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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » What happened, was this... » » The Great FOO-LING-YU (2 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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KyletheGreat
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This one scared me!

I was doing a magic show at a chinese restaraunt. Now of course chinese people work there. So I am performing and I have this one trick where I use a box and a huge dice which dissappears in the box and reappears somewhere else. The patter goes something like this:

" This trick is wonderful and old. As a matter of fact it was taught to me by the ancient chinese magician Foo-Ling-Yu (a pun Foo-Ling-Yu=Fooling you in case you did not get that)."

and from this point on I usually present the whole trick with a bad chinese accent. Well... It just so happens that I had forgotton that I was in a chinese restaraunt. I begin the trick and I get to Foo-Ling-Yu... Suddenly it dawns on me. OH CRAP I am in a chinese restaraunt full of chinese people!!! I kept thinking to myself:

"oh no... They are gonna think that I was making fun of their language!"

I was embarassed. Then, all of the sudden they all just started laughing their heads off! I was so confused that I did not know what to think . turns out, what had happened was this:

Since they were chinese, they did not get the joke. It took a few minutes for the joke to sink into their heads, but when they got it, they thought that it was hillarious!

I decided to be bold (after I changed my underwear)[not really] and go ahead and do the regular routine with the bad chinese accent. They thought that it was even funnier. SO, everything worked out for the best and the show was a huge success. Thank goodness!

I no longer do this routine now though...I developed another one I liked much better, plus I don't have to worry about offending anyone!
Kyle Jarrard
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http://www.kylesmagic.com
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Avrakdavra
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The laughter may have been more a way of covering up embarassment or contempt rather than reacting to your "humor." Glad to hear you don't do the routine any longer.
KyletheGreat
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Actually they enjoyed it. Several members of the audience came up to me after the show and told me how much they enjoyed the performance and that the Freat Foo Ling Yu was their favorite. Many of them took business cards and I ended up at most of their childrens birthday parties.

At least it worked out!
Kyle Jarrard
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Father Photius
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Most people can laugh at themselves, as long as they realize you are not trying to demean them. You weren't. Plus, having studied Mandarin in College, I found out that most Americans trying to pronounce Chinese sounds very hillarious to Chinese. I was taught by a woman raised in Shanghai province who was teaching us Mandarin. Thus she was speaking Mandarin dialect with a shanghai accent. Add to that a Texas accent and my chinese is almost totally unrecognizable by anyone. Especially since most in the U.S. speak Cantonese (Hong Kong dialect). I was once told that my Ni Hao Ma? Sounded like I was saying "How Ya'll doin?" So even if I got up and tried to speak legitimate Chinese to a Chinese audience, with no intention of trying to immitate or mock them, they would roll in the floor laughing. You weren't mocking them, you were playing a character, and you weren't demeaning them, because the character in doing the trick was showing creativity and intelligence, and you weren't doing the effect to make the ethnic look stupid or the fool.
They were probably delayed in recognizing the joke of Foo-Ling-Yu because in Chinese you do not attempt to translate proper names. They probably thought it was a real name. Even if it wasn't a common Chinese name, foreign names get sound translated and they are used to that. Like the word for American is Mei Gao Ren, and while that translates as land of beautiful people, Americans being beautiful people had nothing to do with the name, it was just three chinese syllables that sounded close to the sound of "american". You caught them thinking in Chinese , not in English.
"Now here's the man with the 25 cent hands, that two bit magician..."
KyletheGreat
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Interesting...that is some really good input! What was it like learning chinese/mandarin?
Kyle Jarrard
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Lee Darrow
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Photius, your story reminds me of a time when I worked "The Science Fiction Convention that You Go To When You Die" if you are a fan. EVERYONE was there - Asimov, Harlan Ellison, the Apollo 13 crew, the cast of Star Trek, Steranko (yes him!), they had the set from Frankenstein up (and RUNNING!), Buster Crabbe (Olympic Gold Medalist, who played Flash Gordon AND Buck Rogers AND Tarzan AND Captain Gallant of the Foreign Legion), Johnny Weissmueller (Tarzan and Olympic Gold Medalist as well), John Agar (actor), June Foray (voice to Rocky the Flying Squirrel and many others), Frank Frazetta's wife, Boris (the artist), Frank Kelly Freas (11 time Hugo winning artist) and many, many more).

I was helping coordinate security for one of the buildings and a young Japanese-American film student from UCLA came running up to me and introduced himself as follows: "Hi! I'm Randy Yamamoto. I'm your aide de camp and yout token ornamental with an epileptic fold. I'm originally from Southern Japan, so Ohayo Gozaimasu, y'all!"

I almost split a gut, but managed to respond "Konichi-wa, Bubba-san. Welcome to the bog. Y'all pull up a tatami and set a spell. We'uns gonna get alone chiisai fine!"

And it was his turn to lose it.

I wonder whatever happened to him - we lost touch after the convention. He was one helluva lot of help, too. Anyone who could open a conversation like that deserves to be recalled fondly, so wardrobe dressed him in one of the three robes that Charles Middleton wore as "Ming the Merciless" in the Flash Gordon serials. When Buster Crabbe came up the stairs, he stopped in his tracks and smiled, stuck out his hand and said, "If that's what I think it is, I haven't seen that since 1941 and it brings back some awfully good memories." And I got to shake the hand of one of my boyhood heroes.

Language and humor bring people together. The world could use a lot more of that.

Lee "Sum Dum Goy" Darrow, C.H.
http://www.leedarrow.com
<BR>"Because NICE Matters!"
God-glorified
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I must say Kyle I got nervous for you while reading the post but Im glad it turned out all right
Ephes. 2:8-9



For by GRACE are ye saved through faith; and that NOT OF YOURSELVES: it is the gift of God: NOT OF WORKS, lest any man should boast.
Bill Ligon
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Ha! "Sum Dum Goy," indeed! I love it! Would you mind if I use it sometime?
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Vandy Grift
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Where did you get that Foo Ling Yu line? That sounds so familar, is that an old gag? Dosen't Jeff Hobson do a character named Foo Ling Yu?
"Get a life dude." -some guy in a magic forum
KyletheGreat
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No, Jeff Hobson does not do that if I remember correctly. The line is so old that I cannot even remember where I got it from. I just like to use it. The routine I used it with was my own (I did not become foo ling yu, I just did the routine in a poor accent). Most people just find it funny to hear there was an ancient Japanese magician called The Great Foo Ling Yu.
Kyle Jarrard
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Father Photius
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LOL Kyle. Now Foo Ling Yu would not be a Japanese name. And the Japanese and Chinese aren't too fond of each other. Chinese names are monosyllable names, Japanese names are not such. You would not find a Foo Ling Yu who was Japanese. Learning Mandarin was a lot like learning anything else in college, booring, and required study. To this day my ear cannot really differentitate many of the minor sound inflections in the Chinese language which only has about 400 sounds (very small compared to most languages). It was interesting though.
"Now here's the man with the 25 cent hands, that two bit magician..."
Paul Jester
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I hear that Foo Ling Yoo, although based on chinese names, couldn't actually be one... I guess one or more of the words don't exist. Which would explain the delayed reaction too.
Paul
ladyofmagic
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HA!! Sooo funny - reminds me of what an older gentleman said about a magician friend of mine who had just completed his show, "Hey Tom, you remind me of that ancient Chineses magician, "On Tu Long"
jeffhobson
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OK. . .here's the real story. . . . in an old magic catalog (sorry can't remember which one although I am now talking about the 1940's or 50's), there was a trick in which the patter and/or title included the line "the famous Chinese magician. .. Fu Ling Yu". It's a very old line that I used as my character name when I do my "Asian" trick and subsequently in the "Carnival of Wonders" show that I produced which also had Kalin and Jinger in it. By the way, I usually have gotten the biggest laughs out of the Asians who saw me do the routine. The politically incorrect crowd usually consists of white folk who make their own judgement of whether I'm offending anyone. It's quite stupid actually. Not one Asian, in the 20 years of performing the trick, has ever voiced any offense. . . . . it's only been the caucasians. Interesting huh? So, there you have it. Fu Ling Yu and his brother, Won Bum Lung (he's dead now) salute you.
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KyletheGreat
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Holy cow...JEff Hobson....

WOW. NEver expected to see you on here. Thanks for the clearing up! It was good to here from you...

It is fun to use that name in the right place and I have gotton countless laughs from it myself. I never knew that you used it though.
Kyle Jarrard
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Vandy Grift
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Thanks Jeff, I knew someone was doing that and I thought it was you. Told ya Kyle Smile LOL

Vandy
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KyletheGreat
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Yes you got me...
Kyle Jarrard
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KyletheGreat
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Jeff...I noticed on your web site that you played a part in the production of Barefoot in the park... Which character did you play? I was in my towns production of this play as well. I had the part of Victor Velasco. Quite a fun role to play!
Kyle Jarrard
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jeffhobson
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I played Paul Bratter (I think that was "his" name). Your character, Velasco, at the time I did it, was
played by my best friend. We're still best friends today. Our performances were given 25 years ago. How old are you? You look like you're not old enough to shave. ;-)
The Hilarious Host of Las Vegas!
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KyletheGreat
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I am 17...But I am good at distorting my voice and doing put-on accents. This is why I landed the part. The director purchased a fake mustache for me to wear. It was fun playing the part of a bold, daring, 58 year old italian who loves to do ANYTHING, at any given time! I loved the scene where I climbed out over the ledge outside the window...it was so funny! I kindof figured you played paul. It is a good role, but he was a little too serious for me...so I went for the old crazy guy!

I don't know how your acting is, but when you perform magic...you are Great and Hillarious. I have always wanted to see you live, but I have never gotton the chance. I never see you on TV anymore, and I have a few of your televised performances on tape...but that is all I get to see.
Kyle Jarrard
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http://www.kylesmagic.com
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