At the risk of sounding like a me too, I want to talk a little about comedy magicians. This idea has been bouncing in my head for a couple of weeks – since I returned from seeing Mac King’s great show.
Dan Mindo at Magic Uncensored is ranting in his latest post about the lame crap we pass off as comedy magic OR, my favorite, entertainment. I couldn’t agree more with his sentiments.
In a recent post, I questioned whether we are doing anyone any good by encouraging the terrible magic and jokes we see at our local clubs. There’s no good way to make it sound like anything but that really blows. It’s tough to do.
There’s no end in sight, unfortunately. I see they’re reissuing the 20th Century Bra. I can hardly wait.
Turning people off to magic one spectator at a time.
To my point. I had the pleasure of watching Mac King with my 2 adult sons. For a change I was proud to be called a magician. You can be funny, entertaining and fool people. No blue material, no cheap lines, just a smooth, professional performance. And…. he was genuinely funny. It’s probably one reason his contract was just extended for 5 years.
I sometimes wonder if these entertainers are stone deaf. Can’t they hear the strained laughter and embarrassed mumbling? Can’t they understand that this is pity applause?
Interestingly, magic, when done well, has an element of humour and whimsy. You don’t have to be Chuckles the clown. Learn to perform quality effects – well routined and develop a quality and truly entertaining script. It can be fun. Let’s move on from Robert Orben – it wasn’t that good when it was fresh and like old fish it really stinks now.
3 thoughts on “2nd Again”
Ah, does this mean you don’t like the old ‘Hold out your hand…not that one, the clean one!’?
It’s pure laziness. Bad magicians can’t be bothered to come up with their own presentation and lines, so they just copy other people’s. This has happened over and over, hence these old tired lines and old tired material.
“Can’t they hear the strained laughter and embarrassed mumbling?”
This is something that puzzles me, too. I’ve met a few people in my life who seemed genuinely oblivious to what people thought of them, and had no idea how their behavior was being received–but they’re the minority. Most people are all too aware, I think. They notice when the people around them grow uncomfortable.
Perhaps something about having to concentrate on the “secret moves” or whatever takes attention away from other people and makes it harder for feedback to penetrate. In the same way that a magician misdirects his audience, he (or she, but probably ‘he’) is himself misdirected, and misses the behavioral cues that would let him know that his lazy joke is coming off badly.
Or, sometimes tricks use a “joke” to set up the deception but the jokes are usually abysmal puns, or weak, weak groaners–and without the joke, the trick doesn’t have the extra beat that it needs to be deceptive. So rather than shelve the trick until a suitable line can be found to cover the needs of the trick (or until the trick can be reworked so as not to need it), magicians just perform it anyways, and end up alienating themselves from the intelligent people in the audience.
I don’t see a solution except doing one’s best and helping where one can. Calling out performers for their awful jokes in person doesn’t strike me as serving much of a useful purpose, however well intentioned it might be. Criticising constructively so that people can hear it is a really hard skill to acquire, in my experience. If people are looking for honest feedback, and really trying to improve, then maybe it’ll work–but those people aren’t your concern anyways, it’s the clueless that you’re worried about.
I have no idea.
My pet peeve? “I don’t care if I fool them, as long as I entertain them.”
If you don’t care if you fool them, WHY ARE YOU A FREAKIN’ MAGICIAN?! Shouldn’t you care about every aspect of your performance?
Any sentence that starts out with “I don’t care…” in regard to one’s performance shows an extreme disregard to one’s audience.