The magician jokes everyone has used
As the comic says, “don’t blame the writers they’ve been dead for thirty years!” Magicians much more than modern day comics are guilty of using often tired and definitely old lines. There are plenty of magicians out there who are able to entertain an audience with new and interesting material and I would like to think I fall into that bracket myself. However, certain tricks go with certain jokes and there is little if anything that can be done about it or so it seems.
Here are a few of the all time classics.
Give me your hand, no the clean one, oh it was the clean one!
Although the construction of this joke is funny it is often delivered by magicians too young to be able to pull it off and at best it sounds smarmy and arrogant. I have never really seen this one work but then anyone who has mastered comedy is likely to leave it well alone.
Make your mind go blank…oh that was quick!
This is a very old line but timed correctly can get a great response if the comic persona fits the gag. Often used by mind readers and although I have seen it fail miserably for some it is “a banker”.
It was my fault I picked you!
Used by the magician when something fails or appears to fail. The line is delivered to the audience about the volunteer. If the dynamic is right the joke can sail but the relationship between the helper and the magician has to be just right and all too often it comes across as arrogant or just plain confusing. I watched one magician use this line night after night with no reaction; I couldn’t understand why he didn’t drop it.
It’s very rude to ask a woman her age…how much do you weigh?
I have to confess there was a time when I used this joke and it got a huge reaction. I have dropped it to try and keep my integrity but it is a very clever line when used correctly.
It is very important not to deliver the line to a woman who is on stage, they are far too vulnerable and it will come across as cruel, even if the women is a professional model. It is a joke best delivered to an imaginary woman in the fourth row. Creating the motivation for such a line is down to scripting. This joke may not read funny but when it works the laughter is like a gunshot going off.
Take them out of the box first.
Often used during the performance of an incredibly clever trick called the invisible deck. The volunteer is asked to catch an imaginary deck of cards. He or she is then asked to shuffle them and once the helpless volunteer starts the magician chips in, “take them out of the box first”.
It would be wonderful if the volunteer in a moment of psychopathic rage turned to the magician and hit him squarely on the chin. I have seen this line delivered one hundred times at least and it is yet to happen but we can hope.
The reason I object to this line so much is as follows. The trick is an easy one to perform yet completely baffling, leaving our magician credited with skills and thinking which is not his own.
Our volunteer is asked to catch an imaginary deck, (please are we in nursery?) he is then asked to shuffle the imaginary deck (apparently we are in nursery!) The volunteer has two choices, one is to tell the magician he is an immature idiot and leave the stage, and the other is to accept his fate and join in with this ridiculous charade as his friends watch on, filming it on their phones for YouTube. As soon as our volunteer agrees to join in the magician slaps him down with the oldest put down line in the book. Yes this joke can work but surely we can do better.