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Sealegs
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A hobbyist magician friend of mine, looking to branch out into performing more stand-up magic, recently asked me what books or other resources I'd recommend for someone wanting to move from being the funny magic-trick guy down the pub, who does the occasional charity show now and then, to performing a solid comedy based stand-up magic act.

He's asute enough to realise that experience from performing and personality are the most important factors but as I tried to think of specific magic related sources to build on these two pillars I realised I couldn't think of any!

When I 1st embarked on my life long career as a comedy magic act one of the 1st things I did was go to 'Magic Books By Post' and buy everybook I could find on comedy/magic. I can honestly say none of these books was in the slightest bit helpful. Most were of outdated scripts containing cringe worthy puns or 'comedy routines' that would required the assistance of a good lung-full or two of Nitrous Oxide to even raise a smile as they were being read.

Later on came Mike Caveney's 'MagiComedy' and Harry Anderson's 'Wise Guy'. These are great books that contained terrific routines. But they are not 'how to books'. The routines they contain can certainly be made funny.... but how to go about doing that isn't tackled and wasn't, I believe, what the books were setting out to do. These books provide great routines but don't show you how to go about injecting the comedy.

There are a few really funny comedy magic dvd's on the market. The good ones, like the books I just mentioned, give excellent routines to work with. With DVD's though I think the beginner is likely to be overpowered with how the person in the dvd makes it funny for them. As a beginner it's unlikely they'll initially get anywhere close to the same comedy output from the routines as the person demonstrating them does. I feel this can make it really difficult for someone wanting to get to grips with placing the comedy into the magic whilst also looking to find their own way, style and voice.

I know of a few good reference books that explore performing and writing comedy but can't think of any that relate specifically to magicians that I can tell my friend to get.

Anyone know of any? Seems like there's a real gap in the market. If I was a better writer I might even think about having a go myself.

Neal.
Neal Austin

"The golden rule is that there are no golden rules." G.B. Shaw
The Donster
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I think one acquires this. meaning evreyone is different and has their own likes etc. you can buy the comedy books that you mentioned but sometimes the funniest stuff is said by the volunteers totally unexpected. also another question is what kind of audience will be there and if your doing jokes/gags you don't want to offend anyone but entertain them.
Sealegs
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Hi Donster, Your right that a sense for comedy develops with experience and ideally each person will (hopefully) discover their own path. My friend was asking me to point him to reference material that would help him illuminate that path.

If he'd have asked me to recommend a 'how to be funy' reference book my answer would have been short and succinct. Reading a book isn't going to make you funny.

However I was impressed that he asked more generally for information about all the processes that might be involved in creating and routining a funny magic act.

Regarding what audiences he'll play to; I'm guessing that he'll eventually end up (if he sticks with it) playing to whatever his strengths are and so his style of performing should eventually dictate which types of audience his act will favour... or not as the case may be.

There's another thread on this forum entitled 'Comedy magicians who aren't funny'. I see his request as a way of saying, "I want to try this but don't want to become one of them". I say all credit to him... he's thinking about what he's doing.

He's also not gone straight to those tricks marketed as 'comedy magic effects'. These are often perceived as having the laughs built in. It seems he's lookin to make his show funny from characterisation, scripting, audience participation, routining etc. This is great to hear and that's why I'm making this post. I'd like to help him and I was a bit taken a back that as pro of many years in the biz I couldn't think of a single source book for him to turn to.

I've been happy to help out, give advice and make suggestions but he's after something he can dip into and refer to for guidance and inspiration. But as I said I couldn't think of any.

'Magic and Showmanship' is as close as I could get but it doesn't deal with weaving comedy and magic together?

Book suggestions anyone?

Cheers,

Neal.
Neal Austin

"The golden rule is that there are no golden rules." G.B. Shaw
The Donster
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What kind of books are you wanting to get a few come to mind. uh Orben and Darwin. Milton Berle Red Skelton Abbott and Costello. if you want feel FREE to PM me the tricks that your Friend already has are they mainly for Adults or for Kids ?
jocdoc
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I personally believe that the comedy comes from the person (presentation/personality) and happens to use the magic as a prop (albeit in a funny way). One can learn how to perform the trick (i.e. how to use the prop), but one must compose a routine that is "true" to their character. It's so much more rewarding to perform what comes from deep inside of you rather than try to duplicate someone else's routines. Learning improvisation is a good way to develop comedy routines. You experiment with different approaches (personae,etc) and find out what works best for you (what gets the laughs that you desire), then keep those things and continue to build over time.

Some books that can be helpful for the study of comedy:

Comedy Writing Secrets by Mel Helitzer
http://www.amazon.com/Comedy-Writing-Sec......82973571

Truth in Comedy (The manual of improvisation)by Halpern, Johnson, & Del Close
http://www.amazon.com/Truth-Comedy-Impro......4&sr=8-1

The Comic Toolbox by Vorhaus
http://www.amazon.com/Comic-Toolbox-Funn......1&sr=1-1

The Comedy Bible by Carter
http://www.amazon.com/Comedy-Bible-Stand......3&sr=1-1

The Second City Almanac of Improvisation
http://www.amazon.com/Second-City-Almana......7&sr=1-1

--
You might also suggest that he seek out local improv groups and work with them.

Finally, don't forget the upcoming Niagra Comedy Magic Seminar in April!
http://www.comedymagicseminar.com/

Hope this helps.

jeff in san diego
Life is an improv. The game goes on...
Sealegs
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Thanks Jeff.

I've actually already recommended some of the same books to him. Smile I agree with all the points you've made and fortunately so does my friend which is one of the reasons why I'm more than happy to help him out and with as much advice and guidence as I can.

I'm just amazed that there are books that cover comedy improv, comedy writing, comedy acting, comedy as a straight stand-up, etc... but apparently nothing has been written specifically for, or about, creating effective stand-up comedy magic. There are, after all, a great many sets of issues that are unique to incorperating comedy with magic and vice versa.

For example, using the comedy as misdirection, audience involvement in the magic, handling spectators on stage, when might an effect require that you not be funny, how can the magic and comedy work against each other and how to avoid this....the list goes on.

Of course all these are things that you will learn from experience and develop from your personality. But it's amazing to think no one has produced a book about this subject especially given the thousands of books that have been published about nearly every facet of magic and the performing of magic, and the number of books there are about performing and creating comedy in umpteen other forms.

Unless of course anyone knows of any?

Neal
Neal Austin

"The golden rule is that there are no golden rules." G.B. Shaw
wizardofsorts
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Impro by Keith Johnstone

I've recommended this book to anyone who will listen since I read it in college. Then the other day I heard Jeff McBride recommends it too. Not bad company to keep.

Edd
Edd Fairman, Wizard of Sorts is a corporate magician available for your next trade show, hospitality suite, client luncheon, or company event. http://www.wizardofsorts.com
Sealegs
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Thanks Wizofsorts. Looks like a great book. Smile

Unfortunately it also looks like it doesn't deal with: "...using the comedy as misdirection, audience involvement in the magic, handling spectators on stage, when might an effect require that you not be funny, how can the magic and comedy work against each other and how to avoid this....[etc]"

The search continues. Smile

Ironically I know of someone who's talked about publishing the very thing I'm looking for..... but he's been talking about it for years and there's no sign of it coming out anytime soon. Smile

If it ever does see the light of day it appears it won't be entering a crowded market.

Cheers Neal.
Neal Austin

"The golden rule is that there are no golden rules." G.B. Shaw
wizardofsorts
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Neal,
The book you want doesn't exist as far as I know. He needs to read books on Magic and Showmanship (ie- Magic and Showmanship, Books of Wonder, Fitzke trilogy, strong magic), books on stand up comedy (Zen and the Art of Stand up, the comedy bible, step by step comedy writing), and books on improvisation (ie- impro).
He should study comedy writing, theatre and magic. I especially recommend taking acting and directing for the theatre classes.
If he applies this education and spends some time troding the boards he almost cannot fail. There is no easy answer to what he wants.
Edd
Edd Fairman, Wizard of Sorts is a corporate magician available for your next trade show, hospitality suite, client luncheon, or company event. http://www.wizardofsorts.com
Sealegs
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Thanks Edd, there's certainly no easy answer. The good thing is he's well aware of that. I've already given him plenty of general references and the ones you mention are top notch.

It's amazing to think that no book has been written covering this subject.

Cheers Neal.
Neal Austin

"The golden rule is that there are no golden rules." G.B. Shaw
magicgeorge
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Quote:
On 2008-03-14 10:41, wizardofsorts wrote:
Impro by Keith Johnstone


Funny you should mention that, that's been on my bookshelf for about 6 months now and I haven't got around to reading it yet.
Rupert Bair
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Send him on a comedy course Neal?
Decomposed
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Quote:
On 2008-03-31 11:37, magicgeorge wrote:
Quote:
On 2008-03-14 10:41, wizardofsorts wrote:
Impro by Keith Johnstone


Funny you should mention that, that's been on my bookshelf for about 6 months now and I haven't got around to reading it yet.


Is it worth the money?
liampower
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What about "stand up" by Ian Keable, he even talks about you in it Neal
Sealegs
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Liampower wrote;
Quote:
What about "stand up" by Ian Keable, he even talks about you in it Neal


Earlier in the thread I wrote:
Quote:
Ironically I know of someone who's talked about publishing the very thing I'm looking for..... but he's been talking about it for years and there's no sign of it coming out anytime soon.


Thankfully Ian did eventually get around to publishing the book that he'd had in the works for years. I really didn't think it was ever going to see print as whenever I asked about it Ian always had other projects on the go. I'm glad he took his time with it though as he's ended up producing a great book that very comprehensively covers just about all aspects involved in the performance of stand up comedy magic. It fits the bill perfectly. Smile
Neal Austin

"The golden rule is that there are no golden rules." G.B. Shaw
Floyd Collins
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I second "stand up" by Ian Keable. But warn you to read it twice maybe even three times, and each time you will take away something.

I have corresponded with Ian on a few routines I do, and I have to tell you this guys knows his stuff.

I think sometimes the problem with books on stand up comedy magic is because there are so many different types of performer. Some use a lot of site gags, others use more verbal gags, while some will use dead pan and others more outrages comedy. The long and short of it is you need to read many different books on the subject not just magic comedy but also stand-up and writing comedy. Above all as you read these different books take good notes, and start your own comedy journal and refer back to it often.

-Floyd
No one said it would be easy, or did they?

Check out my all new book "Chicken Scratches" visit my lulu store for more information.

http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/thecenterstage

http://www.collinscomedymagic.com
TheAmbitiousCard
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I agree with Floyd about "Stand up". It is excellent.
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Tomer
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Rune Klan - Rune's World - A fantastic book that just came out on vanishing inc. but you can pretty much get it anywhere now. Except for the book, you also get a DVD that shows a few performances and an interview of Rune.
I highly recommend the book for anyone that is into comedy magic, I didn't take much of the ideas... but more of the concepts and premises of the magic in those routines. You also get to see and hear about his development as a "regular" magician to a comedy magician.

look here for details:
http://www.vanishingincmagic.com/magic/g......s-world/

Also, I recommend downloading the free preview of the book, just to see what you get and to see the live performances.

Tomer
madmonsterparty
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Get More Laughs From Your Laughs by Robert Klamm

http://www.wowio.com/users/product.asp?BookId=5932
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