Stand-Up Magic In Books: Wise Guy

It's tough to find good stand-up or stage magic in books. Performers who want to be playing big are drowning in a sea of close-up card tricks. To help with this, I'm going to share some of the best resources I've found for stand-up magic routines in print.

Harry Anderson: Wise Guy

I wish more publishers would make magic books like this. Published in 1993, it is a biographical trip through all of Harry Anderson's signature routines. It accomplishes the basic task of teaching the tricks, but they are woven into Harry's life story that gives context for the creations. wise-guyNothing is held back. It explains what he does, why he does it, and how he does it will full scripts of the routines taken direct from a live show. I attended a very casual "lecture" by Harry a couple years ago. There he stated his attitude towards people doing his routines... have at 'em. He knows he doesn't have anything to worry about because his routines are truly his in every way. Anybody trying to voice the scripts verbatim will trip over the words like an ill-fitting suit. I've witnessed mini-Harry's. It's not pretty. So, while there are some great stand-up routines in this book, they come with the warning that they should not be put into your act without considerable personalization. You will have to extract the Harry and replace it with yourself. Over the years I have personally dabbled with his "Cufflinks", and "Monarch Monte" in my shows. The magic played well, but I haven't yet figured out the missing ingredient to make it really work for me. On the other hand, the "Mish Mash Card", is a packs-flat wonder that could be picked up and put into most any show in a matter of days. "All For One" contains a very smart verbal deception that should be picked up by anybody doing a version of the Tossed-Out Deck. (A trick that seems to be in a resurgence these days) Overall, it's an enjoyable book to read about a magician who is a perfect example of character-driven performances. If you don't manage to find a trick, you'll certainly find some inspiration. At just $35 bucks for this book, it's an easy choice compared to the latest one-trick-wonder DVD. Available direct from Mike Caveney's Magic Words. Interesting to note, when I saw Harry's full stage show a couple years ago, he was performing an entirely new generation of routines. I hope that perhaps one day we will see a sequel to Wise Guy.

Published: July 15, 2011

Channel: Blog

Access: Public

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