OPINION: Comedy Magic

OPINION: Comedy Magic
I’m going to come straight out and say it, comedy diminishes the magic of any trick. It just does. If you want to perform hard hitting miracles and present the most powerful magic possible, you need to be playing it straight.

For me, comedy is a crutch and always has been, I take it everywhere for support so inevitably it is very much the focus of my magical performances. The magic tricks pay the price but I try to get the balance right and I have dropped lines or comedic ideas when I’ve considered them overpowering. Usually regretfully, I do like getting a laugh.

Magic is all about entertainment, and personally if I can’t hear laughter, I think the audience is bored, I suspect this stems from my childhood (more of that later), but silence can also be attention, rapture and suspense. These states of mind are so important to a magic trick and comedy alleviates them.

Should you try and add comedy to your magic? Unless it comes naturally, I would say wholeheartedly NO. Concentrate on improving the magical experience instead. But if you have a funny bone, go for it.

I’d like nothing more than to be a straight magician blowing peoples socks off, getting audible gasps from a crowd. The truth is I just can’t, partly due to a lack of self-confidence and partly due to my childhood. Actually, it all goes back to my Dad.

My Dad was a funny guy and a huge practical joker. Everything was mined for humour, it was to be frank, exhausting and at times painful. When he wasn’t joking we would listen to comedy records together (yep on Vinyl), Billy Connolly (The Big Yin) was my favourite but also Hancock’s Half Hour, The Goons and the like. He would laugh a lot, he loved the people behind those voices.

And so, comedy was very important to me as a child and whilst growing up I developed a natural comedy timing, a knowledge of joke structure and most importantly delivery.

If you want to add comedy to your tricks you need these attributes, even if you are nabbing stock lines or using the provided patter. Understanding the joke or the line is vital, just saying it doesn’t work.

There are books on jokes structure, but nothing that deals with adding it to magic. I only write a few proper jokes as a pre-amble to start my act and introduce myself otherwise it is all blended into the routines and the books won’t help with that.

So my tips are:
BE SPECIFIC: There is comedy gold in the details. Just listen to a Pulp song, the lyrics really paint a picture.

BE GENUINE: Get the comedy from your truth, who you are. You’ll also be original.

YOUR ATTITUDE: Accentuate your attitude to things, life in general. Express how you feel. Exaggerating your feelings is a great source comedy even if it is pain.

MAKE THE TRICK FUNNY: If the trick is inherently comedic then you are half way there. Anyone would struggle to get laughs from the traditional roulette routines with a spike, but do it with hair clippers.....

EXPERIENCE COMEDY: Hanging out with funny people is best way to learn comedy, if not friends then go to comedy clubs. I recommend newcomer nights, as you get to see lots of styles and lots of failures as well as successes.
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