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Topic: Running on with running gags
Message: Posted by: daffydoug (May 10, 2004 06:25PM)
Do you all have some favorite running gags that you use regularly? Running gags are great, as I see it, because they allow you to keep interest by adding CONTINUITY to your show. In other words, they can keep things unified, and tie the beginning of your show with the end.

Here are some that I use:

1 Cards under butt. A spectator is asked to select a card, and I lose it in the deck, and place the deck back in the box.

Then, I ask the spectator, (of the female persuasion) to SIT on the deck! She is instructed to make absolutely sure that I can in no way touch her card, etc.

Throughout the act, I keep returning to her and asking if she is still sitting on the deck securely. (More laughs from audience.) In the end, the card vanishes and winds up in a glass of water that has been inverted on a saucer in full view of everyone.

This is my favorite and least favorite effect in the whole world. Favorite because the effect is both funny, impossible and visual. Least favorite because I hate tricks with liquids in my stage and platform shows. Too much bother.

Another running gag I like to use is the Mr. Cool sunglasses routine. At first, I come out and do the vanishing sunglasses, and throughout my show, I make small talk about how I have searched the world looking for the world's coolest pair of shades. I have several under my nightclub table, and between other effects, I try them on one at a time, to see which one the audience votes as the "coolest." I even give out large number cards, so they can hold up a card and vote, anywhere from one through ten. I play it for laughs, of course, and it fits my character perfectly. Now, don't you all get any ideas. It wouldn't work for you, because you would be stealing, and the magic gods would be frowning on you!

I have several other running gags I employ regularly, but would like to hear about yours, if you will share.
Message: Posted by: flowJuggler (May 11, 2004 01:23AM)
I do not have a running gag in my show, but do employ what stand-up comics call Call-Backs. Call backs are when you refer to a comic situation (joke, situation, improvisation, etc.) that occurred earlier in the show, and function sort of like a running gag.

I generally believe that humor that arises out of improvisation to be the funniest, (even if it is just clishnclaver) and call backs to those moments unifies the show and makes THAT show something special and completely unique for the audience and myself.

So that is my goal in every show...to go someplace I haven't been and discover something new about the people, the place, or a situation. It suits me and I think it is the closest thing I have to a running gag.

I hope you find my approach helpful in sparking ideas.

Message: Posted by: daffydoug (May 11, 2004 09:59PM)
I'll add your thoughts to my bag of mental ammunition!
Message: Posted by: The Village Idiots (May 15, 2004 08:08AM)
Tony Brent at the "Out of Control Magic Show" in Orlando has a nack for that. He makes a joke about someone in the audience and then continues to mix the joke in through out the show. I can't really give you a example. You would have to see it. Darn funny as he almost does it like no one is going to notice. I suppose you wouldn't if you didn't pay attention. I love humor like that. Not cerebral but attentive.
Message: Posted by: daffydoug (May 17, 2004 06:15PM)
Is it anything like Don Rickles in style?
Message: Posted by: Chris C. (May 22, 2004 09:23AM)
For a running gag, I use the Inexhaustible Sponge. I do it between tricks and at one point I "mess up" the stiff rope and use it. It always gets laughs and I usually end by dumping out a load of streamers.
Message: Posted by: Joey Evans (May 24, 2004 06:16PM)
I use a funny call back that works pretty much every show. At the beginning when I do the old joke, "There are three types of people in this world, people who can count and people who can't." Well, every time there's always someone who laughs well after everyone else. I look at my watch and look at him. It's hilarious. Then every time I say something funny after that, I kind of wait then look at him, and say got it, yet? I play this through the whole show. I always say, "Man, I love him/her." I have never had anyone get bothered by this, they love to be the attention getter, it's not a negative thing to them, it also brings it home to the audience.

Joey Brummett

Save the whales... Collect the whole set.
Message: Posted by: q (Jun 9, 2004 02:33AM)
I had a running gag,

But it got away.
Now I just call back,

But it doesn't answer its message machine.
Message: Posted by: zombieboy (Jun 9, 2004 02:21PM)
I really like the card production Martin Lewis uses as a running gag.
Message: Posted by: Kenardo1 (Jun 10, 2004 12:04PM)
Depending on the effect, I will repeat patter lines as a sort of running gag.
Message: Posted by: Rob Johnston (Jun 10, 2004 01:33PM)
Johnny Thompson has the best running gag I have ever seen with his dove. It sits on his hat and always turns around...Johnny turns it towards then audience...it then turns around again. It is great!
Message: Posted by: paulajayne (Jun 10, 2004 02:31PM)
My second effect is the start of a burnt and restored £20 note but it goes wrong and I can't get it back—throughout the rest of the act £20 notes keep turning up (lemon/card/dove pan, etc.) but none match the serial number of the borrowed note. For some reason the line, "Is this your note?" They check the serial number, "Then it must be mine," gets a laugh—more so after each failed attempt to match the note.

The finale is a large block of ice which the smash open to find a film container in it with their £20 note in.

Message: Posted by: NJJ (Jun 10, 2004 05:58PM)
Call backs are much stronger than running gags because they strengthen the idea that you are watching a show and not a series of tricks strung together.

My favourite call back is to hand out, at the start, a small wooden box. I have a card selected which I fail to find throughout the show in various ways (i.e. a running gag). I also perform the Vanishing Bandana.

At the very end of the show I ask for the box back, point out I have not found their card and then slowly open the box to reveal...THE BANANA!

It kills!
Message: Posted by: TheMagicApple (Jun 17, 2004 12:59PM)
Anyone ever seen Warren and Anabell in Maui, Hawaii? It is one of the BEST close-up/parlour shows I have ever seen (and I am a member of the Magic Castle). He has constant running gags and call backs throughout his show. It is almost a two-hour event! He is awesome!!

It works incredibly—he has running jokes about Gomer Pyle, about "watch" tricks, giant coins. He even burns a $100 bill THAT WAS BORROWED, and really looks as if he has messed the trick up. He keeps on referring to the bill throughout the entire show—very funny!!!
Message: Posted by: Stephen Barney (Jun 17, 2004 01:23PM)
I use the fact that I am fat as a running gag, it has the added advantage that it defuses the fact I am overweight.
Message: Posted by: Svengali (Jun 20, 2004 01:11AM)
"I have a feeling of deja vu"
I use it all the time.
No idea why is it so funny.
Message: Posted by: Wizzy (Jun 24, 2004 05:18PM)
Deja vu

I'm sure I've seen that somewhere before

Message: Posted by: Alym Amlani (Jul 6, 2004 06:09PM)
Sigh—you just KNEW someone would make that joke...
Message: Posted by: ivfour (Jul 9, 2004 06:38PM)
Have a ringing toy cell phone in your pocket or trunk. First, you think it's someone in the audience, please answer that, please answer that, then find out it's your phone. During the show do a couple a phone jokes, does anyone know Prince Albert, or does everyone have a ice box running?

Ring ring, someone call your mother, "Yes, Mom! They are a nice audience. I have to go." Look at your waistline and say, "Yes, I put on clean underwear."

At the end of show, ring ring, "Yes, Mom I did well, have the audience yea at the phone."

This will work for the YOUNGER magicians.
Message: Posted by: Michael238 (Jul 16, 2004 03:43PM)
A running gag must fit your performance style
Message: Posted by: Doug Higley (Jul 16, 2004 06:21PM)
I always had fun with the 'Wedgy' reference when doing a large full body puppet. Of course I am the obvious cause of that wedgy and 'he' just seemed to find numerous places to drop it in...especially when discussing the audience.

Well...I laughed.
Message: Posted by: full circle (Jul 17, 2004 08:35PM)
If the time is right and it's an adult crowd I like the Lotta Flask.

Message: Posted by: Rupert Bair (Jul 18, 2004 09:24AM)
I use dipy duck. Everytime I pick it up I say, the duck will now get your card. I put it down and say have you seen this one, and I divert the trick until near the end, depending on what audience.

I sometimes say the reason I couldn't find the card was because I forgot how to do the trick. Then the duck finds the card or sometimes I pretend the duck told me he knows what card it is. I say go get it and he comes up with it so I ask him how he did and he wispers into my ear, 'Oh that's who you did it,' and he keeps on bringing up the same cards from a one way force deck.

Works for me!
Message: Posted by: harris (Jul 18, 2004 02:09PM)
I use hair or lack of hair as call backs. This runs through the magic as well as the Vent bits.


Nigel: I really liked the part where you made it disappear

Harris: What's that?

Nigel: Your Hair



After going over some magic words, and more hair references, I ask Nigel if he would like to hear another magic word.


H. Hereditary (sic)

The old Dick Van Dyke shows are full of hair jokes. From Buddy to Mel.

Enjoy the laughter

Harris Deutsch
Message: Posted by: Rupert Bair (Jul 18, 2004 02:51PM)
Very funny, I think comedy works better if you can make fun of yourself as well.

Message: Posted by: damien666 (Aug 10, 2004 03:24PM)
One of the funniest call backs and running gags I saw recently was in Mac Kings show where he calls back to his pet earth worm and the Fig Newton.
I don't want to ruin it ... so If you haven't seen his Vegas show - make an effort to do so. It is brilliant.