The ICOMedy Club by Peter Marucci

The ICOMedy Club

With your MC and Host
Mr. Peter Marucci

Comedy In Magic
By Peter Marucci

“That was no lady; that was my wife!” That was the punchline to a joke. So how come you aren’t laughing. Well, the answer is simple (beside the fact that the joke isn’t very good): You weren’t set up, or conditioned, to be ready to laugh. The same applies to comedy in magic. You have to condition the audience to be ready for what you are about to do. There are a couple of things that I do that accomplish this. They are strictly for laughs and have no magic content but they set up the audience for the magic and comedy that I do later in the show.

These “bits” work the same purpose that a warm-up comedian works for big-name comics on television: The job of the warm-up comedian, who is never seen on air, is to warm up the studio audience so that they will laugh more readily at the big-name comic’s jokes. (By the way, this applies to just about every show that is done before a live audience – quiz shows, talk shows, situation comedies, variety shows – and not just for stand-up comics.)

The two bits that follow are both done as openers but I would never do them on the same show. That would be a bit of overkill; you want to win the audience over, not beat them into submission! So let’s get on with it!

The Opener I:

You walk on stage, smile at the audience, and make eye contact with different part of the house. Okay, how many don’t do that now; or only THINK you do it? And how many performers have you seen who come out and give the impression that they would sooner be anywhere else: They don’t smile, and they don’t make eye contact with different parts of the house. But I digress. As I was saying, you are on stage and you speak to the audience: “One of the important things about doing a show like this is to have a big opener,” you say. And, with that, you reach into your jacket pocket and pull out a bottle opener about a foot and a half long. “Fortunately, I brought one with me.” You then put the opener aside and continue with your show.

The Opener II:

You walk on stage, smile at the audience, and make eye contact with different part of the house. (Hey, didn’t I just say that? Yes, but it can’t be said too often!)

Your table is to your side and you are holding a sheet of newspaper. (The next bit is optional but it, too, helps warm up the audience.) “Interesting things in the paper today,” you say as you apparently read the page. “Here’s an item about a fatal accident at the tool and die works; it seems a worker was hit with a tool – and died. “And here’s another story about a fatality. Seems there was a freak accident at the circus. A performing elephant was being led through the sideshow when it stepped on a – well, you get the idea.” “The classified pages are full of good stuff. Here’s an ad in the Personals column: Sailor with wooden leg wants to meet woman with cedar chest. Object – long-term storage.” You now go silent, hold up the paper, and tear it into two pieces. Discard one piece. Tear the piece you are holding into two pieces and discard one piece. Appear to be very deliberate and careful about what you are doing. Continue this until you have a piece about six inches square. Fold it in half, then fold it in half again. Now go over to your table (or use the microphone stand) and slide the folded paper under one leg, as if levelling the table. “There, that’s better. It was starting to bug me,” you say, and then go into your first routine.

Sure, that’s an old gag, used by burlesque comics and circus clowns and it’s been around for years.

But did you ever think WHY it’s been around so long? If it weren’t good, it wouldn’t last! Second thoughts: The whole object of the comedy opener is to put the audience at ease; to get them to relax, to focus their attention on you. Most successful stage plays open to one person on stage or a vacant stage and one person enters. The audience is not slammed right into the plot of the play; they are given a brief period to adjust to the events. So be it with your show!

The I.C.O.Medy Club
With your MC and Host
Mr. Peter Marucci
This is a simple, yet effective, routine that I’ve been doing for years. I like it, not so much for being simple, but because it has some really, really BAD gags in it!
By Peter Marucci

The magician tucks a blue silk handkerchief into his hand and it “magically” turns into a length of chain.

Preparation: You’ll need a small (nine-inch) silk hanky, a length of chain (short enough and with small enough links to conceal in the hand easily), and a thumb tip.

(Begin with the thumb tip and chain concealed in your left hand; the blue hanky is held at the fingertips of the left hand.) This is a short experiment in the latest scientific breakthrough: the production of nuclear blue-tonium. No, not plutonium; blue-tonium. This is the blue-tonium (wave the silk hanky in your left hand). Ordinarily, the production of nuclear material requires a great deal of work; but the scientific breakthrough that I referred to uses computer chips to create fission. And, so, they are called “fission chips”. The ordinary blue-tonium is stuffed into one hand (push the silk into the left fist – into the tip, actually – and steal the tip out). In the normal course of events, it would take a long time to convert the blue-tonium to a radioactive substance. But, thanks to the fission chips, this happens much more quickly, setting up an immediate chain reaction. (Open the left hand, letting the chain fall to the table and the hand seen as empty.) This is the chain (point to the chain on the table) And this is the reaction (point to the audience). When I first saw this, I was just like you: Too amazed to applaud.

Second thoughts:
Okay, this is a quickie and might be easily dismissed as a throwaway piece. Don’t do that! Over the years, I have been amazed at the reaction that this piece has got; even people who may know about the principle of the thumb tip are caught off guard because something totally different happens that what they were expecting.

The routine can be adapted to many contemporary events: brush-fire wars, nuclear-arms treaties, the military in general, etc. And the possibilities of other equally BAD puns and gags are endless.

Have fun with this.

The I.C.O.Medy Club
With your MC and Host
Mr. Peter Marucci
There are card tricks and there are tricks with cards. The first is what Uncle Yodar does at Christmas after too many trips to the punch bowl; they usually involved counting endlessly — and getting the card wrong the first two or three times! The second is entertainment, and they are the types of things that seasoned professionals do.
(I hope you will think the following falls into the second category.) 

While I am not “big” on magic with cards, this is a routine that I have carried with me in my head for years; not because it is so “magical” but because it is funny — or, at least, I think so. It is based on a simple card sandwich but it is built around a story
line, includes some reasonably good gags, and finishes with an absolutely terrible pun!

Gee, what more could you ask for? And so, here is

” Elementary, My Dear Watson ”
Peter Marucci

Two cards, representing Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson, find a card selected by the spectator and representing a master criminal.


“And now we take you to Victorian England, a time of high living and low crime, a time of Jack the Ripper, and a time of Sherlock Holmes, (as you say this, go through the face-up deck and deal the Ace of Spades to the table) ace detective, and his trusted companion Dr. John (here deal the Jack of Spades to the table) – – Jack to his friends – -Watson.” ” As our story opens, London is an uproar (riffle the deck), Scotland Yard is baffled. (riffle the deck again) – – Sounds a lot like London being in an uproar, doesn’t it? – – and all because of a master criminal who has escaped capture.” Fan the cards and let a spectator select one. “Would you choose a card to play the part of the master criminal, please?” Have the card shown round, returned to the deck, and then control it to the top. ” Finally, the police seek help of the ace detective Sherlock Holmes and his trusted companion, Dr. John – – Jack to his friends – – Watson. ” (Point to the ace and jack on the table at this point.)’ Well, Watson, the game’s afoot, ‘ says Holmes. ‘ So we’ve been asked to track down a master criminal who’s loose in London, breaking intoschools. ”What kind of schools?’ says Watson. ‘Elementary, my dear Watson.’ says Holmes. Wait for the groans over that pun to settle and continue. “So Holmes and Watson set off into the London fog to track down their master criminal.”

As you say this, get a pinky break under the top chosen card. “Holmes started out on one side of the city. (Place the Ace of Spades face up on top of the deck and double undercut bringing the Ace of Spades and the chosen card to the bottom of the deck) and Watson started off on the other side. (As you say this, put the Jack of Spades face up on top and cut the deck. The set up is now: Ace of Spades and Jack of Spades face up in the middle of the deck with the chosen card face down between them.) ” As they worked their way through the grog shops and back alleys, they had planned to meet later and review the results of their invested investigation. They hoped that, between them, they would be able to capture this fiend that was terrorizing London.” As you say that, ribbon-spread the deck, showing the two face up cards with the face-down card between them.”Well, they seem to have caught something between them. What was the name of the card you chose to play the master criminal?” (When the spectator announces the name of the card, turn it over and reveal it as the one captured.) “Watson was overjoyed with their success. ‘Holmes’, he said, ‘you’re brilliant; you’re a genius; you’re the greatest detective of all time’. ‘No, no’, said Holmes, ‘It was nothing, really nothing at all.’ “Which goes to prove that, be he ever so humble, there’s no police like Holmes.”

Second thoughts:
Well, don’t say I didn’t warn you! The point here is to show that even a basic card trick like this can be dressed up to be a feature of a close-up or table act. The magic isn’t spectacular but the entertainment value is very high.And that’s what we’re supposed to be doing, right?

The I.C.O.Medy Club
With your MC and Host
Mr. Peter Marucci
Fans of old-time movies will remember a series, made in the late ’30s and’40s, featuring a group of supposed teenagers in New York, called – variously — the Bowery Boys, the Dead End Kids, or the East End Kids.

The movies starred the late Leo Gorcey as Slip Mahoney, who was a past master at mangling the English language. For example, when he said he was going to think about something, he would say: “Lemme regurgitate on that.” Sixty years later, this stuff is still funny, attesting to the staying power of some gags. And mangling the language certainly falls into that category.

I do a routine in which a word card is selected. As I show the deck, I give the definitions of the various words – one per card.
This is loosely – very loosely – based on an old Sid Lorraine idea; however, many of the words Sid used are now sadly out of date (who knows about “lumbago” today?) So I came up with a whole new set of words and their “wacky” definitions. I have been doing the effect that the words are a part of for years now and, believe me, audiences break up over it.

However, the effect isn’t what we’re about right now; it’s the words. And here are a list of some of the words and their alleged definitions:

Absentee: A missing golf accessory.
Adamant: The first insect.
Aspire: Where dead donkeys are cremated.
Avoidable: What a matador tries to do.
Biology: The study of shopping habits.
Carnation: A country where everyone has a vehicle.
Cistern: Opposite of brethren.
Climate: The only thing you can do with a ladder.
Dare: Not here.
Debut: De part of de body dat you sit on.
Eclipse: What an English barber does for a living.
Forum: In favor of drinking Bacardi.
Heroes: What a guy in a boat does.
Inkling: A baby fountain pen.
Intense: Where campers sleep.
Modem: What the gardener did to the lawns.
Munchkin: What cannibals do to relatives.
Paradox: Two physicians.
Polarize: What penguins see with.
Relief: What trees do in the spring.
Treason: What the acorn is to the oak.
Zebra: The biggest size Playtex makes.
Okay, there’s no routine here and there’s no magic. You’ll have to fit these in somewhere yourself. But, remember, these DO fly with the audience.

And entertaining is what it’s all about.

The I.C.O.Medy Club
With your MC and Host
Mr. Peter Marucci
Here’s another piece that I think is funny — well, at least, that makes one of us! <G>
Anyone who performs for children on a regular basis knows that youngsters go wild over really gross stuff. How else to account for wiggly-worm candy, ghoulish video-game plots, and other such childhood delights? The following falls in that area — without being overly disgusting. The reaction that I have had is that adults will find it somewhat amusing — but kids will go downright nuts over it!… It’s not suitable for stage work or even a club-type act but plays well as a (supposedly) impromptu close-up piece for youngsters — an area in which there is very little material.EAR FROM COIN
Peter Marucci

The magician is asked to show a young spectator “some magic.” He obliges by saying that a lot of magicians might do something like pulling a coin out of a spectator’s ear. As he says this, the magician pulls a coin out of the youngster’s ear. “But,” he adds, “I like to do it a little differently.” He shows the coin in his otherwise empty hand. “I like to pull an ear out of a coin,” says the magi and, with his free hand, reaches into the hand with the coin and pulls out a life-size ear. Adults go “Yuk!” while the kids fall all over themselves, laughing.

Working and presentation:
As usual, nothing particularly difficult here. In fact, the hardest part of this whole thing will be finding the plastic ear.

I came across mine in a party shop that had boxes of small items to be used as giveaways at birthday parties. These included the usual things like tops, whistles, rings — and a bunch of soft plastic body parts — fingers, noses, ears. I don’t want to think about what these were supposed to be used for — and I really don’t want to think about the mind that decided to produce them in the first place. However, they did intrigue me and — after coming back to the shop a dozen times and looking at these things — an idea started to germinate. So I bought a couple. (You can never have too many plastic ears or rubber chickens.)

Have the ear and a coin in your right pocket. Before you work your wonders, reach into the pocket and take both out, concealing them in your right hand — the ear in sort of a classic palm, the coin in a finger palm. There’s no real work here in hiding the pieces, since no one knows what you’re going to do yet.

Reach over to the youngster’s ear with the right hand and push the coin to the fingertips, apparently taking it from her ear. Toss the coin in to the open and empty left hand, as you say, “A lot of magicians will pull a coin out of year ear.” Then reach over with the right hand, as if you are taking something from under the coin. “But I prefer to pull an ear out of a coin.” As you say this, the right hand turns palm down over the left hand and the ear falls to the fingertips. From there, simply pretend to pull the ear out rom under the coin.

As I said, there is no heavy magic here but your audience will certainly remember you. And, no doubt, those who try this will come up with their own handling. With sleeving, for example, you could make the coin vanish and be left with just the ear. Or you might want to start by showing both hands empty. (You work out the handling!)

The main thing is that you — and your audience — will have fun with this.


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