“The Amish Comedy Hour”
by Jeremy “Jer-Dog” Danley
Originally posted at: http://jerdogondemand.wordpress.com/2013/01/25/the-amish-comedy-hour/
Here’s something you’ll never hear anyone say: “Hey! Let’s go to South Dakota for the weekend!”
About 2 weeks ago, the inaugural tour of “The Dirty Jokes and Magic Tricks Show” was launched from Ames, Iowa, when I picked up my friend and co-star Nathan Allen “The Maniac of Magic” and headed for Deadwood, South Dakota. Along the way, I discovered what happens when traveling 10 hours with a magician- all your weed will disappear. Which, in retrospect, was unfortunate, because the gig we were headed to would prove to be quite the challenge.
Our first stop was actually at Lowes hardware store to pick up razor blades for one of Nathan’s bits. He chews a half dozen razor blades and then ties them all together with dental floss, inside his mouth! I always knew Nathan was a freak, but didn’t realize how much so, until he started talking about ramming nails up his nose. I had visions of blood spraying everywhere as we rode to SD, and the last thing I needed was the inside of my van looking like a maxi-pad.
Nathan is also always practicing misdirection and sleight of hand, so for the entire tour, I had to keep my hand on my wallet like I was walking thru the south side of Chicago.
We finally arrived at the casino in Deadwood, where the gig was to take place. We were performing for the General Contractors Association of South Dakota, a crowd of almost 400 people. Nathan crushed it for over 40 mins. The crowd was raring to go, and after a quick intermission, it was my turn to take the stage. Little did anyone know, disaster was about to strike…
For the first 10 minutes of my set, I was killing with the usual assortment of my beer and dick jokes. Then, out of nowhere… Just like the scene from Ocean’s 11… All the power in the casino went out. As in completely… I was left performing to a group of nearly 400 contractors with no sound, no microphone, no lights, and nearly 45 minutes left to go in my set.
It was time for The Amish Comedy Hour!
Most comedians would have bailed.
But as you know, I’m a skilled improviser, and I know that the best comedy comes from tragedy. As the front few rows of the audience held up their smartphones with the camera flash on to help illuminate the stage, I proceeded to rail on the casino for not paying their power bill. “I took this gig because I needed the money… And apparently so does the casino.”
Eventually I went into my regularly scheduled material while one of the contractors brought in a giant flashlight to shine on the stage. My co-star in the Dirty Jokes and Magic Tricks show sat in the front row and captured the entire thing on video.
Finally, at the very end of my set, right as I was impersonating my wife receiving a new vibrator as a gift, yelling out “Hallelujah!”, the power was restored. I delivered my remaining jokes, thanked the crowd, and immediately hit the bar for a much needed (and well-deserved) Jager-bomb.
The next stop on The Dirty Jokes and Magic Tricks Tour was a gay bar in Sioux Falls. A small, but enthusiastic crowd. And the magician I was with disappeared into some sort of contraption called “The Glory Hole”… But that’s another story.
I co-hosted “The Independent Entertainer” podcast, with Jeremy ‘Jer-Dog’ Danley (www.JerDogComedy.com), one of the hardest-working and funniest comedians on the road today.
“The Independent Entertainer” is a resource offering guerrilla marketing tips and information for comedians, DJ’s, musicians, magicians, and other performers to take control of their show-biz careers, effectively promote themselves, and get more and better gigs.
So… If you’re NOT an entertainer, you probably won’t care much about this info, but if you ARE an entertainer… get your ass in here (also, sign up for the gig-getting e-course at ComedyBookingSecrets.com). Do it. Do it now.
Main topics in this episode include…
(a) what your audiences REALLY care about,
(b) how to get killer, descriptive testimonials,
(c) how to immediately pick up quick and easy gigs, and
(d) why head-shots and bios are overrated.
Also, there’s quite a bit of A.D.D., awkward silences, talking shop, stories you won’t hear anywhere else (vomiting backstage, hitting an 80-year-old lady in the tits with a water-balloon during a show, etc.), and other little interesting tidbits of awesomeness from a couple guys who have been playing this game for a few years.
Listen right here (it’s a bit over an hour long):
Or go to the episode’s page to download it:
Allen (dubbed “The Maniac of Magic” by his peers) will be making a stop at Big Ed’s Firehouse (680 W. Milwaukee St.) on Saturday, October 20th. The adult-only show will start promptly at 9:00pm.
Yes, Nathan Allen is a magician, but don’t be fooled – you will see NO rabbit, NO tuxedo, and NO sparkly boxes in this show. Instead, Nathan combines his twisted sense of humor, sleight-of-hand magic skills, and hilarious audience participation into one of the very few magic shows on the face of the planet that is both geared for adults AND funny.
The best trick up Nathan’s sleeve is his ability to connect with a crowd, and it’s a trick he can pull off whether he is at a corporate event or a biker bar. With a knack for being a bit naughty and tons of fun, without being offensive, Nathan’s personality-driven performances have been described as “Edgy, funny comedy and magic at its best” (Naturally Funny Entertainment; Chicago, IL), “Funny, fast-moving, unique, and very entertaining!” (Vetesnik Power Sports; Richland Center, WI), and “Action packed, funny, and unpredictable!” (Iowa Emergency Management Association; Des Moines, IA).
The International Brotherhood of Magicians presented Nathan with the Iowa Magic Award. He was the only magician featured in “The Grassroots Comedy Tour” and in “The Super Bowl of Stand-Up.” His entertainment business won him a full-ride scholarship to attend college. Of the dozens of magicians in Iowa, Nathan was the only one selected to perform onstage at Iowa Governor Culver‘s Inaugural Gala, where he shared the stage with Tom Arnold and Al Green. His impressive résumé includes appearances for companies such as 3M, Alliant Energy, Charter Communications, Honda, RadioShack, and Wal-Mart (to name just a few), and earlier this year, he appeared on syndicated international television in Europe.
And yet, in a typical example of his priorities, he insists that he is most proud of being elected Class Clown.
Nathan is based out of Des Moines, Iowa, travels throughout the Midwest, and drinks way too much coffee. In his spare time, he enjoys arguing with the television – when it’s turned off.
The October 20th show will feature a special guest opening act; the flame-throwing stand-up comedy of Harville. Dark and twisted, with a seriously warped view of life, Harville’s brand of humor is not for the faint of heart! Let Harville take you by the hand (or any other convenient appendage), and lead you into the darkest, funniest corners of his (and your) poor diseased mind(s)!
For more information about who Nathan is and what he does, visit him on the web at ManiacOfMagic.com. For more details about the October 20th show in New Hampton, call Big Ed’s Firehouse at 641-394-6067, or visit them online BigEdsFirehouse.com.
I was just chatting with the owner, and he let me know that he now owns the property at 207 East Main Street in Marshalltown, Iowa.
This excited me greatly.
Here is why:
There was a world-famous magician from Marshalltown, Thomas Nelson Downs. Known as “T. Nelson Downs, The King of Koins,” Downs performed all across the world, for royalty and heads of state, around the turn of the 20th century.
Downs was the author of several classic magic books (which I’ve devoured repeatedly), and he created and perfected many sleight-of-hand techniques that are still widely used by magicians, over a hundred years later.
What I’m trying to say is… T. Nelson Downs was kind of a big deal.
In 1912, he retired from performing and moved back to Marshalltown. He was only in his 40s, and he had already become wealthy and achieved world-wide success. That bastard.
Obviously a little bored with being off the road, he eventually opened a vaudeville house / movie theater, called The Casino, located at… you guessed it… 207 East Main Street.
As I mentioned above, Downs was kind of a big deal. The residents of Marshalltown may not have known it at the time, but other world-famous magicians would frequently visit Marshalltown, just to hang out, gossip, and talk shop with the sleight-of-hand master. Reportedly, these visitors included a number of my personal heroes: Dai Vernon, Chung Ling Soo, and Harry Houdini, among others.
Houdini. At the peak of his success. Hanging out in Marshalltown, Iowa.
Since the glorious days of vaudeville, the building (built in 1910) has been home to several bars and businesses – including a strip club – which have since closed, but the building is still in existence…
And I know the owner.
After I got off the phone with him, he sent a photo of a urinal (see above), and told me that not only was this the oldest urinal in Marshall County, it was also the original from the building’s 1910 construction.
“Houdini probably pissed here,” he joked.
I fell silent.
On Saturday, before my gig, I’m going to head to Marshalltown early to get a little informal tour of the building.
It will be thrilling to know that many of the most legendary magicians of history used to just “hang” in the very same building, decades ago.
Maybe I’ll stand on the worn floorboards where so many hardworking vaudeville entertainers once stood…
Maybe I’ll look out to the old mezzanine…
Maybe I’ll snap a photo of the original curtain rail, still installed in the high ceiling, that once opened and closed the shows nightly…
Maybe I’ll sit quietly and contemplate the rich history of this location and the colorful characters that once called this place home for one night at a time…
Maybe I’ll pull a silver dollar out of my pocket and stumble through a couple of sleight-of-hand techniques that were invented, perfected, and performed by T. Nelson Downs himself…
But first things first.
I’m going to piss where Houdini pissed.