Performing in front of an audience and getting no reaction is one of the most painful experiences for a performer. No performer wants to die on stage, but it is often hard to create interesting patter for your magic effects, and a trick alone is rarely entertaining. Most performers spend so much time perfecting a trick that they often forget to give their patter much thought. But where do you find good comedy patter for magicians?
When starting out, I suggest you do the following three things to get you on the right path:
Learn the Trick Patter
Most tricks come with some sort of patter. This is a good place to start, but unfortunately, most of the patter is pretty standard and usually boring. Learn the standard patter and then put it away. Go over it in your head for a few days, play around with it, and then sit down and write down the complete patter without looking at the original patter. As you write it down, you will come up with things to add and new ways to say things. Embellish and change the original patter a little bit at a time and you will soon have an original script.
One of the ways to add humor to your patter is to have a large library of funny things to say. A good way to find those is to read joke books and watch comedies. I love to listen to old radio shows featuring Sid Caesar, Steve Allen and even current shows like Car Talk with Click and Clack. I collect one- liners in a notebook and reread my notebook whenever I am looking for comedic inspiration.
Perform, Perform, Perform
The best way to get better comedy patter is to take your act ‘on the road’ and perform the effect as many times in front of live audience as possible. Each time, change your patter a little bit, keeping what works and discarding the stuff that does not work.
Patter for Magic School Assemblies
There is a large difference when creating patter for educational shows. Your patter should still contain humor, since that is what children like. If your patter is all dire and doom, you will not be popular with the children or the teachers. It is one thing to be honest, but give them hope.
“You are all going to be obese when you are 20 and going to die of lung disease or heart disease!”
Well you got their attention, but you sure didnt make any friends and it is now an uphill battle. I actually saw a performer say something very similiar to the above at a show he was doing on healthy eating. The rest of his patter was not much better. Watch how teachers talk to children, emulate their techniques, but add your own personality.
I am a very funny performer on stage, making lots of funny side remarks and quips. I do not tell jokes, but add lots of one liners to keep the overall atmosphere fun and light hearted. But I keep reinforcing the message that I am there to present.
For example: ” I started recycling when I was only 6 years old. I would ride my bike to school and than recycle home after school!(lol) No really I did. I would collect disgarded coke bottles along the road and return them to the store for money.”
or just use many of your standard funny lines when you bring up helpers, about their name, age, etc.. There are plenty of your standard patter lines that you can intersperse in your educational show. But they should be fewer than in your normal show. You do not want to be doing a stand up comedy act.
You can find a large selection of comedy patter lines and gags on the products page in a book entitled, FUNNY BUSINESS.
The best way to write your patter is to write it first without the gags, just the information you want to impart. Now go through and add funny bits where you can without taking away from the message.
Hopefully this has given you some guidance to help you create your own patter for your magic school assemblies. For more inspiration, check out Funny Business: 500 Gags, Bits and Jokes for Performers.
Charlie the Magician