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Topic: The Callback
Message: Posted by: Merenkov (Jul 27, 2004 06:52PM)
Can anyone recommend any sources that explore the comedy concept of the callback? I mean, I know what it is, but I'd like to read about various examples and the theory of it. Mac King is supposed to use it extensively in his Vegas show, but I haven't seen it. There is somethng oddly satisfying about the effective use of the callback (and not just for pure comedy situations - it can be a powerful tool for public speaking). I think it probably goes back to one of those Aristotelian principles of dramatic unity. Anyway, thanks in advance for any pointers.
Message: Posted by: C Christian (Jul 27, 2004 11:33PM)
All I know is that it works and that it can be anything a word a hand gesture or even a facial expression ( Red Skeleton used it as a callback) Heck it can be a que for the audience. I recomend you get as many videos from the past Comedians and start looking for them.
Cheers Chris
Message: Posted by: flowJuggler (Aug 1, 2004 11:15PM)
Watch some Eddie Izzard. One of my favorite commedians that releys heavily on callbacks. Not in a deliberate, planned out way, but in a natural stream of conciousness way.

I would recommend Definite Article or Glorious.

Happy Laughing

Message: Posted by: VMC_Alex (Aug 3, 2004 01:51AM)
Can anyone briefly explain the call back to me? Sorry if this is a stupid question.
Message: Posted by: Merenkov (Aug 3, 2004 11:53AM)
VMC, I'm probably not the best qualified to answer this, but I'll try. It is a comedy device in which a comment, or an action, refers back to a previous joke in an act, or perhaps to an incident involving a spectator that might have occurred in the course of an act. For example, if a particular spectator did something dumb or amusing early on, you might refer to that spectator by name (in a gentle way) later in the act when a similar situation is about to happen, or has happened. Another example is a catchphrase that gets funnier as it is repeated at various times throughout the act. An example in film might be the introduction of a bit of information early on that doesn't seem particularly important, but proves to be a critical plot point later in the film. I tend to think of it as one of the more sophisticated weapons in a performer's arsenal, which helps tie together an entire act. It's often overlooked and underexplored, but if you think back on the acts of some of your favorite performers, I bet you will discover that they made effective use of this device.
Message: Posted by: VMC_Alex (Aug 3, 2004 03:03PM)
Oh okay. Thanks for the explanation.
Message: Posted by: magicgeorge (Aug 3, 2004 04:45PM)
Uk Comedian, Harry Hill, uses more call-backs than any comedian I've ever seen.
Message: Posted by: Rob Wallis (Aug 3, 2004 05:05PM)
On 2004-07-28 00:33, C Christian wrote:
( Red Skeleton used it as a callback) [/quote]

I'll probably get banned for this, but:

[i]Skelton[/i]. Not Skeleton. It's important.
Message: Posted by: Thomas Wayne (Aug 4, 2004 02:18AM)
Two men are sitting on the front porch of a small town hardware store. First guy says: "Man things have been tough; I haven't sold a tractor all month..."

Second guy interrupts, saying: "You think you've got it bad... the other day I went out in the barn to milk the cow; darn thing kicked me right in the shins. So I tied her leg to the stall boards and moved the stool over to the other side. Then she kicked me with THAT leg; so I tied her other leg to the stall boards on that side. THEN she started me swatting me with her tail, so I tied her tail up to the rafters --- and if you can convince my wife I was gonna MILK that cow... I'll buy a tractor from you!"

This joke has a standard “twist” punch line, but follows with a [throw-away] callback.

Thomas Wayne
Message: Posted by: damien666 (Aug 10, 2004 02:29PM)
Call backs are indeed a great comedic tool, but be aware that a they can be overdone. There is a fine line between delivering callbacks and 'over-milking a joke'. Not to over analyse, but I have worked with many comics and have noticed that the audience can turn from laughing to 'alright, enough already!' with one too many callback references.
Just a short rant... oh, and I'll buy a tractor too!
Message: Posted by: Caliban (Aug 17, 2004 12:03PM)
Truth in Comedy (The Manual of Improviation) by Charna Halpern, Del Close, and Kim Johnson is worth reading if you are interested in those sort of techniques. Sankey's Zen and the Art of Stand-Up Comedy, also has a bit about using callback.
Message: Posted by: Danny Archer (Aug 17, 2004 06:19PM)
If you have ever seen Mac King's act ... he has a very effective call back with a cookie ...
Message: Posted by: Caliban (Aug 18, 2004 07:34AM)
If you can get hold of the audio version of Eddie Izzard's "Definite Article", the last routine (Mother Nature handing out methods of procreation) is a master course in using callback as a comedy technique.
Message: Posted by: harris (Aug 18, 2004 05:53PM)
Eddie Izzard is very funny.

Watching is a great example of how to work an audience and use call backs.

Also if you are a history buff, one of his cable specials has a lot of Izzards view on hysterical historical events.

A comedian/magician to watch is Tom Mullica.
What a great example of connecting with his audience and using what audience members do or say.

Message: Posted by: Caliban (Aug 19, 2004 03:05AM)
I've not seen Mac King's act, but from what I've heard the bit with the cookie sounds like more of a running gag than a callback as such. I've not seen a magician use callback in the same way that a comedian would. I suppose the closest is where a magician does something at the start of an act that suddenly make sense later. An example would be Gaeton Bloom's routine where, right at the start of his act, he puts a folded card under his table leg to stop the table wobbling. Then much later he has a card seleceted, marked, and vanished - and the card under the table leg turns out to be mising selection.
Message: Posted by: DVA (Aug 20, 2004 01:20AM)
At Barnes and Noble there are a few really good books on learning comedy. These books go into the art of the call-back. I don't have them next to me at the moment but there is a section at the store that has what you need.
Never put Jam in a Toaster.