|The Intersection of Comedy and Magic
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Posted: January 7, 2013
by Ted Greenberg
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On Saturday night, a very lively audience member — Vinnie — shouted that he didn’t expect to see magic at my late night comedy show. Guilty as charged. While my four-year plus Off Broadway production, Ted Greenberg’s The Complete Performer is a mostly one man comedy show, it does mine humor from other genres, like magic. All in the service of a good laugh. Vinnie did not mind one bit. He laughed hardest at…I’m not going to give it away, but that magic bit was his favorite.
This style of comedy — conceptual — has been a hallmark of my career from my days at The Harvard Lampoon or as an Emmy-winning staff writer at David Letterman. And for over four years, I’ve taken the late night stage at SoHo Playhouse to ply my version on New York crowds. I’ve yet to give much time to magic and its influence on my style. But, in light of a recent article on a subset of magic, it’s high time.
The New Yorker published a terrific, must read profile about one of the best kept secrets in magic: pickpocket Apollo Robbins (pictured below). My father, Ace Greenberg, is briefly mentioned in the article; Robbins once stole a watch off my old man. Not an easy thing to do. Don’t worry, Robbins gave the watch back. As with everything he purloins.
Part biography, part pickpocket primer as well as a how to manual, Adam Green’s A Pickpocket’s Tale is a fascinating read, offering insight into the world of pickpocketing and why Robbins gives everything he swipes back. As another pickpocket, Whiz Mob, explains, ““God’s not going to let you cheat and have good luck, too.” Like a magician, I don’t want to give too much about the essay away, but I will say the nine-pager is well worth the read.
And, once you’ve worked your way through it, check out my interview with con artist and performer Simon Lovell.
Tags: apollo robbins, Comedy Show, magic, New York City, pickpocket