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Sealegs
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Knowing the expectations of your audience and only doing stuff that your comfortable with help to act as a guide in this matter.

But it's interesting to hear what others have to say. Especially those that have all or nothing views. All blue material is bad... no foul language is ever acceptable... I respect these opinions if that's what some people think but I'd like to know the basis of any comments along these lines.

Personally I don't do any blue material but I'm not averse to hearing some in an appropriate setting.
Neal Austin

"The golden rule is that there are no golden rules." G.B. Shaw
Bob Sanders
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Paying audiences are filled with people with "all or nothing" views. If you are a professional, those are your employers. With 54 years in the professional entertainment industry (music/recording, rodeo, and 51 years in stage magic) my observation for most acts, trashy material is a career kiss of death. For years I owned a successful talent agency (booking, personal management, event planning, and trading in recording contracts) day after day I saw talented performers permanently removed from consideration and bid lists for even occassionally slipping into inappropriate blue material. They were blocked forever from the better venues. It did not mean that they didn't work at all, but the greatest differences were in who they got opportunities to work with, who would represent them, and where they were welcome to perform.
Don't think a rodeo clown never renamed a bull, but it was not a career builder! (I can't believe that I have friends in their 60's still fighting bulls! But I do.)
Never forget that audiences rule. Professional talent buyers actually entertain audiences. We are just tools in the trade. The supply is endless.
How long do you plan to be a working act?
Bob Sanders

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Sealegs
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Bob... what about Chris rock, Eddie Murphy Richard Prior, Chubby Brown, Jerry Sadowitz and a bunch of others have had and have pretty long careers based on the bluest of material? They've all made a pretty good living from it too.

It might be true to say that an audience of people turning up to a 'stag' night or late night triple-x-rated show might also have a range of 'all or nothing views' but shouldn't the general expectations of the type and style of comedy associated with such venues not be catered for? Wouldn't a performer in this environment be letting the audience down by deciding to cater to the most prim and proper sensibilities of whoever may potentially be in the crowd rather than providing the type of entertainment that one might expect to see in such settings?

There's a woman magic act in Benidorm on the Spanish, Costa Del Sol who strips naked and then does a multitude of... erm... productions. Large silk hankies, flags of all nations, walking canes (I bet Fantasio never imagined that particular presentation), a string of sausages, a string of razor blades, lit lightbulbs..... She used to work 3 venues a night and packed them out. She was famous in Benidorm earned a very good living for years had a huge following and... it gets better.... eventually passed the act onto her daughter!! (You can't make this stuff up) The audiences flocked to see her show which would be in various hot heaving bars at between 1am-5 am in the morning.

It's not to my taste at all but there are obviously loads of people who find this fine and want to go and see it. It's hard to believe that her show comes as a surprise to those that flock to see it. It's advertised as the, 'Sexy magic Lady'.

Bob referred to acts 'slipping into inappropriate material' and I agree that for a jobbing act it would be a huge mistake to do this and I don't think that anyone would be surprised at Bob's experiences of the repercussions of such incidences as described in his post above.

I though was wondering more about those that have expressed views that such material is never appropriate regardless of the environment. The idea that there isn't any appropriate environment for example.
Neal Austin

"The golden rule is that there are no golden rules." G.B. Shaw
Bob Sanders
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Sealegs,

First we don't agree on what is a "long successful" career. I have booked entertainers who get more for a sales meeting than others make in Vegas. I've never seen them on the Internet or YouTube. It is simply a case of wrong cultures and markets.

However, cultures certainly count too. When working in France, my audiences were very accomplished business owners living in France to avoid living in the UK. They were very formal and proper and valued skill. I have also worked my share of "leap in / limp outs" in the USA. Vocabularies are different but expectations are very different too. Transferring from one to the other is difficult and rare. In my 54 years in the industry, the only success I can remember was Red Foxx. But that was also for free network TV and of limited life. I wish them well (and some are personal friends) but I won't be investing there.

For a guy raised as a real cowboy and who served in the US Navy, I have been exposed to plenty of blue material. But for my target markets it is still a career killer. Working for members of the board of directors for me has just been a better career path than working for their hourly employees.

We know the saying, "Every tub rests on its own bottom". (The rodeo arena put enough dents in mine!)
Bob Sanders

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Sealegs
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Bob, Thanks for making this an interesting discussion.

You maybe right in saying that we differ on the definition of a long and successful career ... not though because of the acts you have booked that no one's heard of that get large sums of money. One person being successful doing 'A' for one group of people doesn't make another person unsuccessful in doing 'B' for a different group of people. Both can be successful in their own markets and with their own product.

I can't, in any way, see how the examples I gave (Chris rock, Eddie Murphy Richard Prior, Chubby Brown, Jerry Sadowitz) can be viewed as having had anything other than long successful careers. That certainly doesn't mean that others who don't travel the same comedy path as these performers aren't and can't be successful.

Is your position really that these performers have not had long successful careers or am I inappropriately implying this from your post?

You mention that in your target market blue material is a career killer. Of course I get that... it would be a career killer in my target market too. Fortunately I have no inclination to want to do any material like that. It would give me no joy or pleasure whatsoever to perform such material. But it's obvious (to me at least) that it does have a market and that many people don't have a problem with, and really enjoy such material. And I don't have a problem with it when performed in what I would view is an appropriate environment. Some people though do have a problem with it even when performed in an environment where such material is expected. I'm not sure from your posts if this is your view or not.

On a slightly different but obviously related point... is the issue of money being the measure of someone's success. While obviously financial return plays an important part in being successful I think that this one factor as a measure of success is a very American perspective. I see this as both very good, in an aspirational way and absolutely awful... the notion that money rather than some other more general package of qualities tends to be looked upon as the prevailing measure of success.

I don't know whether the 'Sexy Magic Lady' who worked the bars in Benidorm would rather be doing something else but the fact that she passed her act onto her daughter who took over from her at least suggests that she's quite content with the work. Maybe she hates it... then again maybe she loves being in 'show-business'. Certainly she isn't likely to be making the Forbes list but if she is doing her work because she enjoys it and earns enough money to live a contented happy life who's place is it to say she's not had a long successful career?

I actually think there are valid arguments to be made against blue material even in appropriate settings but I think those have to be balanced with peoples' rights to be free to both say and listen to expressions of free speech, art, comedy and whatever that some might find offensive. Personally when looking at such positions I find my desire to protect those rights and the fact that I find the odd knob gag quite funny give me an acceptance of there being a time and a place for adult humour.
Neal Austin

"The golden rule is that there are no golden rules." G.B. Shaw
Kel says poof
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Be yourself....there's a market for everything.
magicgeorge
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I was going to say what Kel said but much less succinctly.
Kel says poof
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I'm probably not going to look that word up and take it as a compliment .....just hope for the best.
magicgeorge
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That's pretty lazy, I had to google it to check the spelling.
Kel says poof
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Lol
AllAboutMagic
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Quote:
On 2012-11-03 08:06, Kel says poof wrote:
Be yourself....there's a market for everything.


This is a great quote. I think anyone who thinks in absolutes is pretty narrow minded. I tend to think along the lines of Sealegs here. It's all a matter of opinion. Just because someone thinks all blue material is bad....does that mean it is? Maybe for them, but not for most. I know people who have had long and successful careers in magic, but are in fact HORRIBLE magicians . Just look at some of the promo videos of members on the Café.......LOL. I think if you do what you do well then you will have a long and successful career.
Chad Sanborn
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I don't use any offensive or foul language. Nor do I even hint at such language. But I do use a lot of sexual innuendo in my body
language and props. (i do find a chosen card inside a sealed envelope inside my pants zipper)
would this be considered 'adult' or 'blue'? where do you draw the line?
I am also the only person I know who got disqualified from a magic competition for 'working blue'.
Here is the disqualifying 'blue joke':
"They say when you are nervous you should close your eyes for a moment, and when you open them, you should picture your audience naked" suiting actions to words I closed my eyes briefly and reopened them. I then pointed a lady and said "thank you for coming tonight!"
And then I pointed at a man and said, "you must be real proud. stay away from my girlfriend"
Is that blue? adult? or is it in some undefined area?
T. Durden
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Quote:
On 2012-11-03 08:06, Kel says poof wrote:
Be yourself....there's a market for everything.


I agree 100%.

Quote:
On 2010-01-17 14:57, Frank Starsini wrote:
If you try to create an act by removing anything you're afraid might offend someone, you'll end up with a bland act that pleases no-one.


YES YES YES. I do an adult act. I ONLY do an adult act. The content ranges from roughly PG-13 (for company parties) to R (biker bars), but the entire act has been written for an adult audience. That's just who I am and what I do. My sense of humor happens to be best appreciated by adults.

I didn't know this, but apparently I do the same as Seabrooke did - same show, different words. Feelsgoodman.

Here's something to think about. I was sick & tired of people sending booking requests for kid shows ("every magician is for kids, right?"), so in order to communicate, at a glance, that I do not do a kid show, I added one of those "parental advisory" stickers to my posters, website, etc. I know many people here think that is such a horrible idea, but ya know what? It actually doubled my booking requests every week.

I may have alienated a large segment... But the APPEAL increased exponentially for the type of market I enjoy the most and can do the best.

It's all about specialization and knowing your market/demographics/audience. There is no cut and dry "adult humor is good or bad" way to approach this, and if you think in black & white absolutes, quite frankly, you're a moron.

It's all about finding what you do best, jumping in deep, and specializing without apology.

When you strip away the superficial "I don't swear and neither should you" crap, it seems that the discussions on this topic are almost always *actually* about "should we specialize, or be bland?"

Yes. Specialize. And if your specialty market/audience happens to like a little raw language and innuendo, then use it.

If you're best at adult shows, OWN it. And if you're best at kid shows, then by all means, specialize in THAT. But I think way too many magicians (most of them?) try to be all things to all people, and THAT is a career kiss of death.

"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody."
-Bill Cosby
a.k.a. Nathan Allen
magicgeorge
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Quote:
On 2013-03-01 23:08, Chad Sanborn wrote:
I am also the only person I know who got disqualified from a magic competition for 'working blue'.
Here is the disqualifying 'blue joke':
"They say when you are nervous you should close your eyes for a moment, and when you open them, you should picture your audience naked" suiting actions to words I closed my eyes briefly and reopened them. I then pointed a lady and said "thank you for coming tonight!"
And then I pointed at a man and said, "you must be real proud. stay away from my girlfriend"
Is that blue? adult? or is it in some undefined area?


Goodness, that sounds pretty prudish of them. Was it for a family audience or something?

I think a likeable stage persona helps a lot too. If the audience warms to you you can get away with a lot more.
T. Durden
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Quote:
On 2013-03-02 13:49, magicgeorge wrote:
Quote:
On 2013-03-01 23:08, Chad Sanborn wrote:
I am also the only person I know who got disqualified from a magic competition for 'working blue'.
Here is the disqualifying 'blue joke':
"They say when you are nervous you should close your eyes for a moment, and when you open them, you should picture your audience naked" suiting actions to words I closed my eyes briefly and reopened them. I then pointed a lady and said "thank you for coming tonight!"
And then I pointed at a man and said, "you must be real proud. stay away from my girlfriend"
Is that blue? adult? or is it in some undefined area?


Goodness, that sounds pretty prudish of them. Was it for a family audience or something?

I think a likeable stage persona helps a lot too. If the audience warms to you you can get away with a lot more.


Lol. I thought his joke was pretty tame when I read it, too.

And I totally agree with the "being likeable" thing. I think Daniel Tosh can get away with murder because of his innocent, almost boyish, look and personality.
a.k.a. Nathan Allen
Jim Sparx
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I worked many years in strip joints where one might expect to hear blue material, and I also knew and have known many comics & emcees that worked these venues. The clubs in New Orleans received most of their customers from tour busses, and/or, walk-in tourist. This means grandma and grandpa and the everyday middle American from the wild cornfields of Ohio and Nebraska.
Four letter words and dirty material was forbidden by the club owners. This was stressed by the AGVA booking agents and even by the AGVA office itself. The tourist were there to see the ladies dance, and they were covered with pasties and thongs, unlike some sex clubs that advertise today.
I did topical jokes, one liners and enough magic to allow the stage to be reset for the next dancer, fill intermission times while the club was emptied for the next bus. Shows were continuous until two in the morning in NO.
I did very little edgy material. Nothing a typical farmer wouldn't hear at the filling station in Iowa city.
You can still get records of Moms Mabley, Red Foxx and a few others who played in clubs geared for the strictly adult entertainer. These clubs may be still around but I doubt if they hire magicians. If your funny, you don't need to do x rated material. My two centavos.
T. Durden
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I've actually worked clubs where "R-rated material is a must." Like, it said that in the contract.

Just depends on the club and the audience. Plus, entertainment and peoples' definition of clean vs. dirty is very subjective. What might be filthy to one person, might be pretty tame to the next.

I don't do X-rated, though.

That magic wand hurts, man.
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magicgeorge
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I'd not want to work a club where the material had to be R-rated or for that matter a club where you couldn't do R-rated.
Chad Sanborn
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I thought my joke was tame as well. Everything in it, is implied and if you find it offensive, its because you were thinking dirty, not because I actually said anything dirty. I do a lot of burlesque shows every year. (2 shows tonight!) And my material fits right in there. As a matter of fact, its pretty tame compared to some of the stuff the ladies do onstage.

You would be surprised by the number of times after a show, I will get asked if I can do a kids party. It always shocks me. Did they not just see me find a card with my male parts? Or use balloons as if they were boobs? I usually say no, and offer to give them a name of another performer in town.

Magicians (at least here in the south-bible belt) I find are very prudish. Hence being disqualified. Had I done that joke in Vegas, LA, NY or other city it probably would have gotten a chuckle and then been forgotten. Different strokes for different folks I guess.
mmmario
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I can't speak for stage work as yet but with close-up work I find what works best is allowing the audience to determine where the Line of Acceptability is drawn. I can then adjust my show accordingly.
E.g. "Would you please hold ... (I bring out two sponge balls cupped in one hand) ... ummm .... These ... for a moment? I look genuinely confused. I never say 'balls' ... No smirk, laugh or look.
If they ignore the cue, I carry on immediately and present my squeaky clean show making no further reference to them. However, if they say 'your balls?' they generally get the big laugh and I look shocked. I take this as permission to be not so squeaky clean.

A few years ago I performed for a group of nuns celebrating the centenary of their order. The youngest was about 60 and they all behaved like schoolgirls squealing with delight at everything.

The boss nun was over 80, Irish, fully alive with a mischievous twinkle in her eye. Sharp as a tack. When I offered her my ... umm ... those, she replied quite loudly "what? Hold your BALLS Mario?" A few nuns exploded.
"I'm sorry Sister, those cost extra." The nuns became hysterical.. Boss Nun then holds them, giving them a little squeeze " you know Mario, I haven't done this for a verrrry long time". I couldn't believe it! what a nun! very hard to keep a straight face. A few nuns left the room in pain. I had to wait a while for the chaos to die down enough "well, you should get out more often Sister."
Pandemonium ensued. Boss Nun gave me her blessing.

One of my favourite memories.
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