think if you do either in a comedy club you are wasting an opportunity. Silent treatment especially. Standing there getting laughs from some jokes that came in the post. Even if one adapts the script they'll still be basing it on other's premises. Pick an effect you love to do and find your own twist on it.

- What is the general experience of performing magic at a comedy open mic or in a comedy club?

IN the UK I find magic is usually well recieved. Obviously it won't save an unfunny act but it gives a funny act a bit of punch.
I don't think there is much prop snobbery over here.People can do what they want as long as it's original to make folks laugh.

- Who are some magicians that have been successful in comedy club venues?

IN the UK there seem to be quite a few playing them Pete Firman, Paul Zenon,Ali Cook, Piff TMD.

- Most of the venues I go to the spectators are there to watch comedy and not participate in show. What is your experience with selecting effects that require audience participation?

I like them, a volunteer on stage isn't something you see often at a comedy club and that makes it a bit different and you create some unique moments onstage.I occasionally finish with an effect that requires 2 volunteers. What I tend to do is I will chat to a couple of folks at the start of my set, refer to them conversationally during it then when I need them I welcome them unto the stage by name and start the clapping while I am doing it.

-. Any suggestions\ideas for the types of effects that are more successful at comedy clubs? I realize this is highly personalized based on character, etc, but there must be some common traits (apart from making it funny).
If it is something you can keep in your pocket then that kind of helps as the audience won't be wondering what the bag/box is for for the whole performance. Lots of card tricks can work in comedy clubs.
Do you like performing the Neilson bottle or is it just because it's familiar to the venue? I think that may make it stronger magically but not any funnier.

- Any general suggestions on writing material? Mostly, when I perform stand-up I talk about my own life experience and add punch lines to it embellishment based on personal experience.
There are lots of books with writing exercises in them to help you find new ideas (Mike Bent's book springs to mind) and I have come up with the odd joke that way but usually I write my best jokes when I'm not thinking about writing material (or occasionally onstage)...
For your magic effect if you can find your own unique twist on the effect the jokes will often write themselves.

I'd start out by doing your normal set then finishing on a trick. Don't completely rebrand yourself as a magical performer just add it in bit by bit. I wouldn't get the MC to mention the magic either. Keep it as a surprise to finish on.

Break a leg,
George
Message: Posted by: Floyd Collins (Jul 5, 2011 11:21AM)
George,
I think you will like sweet dreams. You can re-script it and make it your own very easy. Some of the lines in the script from Cody I took out and changed a few things around to fit my style.

Floyd
Message: Posted by: magicgeorge (Jul 5, 2011 03:25PM)
Actually, I just bought a copy. Not my cup of tea, at all.
Message: Posted by: Floyd Collins (Jul 5, 2011 07:47PM)
I will pm you George
Message: Posted by: jeffdell (Jul 5, 2011 08:03PM)
Hi George,

Thank you so much for your feedback. I will definitely look into the book by Mike Bent. I have read through some of Judy Carter's "Stand-Up Comedy Book" and while its given me a lot of ideas I've found myself really struggling with the writing side of it.

As for effects to perform, I'm really trying to keep an open mind. The Neilson Bottle came to mind as an effect for me as the prop used is germane to the places I perform (open mic nights at bars) and wouldn't be seen as a prop necessarily. That said, I'm going to look into some of the performers and effects that Floyd mentioned (Cody Fisher, Nathan Kranzo's, etc). I also really like your idea of just gradually adding in magic to my set, rather than replacing my entire set wholesale with magic. I definitely appreciate you guys taking a few minutes to help me out. I will let you know how I make out as I start adding some magic into my set!

Jeff
Message: Posted by: Sealegs (Jul 12, 2011 08:10AM)
Hi Jeff,
These are my general thoughts.... All anyone is going to be interested in while watching you at a comedy club is, 'are you making them laugh and entertaining them'. Percentages of magic to standup or standup to magic are competely irrelevent to everyone else except you. The audience at a comedy club is looking to be entertained and laugh.

Now how you do that is up to you, you can be clever, smart, smarmy, eccentric, shocking, pityful, bombastic or whatever but getting laughs is really all you have to concern yourself about.

There was a guy in the UK in the 90's who was very successful on the comedy club circuit who ended his act by dropping his trousers and underwear, sticking a firework in his a*se and setting light to it. Do you think a consideration of the % of 'firework up the a*se' material to stand up material featured in his deciding to do this? He did it because it was a funny bit and it fitted with his mad character.

If it's funny and it makes the audience laugh you'll be doing your job..... and if it's not funny.... well you'll soon find out and can make adjustments for the next time. That's how you learn and become better.

Regarding material; choose whatever you think you will enjoy performing and that you think you can get the biggest laughs from. That sounds like a trite answer but it's not.

You're writing your own stuff....well done for that..... and for all we know you have the ability to write and deliver a killer funny comedy club appropriate script for the kids trick The Elusive Rabbits... or a Torn and Restored Card effect, or Card Manips, or any of a thousand other effects that are out there in the world of magic.

So those of us here on the Cafť who have no knowledge of you're particular skills, proclivities, leanings, performance style, etc would be wasting our time, and yours, suggesting effects for you to perform.

Take what you are good and comfortable with performing and see if you are able to make it funny. If you can't...try the next thing you are comfortable performing and have a go with that.

One of the starting stratergies that would-be comedy acts often try is doing routines that are precieved by the performer to have the comedy already built into the effect. This is a possible route to go in the process of building confidence, establishing a style and finding out how, where and in what way you can be funny. But I would suggest this is not an option if you are venturing into a comedy club environment.

The comedy club environment is both hard, in that laughter is the currency that will make you a good act, and forgiving in that a comedy club audience has, to some degree, the knowledge that new raw original stuff maybe tried out in front of them. Of course some audiences are less forgiving than others and even the most patient audience wont sit there forever.

The main thing to do if you're really interested is have a go.

Good luck and let us know how you get on.

Cheers.
Message: Posted by: magicgeorge (Jul 28, 2011 10:42AM)
Any news from the front line?
Message: Posted by: BrianMillerMagic (Jul 30, 2011 11:02AM)
It's been said countless times, but the secret to being a successful comedian/magician is to learn how to be a comedian. You have to learn the art of stand-up comedy on its own, without the crutch of magic to help you out. Plenty of magicians who want to do "comedy magic" make the mistake of believing they can learn to be funny while doing magic tricks. The truth is, if you can't make an audience laugh consistently without the aid of tricks, you'll be sunk trying to add tricks to the equation.

Comedy Clubs are notoriously difficult venues for "comedy magicians" because of the aforementioned "laugh per minute" requirement. Most professional comedians will tell you 3-5 LPM is standard. I find as a comedian/magician, I can shoot for 1-3 LPM and, as long as I'm consistent, everyone is happy.

Once you've learned the art of stand-up, I suggest you choose the magic tricks that you like the best. Not ones you think are funny, but ones that you like for some reason. Take those routines and rehearse them by yourself without any presentation at all. Strip the presentation that you're used to, that you heard other magicians doing, that you've done before, etc. Get rid of it. Rehearse the routine silently a bunch of times, and then eventually start to say whatever comes to mind as you're going through it. Riff on some ideas until a story starts to come together, and then take those pieces and grab some pen and paper. Get your ideas down based on whatever you were riffing, and then start to form the ideas into set up -> punchline -> tagline format.

There's a book worth of suggestions I could keep writing, but I would refer you to Jay Sankey's, "Zen and the Art of Stand-Up Comedy" for a starting point. It will be invaluable.

In the meantime, here are some links to articles I was writing last year as part of a larger project that I was ultimately side tracked from due to my performing schedule:

"It's you, not the trick" http://www.examiner.com/comedy-in-hartford/comedy-magic-it-s-you-not-the-trick

"Rough clubs and makeshift shows" http://www.examiner.com/comedy-in-hartford/the-art-of-stand-up-rough-clubs-and-makeshift-shows

"Basic joke structure" http://www.examiner.com/comedy-in-hartford/the-art-of-stand-up-basic-joke-structure

"Jokes, puns, and more" http://www.examiner.com/comedy-in-hartford/the-art-of-stand-up-jokes-puns-and-more

"Parody and self-parody" http://www.examiner.com/comedy-in-hartford/comedy-magic-parody-and-self-parody
Message: Posted by: magicgeorge (Aug 2, 2011 06:46PM)
[quote]
On 2011-07-30 12:02, BrianMillerMagic wrote
Once you've learned the art of stand-up, I suggest you choose the magic tricks that you like the best. Not ones you think are funny, but ones that you like for some reason. Take those routines and rehearse them by yourself without any presentation at all. Strip the presentation that you're used to, that you heard other magicians doing, that you've done before, etc. Get rid of it. Rehearse the routine silently a bunch of times, and then eventually start to say whatever comes to mind as you're going through it. Riff on some ideas until a story starts to come together, and then take those pieces and grab some pen and paper. Get your ideas down based on whatever you were riffing, and then start to form the ideas into set up -> punchline -> tagline format.
[/quote]

That is great advice.
Message: Posted by: Sealegs (Aug 3, 2011 07:44AM)
I agree with George, the advice Brain has given is very good and definitely worth taking a face value.

But..... (there's always a but).... there are no golden rules (I know because my signature below says so).

So I always get a bit twitchy when someone writes something like, "You have to learn the art of stand-up comedy on its own..."

This is without doubt good advice but the, 'have to', makes it sound like an absolute...an imperative. As a newbee looking to go into comedy clubs it's the best advice to follow and it's a good idea to take this at face valuue...... but it's not absolutely true.... there are, afterall, no golden rules in showbusiness. These rules only have any vailidity until someone comes along, breaks them all and is hugely successful.

I myself wouldn't know where to start when it comes to stand up but I had a very successful portion of my career spent working comedy clubs doing a comedy magic show.

But then I'm exceptional... in fact my exceptional-ness is only matched by my modesty.

I'm being facetious to make a point.... being able to do a stand up set isn't an imperative.... but you'll absolutely get no arguement from me in saying that it's the best way to approach developing a comedy club set.

Brian said more or less the very same thing that I said..... only he said it much more eloquently than me and with much more useful detail. I said, find what you're comfortable with and see if you can make it funny..... which for a newbee to the comedy club environment is probably useless and directionless information..... Brian more sensibly and helpfully provided a way to go about making this happen.

So I agree and disagree with brian on this. More importantly another post like this helps keep an actual thread about comedy magic on the front page of this forum. A rarity indeed.
Message: Posted by: Floyd Collins (Aug 4, 2011 08:00AM)
I agree with you as well Sealegs, Brian and Gorge...
however in the case of this poster he stated;
"So I've been doing stand-up comedy for about 6 months, performing at open mics 1 - 3x per week and I'm considering performing an effect in place of doing my usual set."

So my thoughts on advice for him was not for someone who wants to break fresh into stand-up, since he already has started doing open mic and writes his own jokes. Yet how he can incorporate magic into his current comedy routine.

So taken what he has said and the videos I have viewed of Jeff he is already doing stand-up on it's own and now wants to add more too stand-up.

I was looking for a book for research from my library and glanced across a book I wish I would have posted sooner that may help someone to add magic to their comedy routine.

Stand-Up A professionals Guide to Comedy Magic by Ian Keable. The book is scattered with nuggets of gold for anyone wishing to do stand-up comedy magic.

I also agree let's keep this thread alive..
Message: Posted by: Mindpro (Aug 4, 2011 08:15AM)
The point is funny is funny. You shouldn't rely on magic, props or anything else to be the foundation, source or basis for your act. The basis of your act should be he humor itself and your style of comedy. Then, if you want to add something like magic, props, song parodies, etc. on top of your humor that's possible, but then the question becomes, if you are already funny, why add the extra things?

You are correct, people go to a comedy club to laugh and be entertained, period. They don't go to hear sons, or see magic. Plus if you are going to introduce something like magic or props into your act, I'm a believer there must be a justifiable reason for doing so.

Here in the states you don't see it much as I believe this is why. Plus men and women respond to magic differently in an adult club setting. This should be remembered too. There are a few Magic & Comedy Clubs like n Hermmosa Beach, but they would be the exception.
Message: Posted by: magicgeorge (Aug 4, 2011 11:27AM)
[quote]
On 2011-08-04 09:00, aceofharts wrote:
Gorge
[/quote]

Floydy Woydy


[quote]
On 2011-08-04 09:15, Mindpro wrote:
The point is funny is funny. You shouldn't rely on magic, props or anything else to be the foundation, source or basis for your act. The basis of your act should be he humor itself and your style of comedy. Then, if you want to add something like magic, props, song parodies, etc. on top of your humor that's possible, but then the question becomes, if you are already funny, why add the extra things?
[/quote]

It's certainly asset to have the ability to perform a prop free show. So I think it's good to tick that box.
I feel I am at my best when I am sharing with my audience what I find funny. Therefore if I come up with a silly prop gag that I think is funny I'll have no qualms putting it in. As you said funny is funny...
Message: Posted by: Floyd Collins (Aug 4, 2011 03:47PM)
Sorry about that Georgy Porgy.... I like Gorge better... oh well its George I guess.

If you ever have the opportunity to watch Nathan Kranzo work a comedy club, he I feel has it down. They may not come to see magic but that is just what he gives them.

I personally keep everything organic when working those type of venues, this helps with the justification. I don't do a lot of comedy clubs these days with my stand-up, but I do my far share of college gigs and they are about the same type of audience as in most clubs.

I think adding or trying different things even if you have a stellar stand-up set keeps you fresh and helps with comic burn out. If your not re-inventing yourself often in this game you will surly become stale and outdated quickly. The key is to not re-do everything all at once but add and take out as you see your changes developing.
Message: Posted by: Sealegs (Aug 5, 2011 06:10AM)
Mindpro wrote:"people go to a comedy club to laugh and be entertained, period."

I think we can all probably agree on that. In general they don't specifically go to see anything, or in most cases, anyone in particular. They just go to be entertained and laugh. (Of course some people may go to see specific acts that they know or have heard about, but that minority aside, most people just go along to have an entertaining evening and take whatever and whoever is served up)

There are many ways to entertain and make people laugh without doing stand up and generally, as Mindpro says, an audience doesn't mind or care how material is delivered to them as long as they find it funny and entertaining.

But Mindpro immediately followed up the above quote with:" "They don't go to {edit} see magic."

Now I'm getting into dangerous territory here as I'm going to extrapolate on the apparent implication of what Mindpro wrote.( always a risky thing to do on the Cafť as it leads to bad feelings....hopefully that won't happen here :) ) To me implicit with what Mindpro has written is the notion that, 'they didn't go to see magic so why are would you include magic and show them something they didn't go to see?'.

To which I would answer, 'why wouldn't you show them whatever you want'?

There have been hugely successful comedy club acts (at least here in the UK) whose chosen palette of comedy has been many things other than stand up. EG: poetry (John Hegley), impressions of guns and automatic weapons (Al Murray), torturing Teddy Bears (The man with the beard), Juggling (Paul Morocco), Geek acts (The *** son of Tommy Copper), Music and song (Bill Bailey), Magic (Otis Cannelloni) and the list goes on.

Did the audiences who saw these funny and now successful acts care how these performers delivered their comedy? I know for sure they didn't and I also know that before they were famous (here in the UK) they didn't go specifically to see poetry, teddy bear torture, juggling, songs, automatic weapon impressions, and heavy weights being hung from a blokes bell end. But they laughed their faces off and they didn't care. Indeed they probably feet great in seeing something different, unexpected, unusual and hilariously funny.

The great thing about comedy clubs is they encourage the odd and unusual. In main stream venues there is a tried and trusted formula and understanding of the sort of entertainment that will be served up. The great thing about the comedy clubs is that stuff that wouldn't work in mainstream venues has a home and is usually encouraged both by the people who operate the venues and the audiences that attend. (Unfortunately over the years this distinction has weakened considerably but it is still there to some degree)

Although the personality of the act is always going to be the over-riding make or break factor there are other elements to a show that are key supporting structures without which the act wouldn't work or indeed, in some cases, exist. To suggest any of these elements aren't key supporting structures (indeed I consider them foundation stones) on which their acts are/were dependent is a bit of a stretch.

Imagine any of these acts I mentioned above without the very thing that they based their act on... the poetry, the impressions, the teddy bears, the juggling, the large weight hanging from the bell end, the magic, and the musicality. Pushing the boundaries, being different, setting yourself apart from the crowd etc. These can be reasons in and of themselves.

However it's one thing to have a comedy club act of a non stand up type, but like Mindpro I wonder why a comedy club act who is a stand up and has good stand up chops would want to add magic into the mix if what they are doing, stand up wise, is working well for them.

After reading one of Brain Miller's pieces I asked him why he chose to include magic in his shows when he clearly can deliver the goods without it. His reply was basically underwhelming and charmingly simple. In a nutshell he said that at heart he was a magician.

In other words, 'why not'?

There really doesn't need to be a functional justification for the inclusion of the magic... or poetry...or sticking a lit firework up your a*se.

However, I wonder if Mindpro has the same nagging thought that I do?. That is; Is the inclusion of magic being considered as a substitute for the comedy?

I firmly believe, Magic is not, and cannot be, a substitute for the comedy. That's true in any public entertainment environment not just comedy clubs.

If that is what Mindpro is alluding to when he talks about having a justification for including magic into a comedy set then I agree with him completely. If you have an ok-ish stand up set and feel you are going to bolster it by adding magic to it you are, in my opinion, definitely on the wrong track.

But as it is we don't know if this is thought process behind Jeffdell's desire to include some magic in place of some of his stand up.

And as Brain Miller, Otis Cannelloni, John Lenahan, Pete, Firman, Pete Best and other successful comedy club magic acts have demonstrated, there can be other reasons.
Message: Posted by: Floyd Collins (Aug 5, 2011 08:02AM)
I have found over the years that many who use magic in their stand-up do so for the same reason as Brian. I donít do pure stand-up because of the same reason. Sure I have stand-up bits weaved throughout my act and there are times I am not doing a magic trick but telling a joke to setup for the next trick. But I donít feel I need to just deliver jokes because the comedy that I produce from utilizing magic has all that I need to entertain and produce the laughs needed to sustain a comedy stand-up act.

Mindpro does raise a good point about justification.

I have had other comics over the years that have approached me and asked if they should add magic into their set. My first question to them always is WHY!

I have never had a comic say ďbecause I canít be funny without it!Ē or a magician say I want to add comedy because I am a dull act. The most common answer I get is, I like magic and I want to set myself apart from the rest.

The very same reason I donít do pure stand-up without magic, it sets me aside from the rest of the stand-ups. The next answer I get sometimes is, I want something more visual in my set but I donít want to resort to just having props to have props for laughter. If I introduce a prop I want there to be a reason for it other than to get a quick laugh. All good reasons I feel.

So what is the difference really, if one wants to add magic to explore the possibilities of making people laugh while performing the magic, I think that is great. For me thatís all the justification one needs.

When Mindpro said justification I thought he was referring to as in why you are doing magic in a stand-up comedy club setting. I can see a point to that if that is indeed what he meant as well. As a performer you can never lose sight of what that audience will expect to see from your act. If you are a pure stand-up comic and have a following already then yes I feel you need a good transition into your magic piece to justify doing magic during your act. Other than that, it becomes a personal justification as to why you are including magic.

There is also a justification factor as to the props you use for the magic.
My goal when creating a piece for my show is to keep it simple and organic. The comedy I produce comes from the process while performing the trick. If what I use during that process is organic it allows me to justify it being used.

Whereas if the trick I am trying to use during the comedic process is too far out in left field and no one would ever see this prop unless at a magic show I feel sets the audience mindset that what I am about to do is purely a magic trick. I donít want them setting any assumptions like this because during the process I want to be free to interact and produce more comedy with that interaction while performing the trick. I donít want any pre-conceived notions as to how this will all play out.

But that is the great thing about comedy, it is all subjective.
Message: Posted by: Pete Biro (Aug 6, 2011 03:05AM)
First... there are no rules. If you are funny you can do anything.

I worked for a number of years as a middle act at the Comedy/Magic Club in Hermosa beach. Usually between a beginning comic and a closer like Leno. I did simple effects like linking rings and my own card in balloon using topical, original lines. I averaged 17 minutes. Some nights I filled in as MC, but never tried to do just stand up without props.

The biggest complaint most comics have about magicians is so many of them do the same tricks and use the same stock lines.

So, avoid tricks others are doing and throw out all the stock lines.

Leno tells all young guys, "Work every night, because any night you don't work you go backwards."
Message: Posted by: Floyd Collins (Aug 6, 2011 06:57AM)
Pete,
Can you elaborate a bit on and give some examples of overused tricks.. I think that would be very helpful for others to know what tricks are being overused in the comedy world.
Message: Posted by: magicgeorge (Aug 6, 2011 11:28AM)
I think it's more the lines than the tricks.

I agree with everyone, really. As Pete and Neal have proved with their success it is entirely possible to do comedy magic without doing straight stand up.
I think the reason doing straight stand up helped me is it got me in the way of writing and not using props as a crutch but as a vehicle for my humour and personality. Obviously some can do this anyhow but stand-up certainly helps get you in the mind-set of performing original routines unique to yourself. Which is why I find it a little sad if Jeff wants to add magic to his stand up to be considering such effects as silent treatment and sweet dreams. You wouldn't do someone elses jokes doing stand up so why do someone elses routine when you try magic. In comedy clubs, same rules apply. Also writing for magic can be a little easier, too. You usually have a prop to kick-start your writing rather than a blank sheet of paper and your own internal angst.
Message: Posted by: Floyd Collins (Aug 6, 2011 01:56PM)
George,
I agree with you about doing someone else jokes when doing stand-up. The second part when it comes to magic is debatable for the person starting out adding comedy magic or just getting into it. There is a school of thought that goes in a different direction when it comes to comedy magic. Billy McComb has even said, do my tricks word for word as I do them then change them around and make it your own.

Starting out we all research and watch other comedians and comedy minded magicians to learn how the structure of their comedy flows and works for them. Why then is it wrong to buy a joke book? Why is it wrong to buy a book on Stand-Up comedy? Why is it wrong to buy a piece of a comedy magic routine to learn and understand why and how it works?

I am not suggesting that you find these things wrong, but when starting out reading a post as you have stated it above would make one think it was wrong. Cody Fisher, Neal Austin (Sealegs)can take three pieces of rope and get 5 - 10 min worth of great comedy out of it. Is it possible for every stand-up to do this without learning first the structure and timing for it. Sweet dreams may not be for everyone, yet when you get something from Cody you know he has worked it and chances are it is something you can re-work and re-structure. Why is this a bag thing??

Re-scripting a magic trick is very important but to the newbie it can be more challenging then writing straight stand-up. I think sometimes for us who have stage experience with magic we lose sight of this.

And here is why I say this and disagree that writing for magic is easier.

When we write stand-up we have only ourselves and our personality to deal with.
When writing stand-up we draw upon personal experiences and things in our lives we find funny or we warp them to make them funny.
When you write for a visual such as magic you have many more elements that come into play. Often more then not you have never seen a stand-up comedy magician. I know for me it was very few; however I started back before the internet so there are many more outlets now to learn from then when I started.

Yet many have no base to go buy and many of the magic tricks sold today that say comedy is not for this type of venue. This can be very frustrating for someone wanting to add magic to their comedy.

I have over the years seen stand-ups try and add, Music, Juggling, Magic and Singing into their already successful stand-up and fail big time. The main reason for this is they cannot bridge the gap from stand-up to utilizing a process to create comedy. However a very successful Comic Magician like Chipper Lowell who has a lot of time doing stage comedy and magic has recently added the Ukulele to his show and has done so very well. I feel it is his experience with dealing with props that has allowed him to do so.

Taking someoneís already working script you learn such things as timing, how to handle the props and how to work with the audience. Should you re-script it and make it your own, yes and should you develop your own lines for it yes. Having the base to help get you started I feel there is nothing wrong with. We are assuming that Jeff or anyone reading this will take it and play it word for word action for action. But as Billy McComb has said sometimes maybe they should till they learn it enough to make it their own.
That is debatable too I guess.
Message: Posted by: Sealegs (Aug 7, 2011 06:16AM)
Re reading Jeffdell's original post he asked some specific questions. I thought it might be worth actually looking at them one by one. Taking them in a non random but different order than they were asked;

1) "Is this is the right venue for incorporating magic into?"

I think most of the posters here would answer, 'sure, why not?' But possibly also add, 'But ask yourself why do you want to do this? and see if you have an answer that you're happy with?

2) "What type of audience reaction I should expect at said venues?"

You should expect laughs if you're funny and nothing, or worse, if you're not. ( I'm not sure what else might be expected from this question)

3) "What is the general experience of performing magic at a comedy open mic or in a comedy club?"

There is no general reaction. It's like saying what are the general reactions to poetry, or teddy bear torturing, or impressions of aircraft engines (A successful speciality of comedy club act Chris Luby) in a comedy club? The pertinent answer is unfortunately for the person hoping for some inside info merely the trite and obvious one.

4) "Any suggestions\ideas for the types of effects that are more successful at comedy clubs?"

Types, generalities.... I refer the honourable gentleman to the answer I gave some moments ago.... As an addition to this question Jeffdell also suggested that, "there must be some common traits" in the material that performers have found works for them. I believe there are no common traits and indeed I suspect that the differences of what works and what doesn't are going to be hugely greater than any, (coincidental), similarity.

5) Any general suggestions on writing material?

Brain Miller has given some excellent direction regarding this and Floyd has also suggested some sources.

And then there's a question we haven't really focused on....

6)" What is your experience with selecting effects that require audience participation?"

For my part, I would only reiterate what I've already posted; that i,s anything goes and anything can and might work. But I can see that there might well be all sorts of other useful details to consider.

The ease, or otherwise, of physically getting people up in a comedy club environment. The 20 min time costraint of the typical comedy club set or the even greater time constraint of the 5-10 min open mic spot. The risk of getting into this type of on stage one on one audience interaction before you've fully been able to get the audience on side. (And other considerations?)

Perhaps some of those who have already contributed to this thread would like to comment on this last question?
Message: Posted by: Floyd Collins (Aug 7, 2011 08:16AM)
Thanks Neal for keeping this on track here.

6)" What is your experience with selecting effects that require audience participation?"

My personal experience that works for me is to look at the effect and see where I can modify it so the person who I need to help me can stay at their location without coming on stage/platform if need be. In my stand-up show I do three effects that most would consider to be Magic effects the rest are Mentalism or some may call Metal Magic effects.

Out of all the effects in my show ďoutside of the sight gags I useĒ, only three do not require any type of audience participation. For me when selecting the effects I look first and foremost, can the audience participate from their table and not have to be on stage and if so can they be on stage if I wish them to be or the venue setup can allow it.

Participation for me can be anything from asking someone to think of a card and then later naming it, to asking them to stand up where they are and read a slip of paper I have attached to a Frisbee that I tossed out to them or had taped under their seat.

When it comes to effects that I have found work best for this, I have to say for me Mentalism has most of this built in already so I lean more to the mental stuff when searching out my effects for stand-up.

The second important factor for me is dead time. In my stand-up show everything flows very quickly so I also analyze my effects that if I need someone up with me can it be done with no particular type of person, male, female, young or old. This way I can use anyone from the front row to cut down on arrival to stage and seating time. Then for my effects where they can stay where they are I use people that are mid-way back of the audience so the entire audience feels as if they were part of the show and not just the lucky ;-) few in the front row.
Message: Posted by: Sealegs (Aug 7, 2011 08:33AM)
Floyd,

I'm guessing from the content of your post above that your answer is addressing the question generally rather than as it specifically applies to comedy clubs? (mainly due to the amount of mentalism type effects you refer to) But maybe I've got that wrong and you are talking about comedy clubs? Or maybe you don't see any difference between comedy clubs and other venues in this regard?

I was wondering what, if any, the specific environment of a comedy club might bring to bear on the question?
Message: Posted by: Floyd Collins (Aug 7, 2011 08:59AM)
Neal,
My stand-up show is designed for Comedy Clubs, College Shows, Pubs/Bars and small Platform shows. Yes for Comedy Clubs all the requirements are the same for me. To be honest I donít do a lot of comedy club venues these days because the money is not there for me. I live in a tourist area and the money is better in other venues for me. So I work more in the colleges, night clubs, privet clubs and corporate with my stand-up. So you are somewhat correct, however the main difference in the venues is the amount of time you have to do your show. If they are not laughing then I am not doing comedy no matter where I am performing it.

My goals date way back to my trial and error days and what I learned working mainly comedy clubs and the types of effects I found work best for me and why.

Mentalism or Magic is just the vessel for the comedy the only reason I lean to Mental more than Magic is the built in needed check marks I found works best for me to work in those types of environments, with the type of audience expectations when you bill yourself as a comedy magician. In contrast my parlor and stage show has less mentalism and more magic but is just as funny and enjoyable for me to perform. However my goals do change some and the check boxes are different for those venues. The flow is slower and I can allow more time for them to come to stage and be seated because I do not need to sustain the laughter as much as in my stand-up.
Message: Posted by: Floyd Collins (Aug 7, 2011 09:43AM)
After re-reading my post above I guess you could say I look at Stand-Up as a show that is well suited for Comedy Clubs because the primary focus when I designed it was to perform in the Comedy Club environments, and my Stage show in a different light because I designed it for a different type of audience expectation. But the audience participation is the same in both types of shows.

I hope I am clear on this and maybe I am the only one who views it this way all I know is it works for me!
Message: Posted by: magicgeorge (Aug 7, 2011 10:54AM)
You don't do comedy clubs for the money you do them for the experience.

You don't do other people's routines in them. You do your own stuff and die on your hoop repeatedly until you are good.
Message: Posted by: Floyd Collins (Aug 7, 2011 11:24AM)
Well put George and is why I don't do comedy clubs much anymore, unless I want to break in a new routine. Good points..
Message: Posted by: BrianMillerMagic (Aug 8, 2011 11:47AM)
As for the issue of audience participation in comedy clubs, my act is 90% participation. However, the 10% that ISN'T is the first 8 minutes. I have an opening gag, then a full magic routine, and then a bit of straight stand-up that takes 8-10 minutes before I ask for my first audience volunteer to come on stage. From there on, the show is pure volunteers. I need that opening time to establish my character and get them on my side before I allow the audience to dictate where the rest of the show goes.
Message: Posted by: Sealegs (Aug 11, 2011 07:16AM)
Brian wrote: "...before I ask for my first audience volunteer.... .....I need [ ] opening time to establish my character and get them on my side..."

(I've used a bit of artistic license in picking out Brain's words but hopefully he'll forgive me for that and hopefully the point I'm emphasising with his words is an accurate paraphrasing of what he was saying)

It seems (to me at least) that this would be a basic requirement for a show in any environment, (theatre, social club, holiday resort,.. etc) and not just for the comedy club environment.

Perhaps then, in regard to getting people up to assist with routines, comedy clubs aren't any different at all to any other performing enviroment. I certainly can't think of why any different 'rules' should or might apply.

I think this might have been what the original poster was wondering.... namely are there any aspects specific to comedy clubs that should be considered when contemplating using volunteers. Possibly he was thinking about the audiences' attitude to this tactic? Their willingness to join in? Or the praticalities of getting someone up?

Personally I can't see that a comedy club should or would be any different from any other show environment and that's what I am also picking up from what's been posted here.

I personally don't use this type of audience participation in my own shows (What!!!) which was why I asked for others to comment on this. But if I were to use this kind of audience participation I wouldn't see any reason to treat a comedy club venue any differently to any other venue.

I think George's comment on a different point, "You don't do comedy clubs for the money you do them for the experience." is an interesting one.

I think in essence this is, at it's core, a true statement... but I also know a lot of performers who make their living virtually exclusively from working the comedy club circuit and so for them it is about making money as it is their only revenue stream. I think though that even for these performers there is a feeling that the comedy clubs are a stepping stone. A way of honing your craft as a writer and performer until you go off and have success as an author, or land your own TV show, or become a screenplay writer or whatever.

When I think of the people I used to work with on the comedy club circuit; Graham Norton, Steve Coogan, Lee Evans, Partrick Marber, Harry Hill, Eddie Izzard, Dominic Holland, Bob Mills, Kevin Day, Alan Davis, and the list goes on and on and on... It's easy to see why the comedy clubs can be (rightly) seen as a stepping stone to bigger things.

Writers, (one an oscar winner!) Hollywood actors, TV stars......................................................................................

....................................................................................................................................and almost as impressively, cruise ship acts. :)
Message: Posted by: Floyd Collins (Aug 11, 2011 04:49PM)
Neal I want to touch on something you said here.
"Perhaps then, in regard to getting people up to assist with routines, comedy clubs aren't any different at all to any other performing environment. I certainly can't think of why any different 'rules' should or might apply."

The main issue I find with Comedy Club roomís then with most other venues where comedy is being performed is that most comedy clubs, at least in the Mid-West the seating is very tight and the stage is more of a platform then a stage capable of handling no more than you, a stool and maybe one other person if youíre lucky. Some clubs I have worked the MC had to step off so I could step on. Maybe that's because I am a big guy.. but I don't think so.

Also the wait staff is buzzing around ordering drinks and this does not make for an ideal situation to bring people up on stage for me anyways. This is why I elect to make sure my stand-up routines fit this setting and can be performed with them at their table or if the room has space and the platform is big enough so I can bring them up with me I can. Not a rule per-say but one I follow after working those rooms in my younger days starting out tipping my toes in the stand-up waters. Oddly the room size has gotten smaller then in the 90s when I was working them the most.

First few rows are normally never an issue but most the time they are so close they can stand up and be almost on the platform with me so having them stand at their table works just as well for my effects. Maybe this is a location thing but around these parts, our comedy clubs are packed and the seating is very close and tight.
Message: Posted by: Sealegs (Aug 13, 2011 04:47AM)
The same can be said for the sizes of the stages typically found in comedy club venues in the UK. Certainly many venues would make a 10 person chair routine both impractical and impossible (At least the audience can thank their luck stars they are spared that).

As Floyd said about many US comedy clubs the same is so in the UK I that often the stage just has enough room for the performer. I can certainly remember some venues where I could only just fit my small props box on stage with me. It's certaionly something to consider when moving into the comedy club arena. Even getting on and off the stages can be a bit of an obstacle course. A lot of these venues certainly aren't conducive to going on with much in the way of props.

Working from a small bag, briefcase or your pockets is probably an advisable thing to consider when planning material from scratch. Those who work comedy clubs as their main income usually try (need) to double up where possible on gigs. Doing an early spot at one venue and then scuttling across town to do another elsewhere...and maybe then racing back to the first venue if they have a second later show. Having props that take time to pack or reset... or that are a problem to carry make this difficult to impossible.

Having said that I always used to end my comedy club set with the Yogana chair levitation which weighed a ton and was a real pain move anywhere. However doubling wasn't an issue or priority for me when I was working the comedy clubs as my motivation was definitely something other than the money so I would only ever do the one venue in a night.
Message: Posted by: Floyd Collins (Aug 13, 2011 07:42PM)
Thanks Neal I feel better knowing my area is not the only ones with the space limitations.

One other thought you triggered is getting off stage quickly for the next act.

I was never good enough to be a headliner in the comedy clubs, I was always an opener or middle spot guy. Now I feel I could keep up as a headliner but back then no way. I know for me getting off the stage so the MC could do their thing and introduce the headliner was a biggie for me. Just tossing that out there as another reason why when starting out prop management is much different in that setting.
Message: Posted by: magicgeorge (Aug 15, 2011 08:47AM)
In my comedy magic show for weddings and stuff like that I'll get several volunteers up but in comedy clubs I'll only get a volunteer up once usually at the end and even if I'm doing a 40 minute headlining set.
I think it's an interesting and unusual thing to do in a comedy club but I don't like to overuse the ruse.

I must be kind of lucky as most venues I play have enough room to get a volunteer up. In fact in the comedy club I MC I have got 9 volunteers on the stage at once, once. But for the back of a pub gigs where there is little space I usually manage to work something out.

I think you got what I meant when I said "you don't do comedy clubs for the money". Of course there are plenty of professionals making a living doing comedy clubs but I don't think any of them started out trying to make money. You start out trying to make funny and if you get good the money follows. It's hard work and takes time and effort so that's why I feel you shouldn't be doing prescripted routines in comedy clubs but working on your magic with the same ethics comedians work on their material.

Having said that I have to admit I do break my own rule and will throw in an old visual gag such as stretching my thumb or something like that but it's always with my own words and motivation.

I'm not really saying that comedy clubs are always used as a stepping stone to other things, some may use them that way but in the case of Eddie Izzard and Lee Evans (and Connolly) they're still mostly doing the same thing but in huge venues. I often think it's a shame when good stand ups get sucked into the world of panel shows and such and can't be bothered to do actual stand up any more.

All the best,
George
Message: Posted by: Sealegs (Aug 21, 2011 06:44AM)
I got what you meant George. :)
Message: Posted by: Floyd Collins (Aug 21, 2011 09:33AM)
George, I fully agree and I too think that bring someone up in a comedy club is an unusual thing to do as well and I also donít like to over use it.

Some more thoughts on this.
The point I was trying to make about space for audience member to be up with the performer, is that when I build my routines I take into consideration the space limitation at some, well in my case most clubs. This way no matter what room size I perform I can perform the same show.

When I first started performing I had a show for just about every type of audience and venue. It was truly a mess keeping track of what routines went for what shows. Then about 14 years ago I decided on creating a pack flat play big show that I could do anyplace, anywhere and anytime. This worked out great for the first year or so, but then I found myself back to my old habits of brining way too much to a show that I did not need. I then sat back and decided that I need three types of shows I am booked to perform the most.
1. Stand-Up Ė That will allow for parlor, comedy clubs and smaller sized rooms and seating.
2. Stage Ė That will allow for a larger area to perform and a larger audience.
3. Close Up Ė That will allow for table hopping and strolling.

I was not 100% happy with my stand-up show when I first developed it. I always felt that my stage show was the one the audience liked the most. After analyzing the shows a bit more I discovered that people who loved my stage show did so because I involved the whole audience in the experience. Whereas my stand-up was more about me and my jokes illustrated with magic then participation from the audience.
That is when I started looking for effects that could be done in that setting yet involve the audience. When I say looking for effect I do not mean the patter that goes with them.

I re-script all my effects for my own character and style I feel this is a must no matter where you are performing. I have many many books on magic, and when I am brainstorming a new routine or idea I look in those book as well as what is on the market today for ideas and if I can use something I find with my own twist too it.
Sorry for rambling on about this.

I just wish someone would have given me this advice when I started out, is it for everyone NO but I hope it gives those who are reading this thread something to think about. I do feel effect selection is very important and the type of venue is key to making sure your show is portable and able to be performed in any type of environment.

--Floyd
Message: Posted by: terrillific (Aug 22, 2011 08:02PM)
Iíve done standup and Improv comedy for 15 years without doing any magic. I saw a lot of comics try to do comedy and magic but they couldnít work it out right. There are some hilarious comedy magicians that work the comedy clubs and Vegas but they honed their comedy chops for many years doing small gigs. The best advice I can give anyone who wants to a funny comic is to get as much stage time as you can. Tape all your sets and watch and listen to them to see what works and what doesnít work. Go to Open Mics and anywhere to perform as much as you can.

I also recommend taking a improv classes. Improv help me a lot in my presentation for Standup and magic.
Message: Posted by: Sealegs (Sep 14, 2011 06:45AM)
I wonder if Jeff Dell who started the thead will get back to us and tell us what he ended up doing with his approach to comedy clubs.

Common Jeff we wanna here from you. :)
Message: Posted by: magicgeorge (Sep 22, 2011 04:18AM)
[quote]
On 2011-08-22 21:02, terrillific wrote:
I also recommend taking a improv classes. Improv help me a lot in my presentation for Standup and magic.
[/quote]

Improv is a lot bigger in the States than in the UK.

I'd love to do improv but there's only one workshop going over here and I didn't apply in time.
Message: Posted by: BrianMillerMagic (Sep 22, 2011 11:31AM)
[quote]
On 2011-09-22 05:18, magicgeorge wrote:
[quote]
On 2011-08-22 21:02, terrillific wrote:
I also recommend taking a improv classes. Improv help me a lot in my presentation for Standup and magic.
[/quote]
Improv is a lot bigger in the States than in the UK.

I'd love to do improv but there's only one workshop going over here and I didn't apply in time.
[/quote]
Learn by doing. Respond to anything and everything that happens during a show, whether on stage or close-up. Do it in ordinary life when you're with strangers in public. Best way to learn improv is just to start doing it. Unless you're actually looking to learn the improv "games" that troupes do. Then obviously take classes.
Message: Posted by: jeffdell (Sep 22, 2011 02:31PM)
Thanks everyone for the informed conversation and the great feedback. Per the advice from Brian, George, and Floyd, I've been mostly working on getting a solid, solid 5-7 minutes of pure stand up without worrying about adding magic just yet. Rather than adding a magic trick\effect to the routine, I've started to tell jokes about magic which I'm hoping to use as a segue into performing "the first trick I ever learned."

I did pick up a copy of Judy Carter's Stand-Up Comedy Book and while I have found the book to have some insight, I have found getting out to open mics on a consistent basis to be the most helpful thing. At this point I'm trying to find a balance between getting out and performing and writing. Unfortuantely, my schedule does not allow me to go out and perform more than 1 - 2 nights per week at open mics and still write and still be awake for my day job.

As for effects, I've picked up a couple of marketed effects -- namely Kranzo's Mind Reading Crotch and Cody Fisher's Sweet dreams and I've gone through them. Both routines I'm sure are gems for Kranzo and Cody, however I don't believe there presentations are quite for me. Though watching their timing and how they constructed a routine around the effect has helped quite a bit and I'm hoping to start doing my own Professor's Nightmare routine coming up as I continue to go to open mics.

For those who are interested, I've video taped my last performance and I'm happy to send the link via PM to those who are interested or have feedback!

Thanks again for the wonderful feedback!

Jeff
Message: Posted by: magicgeorge (Sep 23, 2011 07:31AM)
[quote]
On 2011-09-22 12:31, BrianMillerMagic wrote:
Learn by doing. Respond to anything and everything that happens during a show, whether on stage or close-up. Do it in ordinary life when you're with strangers in public. Best way to learn improv is just to start doing it. Unless you're actually looking to learn the improv "games" that troupes do. Then obviously take classes.
[/quote]
That is pretty much what I do do, Brian. I MC a lot so I have to do the chat to the crowd thing, too.

However, I think doing a couple of hours of improv once a week would still help. Not just the games but extra time to practise in a different enviroment with like-minded people. It can't hurt.

Hey Jeff,
Glad to see it's going well. I'd like a look at`the video if you're offering.

All the best,
George
Message: Posted by: jeffdell (Sep 23, 2011 09:17AM)
Hi George,

I sent you a PM with a link.

Thanks!
Jeff
Message: Posted by: DelightfullyDark (Oct 12, 2011 06:25PM)
I actually re-registered to post in here it's been so long since I've posted. However I'll throw in my two cents for what they are worth.

Background: I play a lot of comedy clubs. From Yuk Yuk's in Toronto to some great shows the three big ones in LA, and most recently The Funny Bone in Columbus. I'm now playing more clubs in the midwest because that's where the work is. I spent a long time in the trenches as a straight stand-up before I started to marry the two together. Before any of that I was an accomplished and reasonably well respected close-up guy. I actually left magic to do stand-up because I was frustrated with magicians, but that is another story. I'm actually writing this post while waiting to go hit up an open mic in Chicago since I happen to be in town and I'm having stage withdrawals. One weird side note. I have a degree in Comedy Writing and Performance. To the best of my knowledge I'm the only magician in the world with a degree in Comedy, so I can academically prove why none of us are funny. I give that preface as a resume, not to boast.

The one thing I have heard consistently from comedians and the comedy magicians that I respect is that your first hundred shows don't count. I firmly believe that. You can listen to a lot of advice about how to choose effects and write jokes, but none of that will matter until your first hundred shows. I think that this applies when you switch from learning to do stand-up to learning to do comedy magic. They are two different skill sets, despite what people tell you. The difference between a comedian and a comedy magician is kind of like the difference between a card magician and a card cheat. Both have the same basic skill sets, but that doesn't mean both can do the other ones job.

That being said, I think the one really good piece of advice that has come out of here is, go learn to tell jokes before you learn to do tricks on stage. I no longer live in LA but whenever I went to the Castle and saw a stage guy who primarily did illusions stop to do his "comedy" bit I was really glad they had a no firearms policy. There would be a lot of dead illusionists now if it weren't for that policy. Universally those bits are terrible because that guy didn't learn to tell a joke. Nor did he learn to write a joke. Theres nothing wrong with the particular tricks. They are usually classics, and classics are called that because the trick itself usually holds up. I have a bit that's becoming popular in the underground shows I test it on that is really just The Magic Coloring Book. The same one you can buy in a gag gift store. However simple the basic trick is, my bit goes over well because I spent the time on stage to learn how to tell the joke.

Note that I said 'spent the time on stage.' I studied comedy in a structured collegiate setting, and every one of the proffessors would tell you. You can study comedy all you want, but if you are not out there doing it you will never get good at it. I refer you back to my original statement.

Your first hundred shows don't count kid. Take your lumps and get booed off stage. If your still around at 101 shows I don't think you'll be asking to many questions.

That being said there is something to be said about advice from the road dogs who have been kicked in the teeth a lot. I'll give you what I feel has been my secret to success in clubs. I don't know if it will work for you. It's a set of rules that I set out for myself concerning the tricks and bits I put into the show.

1. No rope magic. - Rope magic always looks like a puzzle to me. I've seen Bob Sheets kill with a single rope, and but they just arent for me.
2. No silk magic. - Silks are stupid. Sorry. Not going to be a very popular thought, but I think every show is better when there's no silks. If it's an all silk show the only way to make it better is this rule.
3. The magic has to be really strong from an audiences perspective. - This is a taste issue, but it also affects how I select my methods and makes a huge impact on what I put in my show and how I write around it. This seems like a dead simple rule that is obvious, but I stick to this one very hard and it's served me well. It has also reminded me that what I think is strong the audience may not understand.
4. If it's not really funny it's not worth it. - Again super obvious rule. I enforce it in my act with ruthless efficiency. I may love a joke, but if it's on it's fifth time out and it's still not getting laughs then it's got to go. It seems like the hardest thing for young comics to do is part with jokes that they love that aren't working. I feel that the ability to let go of things that aren't working in a timely manner can be the make or break for a lot of guys ever getting off the open mic night.
5. If it doesn't fit in my messenger bag than it doesn't go in the show. - Totally a personal thing. I have a love affair with my messenger bag. I also used to do a bit of free lance bike messenger work, so this is more of a mobility issue thing. Also I once had to do an extra half hour on a show because A guy I was working with lost his act because he had to check it at the airport.

These rules grew from experience and examining how I wanted to be viewed as a comedy magician. I have a lot of other thoughts that I could expound on such as my views on the current comedy magic scene, how to write a good joke, character work, how to structure an act, but those are meaningless thoughts to others because they are based on my experience on stage. Those thoughts didn't really start to develop until I had a lot of stage time under my belt. Feel free to talk to other comedy magicians, read books, watch stuff on YouTube. I think the best advice I can give you is this,

Your first hundred shows don't count. Go stand behind a mic and in front of a crowd that doesn't want anything to do with you a hundred times then lets talk.

-Erik Tait
Message: Posted by: magicgeorge (Oct 17, 2011 08:46AM)
Interesting post and well done on your degree and whatnot.
[quote]
On 2011-10-12 19:25, DelightfullyDark wrote:
The one thing I have heard consistently from comedians and the comedy magicians that I respect is that your first hundred shows don't count. I firmly believe that. You can listen to a lot of advice about how to choose effects and write jokes, but none of that will matter until your first hundred shows. I think that this applies when you switch from learning to do stand-up to learning to do comedy magic. They are two different skill sets, despite what people tell you. The difference between a comedian and a comedy magician is kind of like the difference between a card magician and a card cheat. Both have the same basic skill sets, but that doesn't mean both can do the other ones job.
[/quote]
When I started out I did straight stand up for a bit. I'm OK when it's just me and a mic but a lot of my buddies are better. I used to be quite jealous of their talents and felt that I was cheating a little when I used magic. It took me a while to realise that although I can't do what they do they also can't do what I do and I relaxed into it then and relish bring a prop into play.

I think there are a lot of things one can learn from stand-up that you can apply to comedy magic. Firstly I think comedy magic would be a lot better if comedy magicians applied the same ethos of originality and creativity that a modern day comedian applies to their act to their magic act. I can never understand why some magicians who have done stand up immediately revert to type when they do magic and use old gags and presentations. I met a magician recently who I saw do an excellent non-magic comedy set who showed me a card trick later on and he was back in "no the clean one" mode. Seems odd to me.

I'm not sure that the first 100 gigs "don't count". You've certainly got a long way to go at that stage but in some ways those gigs count the most as it is when your learning curve is at it's steepest. They're the gigs when you find who you are on stage and hopefully find your voice. Also they say if you're not dieing on your hoop you're not learning anything and you certainly do a lot of dieing on your hoop in those first gigs!

George
Message: Posted by: Sealegs (Oct 22, 2012 08:52AM)
Look a thread on comedy magic! and an opening poster asking questions and coming back later into the thread to respond to the answers. Let me just check that I'm still actually logged in to the Magic Cafť and not some other website....

:)