Failing on purpose for comedy

Discussions of new films, books, television shows, and media indirectly related to magic and magicians. For example, there may be a book on mnemonics or theatrical technique we should know or at least know about.
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Scottbbaird
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Failing on purpose for comedy

Postby Scottbbaird » February 18th, 2022, 1:07 am

I love when comedians "do magic", and the late, great Sean Lock's prediction effect in the video below is an excellent minute and a half of TV comedy that is well worth your time.

It brings to mind the question: Do magicians take themselves too seriously? Why don't we put moments like this in our shows?

Sean reminds us that if the goal is to entertain, we hardly have to do anything- and we definitely don't have to "get it right" all the time.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NDL2mp0z4UA

This clip is from a British game show called "8 Out of 10 Cats does Countdown", which is a letters-and-numbers quiz show that has been running for many years. Hosted by Jimmy Carr and starring "team captains" Jon Richardson and Sean Lock, a pair of new celebrity contestants each week have to solve anagrams and math problems under the pressure of a thirty second clock. A spinoff of the longer-running "Countdown", this version of the show focuses more on comedy than the puzzles, making it a great show for puzzle-minded magicians to binge on YouTube.

In the clip above, Sean unscrambled the nine letters into a word- "beamrules". Not finding it in the dictionary, he claims that it matches the prediction he made at the start of the show, which was given to co-host and mathematical genius Rachel Riley for safekeeping. Hilariously, she then reads out the contents of the envelope.

Sometimes, it's better to miss. RIP Sean.
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Dave Le Fevre
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Re: Failing on purpose for comedy

Postby Dave Le Fevre » February 18th, 2022, 3:51 am

I remember watching that episode when it was first broadcast. And I remember thinking what a brilliant piece of comedy mentalism it was.

A joy to watch it again - thank you for posting it.

As you say, RIP Sean.

Brad Henderson
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Re: Failing on purpose for comedy

Postby Brad Henderson » February 18th, 2022, 8:43 am

Comedy isn’t magic. And most magicians who think they are funny, aren’t.

To ask why do magicians take themselves seriously is akin to asking why are there dramas on television.

Because when everything is only one thing it ceases to be interesting.

Magic presented well is entertaining. It doesn’t need to be propped up with gags. Comedy presented well is entertaining. It doesn’t need to be propped up with tricks.

Both are hard to do well. And while doing comedy magic is viable - most simply can’t pull it off. Of course the same is true of serious magic, whatever that maybe be.

Of course, what we see here is comedy and not magic. It’s comedy about magic. And it’s presented by someone who appears to be a great comedian. It’s not surprising them it’s funny. He’s sticking to his lane because there isn’t any magic here and no one will leave saying they saw magic at all.

Laughter is wonderful and people crave it. So is the experience of mystery and people crave it as much if not more.

Aren’t we lucky not every magician is the same?

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Curtis The Mentalist
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Re: Failing on purpose for comedy

Postby Curtis The Mentalist » February 18th, 2022, 4:54 pm

Do magicians take themselves too seriously?

In my experience, yes; and quite often.

Why don't we put moments like this in our shows?

I can only speak for myself, but I do and have for some time. In fact, I've found over the last 30 years or so that I'm way more fond of getting a laugh than I am of getting a reaction of astonishment.

For years I have deliberately inserted "getting it wrong" bits into my shows, for the sole purpose of the comic relief it creates. In fact, the other night during a performance in Kansas City, one of my deliberate "wrong" bits accidentally went "right" and my genuine surprise and reaction caused what was perhaps the biggest laugh of the night.

And I've been deliberately trying to figure out a way to re-create that moment (if at all possible) ever since...
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Tarotist
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Re: Failing on purpose for comedy

Postby Tarotist » February 18th, 2022, 5:37 pm

Not everybody has the capability or even the desire to be funny. Luckily to present magic you don't have to be. If it ain't your thing it ain't your thing and there are other personas and performance options available to you so it is no tragedy.

However, there is no denying that if you ARE funny it is indeed a decided asset. It probably gives you a considerable advantage both from an entertainment point of view and a business point of view. As the saying goes, "funny is money".

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jplibby
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Re: Failing on purpose for comedy

Postby jplibby » September 1st, 2022, 10:16 pm

That's really funny! That's a bit of business worthy of Carl Ballantine.
I have a couple of bits like that that I perform from time to time. I didn't come up with them, but they're too good not to use!
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Scottbbaird
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Re: Failing on purpose for comedy

Postby Scottbbaird » September 3rd, 2022, 3:51 am

Another example, from the same show:

Joe Wilkinson's "magic performance" in the video below is an excellent segment of TV comedy that completely suits his brand of eccentric weirdness. This falls into the lane of comedy about magic, and not comedy magic.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bh7nEzVOrBI
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Tarotist
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Re: Failing on purpose for comedy

Postby Tarotist » September 3rd, 2022, 7:45 am

Scottbbaird wrote:Another example, from the same show:

Joe Wilkinson's "magic performance" in the video below is an excellent segment of TV comedy that completely suits his brand of eccentric weirdness. This falls into the lane of comedy about magic, and not comedy magic.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bh7nEzVOrBI


Now I remember why I left the UK. Thank you for reminding me.


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