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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Now that’s funny! » » Where do magicians get their lines? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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M.Frymus
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I was wondering about magicians using comedy in their shows, whether it is the whole show in comedy or having a line or two.

Well, where do they come up with these ideas for these jokes?
Do they write them all themselves or do they have people to do it for them?
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Floyd Collins
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Its all about who you are as a performer. Sounds simple I know, let me explain.
About 30% of my funny comes from my script, which alone would not make my show comedic. The rest of my comedy comes from thinking on my feet during the show and when opportunity presents itself for a joke or a line knowing when and how to take that opportunity and spin it.

Some magicians write lines and puns into their routine to enhance the comedic value and some even hire comedy writers to add the funny bits into their routine. The main thing is if you yourself are not funny then it is harder for you to be funny as a magician.

I am not saying that a regular everyday Joe who is not funny in a normal setting with friends can’t be a funny performer once on stage, I am not saying this at all. I know a lot of performers that once in their caricature are very funny and it’s their persona that allows them to step outside their shell to be funny. Many of these types of performers will have to recite their script word for word to get the business going with the crowed.

For this type of comedy magician when they have someone on stage and they do something that just screams comedy come back or running gag, they miss this opportunity and just keep on with the script. Does this make them less of a performer NO, but again they will be scripting their show closer to a 100% mark then 30% as in my case.

So as you can see it will all depend on the performer but to answer your questions?
YES YES and Yes and where do they come up with these ideas, for myself I read a lot in the news and current events and try and find ways to mold that into my routine. Also if something happens or I say something that gets a huge laugh I will write it down after the show and try and rework my script to fit that bit in where needed. My method requires doing a lot of different shows with different audience and finding what works best. I will sometimes run bits of business by people just to see their reaction without the magic.
Well that’s how I do it anyways.
Let’s see what others have to say.

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

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harris
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Harris Deutsch
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Most of my comedy comes from a continuing self revelation and "every man" character.

Also stuff comes from topical events (age, and situational related i.e. specific company)

Familiarity is a great element in getting both laughter and the audience to come together as one.

On my re reading shelf...Handbook of Physical Comedy...
as my body and props are as much a part of the schtick as my words...

Side question...does comedy start at the knees, feet, face, word, silence or ..or ..or...or..????

Caution...comedy doesn't come from short white lines..though many comedians including the more family friendly Bill Cosby has great bits about their use.
Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
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Donal Chayce
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I get mine from Lines "R" Us.
:bwink:
Comedy Writer
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Ah. An area I know something about.

Most magician's comedy lines come from:
1. The patter included with the trick. (Or on the DVD.)
2. The performer creates a script through many, many shows.
3. The performers writes a script
4. Stolen from other magicians.
5. Written by someone else, specifically for your show.

Which is the best? Method 1 is OK and gives you something to say. Two is excellent, but requires a great deal of time and doing many, many shows. Three is underused by magicians. Four is overused and makes the magician look like both a thief and a hack. Method five is great, but tends to be expensive.

I recommend trying 3...email me for some book suggestions. ( I also like number 5, email me if you have a large checkbook.)

Comedy Writer




( Donal - funny.)
Floyd Collins
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Comedy Writer was nice enough to break it down into 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.
Let me address 3 and 5
I think it’s imperative that you write your own scripts at some point. Anyone who has read my book Taking Center Stage will know I stress this to anyone I mentor. I have worked and reworked my scripts with some of the best in Comedy Magic and I can say this is the one thing that you can do right away that will help with the lines. If you know someone who does comedy magic run your scripts and routines by them and get advice, their experience will help mold what you are trying to do. The timing on the other hand can only come from experience of performing as fair as I am concerned. No book no other person can give you a since of timing you need to develop that on your own by doing show after show.

So I feel that number 2 goes hand and hand with everything.
For number 5 I once hired a local stand up comedian who is a friend of mine from my standup days to help script out some of the funny for my show. It was one of the most daunting projects I had ever tried to complete. Now the reason is that my friend was not a magician and had no clue as to the since of timing you need when working with props. So what I am saying is if you are going to hire someone and this being the best way to get good material then hire someone like Comedy Writer so you have someone who not only knows comedy but also knows magic.
Good thread guys.

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
Mr Rubiks
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Comedy Writer nailed it on the head with his list.
Unfortunatley Number 4 should probably be No.1.
But that's just how it goes......
Comedy Writer
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Well, trying to be positive. You may note that the successful, famous magi generally use custom material...
RJE
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Good thread going here!

I prefer #2 with a slight deviation. I have never "written" a script/routine for performing in my life.

I find that writing it down and then trying to follow it can create too stiff of a character or as Floyd pointed out, too many missed opportunities.

When I first started working with Pat (my wife) in the act, she had no on stage experience. For her sake, we rehearsed routines with set lines (something I had never done before as a solo artist).

During our early performances together, Pat did wonderful (and is a great performer today!) but it was funny to watch her go through her "lines" on cue. This would often mean squashing the audience's response of laughter or applause so she could deliver her line.

Today, she is as natural on a stage as a performer can be and we enjoy being able to riff or ad lib as the situation presents itself. This can often create those really unique magical moments.

Posted: Apr 20, 2009 11:01am
Back to the original question, I feel strongly that you have to create your own patter as much as possible.

The words coming out of your mouth have to fit the character you are playing on stage. Using lines from other magicians' acts or from the script that came with the effect probably will not match your unique stage personality and therefore will hold you back as a performer.

So where do those lines come from? I'd say, they have to come from you. Some people find it easier to do than others. But, the words have to fit your sense of humour and ability to deliver. This can give you a great edge in the business.
harris
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Harris Deutsch
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I continue to go back to ideas from the Artist Way.(Cameron, Julia)

and

rewriting, practice, rehearsal, shows...rewriting..


Harris
laughologist and nearly normal "righter"
Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
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Comedy Writer
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First step - get a notebook...start writing down your ideas.

CW


Harris - great idea. Daily writing really helps the creativity.
jackturk
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I think a lot of comedy comes not necessarily from funny "lines,"
but rather emerges from a character that's inherently fun and
interesting to watch.

Steve Martin is a perfect example. In his heyday, his standup
routine wasn't really about lines, it was about a character
with a uniquely twisted perspective on life.

Absolutely agree on writing a script. Before doing so, however,
it's critical to know your performing persona inside and out.
Think through how your character perceives the world. What's
happening in your character's head when magic happens... in
fact, with magicians, the character should have some kind of
underlying thought process that explains why magic is happening
at that time.

A very simple illustration of this would be my character for kids
shows. I'm vain, self-delusional, over the top, and a conduit
for magic. Magic happens around me, but it's never quite under
my control... thank goodness I have helpers throughout the program
in the form of volunteers or puppets.

Once you know and become this character (you are an actor after all),
you can write your scripts, ad lib, and improvise from a clear
comic framework and perspective.

--Jack
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Comedy Writer
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Jack - so true. Much of the best comedy comes from character (and your character's reactions to the world.)
Another place for comedy is responding to the unexpected...
Bill Ligon
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Well said, Jack!
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TonyB2009
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Method 2 - develop the comedy over several performances - is how I normally develop a comedy routine. Though I do script some pieces beforehand.
There are two bits of advice I could offer. There are several good books on stand-up comedy which are well worth getting. Unfortunately I gave several of mine to a young performer, who promptly lost all of them without even bothering to read them. Lesson learnt. But I recommend anything by Gene Parrott (Bob Hope's writer). Jay Sankey has a very good book on stand-up (he has a separate career as a comedian). The Bible of Stand Up Comedy (don't know the author, but you'll find it on Amazon) is very good.
The second piece of advice is to go and watch as many stand-ups as you can. Hang out in the comedy clubs, and just get a feel for comedy, and how comedians handle their audience. It will rub off. It's also a great way to spend an evening.
Comedy Writer
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Try searching for Gene Parret- and get the second edition of his comedy writing book. http://www.writingcomedy.com/

The Comedy Writing bible is from Judy Carter. ( a former magician.) A deal at less than $12

I recommend both titles

Comedy writer
MaxfieldsMagic
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You can also buy lines from a guy named Vinnie who hangs out by the Kwik-Mart.
Now appearing nightly in my basement.
Sealegs
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For the use and development of lines, character, and all associated things within stand up comedy-magic, a good resourse is Ian Keable's 'Stand-Up, A Professional Guide To Comedy Magic' which you can get direct from Ian here.
Neal Austin

"The golden rule is that there are no golden rules." G.B. Shaw
Comedy Writer
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Maxfield,

You can't always trust the quality of "street comedy." Sometimes its good, but often they mix in a bit of satire or cut it with irony. Lets be careful out there.

Cw guy

Posted: May 14, 2009 11:34am
To continue on this topic, we magi study the work of stand-ups - often using their techniques and terminology to create fresh, new comedy.

Comedy Writer guy
magicgeorge
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I watch a lot of stand up I think it can be a good lesson in how to use humour on stage. So technique yeah. Terminology? Nah
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