TALK: Harrison Greenbaum on why magicians are so bad at comedy

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"For my next trick I need a volunteer. May I borrow your husband? Oh, I get to keep him?" Comedy at magic shows is often a tragedy. Countless magicians google their jokes or copy them from joke books, learn them by heart and reel them off on stage. To make matters worse, they end up thinking they’re performing great comedy and write "magician/comedian" on their business cards. How could it have come to this?

"Give me your hand – the clean one, please! Oh, that was the clean one!?" – New York stand-up comic and magician Harrison Greenbaum eventually had enough of such corny jokes and said, „You are all terrible.“ It became the title of a workshop he has given dozens of times to magicians, and of a book that is still to be published in 2021. In today’s episode, Greenbaum explains how magicians can learn from comedians. Because the latter have perfected the development of jokes and stage persona via the secret algorithm of comedy. We also talk about what it means to be an artist and to convey an artistic idea. Why it is not a problem that the vocabulary of the art form of magic is so limited, or rather that it is not so limited at all. And why audiences and artists could and should expect more. So we end on a hopeful note: Magicians may be terrible at jokes, but they needn’t be.

Condensed Transcript of the episode in German // Deutsches Transkript
Harrison's Website
Harrison on Instagram
Clip of Harrison on Conan
Clip of Harrison on America's Got Talent
Harrison on Let's talk about sets on joke theory

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