"King of Hearts, Come Down And Dance"

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Jack Shalom
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"King of Hearts, Come Down And Dance"

Postby Jack Shalom » September 29th, 2018, 6:14 am

I thought some of you might be interested in viewing Steve Martin perform this unpublished card miracle:

https://jackshalom.net/2018/09/29/king- ... and-dance/

Joe Mckay
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Re: "King of Hearts, Come Down And Dance"

Postby Joe Mckay » September 29th, 2018, 11:13 am

I don't get this this.

I see it so much on US talk shows.

Smart people being silly.

And that is supposed to be comedy?

It seems to be an America tradition. Over here in the UK - it is different. Maybe because we don't have thousands of hours of talk shows each year, leading to a desperate search for comedy schtick that can be used to fill up the airwaves?

Letterman and Carson are supposed to be the best. But I have never seen anything genuinely funny on those shows. The audiences will laugh at anything. So much so they even laugh when the host is trying to be serious.

Check out the Michael Richards apology for his racist outburst.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hYrmPUwknk

Or when Letterman was talking about the attempt at blackmail and extortion he had to report to the police.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7f9D4KclJw

These shows are fun. But they have made made me genuinely laugh.

JHostler
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Re: "King of Hearts, Come Down And Dance"

Postby JHostler » September 29th, 2018, 11:21 am

Method #7 can be found on page 405 of M.I.N.T. volume 2. Brilliant.
It's a Firkin great day at http://www.absurdulous.com!

Jeff Haas
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Re: "King of Hearts, Come Down And Dance"

Postby Jeff Haas » September 29th, 2018, 8:48 pm

Joe, that was Steve Martin back when he was on fire. He had a deliberate almost anti-comedy style that went against the standard comedy of the time. If you're not familiar with his work I can see how it wouldn't make sense to you.

There was a period when Steve Martin was one of the hottest comics in America, and so him showing up on The Tonight Show was a big deal.

This is also when American comedy was pretty gentle and low-key. We had nothing like Monty Python. The Pythons were an acquired taste, and only shown on PBS.

Joe Mckay
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Re: "King of Hearts, Come Down And Dance"

Postby Joe Mckay » September 30th, 2018, 6:18 am

I am familiar with Steve Martin's work.

You make an interesting point about the "anti-comedy" style. In the modern era that is a bit of a crutch at times for unfunny people to try and be funny. So I guess it loses its impact when you are watching a clip from 35 years ago.

A bit like with Andy Kaufman - I guess that kind of comedy is funnier when you are there in the room sitting in the audience. Still - I do think that style evolved into that zany Letterman style where anything is funny as long as it is weird, silly and makes no sense.

A comedian I really like is Norm Macdonald. And he thinks Letterman is the most important comedian of the modern era. Because he created a template that most people copy without realising it. There is a lot of truth in that. If you look at a lot of the things Letterman was most famous for - you can see its influence on the kind of silly/snarky humour we see a lot online and in videos that go viral.

Stupid Pet Tricks. Top Ten Lists. Dropping Stuff Off A Roof.

Norm Macdonald credits Howard Stern as being the only other important influence on modern comedy as well. Norm has a lot of interesting opinions about the nature of comedy. His favourite comedian was Bob Hope. Precisely because he could be funny without actually saying something funny. He also thinks Hope wasn't even that funny - but the fact that he could make you smile and feel warm was in of itself the most important thing a comedian can do. He almost thinks that being funny is not the most important part of comedy.

Tom Gilbert
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Re: "King of Hearts, Come Down And Dance"

Postby Tom Gilbert » September 30th, 2018, 8:44 am

There are a lot of originals out there, some funny, some not so much, but that's personal preference. Jack Benny is another with his own style.
Very few could get a laugh with their arms folded across their chest and staring off into space without saying a word.

JHostler
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Re: "King of Hearts, Come Down And Dance"

Postby JHostler » September 30th, 2018, 10:13 am

Joe Mckay wrote:A comedian I really like is Norm Macdonald. And he thinks Letterman is the most important comedian of the modern era. Because he created a template that most people copy without realising it. There is a lot of truth in that. If you look at a lot of the things Letterman was most famous for - you can see its influence on the kind of silly/snarky humour we see a lot online and in videos that go viral.


As a huge Norm fan myself, I find this fascinating. It took me YEARS to "get" him - precisely because I didn't have a feel for his delivery. Great comedians, like great magicians, can breathe life into material ill-suited for mere mortals. Macdonald is a genius in this regard... as was Steve Martin in his day. But if it doesn't "grab you," it just doesn't.

Something Jerry Garcia once said (concerning the Grateful Dead) seems to apply here: “We're like licorice. Not everybody likes licorice, but the people who like licorice really like licorice.”
It's a Firkin great day at http://www.absurdulous.com!

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Steve Bryant
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Re: "King of Hearts, Come Down And Dance"

Postby Steve Bryant » September 30th, 2018, 11:53 am

Thanks, Jack. I always loved that Steve Martin bit. And used to steal it.

BTW Steve and Martin Short were in town recently and just great. The live show was similar to but way better than the Netflix program.

Bill Mullins
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Re: "King of Hearts, Come Down And Dance"

Postby Bill Mullins » September 30th, 2018, 2:56 pm

I like Steve Martin so much that I would almost sit through a Martin Short performance to see Steve Martin. Almost.

Joe Mckay
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Re: "King of Hearts, Come Down And Dance"

Postby Joe Mckay » September 30th, 2018, 3:57 pm

JHostler wrote:As a huge Norm fan myself, I find this fascinating. It took me YEARS to "get" him - precisely because I didn't have a feel for his delivery. Great comedians, like great magicians, can breathe life into material ill-suited for mere mortals. Macdonald is a genius in this regard... as was Steve Martin in his day. But if it doesn't "grab you," it just doesn't.[/i]

Norm Macdonald is a fascinating person to listen to in an interview. I am convinced he is a legitimate genius. He has an interesting taste in books. He only reads the old Russian masters. And he has gone bankrupt a few times due to addiction to sports betting. On one occasion he even threw his last 60 grand into the Atlantic ocean after a series of bad gambling losses as an act of spiritual cleansing.

In one interview he even recited a lengthy gambling poem which he claims he only heard once. But it stuck in his head forever - word for word. Apparently Andy Kaufman had this ability as well. He used to be embarrassed on the set of 'Taxi' that he could instantly memorize his lines with just one read through.

Here is an email I sent to a magician friend a couple of years ago. It discusses Norm's perspective on comedy, and how it has helped shaped my thinking about magic.

-----------------

My favourite comedian is Norm Macdonald. One of the cool things with him is that he is utterly fascinating to listen to in the serious interviews he has given on various podcasts.

He has an odd taste in comedy himself (one that doesn't resonate with me). He actually thinks Bob Hope is the greatest comedian of all-time.

He justified this by saying that he feels the highest form of comedy is to not destroy people with laughter. But to sort of get people into a good natured frame of mind where pretty much anything is funny. In a way – he is more interested in chuckles than killer laughs. As long as the material he is working on is genuinely interesting as opposed to getting a chuckle from a hack bit or a dumb pun.

My take on his thoughts were this. As with magic - there is a technique to stand-up comedy. As beginners in magic we assume that fooling people with a trick is this incredibly difficult thing that takes years of practice. When in fact it can be learned quite easily.

The same is true of stand-up comedy. Getting laughter from an audience becomes automatic once you have the basic techniques in place (admittedly these are harder to learn with comedy than with magic).

Indeed - there are a number of comedians I don't even like. Who can still get a laugh from me quite easily. Since it isn't too difficult to craft material in a way that will surprise an audience and get a laugh.

Anyway - from listening to Norm Macdonald the impression I get is that he finds "being funny" too easy. To the extent that it is no longer the fundamental goal for him in comedy since it is so easy to achieve.

This chimes with some of the thoughts I have about magic. Fooling people with magic is easy. And after awhile you want a different challenge. With Norm Macdonald - he found that aiming for a state-of-mind where you could see the absurdity and strangeness of life in a good humoured way was a more interesting goal for his comedy.

As opposed to trying to "destroy" the audience with the funniest material possible (which is how most other comedians approach comedy - particularly early on in their career).

I mention this since I feel magicians can learn from Norm's thoughts in this area. Focusing on strong magic that fools people is a trap that you can fall into. And ultimately - I sense spectators find it a bit irritating after awhile. Whereas - mixing in more absurd approaches to magic allows the spectator to consider magic from the point of view of more than simply "Was I fooled or not?".

It is just interesting to hear a great comedian talk about the fact that getting laughs is not his main goal in comedy.

JHostler
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Re: "King of Hearts, Come Down And Dance"

Postby JHostler » September 30th, 2018, 4:21 pm

I've observed the same re Macdonald. He seems to enjoy "talking theory" in serious interviews, and never comes across as anything less than brilliant. I doubt most in his profession really think about what they're doing the way he does.

It's funny... I posted something about [Samuel] Beckett on Naturalness in another thread, and the topic addressed there applies equally well to Norm. In performance, he creates a universe with an internal logic that lends itself to otherwise absent hilarity.
It's a Firkin great day at http://www.absurdulous.com!

Joe Mckay
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Re: "King of Hearts, Come Down And Dance"

Postby Joe Mckay » September 30th, 2018, 8:25 pm

I am currently listening to Penn Jillette on the Penn's Sunday School podcast. The one that went out on August 19, 2018.

In passing - Penn mentions that he doesn't understand Satire.

I am with him on that one.

If you have something funny to say about some one - just say it. Parodying somebody instead is a very strange way to be funny. It puts mockery ahead of the comedy. And that feeling of manipulation stops you from enjoying the comedy.


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