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Topic: Dry Humor!
Message: Posted by: Steve Landavazo (Sep 10, 2001 08:46PM)
Does this seem to work for any of you?

I'm not the funniest guy in the world...sometimes my delivery seems to lack motivation...just wanted to know if any of you are using, "dry humor" in your magic? If so, I could use a few pointers!

Steve :idea:
Message: Posted by: Mike Giusti (Sep 11, 2001 11:35PM)
The guys to really study, not copy of course, are Mike Caveney and Martin Lewis. Comic geniuses in their own rights.

Message: Posted by: tctahoe (Sep 12, 2001 03:42AM)
Mike and Martin are wonderful case studies. You should also look to Buster Kenton, Steven Write etc. I learned a lot from watching Jack Benny. I love to under-play things.
Message: Posted by: Mike Giusti (Sep 12, 2001 11:04PM)
Did I mention TC Tahoe? :goof:
Message: Posted by: John Zander (Sep 17, 2001 01:55PM)
I get a lot of lines and ideas from watching some of my sons cartoons. The Rugrats has some wonderful writing and great lines. Watch the other like shows on Nick, some great writers like David Regal.

Also inspired by the Marx Brothers and Abbott and Costello.
Message: Posted by: Dave Lewis (Sep 18, 2001 08:54PM)
I'm throwing my "folding" two bits in with a vote for TC as well! When he takes his medicine he's a little less funny than when he forgets. For what seems to be totally off-the-cuff, his work with the audience is riotously hilarious! Even if he didn't do any magic he'd still have a great show!

I saw Patrick Albanese do a new show at the Castle that had me in tears! He did a card force where he took every precaution to ensure that his onstage audience helper took the forced card, including almost setting fire to the rest of the cards so the guy would take the right card -- which, by the way, was the only JUMBO card sticking out of a regular deck.

Message: Posted by: tctahoe (Sep 19, 2001 03:30AM)
Dave Lewis:

“…vote for TC as well! When he takes his medicine he’s a little less funny than when he forgets. For what seems to be totally off-the-cuff, his work with the audience is riotously hilarious! Even if he didn’t do any magic he’d still have a great show!”

That brings up an interesting point about comedy magic. In any stand-up comedy magic show I do I do a minimum of 3 effects. Usually more, but some people only remember laughing, which is fine But I would have thought magicians would notice the magic.

Please do not take this as b****in’. My only goal (in my standup-show) is to entertain and have them (the audience) laughing WITH me. So if they tend to remember the jokes over the "effects”, I am fine with that.
Are there any other performers that have experienced this?

My wife is constantly telling me to be less funny. She takes it personal when she hears people say things like “you are so funny---and you didn’t even do one trick!” Like I said if they leave having had a good time, and remembering me, that’s what’s important to me.

Anyway just some early morning ramblings.



When in doubt… drop an anvil
Message: Posted by: John Zander (Sep 19, 2001 04:04PM)
I am flattered when I get complements like "you are SO funny!" I think that comedy is harder than magic. My goal is to entertain. As long as they have fun (and I get a call back and referrals) then I am happy :)
Message: Posted by: vernon (Nov 20, 2001 03:29AM)
So much has been written about comedy in magic that I balk at adding my tuppence worth, but, I will...

Be funny.. be magic...

but above all else...


Message: Posted by: Zodiac (Feb 20, 2002 02:43AM)
To answer your question Steve, just give your audience time to laugh. I have a dry wit too and am usually funny when I'm not trying to be. :rotf:
Message: Posted by: Scott F. Guinn (Feb 20, 2002 03:02AM)

I agree with you wholeheartedly. in an hour show, I often do only four or five effects. Never more than 8 or 9.

I would much rather have people say the following year, "We've gotta get Great Scott again!" than "Can we get that guy who makes the ball float on the edge of the hanky? What was his name? I can't remember, but that was a neat trick!"

Many times, I've had people tell me months, or even years after a show, that they can't remember the actual tricks I did, but they remember laughing, being amazed and having a great time. I'll take that any old day. YOU should be more important than your tricks! After all, ANYBODY can do tricks, but only YOU can be YOU!

I do some "Schtick," but mostly dry, self-deprecating humor. What's cool is my agent books me whenever someone calls for a magician OR a comic. He tells the magic-hunters that I'm a great magician and also very funny, and the comic-seekers that I'm a prop comedian who also does some killer magic! Again, I'll take that any old day!
Message: Posted by: Peter Marucci (Feb 20, 2002 11:32AM)
John, you are right: Comedy is MUCH harder than magic.
As the actor Edmund Gwenn said on his deathbed: "Dying is easy; comedy is hard!"
As for TC's valuable suggestion, Buster Keaton has got to be one of the funniest "dry humor" comedians ever.
His double takes alone are worth studying.
And Jack Benny could bring down the house with just a pause.
Now THAT'S good!
Peter Marucci
Message: Posted by: James Fortune (Feb 20, 2002 01:09PM)
TC said "Like I said if they leave having had a good time, and remembering me, that’s what’s important to me."

There's another quote from our other honoured guest, Doc Eason, that I always use "they won't remember what you did but only how you made them feel".

I hope I make them feel "now that guy's funny!"

:rotf: :rotf:
Message: Posted by: Thomas Wayne (Feb 20, 2002 06:32PM)
Another source for studying great dry humor is Bob Newhart - in my opinion one of the few true masters at the understated delivery.

Thomas Wayne
Message: Posted by: Geoff Williams (Mar 1, 2002 08:26AM)
I agree. I think I loved the "Newhart" show so much when Bob and cast mate Tom Poston would be interacting. I don't see how either of them kept a straight face.

I sure didn't.
Message: Posted by: Paul (Mar 14, 2002 05:04PM)
I must admit any humourous lines I use are pretty dry, but they are used sparingly. I like word play, occassional situational stuff, but the magic (or mentalism in stand up) is definitely the main thing, I am not trying to be a comedian or comedy magician.
I am there to show them some amazing stuff and that is what I try and do above all else.

We never got the Newhart shows in the UK but I have heard some of the classic monologues and found them very funny.

Paul Hallas.
Message: Posted by: Mike Robbins (Mar 25, 2002 12:53AM)

Please do not take this as b****in’. My only goal (in my standup-show) is to entertain and have them (the audience) laughing WITH me. So if they tend to remember the jokes over the "effects”, I am fine with that. Are there any other performers that have experienced this?


When I went to Master Class a few years ago, we had Tom Mullica as our "special surprise guest" on the last day. I asked him what the right mix was of comedy and magic. He said that he gets them laughing and if they're enjoying themselves he just keeps on with the comedy.

I've had the experience of going to Fairbanks once a year for the past three for a fundraiser for CrimeStoppers and when they asked me back for the third time, I told the organizer that I had essentially the same routines. He said they didn't care, that they just enjoyed my interaction with the audience and the improvisation. Of course, no one else has asked me back because they think I'm schizoid.

Message: Posted by: Greg Arce (Mar 25, 2002 03:42PM)
On 2002-02-20 12:32, Peter Marucci wrote:
John, you are right: Comedy is MUCH harder than magic.
As the actor Edmund Gwenn said on his deathbed: "Dying is easy; comedy is hard!"

I believe Oscar Wilde at his deathbed said, "Either those curtains go or I do" then he died. Now that's funny.
Message: Posted by: DarryltheWizard (Apr 11, 2002 08:11PM)
I find that it's easy to be very funny with a children's audience, especially if you get yourself into all sorts of difficult situations where the magic seems to, at first, backfire (tips fall off your wand, get your finger stuck in a sliding door of a prop, etc.)

The kids especially go crazy when I dress up like a chicken and dance crazily around my table at the conclusion of the egg bag effect with chicken clucking sounds and music on tape.

On the other hand, with an adult audience, you have to think on your feet and have razor-sharp comebacks, and the only way to improve is to perform with a live audience. There are no shortcuts to comedy and those who lift routines from other performers word for word quite often fall flat.

Darryl the Wizard
but what do I know, for I think Peter Marcucci is hilariously funny!
Message: Posted by: Stephen Long (Apr 12, 2002 08:41PM)
No comment.
:lol: :bg: :lol:
Message: Posted by: Codex Reader (Oct 15, 2002 05:40PM)
Raising your voice (louder) helps offset a person's natural dry delivery. I have a very dry delivery and found that once I raise my voice and animate more it takes over and I go with it. You will certainly see a difference from the audience. Making bigger movement with your hands will also help.

I don't think we should get rid of what is natural for us but rather try to make it more "alive."
Message: Posted by: mforteath (Feb 12, 2003 09:31PM)
I like dry humor. The English have a very dry humor which is great. I find their comedy shows are much more clever and funnier than American ones. No offense intended though! I think that if you can deliver dry humor naturally and well, then go for it! Mark.
Message: Posted by: rowdymagi5 (Feb 13, 2003 05:20PM)
I love humor in magic. I have to be careful, and I always try to get a feel for my audience. Sometimes I alter routines because the audience responds certain ways. For the most part, my act contains dry humor. I find that when I try too hard, then nothing is funny. Relax and "let it come natural" is the key for me.
Message: Posted by: Sid Mayer (Feb 15, 2003 01:41PM)
There seems to be some difference of opinion as to what constitutes "dry" humor. Abbott and Costello? Funny, yes. Dry, no.

Dry also should not be confused with dull. Timing and delivery always matter a great deal.

A potential danger with subtle humor (often equated with dry humor) is the dead silence that can happen while they think about it. I try to avoid doing subtle humor on Saturday nights as it can lead to laughing in church.

And to close out this disjointed post, a line that I actually use.
"That's all right. I don't expect laughter. An occasional nod of comprehension will suffice."

Sid Mayer
Author of [i]How To Make Friends And Other People[/i]
Message: Posted by: Bird Brain (Feb 15, 2003 11:26PM)
Dry humor can be REALLY REALLY funny! However, I've seen some magicians that are so scared that they're not funny that they end up being a little TOO dry. Kind of hiding behind the dryness.

Just something to keep in mind. There's nothing funnier that a good dry comedian, but there's nothing worse than a bad dry magician! (IMHO)

Just some food for thought, and no harm whatsoever intended!

Message: Posted by: harris (Feb 22, 2003 02:29PM)
This is Long!

My nearly normal humor is a mix between sight gags, making the audience remember (collective laughs) and topical things like references to National or Local Comercials.

Over the last few years I have done more self revelation on my fears both from the past childhood and current ones.

Shared foibils (don't have spell check here)
can be fun.

Along with my Regular Nearly Normal Programs I also do Laughology Programs which are becoming more like Monologues with Props.

I have shared these at Mental Health Facilities (both for clients and staff in-services) and D.O.C. (Department of Corrections)

I used to want to do the Comedy Club circuit,
but these days I like Non Smoking environments.

For my Nearly Normal Kid Programs I do more
Slapstick type stuff. I do tell the kids (and to the adults in the back of the room)
that it is ok to laugh at me, I am a professional. We talk about importance of supporting rather than laughing at their classmates verbal or physical falls.

I also tell them that when I was in school I was always afraid to be laughed at and made fun of. These days I tell them I am afraid that people won't laugh.

Life is very STRANGE.

Thanks for all your sharing.

You are appreciated by,

Message: Posted by: Bob Sanders (Dec 16, 2003 09:42AM)
Dry humor fits. He is so dull that when he went to vote they gave him an absentee ballot.

Bob Sanders
Magic By Sander
Message: Posted by: Jeff J. (Dec 24, 2003 12:45PM)
I'm surprised no one mentioned of the kings of dry comedy, Steven Wright. He takes dry humor to a new level.
Message: Posted by: Peter Marucci (Dec 25, 2003 01:53PM)
One of the great dry humorists of all time isn't even thought of as a dry comic: Bob Hope.

A blank stare, a pause, and he could bring down the house.

But remember that dry humor is EXTREMELY difficult to do well.
:clown: <--NOT dry humor!

Peter Marucci
Message: Posted by: DarryltheWizard (Dec 27, 2003 12:57PM)
Of all of the comedians of the past Jack Benny was a master with dry humour. His timing was excellent. He also used the long stares sideways.
When I use dry humour, I seem to remove my glasses and stare at the audience. It almost says that I don't believe I just said that! You have to know your audience before you can use dry humour successfully. It's not for all.
Darryl the Wizard :rotf: :rotf: :rotf: :rotf:
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Dec 28, 2003 02:47AM)
It's very important that you do something that is unmistakably funny at the very beginning of your show, if you are doing a comedy act. Otherwise, the audience won't know that you are funny.
Message: Posted by: Bob Sanders (Jun 3, 2005 08:31PM)

I know this is an old thread but I'm an old guy. I enjoy reading "aged" learning again.

You are dead right!

I blew a comedy routine in an Atlanta hotel a few years back for this specific reason. It was indeed a comedy routine. Instead of producing glasses of wine it was V-8 juice in the can! But I had an elegant start that really made the audience afraid to join in the fun until the routine was nearly over.

Of course the week before I broke a rib in rehearsal in a stunt fall for a different comedy routine. That would had this problem covered.

Thanks for the instruction!

Magic By Sander
Message: Posted by: The Mac (Jun 5, 2005 01:37PM)
British have a natural dry humour. I find Hugh Grant very funny with his lines . (Hugh Grant the actor, who's assistant is divine brown ;)
Message: Posted by: The Village Idiots (Jun 5, 2005 04:16PM)
Bob Newhart scored two back-to-back #1 hits on the pop charts with his best-selling albums The Button-Down Mind Of Bob Newhart (which also won a Grammy) and The Button-Down Mind Strikes Back!.

Check them out. Funny, dry wit. A few out dated jokes but still a great albuma and the start of a comedy album craze.
Message: Posted by: Vandy Grift (Jun 6, 2005 09:50AM)
The Newhart Albums, espically "Button Down Mind" are classic and should definatley be studied if you are into dry/deadpan humor. The Driving Instructor, Abe Lincoln with his PR man, the USS Codfish bit, Abner Doubleday explaining baseball to the board game company are all hilarious. PBS has dedicated an episode of their "American Masters" series to Bob that will air in July, 2005.


From the "Driving Instructor"-

Now that was a wonderful turn ... one little thing. Uh, this is a one-way street. Well, now, now, it was partially my fault. You were in the left-hand lane, and you were signaling left, and I more or less assumed you were going to turn left ... oh, now we hit someone, Mrs. Webb. Remember you were going to watch the rear view mirror? The red light blinded you? The flashing red light blinded you? The flashing red light - on the car you hit blinded you? Yes officer, she was just telling me about it ...