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Topic: Generic Lines
Message: Posted by: flowJuggler (May 10, 2004 02:35PM)
Hello All. I suspect this might be a touchy subject, so let me take a moment to say that my goal is to better understand other people's opinions on the matter. My opinion applies to me and my performances ONLY. I am not making any value jugdements towards any other performers. In fact, I generally try look at the parts of people I like and admire, and don't give the negatives any weight. I am sure there is lots about me that is lacking, and would not want to be judged on those qualities. That being said...

I have been performing magic for a couple of years now and I come from a Juggling Performance background. In that community, there is a body of 'drop lines' and other thematic jokes that many performers use. Many performers use them, and those that don't often refer to those performers as 'hacks'. Jugglers that are not inventive enough to develop their own presentations or character styles. In that light, I have pushed myself to rid my show of such lines.

I think that some inventive jugglers feel that if they work hard discovering a comic situation, they don't want someone else to 'borrow' the situation without investing the work. Also, I think it would be disheartening to see somebody else perform your own material.

In the magic community, of which I have been a part for the last couple of years, I see the same sorts of generic lines. Often these lines are so far removed from the original creator, that it cannot even be determined who ever came up with it or deserves credit, or even if that person feels as though others should use thier lines.

I have browsed these topics and admit that I have found some very funny stuff...stuff that I would like to use. Stuff that would make my act stronger. But I somehow feel that the perception of me and my act would be diminished if an audience member, or a whole bunch or them, heard another magician say the same things. It is great if you are the first and/or only person that that audience sees, but what if you are the second, or third magician saying 'Sucker, I mean sir?" Or worse yet, you are saying something they heard on a televison special?

In some ways, it seems similar to being a stand-up comic and borrowing another comic's routines. In the comic community, that just isn't tollerated. Such a performer, I would guess, would be black listed and unable to make a name for him/herself. I realize there is a big difference, as in the magic community, creators of effects sell and freely give away their creations...but somehow for me it doesn't sit well.

I am stiving to make my routines my own, which admittedly is very difficult given that most of the time I learn from videos and books, which come with routines and lines and structures. But I continue to try to develop my own presentation and and comedy that evolves organically from my character and handling. Trying to rely less and less on things I have heard other magicians say.

Good lines are kind of like Crack...you try them once, they feel good, and you're hooked. And once they are in, who wants to make their show less funny and take them out?

Does anyone else worry that if they are performing in a situation near other magicians that the audience will see the same effects with the same lines? Does anyone else feel nervous when performing a trade show or sharing a stage with other magicians that the audience will see the same effect with the same jokes?

Finally, if you are a performer that rattles off all the lines in the book, that is great. I am sure that you deliver the lines well and your show is very funny! After all, that is why the lines are popular, because they work.
Message: Posted by: q (Jun 9, 2004 02:21AM)
Homie,

If you want to make up funny stuff, learn the basics of comedy. Pick up a basic book on standup. Learn the basics of a joke, setup/punchline. Then you can start making your own stuff. Look for comical things in everyday life, then make punchlines about them. In the case of your act, look for comical situations that occur, or words/actions you take that could concede to give a different situation.
Message: Posted by: Smudge (Jun 28, 2004 06:57AM)
I think the best lines happen when you're not expecting them. when you instinctively say something that goes down a storm,then think I'll keep that in.
Message: Posted by: Andini (Jun 28, 2004 10:43AM)
Touching on q's post, Jay Sankey has a book out called "Zen and the Art of Standup Comedy." I've gotten it from my library and it has some good stuff.
Message: Posted by: Alym Amlani (Jul 12, 2004 05:50PM)
You're lucky your library carries that type of book!
Message: Posted by: NJJ (Jul 12, 2004 06:47PM)
I believe that generic lines are generic routines are the scourge of modern magic.

Before I rant I should point out that I use several generic lines in my act.

However, there is a big difference between using the lines to lift your act up to new heights as opposed to let them become a crutch.

Bill Malone is a great example of a performer who peppers generic lines amongst 99% original material.

Magic is a CREATIVE art.

Take some risks, go out and write your jokes.

It doesn't matter if 9 out of 10 flop. That still leaves you with one funny line!

You haven't lived until you've died.