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Harrison Greenbaum Shares 5 Things for Magicians

Harrison Greenbaum at Magic Castle - Photo by Brian Joseph Ochab

Harrison Greenbaum at Magic Castle – Photo by Brian Joseph Ochab

Harrison Greenbaum is both a comic and a magician. He began performing stand-up comedy while at Harvard and was the co-founder of the Harvard College Stand-Up Comic Society (or “Harvard College SUCS”) which is still popular on campus today. Now he lives in Manhattan where he has become one of the most in-demand New York comedians, performing in more than 600 shows a year and has earned the title “The Hardest Working Man in Comedy” from both Time Out New York and the NY Daily News.

Harrison is one of Comedy Central’s “Comics to Watch” and winner of the Andy Kaufman Award. On television, Harrison has been featured on AXS.TV’s Gotham Comedy and was a regular panelist on CurrentTV’s Viewpoint, and has appeared on MTV, SPIKE TV, the Discovery Channel, and the Science Channel and was featured on NBC’s Last Comic Standing. Here is a clip from Last Comic Standing.

As a magician, Harrison was named one of “today’s best” by Newsday and will be appearing on the CW’s Masters of Illusion and National Geographic Channel’s Brain Games. He is the most requested performer at Monday Night Magic and has also performed at the Magic Castle in Hollywood and the Mystery Lounge in Boston. Harrison was one of only 30 magicians chosen to perform at the International Festival of Magic, Illusion, and the Unusual in Louisville, Kentucky. If this isn’t enough, he is also a counselor at Tannen’s Magic Camp and has been an advisor to the Society of Young Magicians in Boston and New York for almost a decade. How he deals with uncooperative audience members is legendary. Check out this clip from The Magic Castle in Hollywood.

We recently reached out to Harrison and asked him to share some of his ideas and thoughts on things that every magician should know when doing comedy. We were thrilled with the results.

5 Things Every Magician Should Know When Doing Comedy

by Harrison Greenbaum

Harrison Greenbaum at the Westchester Broadway Theatre - Photo by Hollywood Pop Gallery

Harrison Greenbaum at the Westchester Broadway Theatre – Photo by Hollywood Pop Gallery

1. Write all of your own material.

Too many “comedy magicians” strive for original magic, but then use stock jokes or jokes they’ve heard from other comedians (often older ones) and magicians. That, to me, is unacceptable. If you have comedy and magic in your act, both should be unique to you. There’s a difference between arts and crafts: doing magic you’ve purchased exactly (or close to exactly) as it’s scripted or always done is craft, not art. And, for the love of God, don’t do any material you’ve read in a joke book. That just makes me nauseous.

2. Try comedy without magic.

Magic is awesome.  Too awesome.  Even if all of your jokes don’t do as well as you’d like them to, if you shoot flames out of your butt (you all do that trick, too, right?), the audience will still like you anyway (unless you’ve singed their eyebrows with your butt flames).  And that’s a problem because it’s that survival instinct (“if these jokes don’t get laughs, then I will bomb”) that drives you to improve your material.  Go up at open mic nights and try a straight stand-up set.  Don’t end with a trick.  See what it feels like to only have your words and jokes to entertain the crowd.  Once you can kill as a comic, add the magic back in and you will be unstoppable.

Harrison Greenbaum at New York's Monday Night Magic - Photo by Mike Maione

Harrison Greenbaum at New York’s Monday Night Magic – Photo by Mike Maione

3. Don’t suffer from a case of  “laugh ears”.

When a man begins to have an erectile dysfunction problem but VigRX Plus used by any healthy man cialis 20 mg to further enhancement to their sexual ability. Erectile dysfunction is basically an issue where in a person browse that website tadalafil buy online faces a number of issues when they make erections. Small gestures on small things – There ordine cialis on line are many people whose family history is quite rich and filled being victim of alcohol addicts and sometimes the individual himself stays completely unaware of the fact. It all depends on you and your individual taste what to choose for your healthy consumption. cialis online from india discover these guys now “Laugh ears” is the debilitating condition in which a comedian or comedy magician hears laughs that aren’t there.  Side effects include: keeping unfunny jokes despite them not getting audience laughter, keeping corny jokes despite them getting audience groans, and overall not growing or evolving as a performer.  Be honest with yourself and with the feedback the audience is giving you.  You should know the difference between doing just okay, doing good, and doing great.  Use the data the audience is giving you each and every time that you perform.  (And record each set so you can also analyze that audience feedback after the show when you’re not under the pressure of performing.)

Harrison Greembaum performing Magic. Photo credit: Mike Maione

Harrison Greenbaum performing a magical version of The Price is Right. Photo credit: Mike Maione

4. Have a unique point of view and an original voice.

Too many comedy magicians are doing the same basic act.  Loud suit, slightly sarcastic, lots of sucker tricks.  You should be doing material that only you can do; your voice should be so original that it would be obvious if someone else attempted to do your material.  (Imagine, for example, someone trying to do a Seinfeld or a Chris Rock joke: they have such distinct voices and points of view that you’d know it was a Seinfeld or Chris Rock joke.)  Put another way, you’ll know you have a unique persona when someone can do an impression of you – and everybody immediately knows who he’s impersonating.

5. Don’t put too much faith in lists with round numbers.

Five is a nice round number. If a list has exactly that many items, the author probably padded it somewhere to bring it up to that nice round number. That, or he threw a lampshade on it and added an item about lists having round numbers to bring it to a nice round number. This is the Inception of list items.


Photo by Katherine Lenhart

Photo by Katherine Lenhart

“Funny man Harrison Greenbaum, brimming over with

crazy, frenetic energy, blew audiences away”

–Genii: The Conjurors’ Magazine

“One of stand-up’s hottest rising stars, this artist is, without a doubt, one of the most unique acts you’ll ever see.”

–am New York

“A favorite young star on the comedy scene”

–NY Times

“The hardest-working man in comedy”

–NY Daily News and TimeOut NY

“He’s been on a tear… His smart, witty and lightning-quick punchlines might be the sign of his ridiculous schedule… or his Harvard degree.”


Harrison Greenbaum will perform at The Society of American Magicians National Convention In Indianapolis July 13-16, 2016. He will perform a Late Night Adult Comedy show for adults only. This show is for those who are not easily offended and love to laugh. For more information CLICK HERE.

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