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I wrote in yesterday’s blog (Hype in Advertising) that I’m not averse to using hype in my advertisements. I use hype when I’m not bashful and when I think it will help make a sale. I’m afraid I’ve used hype often enough I might as well use “hype” as my middle name.
Some magicians, though, are upset by it. I understand how they feel. Some forms of hype are so exaggerated they are neither here nor there in terms of truth, validity and integrity. That may explain why they are called “hype”.
Take the term “comedy magician“, for example. How many magicians use it to sell their services?
I don’t have empirical figures, but a random check on the Internet will turn up magicians’ website after website claiming the performers are “comedy magicians”, or are using comedy in their shows. Add other synonyms that usually pepper their ad copies like “hilarious”, “funny”, and “humorous” , and one would think that the default genre of all magic performances is comedy.
A reality check, however, will show the great contrast between hype and the real comedic state of their performances. Except for very few performers, the great majority of so-called comedy magicians can hardly raise a laugh with their attempts at comedy.
I have never claimed in any of my ads that I’m a comedy magician. I might have used the word comedy, funny and hilarious to describe the levity in some of the routines I do, but I have never said that I’m a comedian.
Some of my clients say that, though, or think I am, but those are their opinions that I’m not willing to contradict.
Why is the term “comedy magician” a hype if used to describe many magicians in the Philippines?
Mainly because the laughter they generate during their performances are too few and far between. A comedy act should elicit rapid-fire laughter. In fact, a stand-up comedian is expected to make his audience laugh four to six times per minute. That’s the minimum benchmark in the stand-up comedy business. The headliners can get as much as 9 to 10 laughs per minute (lpm).
Compare that to a breakaway-wand-toting magician. How many laughs per minute he can get with his funny wands?
He’d be lucky (and maybe better than most comic wannabes) if he can generate two laughs per FIVE minutes. But just because a magician can make people laugh two times in five minutes doesn’t qualify him as a comedy magician. In a 45-minute magic show, two-laughs-per-five-minutes is equal to long stretches of silence and absence of laughter.
Shows like that are not funny enough to qualify as comedy shows. And the magicians performing them are not funny enough to qualify as comedians.
The shortage of laughter in my show is the reason that I don’t claim to be a comedy magician. I just can’t compare with the stand-up comedians out there when it comes to the number of laughs per minute that I can elicit from the audience. I even will pale in comparison beside ventriloquists, who can easily generate laughter at par with the comedy industry standard of 4-6 laughs per minute or even higher.
In my show, few number of laughs is the rule in most routines I do. So after the Burning Handkerchief and Hand Chopper, a long spell of non-laughter follows. If we are to compute the total laughs-per-minute for the entire 45-minute program, the number would be very low indeed and out of the league of even the least funny stand-up comedians.
If a magician wants to hype himself up as a comedy magician, here’s my advice. Add more comedy to your show than what the breakaway wand can generate.