Some people ask me what the difference is between a comedy magician and a funny magician.
I guess it’s all how you interpret it. I would say the main difference in the intention. For instance, when Tommy Cooper was performing, he’d have the emphasis on the comedy part. The magic was never very good. He wasn’t really a good magician (contrary to the popular belief that he was secretly brilliant). It didn’t really matter that the magic wasn’t great as he was one of the funniest magicians (or people for that matter) that ever lived. It would probably have damaged his act if the magic was amazing too. A bit too much of a mixed message for people. We all loved him because he was a loveable idiot. If he’d have been incredible too, maybe that would have changed how we felt about him?
Some of my favourite magicians are comedy magicians. Paul Daniels was definitely a comedy magician. Mac King, who has his own show in Las Vegas, is definitely a comedy magician. Michael Finney is definitely a comedy magician. The last two let you know by not only what they are wearing, but also the material. Although, unlike Tommy Cooper, they are also great magicians. Paul Daniels used to dress a bit smarter, but was so undeniably funny and brilliant, the comedy used to be as strong as the magic.
I would say I’m a funny magician. For me, the magic always comes first and I then try to make it funny and entertaining. Of course, you don’t have to be funny to be a great magician. You could have a brilliant, original character. You could be an amazing technician with beautiful sleight of hand. The scope is endless. The only magic I don’t really like long story magic (often quite boring) or performers doing standard tricks with no personality or humour.
Penn & Teller: Fool Us has started again in America. Here is a really funny magician. Or a comedy magician. To be honest, the lines get blurred sometimes…