More on Potatoes

Reading my recent musings on potatoes, fellow magician and collector Dany Trick sent me these two funny anecdotes and kindly allowed me to share them with you. Enjoy!

Spotted your article about potatoes.
Have got two anecdotes about magic and potatoes!

1) Once a young amateur magician (he was nearly 35 years old!!!) insisted on visiting me. He came and absolutely insisted on showing me a few tricks he had been rehearsing. He showed me a “castelet”, but as he had not gotten any doves he produced three big huge potatoes that dropped down when the balloon burst out…

2) When we attended the FISM convention in The Hague in 1988 (?), John Kimmons and I shared the same hotel room. Ken and Sue de Courcy, John and I were working hard all day long behind the Supreme Magic stand. One evening John, who had tasted several glasses of Scotch Whisky, suggested to create a new Magic Society. It was baptised THE MAGIC POTATO CLUB! (I still wonder why.) John was elected President and I was the Secretary…

Dany

Thank you for sharing these, Dany!

Isn’t magic wonderful? And aren’t we just an obnoxious, but loveable bunch?

Please stop by at his fine site (it’s mostly in French) and check out some of his articles and pieces from his huge collection!

Potato Cup2


 

Potatoes Are Funny – But Why?

There are a lot of books on comedy out there. How to write it; how to stage it; how to perform it. Despite all the rules, it is incredibly hard to do it right. And that is partly because it is so damn hard to define what is funny – and what isn’t.

Let’s narrow the big question down a bit for magic. What makes some props funnier than others? Not for laughing out loud, but for a chuckle or a smile, or to get people interested, because uncommon objects are intriguing and quite often cute.

If I recall correctly from the „Revelations“ tapes, Dai Vernon was fond of saying that a lemon or a potato were a great final load for the Cups & Balls because they were, somehow, inherently funny. A banana is also funny. An apple isn’t. A pear isn’t. A strawberry isn’t. An orange – maybe. A cucumber can be funny once you use it as a magic wand. (That’s my view, not Vernon’s.)

I don’t have a theory to offer either, but I feel that for many objects it has to do with their Gestalt: their size, color and form and the extent to which these deviate from their more common brothers and sisters. Plus, the context in which they are used, appropriately or inappropriately. Some examples will follow.

Matches are tiny, thin and easy to break. A massive wooden match of 15‘‘ length or more, however, is none of that – and it’s funny.

Handcuffs are made of metal, in grey or silver, cold and unappealing. But there are fancy, playful handcuffs around in carnival and novelty stores that are soft and furry, in a bright pink color. Taking them from your pocket or „discovering“ them accidentally somewhere else is funny.

If you announce that you will bring out your time-worn, valuable magic wand and then present a giant pool noodle, a pencil stump or a wooden spoon from your kitchen, that is funny (at least to children).

You get the idea. Now let me invite you to start a tour around your house. Try to discover as many un-ordinary objects as possible. Maybe in the kitchen. In your bathroom. In a closet. In your den. In the shed.

Go hunting now!

Found some contrasting stuff? Good!

Next step. Consider this:

How could you use these objects in a magic context, be it within a routine you are already doing or as a novelty?

Zebragummistiefel
Imagine a group of debonaire magicians in tails on stage, with white gloves and top hats in hand, but all wearing these zany zebra gumboots: Funny!