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Floyd Collins
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Pete,
Can you elaborate a bit on and give some examples of overused tricks.. I think that would be very helpful for others to know what tricks are being overused in the comedy world.
No one said it would be easy, or did they?

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magicgeorge
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I think it's more the lines than the tricks.

I agree with everyone, really. As Pete and Neal have proved with their success it is entirely possible to do comedy magic without doing straight stand up.
I think the reason doing straight stand up helped me is it got me in the way of writing and not using props as a crutch but as a vehicle for my humour and personality. Obviously some can do this anyhow but stand-up certainly helps get you in the mind-set of performing original routines unique to yourself. Which is why I find it a little sad if Jeff wants to add magic to his stand up to be considering such effects as silent treatment and sweet dreams. You wouldn't do someone elses jokes doing stand up so why do someone elses routine when you try magic. In comedy clubs, same rules apply. Also writing for magic can be a little easier, too. You usually have a prop to kick-start your writing rather than a blank sheet of paper and your own internal angst.
Floyd Collins
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George,
I agree with you about doing someone else jokes when doing stand-up. The second part when it comes to magic is debatable for the person starting out adding comedy magic or just getting into it. There is a school of thought that goes in a different direction when it comes to comedy magic. Billy McComb has even said, do my tricks word for word as I do them then change them around and make it your own.

Starting out we all research and watch other comedians and comedy minded magicians to learn how the structure of their comedy flows and works for them. Why then is it wrong to buy a joke book? Why is it wrong to buy a book on Stand-Up comedy? Why is it wrong to buy a piece of a comedy magic routine to learn and understand why and how it works?

I am not suggesting that you find these things wrong, but when starting out reading a post as you have stated it above would make one think it was wrong. Cody Fisher, Neal Austin (Sealegs)can take three pieces of rope and get 5 - 10 min worth of great comedy out of it. Is it possible for every stand-up to do this without learning first the structure and timing for it. Sweet dreams may not be for everyone, yet when you get something from Cody you know he has worked it and chances are it is something you can re-work and re-structure. Why is this a bag thing??

Re-scripting a magic trick is very important but to the newbie it can be more challenging then writing straight stand-up. I think sometimes for us who have stage experience with magic we lose sight of this.

And here is why I say this and disagree that writing for magic is easier.

When we write stand-up we have only ourselves and our personality to deal with.
When writing stand-up we draw upon personal experiences and things in our lives we find funny or we warp them to make them funny.
When you write for a visual such as magic you have many more elements that come into play. Often more then not you have never seen a stand-up comedy magician. I know for me it was very few; however I started back before the internet so there are many more outlets now to learn from then when I started.

Yet many have no base to go buy and many of the magic tricks sold today that say comedy is not for this type of venue. This can be very frustrating for someone wanting to add magic to their comedy.

I have over the years seen stand-ups try and add, Music, Juggling, Magic and Singing into their already successful stand-up and fail big time. The main reason for this is they cannot bridge the gap from stand-up to utilizing a process to create comedy. However a very successful Comic Magician like Chipper Lowell who has a lot of time doing stage comedy and magic has recently added the Ukulele to his show and has done so very well. I feel it is his experience with dealing with props that has allowed him to do so.

Taking someone’s already working script you learn such things as timing, how to handle the props and how to work with the audience. Should you re-script it and make it your own, yes and should you develop your own lines for it yes. Having the base to help get you started I feel there is nothing wrong with. We are assuming that Jeff or anyone reading this will take it and play it word for word action for action. But as Billy McComb has said sometimes maybe they should till they learn it enough to make it their own.
That is debatable too I guess.
No one said it would be easy, or did they?

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Sealegs
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Re reading Jeffdell's original post he asked some specific questions. I thought it might be worth actually looking at them one by one. Taking them in a non random but different order than they were asked;

1) "Is this is the right venue for incorporating magic into?"

I think most of the posters here would answer, 'sure, why not?' But possibly also add, 'But ask yourself why do you want to do this? and see if you have an answer that you're happy with?

2) "What type of audience reaction I should expect at said venues?"

You should expect laughs if you're funny and nothing, or worse, if you're not. ( I'm not sure what else might be expected from this question)

3) "What is the general experience of performing magic at a comedy open mic or in a comedy club?"

There is no general reaction. It's like saying what are the general reactions to poetry, or teddy bear torturing, or impressions of aircraft engines (A successful speciality of comedy club act Chris Luby) in a comedy club? The pertinent answer is unfortunately for the person hoping for some inside info merely the trite and obvious one.

4) "Any suggestions\ideas for the types of effects that are more successful at comedy clubs?"

Types, generalities.... I refer the honourable gentleman to the answer I gave some moments ago.... As an addition to this question Jeffdell also suggested that, "there must be some common traits" in the material that performers have found works for them. I believe there are no common traits and indeed I suspect that the differences of what works and what doesn't are going to be hugely greater than any, (coincidental), similarity.

5) Any general suggestions on writing material?

Brain Miller has given some excellent direction regarding this and Floyd has also suggested some sources.

And then there's a question we haven't really focused on....

6)" What is your experience with selecting effects that require audience participation?"

For my part, I would only reiterate what I've already posted; that i,s anything goes and anything can and might work. But I can see that there might well be all sorts of other useful details to consider.

The ease, or otherwise, of physically getting people up in a comedy club environment. The 20 min time costraint of the typical comedy club set or the even greater time constraint of the 5-10 min open mic spot. The risk of getting into this type of on stage one on one audience interaction before you've fully been able to get the audience on side. (And other considerations?)

Perhaps some of those who have already contributed to this thread would like to comment on this last question?
Neal Austin

"The golden rule is that there are no golden rules." G.B. Shaw
Floyd Collins
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Thanks Neal for keeping this on track here.

6)" What is your experience with selecting effects that require audience participation?"

My personal experience that works for me is to look at the effect and see where I can modify it so the person who I need to help me can stay at their location without coming on stage/platform if need be. In my stand-up show I do three effects that most would consider to be Magic effects the rest are Mentalism or some may call Metal Magic effects.

Out of all the effects in my show “outside of the sight gags I use”, only three do not require any type of audience participation. For me when selecting the effects I look first and foremost, can the audience participate from their table and not have to be on stage and if so can they be on stage if I wish them to be or the venue setup can allow it.

Participation for me can be anything from asking someone to think of a card and then later naming it, to asking them to stand up where they are and read a slip of paper I have attached to a Frisbee that I tossed out to them or had taped under their seat.

When it comes to effects that I have found work best for this, I have to say for me Mentalism has most of this built in already so I lean more to the mental stuff when searching out my effects for stand-up.

The second important factor for me is dead time. In my stand-up show everything flows very quickly so I also analyze my effects that if I need someone up with me can it be done with no particular type of person, male, female, young or old. This way I can use anyone from the front row to cut down on arrival to stage and seating time. Then for my effects where they can stay where they are I use people that are mid-way back of the audience so the entire audience feels as if they were part of the show and not just the lucky ;-) few in the front row.
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.

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Sealegs
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Floyd,

I'm guessing from the content of your post above that your answer is addressing the question generally rather than as it specifically applies to comedy clubs? (mainly due to the amount of mentalism type effects you refer to) But maybe I've got that wrong and you are talking about comedy clubs? Or maybe you don't see any difference between comedy clubs and other venues in this regard?

I was wondering what, if any, the specific environment of a comedy club might bring to bear on the question?
Neal Austin

"The golden rule is that there are no golden rules." G.B. Shaw
Floyd Collins
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Neal,
My stand-up show is designed for Comedy Clubs, College Shows, Pubs/Bars and small Platform shows. Yes for Comedy Clubs all the requirements are the same for me. To be honest I don’t do a lot of comedy club venues these days because the money is not there for me. I live in a tourist area and the money is better in other venues for me. So I work more in the colleges, night clubs, privet clubs and corporate with my stand-up. So you are somewhat correct, however the main difference in the venues is the amount of time you have to do your show. If they are not laughing then I am not doing comedy no matter where I am performing it.

My goals date way back to my trial and error days and what I learned working mainly comedy clubs and the types of effects I found work best for me and why.

Mentalism or Magic is just the vessel for the comedy the only reason I lean to Mental more than Magic is the built in needed check marks I found works best for me to work in those types of environments, with the type of audience expectations when you bill yourself as a comedy magician. In contrast my parlor and stage show has less mentalism and more magic but is just as funny and enjoyable for me to perform. However my goals do change some and the check boxes are different for those venues. The flow is slower and I can allow more time for them to come to stage and be seated because I do not need to sustain the laughter as much as in my stand-up.
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.

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Floyd Collins
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After re-reading my post above I guess you could say I look at Stand-Up as a show that is well suited for Comedy Clubs because the primary focus when I designed it was to perform in the Comedy Club environments, and my Stage show in a different light because I designed it for a different type of audience expectation. But the audience participation is the same in both types of shows.

I hope I am clear on this and maybe I am the only one who views it this way all I know is it works for me!
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.

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magicgeorge
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You don't do comedy clubs for the money you do them for the experience.

You don't do other people's routines in them. You do your own stuff and die on your hoop repeatedly until you are good.
Floyd Collins
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Well put George and is why I don't do comedy clubs much anymore, unless I want to break in a new routine. Good points..
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.

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BrianMillerMagic
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As for the issue of audience participation in comedy clubs, my act is 90% participation. However, the 10% that ISN'T is the first 8 minutes. I have an opening gag, then a full magic routine, and then a bit of straight stand-up that takes 8-10 minutes before I ask for my first audience volunteer to come on stage. From there on, the show is pure volunteers. I need that opening time to establish my character and get them on my side before I allow the audience to dictate where the rest of the show goes.
Sealegs
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Brian wrote: "...before I ask for my first audience volunteer.... .....I need [ ] opening time to establish my character and get them on my side..."

(I've used a bit of artistic license in picking out Brain's words but hopefully he'll forgive me for that and hopefully the point I'm emphasising with his words is an accurate paraphrasing of what he was saying)

It seems (to me at least) that this would be a basic requirement for a show in any environment, (theatre, social club, holiday resort,.. etc) and not just for the comedy club environment.

Perhaps then, in regard to getting people up to assist with routines, comedy clubs aren't any different at all to any other performing enviroment. I certainly can't think of why any different 'rules' should or might apply.

I think this might have been what the original poster was wondering.... namely are there any aspects specific to comedy clubs that should be considered when contemplating using volunteers. Possibly he was thinking about the audiences' attitude to this tactic? Their willingness to join in? Or the praticalities of getting someone up?

Personally I can't see that a comedy club should or would be any different from any other show environment and that's what I am also picking up from what's been posted here.

I personally don't use this type of audience participation in my own shows (What!!!) which was why I asked for others to comment on this. But if I were to use this kind of audience participation I wouldn't see any reason to treat a comedy club venue any differently to any other venue.

I think George's comment on a different point, "You don't do comedy clubs for the money you do them for the experience." is an interesting one.

I think in essence this is, at it's core, a true statement... but I also know a lot of performers who make their living virtually exclusively from working the comedy club circuit and so for them it is about making money as it is their only revenue stream. I think though that even for these performers there is a feeling that the comedy clubs are a stepping stone. A way of honing your craft as a writer and performer until you go off and have success as an author, or land your own TV show, or become a screenplay writer or whatever.

When I think of the people I used to work with on the comedy club circuit; Graham Norton, Steve Coogan, Lee Evans, Partrick Marber, Harry Hill, Eddie Izzard, Dominic Holland, Bob Mills, Kevin Day, Alan Davis, and the list goes on and on and on... It's easy to see why the comedy clubs can be (rightly) seen as a stepping stone to bigger things.

Writers, (one an oscar winner!) Hollywood actors, TV stars......................................................................................

....................................................................................................................................and almost as impressively, cruise ship acts. Smile
Neal Austin

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Floyd Collins
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Neal I want to touch on something you said here.
"Perhaps then, in regard to getting people up to assist with routines, comedy clubs aren't any different at all to any other performing environment. I certainly can't think of why any different 'rules' should or might apply."

The main issue I find with Comedy Club room’s then with most other venues where comedy is being performed is that most comedy clubs, at least in the Mid-West the seating is very tight and the stage is more of a platform then a stage capable of handling no more than you, a stool and maybe one other person if you’re lucky. Some clubs I have worked the MC had to step off so I could step on. Maybe that's because I am a big guy.. but I don't think so.

Also the wait staff is buzzing around ordering drinks and this does not make for an ideal situation to bring people up on stage for me anyways. This is why I elect to make sure my stand-up routines fit this setting and can be performed with them at their table or if the room has space and the platform is big enough so I can bring them up with me I can. Not a rule per-say but one I follow after working those rooms in my younger days starting out tipping my toes in the stand-up waters. Oddly the room size has gotten smaller then in the 90s when I was working them the most.

First few rows are normally never an issue but most the time they are so close they can stand up and be almost on the platform with me so having them stand at their table works just as well for my effects. Maybe this is a location thing but around these parts, our comedy clubs are packed and the seating is very close and tight.
No one said it would be easy, or did they?

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Sealegs
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The same can be said for the sizes of the stages typically found in comedy club venues in the UK. Certainly many venues would make a 10 person chair routine both impractical and impossible (At least the audience can thank their luck stars they are spared that).

As Floyd said about many US comedy clubs the same is so in the UK I that often the stage just has enough room for the performer. I can certainly remember some venues where I could only just fit my small props box on stage with me. It's certaionly something to consider when moving into the comedy club arena. Even getting on and off the stages can be a bit of an obstacle course. A lot of these venues certainly aren't conducive to going on with much in the way of props.

Working from a small bag, briefcase or your pockets is probably an advisable thing to consider when planning material from scratch. Those who work comedy clubs as their main income usually try (need) to double up where possible on gigs. Doing an early spot at one venue and then scuttling across town to do another elsewhere...and maybe then racing back to the first venue if they have a second later show. Having props that take time to pack or reset... or that are a problem to carry make this difficult to impossible.

Having said that I always used to end my comedy club set with the Yogana chair levitation which weighed a ton and was a real pain move anywhere. However doubling wasn't an issue or priority for me when I was working the comedy clubs as my motivation was definitely something other than the money so I would only ever do the one venue in a night.
Neal Austin

"The golden rule is that there are no golden rules." G.B. Shaw
Floyd Collins
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Thanks Neal I feel better knowing my area is not the only ones with the space limitations.

One other thought you triggered is getting off stage quickly for the next act.

I was never good enough to be a headliner in the comedy clubs, I was always an opener or middle spot guy. Now I feel I could keep up as a headliner but back then no way. I know for me getting off the stage so the MC could do their thing and introduce the headliner was a biggie for me. Just tossing that out there as another reason why when starting out prop management is much different in that setting.
No one said it would be easy, or did they?

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magicgeorge
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In my comedy magic show for weddings and stuff like that I'll get several volunteers up but in comedy clubs I'll only get a volunteer up once usually at the end and even if I'm doing a 40 minute headlining set.
I think it's an interesting and unusual thing to do in a comedy club but I don't like to overuse the ruse.

I must be kind of lucky as most venues I play have enough room to get a volunteer up. In fact in the comedy club I MC I have got 9 volunteers on the stage at once, once. But for the back of a pub gigs where there is little space I usually manage to work something out.

I think you got what I meant when I said "you don't do comedy clubs for the money". Of course there are plenty of professionals making a living doing comedy clubs but I don't think any of them started out trying to make money. You start out trying to make funny and if you get good the money follows. It's hard work and takes time and effort so that's why I feel you shouldn't be doing prescripted routines in comedy clubs but working on your magic with the same ethics comedians work on their material.

Having said that I have to admit I do break my own rule and will throw in an old visual gag such as stretching my thumb or something like that but it's always with my own words and motivation.

I'm not really saying that comedy clubs are always used as a stepping stone to other things, some may use them that way but in the case of Eddie Izzard and Lee Evans (and Connolly) they're still mostly doing the same thing but in huge venues. I often think it's a shame when good stand ups get sucked into the world of panel shows and such and can't be bothered to do actual stand up any more.

All the best,
George
Sealegs
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I got what you meant George. Smile
Neal Austin

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Floyd Collins
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George, I fully agree and I too think that bring someone up in a comedy club is an unusual thing to do as well and I also don’t like to over use it.

Some more thoughts on this.
The point I was trying to make about space for audience member to be up with the performer, is that when I build my routines I take into consideration the space limitation at some, well in my case most clubs. This way no matter what room size I perform I can perform the same show.

When I first started performing I had a show for just about every type of audience and venue. It was truly a mess keeping track of what routines went for what shows. Then about 14 years ago I decided on creating a pack flat play big show that I could do anyplace, anywhere and anytime. This worked out great for the first year or so, but then I found myself back to my old habits of brining way too much to a show that I did not need. I then sat back and decided that I need three types of shows I am booked to perform the most.
1. Stand-Up – That will allow for parlor, comedy clubs and smaller sized rooms and seating.
2. Stage – That will allow for a larger area to perform and a larger audience.
3. Close Up – That will allow for table hopping and strolling.

I was not 100% happy with my stand-up show when I first developed it. I always felt that my stage show was the one the audience liked the most. After analyzing the shows a bit more I discovered that people who loved my stage show did so because I involved the whole audience in the experience. Whereas my stand-up was more about me and my jokes illustrated with magic then participation from the audience.
That is when I started looking for effects that could be done in that setting yet involve the audience. When I say looking for effect I do not mean the patter that goes with them.

I re-script all my effects for my own character and style I feel this is a must no matter where you are performing. I have many many books on magic, and when I am brainstorming a new routine or idea I look in those book as well as what is on the market today for ideas and if I can use something I find with my own twist too it.
Sorry for rambling on about this.

I just wish someone would have given me this advice when I started out, is it for everyone NO but I hope it gives those who are reading this thread something to think about. I do feel effect selection is very important and the type of venue is key to making sure your show is portable and able to be performed in any type of environment.

--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.

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terrillific
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I’ve done standup and Improv comedy for 15 years without doing any magic. I saw a lot of comics try to do comedy and magic but they couldn’t work it out right. There are some hilarious comedy magicians that work the comedy clubs and Vegas but they honed their comedy chops for many years doing small gigs. The best advice I can give anyone who wants to a funny comic is to get as much stage time as you can. Tape all your sets and watch and listen to them to see what works and what doesn’t work. Go to Open Mics and anywhere to perform as much as you can.

I also recommend taking a improv classes. Improv help me a lot in my presentation for Standup and magic.
Sealegs
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I wonder if Jeff Dell who started the thead will get back to us and tell us what he ended up doing with his approach to comedy clubs.

Common Jeff we wanna here from you. Smile
Neal Austin

"The golden rule is that there are no golden rules." G.B. Shaw
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