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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Now that’s funny! » » The Danger of One-Liners (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

TheHelpingHand
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It seems to me that you can take anything in life, add humor to it, and it improves. Take this, for example: “There is a wolf that chases a bird, making every effort to kill it. Its entire life, in fact, is devoted to ending the bird’s life and making sure that the bird never breathes again.” Doesn’t sound too uplifting right? But put that same situation in the context of Wilie Coyote and the Roadrunner, and everything changes. That is how powerful humor is.

So I decided to take the initiative and make humor cornerstone to my magic. I went out and did some hard research on comedy. Yes, I slaved away for hours learning how to be funny. Where did my research come from? Comedy Central, Friday nights. I watched Friday Night Standup (good, bad, and okay comedians) every chance I got, and I watched it with a critical eye. You can really learn a lot from just observing professional comedians and every word that comes out of their mouth. I then read an incredible book that I recommend without reservation: Comedy Writing Secrets.

The first and most important thing I learned was that it’s not what you say, but how you say it. I noticed that comedians connected with their audience not with jokes alone, but with their own personality. If you want proof, watch one of these shows. Notice how you’ll chuckle at a few things, but the audience (who is there in person) laughs much harder at pretty much everything that comes out of the comedian’s mouth. Why is that? Because it’s more about the person telling the jokes than it is the jokes themselves. A funny person is not someone who knows a lot of jokes, just as a great magician can’t just be someone who knows a lot of tricks. There is a lot of stuff behind a joke (pausing, tone of voice, expressions, and attitude) that make the joke funny. Therefore, my first piece of advice to you is this: stay away from one-liners. If you have a couple of funny things that you say each time, fine. But if you are trying to be funny in magic, don’t scour the internet for funny one-liners. You will end up sounding like a canned performer.

Instead, learn how to be a funny person, and then use a couple of lines to deliver this humor.

Those are my thoughts on the subject anyway. I'm personally objected to one-liners. How about you?
- Dan the Man
Macbeth
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London
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I think it depends on who you are. If you have that rapport with an audience and know how to deliver them it make one liners funny.

If not it is just pure cheesy!
procyonrising
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Gosh, his name escapes me at the moment, but he's a writer for David Letterman. He says (and I'm paraphrasing) that people love people who use one-liners. They sit up and pay attention because you never know what they'll say next.

Everyone uses one-liners; Chris Rock, Tim Allen, Jerry Seinfeld, Rita Rudner, you name it, they've used it. The thing is, they don't use their lines out of context. For instance, Tim Allen makes jokes about men and women (and thus, doesn't zing one-liners about black people and white people). When magicians do it, however, they borrow lines that are often out of character. For instance, if you were to steal a line from Steve Wright - a guy whose act is completely made up of one-liners, it probably won't have the same impact because all Steve's lines are based on his burnt-out character.

If you're writing comedy for yourself, you will inevitably include a few one-liners. However, for your sake, I hope they're relevant, personal and honest. That's what's funny.
RonCalhoun
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Helping Hand, look up any local comedy clubs and ask if they offer "a comedy workshop". The workshop will usally meet once a week for about 6 to 8 weeks. They cost from $200 to $350 dollars.

If that's too much money, then stop kidding yourself, your not serious about learning comedy.

If Calling the club is too much work stop kidding yourself, your still not serious about learning comedy.
Kenardo1
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I strongly recommend reading Steve Allen's books on humor - especially Funny People and How to be Funny. In Funny People he analyzes various comedians and why they were funny and successful. One can take those thoughts and apply them to today's comics and oneself. Another must read are Perret's books on comedy; some are better than others; his comedy writing workbook is quite good. Good Luck!
Daniel Faith
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Nothing wrong with using one liners.
It's how you use them. You can't just throw them in indiscreminatly. If they are worked into the patter where they fit they are great.
Every magician I know uses one liners somewhere in there act.
Daniel Faith
The Great Smartini
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Thanks for the lead...check out your local library...mine has both of these titles which I have just requested...looking forward to reading them!

Quote:
On 2004-10-21 21:39, Kenardo1 wrote:
I strongly recommend reading Steve Allen's books on humor - especially Funny People and How to be Funny. In Funny People he analyzes various comedians and why they were funny and successful. One can take those thoughts and apply them to today's comics and oneself. Another must read are Perret's books on comedy; some are better than others; his comedy writing workbook is quite good. Good Luck!
RonCalhoun
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Independence, KY USA
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Talking about books, if you're serious about writing comedy for your act, then you need to check out this link.
There are some great books on comedy writing and other resources on this link.

http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewt......24&4
Sergeant
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One liners are great if they are well-placed in your show. I have seen magicians and comedians use rapid-fire one liners that were funny but as the show progresses, you find that you are not going anywhere. A comedy show, or any show for that matter, must have a destination. If a one liner helps you get there, great, but if it is put in the show simply to get a laugh it might hurt the overall development of your act.

The material for your show should be fresh and not a rehash of old stale one liners. At a minimum try to update them. Having funny observations about things that you or the audience is doing is great. But stay away from the usual overdone hack material. Do not get a book on one liners and then simply pick out the 50 best ones and put them in your show. Study them and then see if you can adapt them to fit your character and tricks.

One liners are funny, right up until you see a comedian that has a well-thought out routine that builds on each joke and/or topic.

Good call on those books Kenardo1. I thought I was the only one that read Steve Allen. The book on Funny Men was quite insightful if you are trying to build a character for your comedy show.

Sergeant
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