Almost every artist references work that influenced his or her own. For some reason, this seems not to be the case in magic, and to some degree comedy. Why magicians never talk about other artists that had an impact on them and their work is beyond me. Teachers come in all types. Sometimes just watching and learning from someone you don’t know can make an impact. Still, here’s my list. Its short and largely local, but I’m lucky enough to say I’m friends with or know almost all of them. I’ve certainly met every last one on the list.
Its fair to say my ACTUAL list would be much longer. The real list would include almost everyone I worked with in my younger years at Yuk Yuks Comedy Clubs and At Harpers, A Little Night Magic Dinner theatre and acts in America I worked with in my 20’s. Writers like Burroughs and Roth who’ve made me think about my work differently. I’m not listing all those, that would descend into madness. Here’s a partial list, of other artists who leap to the forefront of my mind, those who’ve had an impact on me.
Fran Lebowitz – for being hysterically funny and crafty with phrasing.
David Ben – A stellar magician whose true genius lay in blocking small effects and making them play big on the stage, that and how to market magic. Watching David perform ANY magical effect is such a treat. Do it if you can. His book “Tricks” is easily one of the best on stage magic yet to be produced. http://www.qualitymagicbooks.com/allmagic/general/tricks-by-david-ben/
Jay Marshall – He punched his ticket some time ago, but boy did he have fun. He bought the ticket and took the ride. Jay’s on this list for a host of reasons, but mostly for proving pace and timing really count, and that long careers can be had. You can read about him in the book “Beating a Dead Horse”. Worth the price : https://www.amazon.ca/Beating-Dead-Horse-Times-Marshall/dp/098250683X
Paul Daniels – The Paul Daniels Magic Hour on YTV….without him and his weekly TV magic show my interest in magic & comedy simply wouldn’t be the same. My tastes would be different, and I might be trying to dance around an illusion. Thankfully for audiences world wide Paul showed me another way.
John Wing – a comedian whose work ethic is unparalleled, deadly funny, and values the mantra of “produce, produce, produce” Keep on writing baby. I worked a cruise ship with John once and watched him write a bit. Learned more there than I did in all of high school writing combined.
Glenn Ottaway – Quite possibly the best comedy magician working in Canada and taught me the value of casualness onstage, and that sometimes apathy is your sword and shield.
Derek Edwards – often referred to as the funniest comedian in Canada. Listening to Derek taught me the value of finding the funny word in a joke and exploiting it. Its ALWAYS about the funny word.
David Williamson – proof positive that funny and magical can be combined without loosing strength from one or the other. I’m weaker on the magic side of things than I ought to be, but Williamson has consistently provided a bar for which to rise.
Herb Morrisey – Owner of Morrisey Magic in Toronto, who wasn’t afraid to tell me when something in my act sucked ass, but also kind enough to point me towards things that might make it better. I will forever miss Herb, one leg up on the stool, smoke in hand demo’ing Bob Farmers “Headhunter” or “Wonder Bar”.
Wes Zaharuk – A visual comedian who always believed that if you think something is funny, it is. Just keep working it until it works.
Jeff & Tessa Evason – who showed me what it is to be a real professional and to be truly dedicated to your craft. There’s lots of pro’s out there, but they really are the gold standard, and an act that is simply the best of its kind in the world. YEARS, literally YEARS of erudition to master their act. What a thing to watch.
Kenny Robinson – Not a clean comedian to be sure. So not someone I’d pattern my act after but as a performer it’s hard to get better. Fills the stage and own it. You learn to do that watching Kenny. Additionally, his ability to riff on any subject is almost legendary. If I was half as good as he is off the cuff if would be a miracle, but its something to strive for.
I’m not saying I’ve come even close to being as good as these people, but they’ve helped push me along. So, there’s a few. Look them up, maybe if you’re lucky you’ll learn something from watching them also !
See ya on the page,