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Hagerman
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If you look up 'humor' you rarely see any references to magic. Puns, satire, slapstick and such are all there; but no magic. I think I have made a solid argument in favor of magic being a form of comedy. I have just finished an article on this and it has been weeks in the making. Please check it out and give me your thoughts.

Magic is a Form of Humor
Justin Style
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Read it, thanks for sharing!
Dannydoyle
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Well according to your point, well played music is funny. It will take us places we don't expect to go emotionally.

Drama is unexpected now isn't it? That is what is dramatic. So is suspence. Is that humor also?

A roller coaster may envoke joy, not humor.

You are confusing many emotions and mixing them all into "humor" on some very thin threads. Love is blind, God is Love, Ray Charles was blind, Ray Charles was God. Not quite. This is the logic you are following to your conclusions.

My suggestion is to study comedy a bit more. There is fantastic foundation books on theory if you look.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Patriot
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I have to agree with Danny. In my opinion, your article made some very sweeping and unsupported statements. Let's start with "Everything thing that makes us laugh involves a painful act whether it be physical, emotional or mental. The more pain stacked up, the funnier it is - to a point." Humor is a processed response to a stimulus that is incongruous with normal expectations. We laugh because our thought process is jerked from it's normal path. It is surprise rather than pain that creates laughter.

Mel Brooks once said, “Tragedy is when I stub my toe. Comedy is when you fall in an open manhole and die.” It isn't the pain of the man falling through the open manhole that evokes the laughter. Rather, it is the sudden and totally unexpected deviation from the man's anticipated path of travel that raises the humor.

Boris Sidis' statement concurs. He said, “When a mental process, instead of attaining its aim, suggests the reverse inference of what has been intended, the laugh is raised by the failure and by the mental stupidity of the person." It isn't harsh at all. He simply states that a person laughs as a result of his or her inability to anticipate (mental stupidity) the sudden mental "change in direction." If you see the punchline coming, it loses its humorous effect.

According to researchers the median ventral prefrontal cortex processes this response. This area of the brain is involved in the reward system in humans, explaining why humor and laughter are enjoyable and continue to be sought as a form of entertainment. It would seem to me that a pain stimulus is anything but rewarding and is highly unlikely to result in laughter, let alone repeated contact.

Your laughter response to the roller coaster is a function of your brain's knowledge that the effects of the ride are relatively harmless. Your risk is minmal. This subdues your natural fear of uncontrolled speed and sudden drops and allows the recreational portion of your brain to enjoy the ride. If the roller coaster car were to suddenly leap off the track and plunge hundreds of feet at 80 MPH, certainly an unexpected change in direction, I doubt that your reaction would be one of laughter and joy.

While I believe that humor can be used to enhance a magic performance, I do not believe that magic itself is a form of humor. You write, "What a joke does audibly, magic does visually" as a facet of your "Magic is Humor" theory. Using this analogy, David Copperfield's Saw Illusion, Houdini's Water Torture Cell Escape and Chris Angel's Easy Rider bit should be humorous. Each of these effects lead spectators to one inevitable expectation then results in a mental change in direction. But anyone who has watched these effects for the first time can find little humor in them...at least,not until the safety of the performer is confirmed...then we may laugh in relief, not because what we saw was funny.

I respectfully contend that it isn't the magic, but the style with which the magician presents the effect that creates the humor. Bill Malone's "Sam the Bellhop" routine can be presented as a deathly serious demonstration of card skill, a dark example of bizarre magick with tarot cards, as a masterful puzzle or as Bill's hilarious card routine. The humor is in Bill's handling and style...not the magic or its effect.

Hence, and again I offer this in open discussion and with the utmost respect, Magic itself is not a form of humor...Humor is, instead, one of many emotional tools that enhances the magic.
Hagerman
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Thank you for the input. I would like to address certain things just to be more clear.

Quote:
We laugh because our thought process is jerked from it's normal path. It is surprise rather than pain that creates laughter.


This is exactly my point. I believe that you are missing that the modus operandi for this is pain. Surprise is painful. You are scared for a split second then you realize it was a joke then you laugh it off. Being scared is painful.

In magic, the pain is not knowing the method. The pain is being fooled. A lot of people do not like magic because they do not like the pain of being fooled. With the roller coaster, the pain is the fear, much like the surprise.

Quote:
If the roller coaster car were to suddenly leap off the track and plunge hundreds of feet at 80 MPH, certainly an unexpected change in direction, I doubt that your reaction would be one of laughter and joy.

I agree. It's never funny to the person experiencing the pain at the time. Someone getting hit in the groin is only funny to you because you can relate and it's not happening to you. Also, even though you know that there is little risk on a coaster, you cannot override our primal instincts. People get an adrenaline rush from coasters and there has to be a stimulus for that; I believe that is fear. Fear is emotionally painful.

I also found this definition for humor: The quality that makes something laughable or amusing; funniness. And funny is defined as: causing laughter or amusement. People, like I, do laugh on coasters and find them amusing. A roller coaster, that is something, contains the quality of being amusing. A roller coaster, by definition, is humorous. Just like magic.

"When a mental process, instead of attaining its aim, suggests the reverse inference of what has been intended, the laugh is raised by the failure and by the mental stupidity of the person." Sounds like someone is watching a magic trick to me. Someone was fooled.

Danny, well played music would be humorous if it brought about a laugh or an audible involuntary expression of amusement. The pain would be in the spectators inability to practice and devote enough time to accomplish what they are hearing. I don't believe I am the one confusing emotions. Laughing is not an emotion; it is a reflex. The stimulus is a psychological trick; a joke. I believe pain triggers a laugh in every instance where a laugh is due. Your a is b, a is c, b is c counter argument does not apply here.

Like comedy is the mirror image of tragedy, the laugh is the mirror image of pain. They work together like yin and yang. If you give me a joke at is funny that involves no pain, I'll drop this right now.
tnscot
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Quote:
If you give me a joke at is funny that involves no pain, I'll drop this right now.


Did you hear about the Zen Buddhist who refused novacain at the dentist? He wanted to transcend dental medication.


This joke involves no "victim" of any type, and has always gotten a great response in my travels.
I have no opinion on this thread at all, BTW...I just thought I would offer a very funny joke that involves no pain.
As Always,
Scot Legdermain
Hagerman
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Very good. That is a pun. There are two pains here. One, the pain of the dentist visit and two, the pain of confusion (the pun part). This pun is funnier than most because it has a real pain that people can relate to. What is Novocaine used for? Most puns have only one pain, that of confusion. Most puns are considered the lowest form of comedy. Probably because they have very little pain.

There is a victim here. The victim is the spectator, who is superimposing them self into the monk's position. That is how the relation to pain is achieved. Good joke!

Puns are also offered to show wit. Or to "show off" one's wit. To "show off" means that one person can do something better than another. When it comes to showing off wit, you are showing off mental skills; just like magic. This pain leaves the spectator to think, in no specific terms, "you got me on that one." If they had to think about it, it is funnier because, on a ego level, to have to think about it shows mental stupidity either on the joke tellers part or the spectators. Sidis states this in his book called the Psychology of Laughter.

I addressed puns in my article.
Patriot
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Thank you for the reasoned response. We have two entirely different views of humor and magic. I do respect your perspective on the issue, however, and can certainly see where you're coming from.

All of this side steps the main argument that magic in itself is not a form of humor. Humor is one of several emotional tools used to enhance the performance of any art.

Humor can be divided into two distinct forms: Verbal and Nonverbal.

Verbal humor includes Black comedy, Caustic humor, Droll humor, Deadpan comedy, Nonsequiturs, Obscenity-based humor, Parodies, Mockeries, Sarcasm, Satire, Self-irony or Self-deprecation, Wit, Meta-humor, Abusive humor, Demented humor and racial humor.

Non-verbal humor includes Anti-humor, Deadpan humor, Form-versus-content humor, Slapstick, Surreal or absurdity humor and Practical jokes.

To evoke humor we use the verbal cues of figures of speech, funny words, irony, adages, stereotypes, riddles and word play (such as puns). We use the non-verbal cues of exaggeration, character-driven body & facial language, clash of context, sound effects, ambiguity and various forms of visual humor including sight gags and funny pictures.

All humor falls into one of these basic categories and uses at least one of these basic emotion-enhancing tools. Carl Ballantine presents magic in a slapstick form. Penn & Teller present their magic in a satiric or sarcastic form. The Amazing Jonathan presents his magic in an abusive and black comedy format. Mac King uses a self-deprecating and absurdist humor. The point is that these individuals present their magic within a basic comedic form. If I were to say to someone that Mac King presents his act in the magic form of humor, he or she would look at me as though I'd lost my mind. The magic itself has no inherent humor value without at least one or more of these established humor forms and techniques. Therefore, magic cannot be viewed as an independent form of humor. This supports Danny's a=b, b=c, therefore a=c analogy.

The presentation of magic can produce shock, surprise, fear, laughter, sorrow, disgust, boredom, anger, frustration and more. It all depends on how it is presented...refer back to my "Sam the Bellhop" example.

Something as simple as the multiplying banana effect can be presented a number of ways. In the proper setting I can weave a believable ghost story around the haunted banana that might have some kids sleeping with their flashlights close at hand. I might use them to tell the heart-wrenching story of a poor starving child who discovers a magical replenishing banana that rescues him and his family from the throes of hunger. I can just stand there and blankly pull banana after banana out of my hand until my audience collapses into a catatonic state of absolute boredom. I can present it as an example of modern math gone mad to gales of laughter.

The effect in itself...a magic trick, hence, magic...is neither frightening nor heart-wrenching nor boring nor funny. It is the use of an emotional tool (fear, victory, boorishness and humor) that gives the effect its quality. The tool provides the emotional stimulus to the effect; the effect itself has no emotional value.
Without context and emotional cues, the presentation of magic is just a series of mechanical actions. The forms of humor are used to enhance the magic. Magic, itself, is just magic.

I sense that we are never going to reach common agreement; not a bad thing whatsoever. I see the points in your argument but can't reconcile them with my own beliefs. I certainly don't expect you to forsake your views for mine. Where would be the fun in that? A fun discussion that caused me to stop and think. For the sake of brotherhood, we can agree to disagree. Good luck with your theory and success with your article.
Hagerman
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The only view of humor I want is the standard English definition; which is the view we should all have when using logic. Words mean so much more if everyone is in agreement with the definitions.

To get this back on subject, I just added this to my article that was a result of me reading these responses:

Quote:
Good jokes are painful on many levels. All jokes are basically painful because after the punchline, the audience says in their head “I can’t believe I didn’t see that coming,” and laughs. A joke is a mental surprise. When a magician produces a bird, is it “magic” if the audience sees the bird coming? If the audience didn’t see it coming and is surprised, how is this different from a joke? If they saw it coming, the magician is not very good and no magic was performed.

-and-

I live in an entertainment heavy town. One of my friends here, in my opinion, is the best comedian here. He has been running one of the most successful shows in town for about 20 years now. He often gets me and a few friends together to brainstorm. We brainstorm the psychological tricks in everything - not just comedy and magic. His show reflects that he thinks like a magician; but he performs comedy and song.


The magic trick is a mental surprise because the effect happens in the spectators mind. The light waves that transmit the data to our eyes for us to recognize a trick is only data. The recognition happens in the brain, where the surprise takes place. Jokes are mental surprises. Magic that relies just on this mental surprise alone is on par with puns. When comedy becomes too painful, it becomes tragic. Several tragic magic tricks have all ready been listed here such as Copperfield's Saw Illusion. It is ridiculous that someone would put them self in such a position in that illusion. Isn't ridicule a form of humor? Magic has to be humorous to be seen as magic. Otherwise it is like hearing a joke that is really not funny. Magic, without the the perceived humor, or the reveal, or the prestige, is either tragic, propaganda or religion.

To evoke magic we use the verbal cues of figures of speech, funny words, irony, adages, stereotypes, riddles and word play (such as puns). We use the non-verbal cues of exaggeration, character-driven body & facial language, clash of context, sound effects, ambiguity and various forms of visual [manipulation].including sight gags and funny pictures (visual manipulation is what physical comedy is all about.)

Humor is not an emotion! Get this out of you head. Humor is a quality given to a thing; person, art, statue, etc. It creates the emotions The masters listed above use humor in many of its various forms to evoke an emotional response.
Patriot
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Back on subject? I see. My mistake.
Hagerman
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Thank you for your posts Patriot, it has help me come up with clearer ways to communicate my thoughts and it helped my article. Keep it coming!
Dannydoyle
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Simple research would help the article.

Lets put it this way. How funny IS your act? That may be the true test of the theory no?

Mel Brooks has a pretty impressive body of work to be stating what is and is not funny and why. He speaks from a certain level of experience.

It is ironic you are trying to twist words to fit your own view. If you think that is what makes things funny as opposed to the volumes which have been written, well then nobody can disuade you from that path. Go out and be funny.
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Hagerman
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Danny, you really like your red herrings. This is not about how funny my act is, or your's or anyone's by that matter. If there is a flaw in my logic, please state exactly where the flaw is instead of making broad remarks. That's the beauty of logic; you can pinpoint any flaws. What words am I twisting? Please point them out.

One of your twists is your use of drama. Drama uses and has humorous/magical elements. Consider drama the set and humor/magic to be a sub-set.

Earlier I point out a flaw that Patriot had and you are holding on that that same flaw as well. You say:
Quote:
A roller coaster may envoke joy, not humor.


Evoke joy, not humor? You cannot evoke humor. Humor is NOT an emotion. Maybe you need to study as well. Look up the definition and you will see that I am not the one twisting this word.

Lets do some research:
Dr Stephen Juan writes:
Quote:
What Is a Laugh?

Physiologically, laughing is a series of spasmodic and partly involuntary expirations with odd vocalizations, normally indicative of merriment. Often, laughing is a hysterical manifestation or a reflex result of tickling.

Other than simple tickling, laughing is based on fear. Fear of loss of dignity, social embarrassment, exclusion from the group, being fooled/exploited, death, injury, or sex. The more anxiety-prone the subject is, the better it is as a subject for humour. Different societies find different things funny. So do different generations within a society. There is a fine line between comedy and tragedy, between the funny and the sad, between what makes us laugh and what makes us cry, between pleasure and pain. This is why watching someone slip on a banana skin is universally funny: someone else loses their dignity - and that's better than it happening to us.


Note the "fooled and exploited" part. Need I say more? Too bad! I will.

The reason I need to clear up that comedy reflects pain or, in this reference, fear, is because without making a solid argument here, my argument that magic is humor holds no water. Pain or fear is the common denominator that creates the link. When you fool someone, deep down it is a battle of the wits. The magician is saying "I can out smart you" and he does. People fear this.

Do you agree that the basis for a joke is a psychological trick or a surprise?
Do you agree that the basis for a magic trick is a psychological trick or a surprise?

I cannot think of anything else that would fall into the psychological trick category. That is because they are the same. Take out the surprise and a joke becomes a statement and a magic trick becomes an action. The brain doesn't know the difference between a statement, read or heard, or a seen event. By the time the data hits the brain, it is a meme, or a thought and nothing else.

Even if I had a gaggle of psychologist and humor experts here to back me up, I think no amount of evidence will persuade you now. You've crossed the point of no return. You will never agree with me because going back on your statements will make you look foolish and there is fear in that. Of course, you could prove me wrong. I don't mind being wrong, as long as I AM wrong.

Now go prove Dr. Juan wrong.
Dannydoyle
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So to ask you if you put your thought and theory to action is a Red Herring? To ask if your theory is anything but a lot of convolutled theory is not relevant?

I beg to differ. If you could back up some of your "theory" with an act that absolutly keeps people laughing from start to finish it would demonstrate some sort of credability. Otherwise maybe not so much true now is it?

There is your HUGE FLAW in logic. It does not seem to work! How much bigger flaw would you like? Right where the rubber meets the road, where it matters, if it dosn'thave people laughing, maybe the theory is not quite as solid as you may think.

Lee Darrow was kind enough to list some types of comedy on another thread. I will put them here:

Satire (Shelly Berman comes immediately to mind)

Wordplay (Norm Crosby, punning)

Parody (PDQ Bach)

Mimicry (such as the plethora of Bush imitators, Stephen Colbert)

Observational/P.O.V social commentary (Jon Stewart

Non-sequiturs and mismatches (Stephen Wright is great at this, so was Norm Crosby)

Shaggy Dog Stories (Jay Marshall was a master of this form)

One liners (can you say "Henny Youngman?" I KNEW you could!)

Sponnerisms (technically a subset of wordplay)

Ethnic (Mencia, Lopez, Borat)

To name a few.

Now be kind enough to explain how these forms of comedy all involve pain.

Setting up a battle of wits as you say is about performing attitude, and is really not the best way to go about magic. But that is yet another thread. There is no way to prove you wrong. Heck there is a whole body of work that says the opposite of what you say, but you are going to dig in and that is it.

See what you call a Red Herring, is really the only thing that matters. ARE YOU FUNNY? If not, then perhaps the theory needs a bit of work wouldn't ya say?
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Hagerman
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You seem to be equating humor with only laughing. Read the definition. The great humorist Mark Twain doesn't keep you laughing from start to finish.

The battle of wit is unavoidable regardless of the performing attitude because magic is a battle of the wits. The battle of wits is why all those comedy types listed are considered humor. Add other fears and the humor gets better.
Dannydoyle
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Sorry but you just lost steam. As Lee indicated, this is an incomplete list, and you couldn't even deal with that.

See the problem when you use terms such as "all and every"?
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Thomas Wayne
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To all,

"Hagerman's" mind is made up - as are his theories - and there is clearly nothing anyone can say that will dissuade him. He's wrong on many levels, but you will never be able to help him reach that conclusion.

I suggest you let this one go, and save your time for something more worthwhile... such as wrestling with a pig.

TW
MOST magicians: "Here's a quarter, it's gone, you're an idiot, it's back, you're a jerk, show's over." Jerry Seinfeld
Dannydoyle
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I had come to that conclusion myself, Thomas, thank you for expressing it.

Now about that pig...............
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Hagerman
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I don't mind being wrong. But please give me a little respect. This is something that I have been pondering a very long time and for someone to jump to a conclusion without weighing all the facts is ridiculous. Especially when I point out that their definition of humor is wrong and they stick to the wrong definition. Do me a favor and look it up. It refers to laughing and amusement. Then attack me from that point.

I had thought that my quip about Mark Twain would have snuffed Danny's flawed logic.

he says:
Quote:
If you could back up some of your "theory" with an act that absolutly keeps people laughing from start to finish it would demonstrate some sort of credability.


Does mark Twain's stories keep you laughing from start to finish. He does not. Therefore by Danny's argument, his stories are not a form of humor. Anyone can tell this is flawed.

One flaw I noticed in my argument is that my term "magic" may not be the same as yours. Again, a definition problem. When I say magic, I am meaning the "magic trick". Much like how a magician refers to a silk. I am saying the the point of the routine, where the magic is revealed is humor: based on the definition of humor.

Are you choosing to ignore Dr. Jauns creditable statement about, and I'm paraphrasing, laughing can be based on being fooled? If you are disagreeing with me, I think you are disagreeing with him - an expert. Only he can say if he agrees with me so please don't think I am putting words into his mouth.

Please, point out a real flaw. Please use logic instead of broad claims. Don't just say I'm wrong. Prove I'm wrong. Point out where and why it is flawed. Most importantly think empirically. I love to be wrong, because I would much rather know I'm wrong about something so that later I may by right about it.

Don't take offense to my objections. I am not of yours. I just think stronger counter arguments are in order. This is the beauty of arguing and it is not as bad as you might make it out. It is called debate.
Dannydoyle
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Debate? You tell us you are using your OWN DEFINITION OF MAGIC and you want to debate?

Back to the pig.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
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