Michael Close is a magician many people know of and hold in high regard. He is a remarkably talented and creative magician, an author and editor, a musician, and from what I hear, a great guy.
If you are not familiar with Michael’s Workers series you’re missing out. In addition to the excellent magic contained in these books, there is also valuable insight regarding performing and entertaining. You may also be aware that he was the editor of M-U-M, the monthly publication of the Society of American Magicians, following in the footsteps of Houdini and Milbourne Christopher among others.
As you can readily discern, I am a big fan of Mr. Close’s work. And obviously, his popularity and success is a reflection of how many magicians consider him a master of his art. But today I wanted to call your attention to one of his books that while related to magic, is really about humor. In fact, the entire book is a collection of jokes.
That Reminds Me: Finding the Funny in a Serious World is a compilation of jokes that Mr. Close has heard and told over many years. They are jokes that made him laugh and made others laugh, and frankly, who doesn’t love a good joke? They range from dirty to clean and everything in between. And many of them do come from magicians; Jay Marshall, Eric Mead, Bob Read, Billy McComb, and Aldo Colombini among others. Some are one-liners, some are stories, and some have “visual” punch lines. But most importantly, they’re almost all laugh out loud funny.
Along the way you will learn a little about joke telling and about the people who have shared their humor with Mr. Close, but the purpose of the book is to make you laugh and to encourage you to share the laughter with friends. As the author reminds us, “Jokes are not meant to be read; they’re meant to be told.”
Lastly, many of these jokes are in the form of stories; short narratives that take you down a road leading to a hilarious and often unexpected outcome. Again, Mr. Close reminds the reader that his book is also about storytelling, which I think, is also central to good magic. A joke, like a good performance of magic, requires timing, acting, pacing, and skill, and quite often, good magic comes dressed in an engaging storyline.
So I urge you to check this book out. You’ll laugh and learn, and best of all, have material that you can use to make others laugh. As the subtitle suggests, it’s important to find the funny in such a serious world.
(By the way, with regard to everything I write about on this website, I do not receive remuneration of any kind. I purchased That Reminds Me when it came out in 2007 and have been reading and rereading it ever since. It’s now available on Mr. Close’s website as a downloadable ebook.)