Zany Wacky Silly but Funny

The fourth concept is for the magician to act as a wacky, zany character the whole time. Not only do they look funny, but their actions and presentation style are funny. Mac King in Las Vegas pulls this off very well. From the moment you see him come on stage you know he is a comedy magician from the way he looks right through to the way he moves. Mac reinforces this perception straight away at the opening of his show, by walking up to the microphone dressed in a ridiculous looking plaid suit, saying something like, "Do you like this suit? It was my fathers...it was also my mothers couch!"

As another example, you might pretend to be a nutty professor who 'experiments' with a table of strange looking chemicals and strange contraptions, only to find things keep going wrong right up until the end of the routine.

On the other hand, there is also a very sophisticated level of magic, with subtle comedy. A past president of the magic circle, Francis White, who was very well spoken and well dressed, would say to his audience part way through his act that he would going to go amongst them to have a card chosen, but "would they please not touch his suit it as he had just had it cleaned!" This elegant, underplaying of comedy worked incredibly well.

Penn and Teller also use an interesting comic technique by pretending that they are 'just a couple of regular guys who learned how to do some cool stuff.' They perform in a very down to earth way, sometimes pretending to show the audience how the magic is done, and then often turning it round at the last minute by accomplishing something quite different. It's a clever idea that many other magicians use at sometimes act, and it's commonly referred to as a 'sucker' effect.

Another variation of comedy in a magic show is to act as if you, the magician are amazed at everything you do, which is humorous to watch. In this approach, the magic really does seem to be incredible to you, and even you can't believe what you accomplish! The late Doug Henning used this style of comedy to very good effect.

Comedy also often comes from things other than words. We've briefly mentioned how a look, a change of body position and language can enhance the comedy. This will obviously apply more if you intend to do a silent act.

Do you remember when we advised you not to look in a mirror when rehearsing? NOW IS the time to look in a mirror! Paul used to sit for hours doing this, looking at the effect of raising an eyebrow, lifting a shoulder, pulling his scalp back, and so on. We urge you to honestly look at yourself, and discover how to use every aspect of your natural physiognomy.

Have fun researching your visual comedy style, it will be very rewarding. Audiences love to see interesting characters. Don't be a stereotype magician who performs the same old magic in the same old way!

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