Sunday, November 8, 2009
COMEDY IS MAGIC (and Magic is Comedy)
I recently reconnected with an old friend on Facebook: the hilarious MAX ALEXANDER. Years ago, when we opened Crazy Girls at the Riviera, it was a 3-times a night show, with Max as the special guest star. I remember standing in back of the house and laughing (really laughing) every single set Max did, every single night. There is nobody funnier than MAX ALEXANDER.
So I'm looking at Max's Facebook page and I smile when I see he's posted STEVE MARTIN'S 'Great Flydini' video. Max did a film with his friend STEVE MARTIN and it got me thinking about comedy and magic.
Comedy is magic and magic is comedy.
You see, for a joke to work-for a comic to really kill- you need a set-up and a surprise punchline. And more than that, the performer has to be likeable. The audience has to care enough to identify with him. Now in magic, there's the pledge. Without it, you have nothing. And the turn is the surprise, the self same surprise that makes a joke a joke. Great comics (and good magicians) use misdirection and the result is something unique.
Because timing is all important, I know why so many performers are good magicians (Steve Martin, Johnny Carson, Dom Deluise; FRANK SINATRA loved magic and showed me some pretty great card things backstage), but I am surprised (and not in a good way) at how many magicians aren't good performers. Working today there is NO BETTER COMEDY MAGICIAN than JUSTIN KREDIBLE. I say that not because he's a friend. If I hated him I'd say the same thing. I happen to feel the opposite of hate which makes it more fun to write with him. Justin "gets" magic, he understands why it works. He has the natural feel for timing that allows him to make it all look so easy. Maybe it's because he's not worried about looking cool that allows him to be great. I don't know, but I do know that there are too many magicians who don't seem to understand what's what.
If you want to improve you magic act, consider the art of comedy. Think about who you are playing on stage, what your character is. The young actor R.J.CANTU is onto something when he brings his dramatic skills to the magic stage but maybe the answer is even lighter than that--- maybe the answer is comedy.
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