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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Two articles of note

Got you reading. I don't think the articles are noteworthy. They're just written by me. And one isn't even an article; it's a review.

I saw Penn & Teller last weekend. Great show, but then I'm a sucker for magic. I even like cheesy magic if it's done well. All I want is someone to blow my mind; I don't care what style they do it in.

Some people cannot enjoy magic. I don't get it. They sit there with their head tilted and a sneer on their faces, almost angry at the magician for trying to trick them. I always want to scream at these people, "Yes, it's a trick! There's no such thing as magic. We all know that. Now move on and enjoy the ride."

I agree it's fun trying to figure out how they did it, but if I find out, that doesn't ruin the enjoyment for me. I then appreciate the process of performance. At the show, I bought a deck of Penn & Teller trick cards for five bucks. They teach you how to do three tricks and they're good tricks. So I showed a friend. But she kept trying to sabotage it. Like wanting to shuffle when I said to cut the deck, etc. In this case, I actually did say, "It's a trick! I'm not magic. Now let me finish." She had no idea how I did either trick I showed her, but didn't seem to enjoy them. I guess she just doesn't like to have her mind blown.

But back to Penn & Teller. These guys are masters. If you ever get the chance to see their live show, you should go. And they're really funny, to boot. You can read my review in the Straight right here.

The other article was on Tim Allen. He's coming to the Red Robinson theatre on Friday, June 18, doing his stand-up act. He's a guy who's a huge, huge star and probably the only thing I've seen him on is talk shows. I don't think I ever saw more than ten seconds of Home Improvement; I've never seen one of his movies; and, what's stranger, I don't recall ever seeing his stand-up act. He started in 1979 and obviously reached a level of success so that Disney took notice and built a sitcom around his act. How did I miss it?

So I can't speak with any level of authority about it. I look forward to seeing his act on Friday so I'll have an informed opinion. Too often, we dismiss people based on faulty information. The first time I realized this was years ago at Bumbershoot. I saw Elayne Boosler, a comic who I saw all the time on TV but never liked. Couldn't stand her, actually. But I saw her in Seattle and she was great. A real solid professional. I could totally see how she reached the level she attained.

Since then there have been a few other nice surprises live. Sinbad was another guy I couldn't tolerate. For the life of me I could never figure out how he got popular or why anyone would give him a job. Then I saw him at the River Rock and he was really, really funny. I get it now.

Even Brent Butt kinda falls in this category. I saw him a few times on TV before I ever saw him live and he was just okay. Nothing great, but not horrible. It wasn't until I saw him live that I came to believe he was the best. Ditto Paul F. Tompkins. For some reason, he doesn't translate all that well to the small screen, but live (or on podcasts) there's no one funnier in the world.

And of course it works the other way, too, where you may love a performer from what you've seen on TV and they can't deliver the goods over time in a live show. Interesting, that.

Anyway, I spoke to Tim Allen last Friday and he was really engaging, which is always nice for an interviewer. He talked about everything and was really open, talking about his insecurities with his current stand-up act. And, as I say in the article, we talked about quantum physics, a particular passion of his, and about his 2.5-year stint in the hoosegow. It comes out in print on Thursday but I see the Straight has put it on-line already so here it is for you.

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