Stock Lines in your Show

About a week ago when I was performing in Southern Arizona I went on the Queen Mine Tour in Bisbee, AZ. This is a decommissioned mine that is not a tourist attraction.

My tour guide was a Neale who worked in the mine in the 1970’s. One of the things that struck me was the amount of “stock lines” that he used that are very common with magicians. This should be a wake up call to magicians who use these lines to stop using them. If a retired miner is using lines you use in your show, you should probably cut them and write new lines.

One of the lines he used was at the end was, “If you liked the tour my name is Neale, if you didn’t my name is ______”. I’ve never liked this line when magicians use it. There are two reasons that I dislike it. The first is while it is in a joke, you are implying that the audience may not like your show, and that’s the last impression you give them, not a thank you for spending time with me or something more meaningful. The other reason is that you are leaving your audience on someone else’s name, you should leave on your name!

That’s all, go out there and be better than a retired miner!


I’m Not Sorry…

One of the reasons that I’m not a fan of stock lines is that 99% of the people who use them only use them because they have heard other people use them. Not because they fit their performing persona or move their show forward, but simply because other people use them.

Recently I saw a magician and he asked where I was from, and I said “Seattle” and he replied “I’m sorry”. This is a very old gag and not a good one. I replied with several reasons why Seattle is an amazing city and he had no follow up. Was I “heckling” him? NO. He asked me a question and opened up a dialogue by putting down where I live. Had he had a joke set about why he dislikes Seattle that wasn’t connected to asking me question, then I would have been heckling. However he asked the question to me, which opened a dialogue…and he didn’t have the point of view or comedy skills to follow up. I wasn’t even funny, just factual with my response.

My point is that if you ask a question only to have your “comedy” response, you might want to rethink why you ask. Especially if your comedy response potentially insults someone. That brings me back to why I dislike how most stock lines are used, the performer doesn’t think about them. So if you use stock lines, think about them…what they are really saying beyond the laugh (if there is a laugh).