The book that started it all. Introducing Laugh Lines, a hysterical collection of patter, gags, one-liners and opening monologues for magicians, emcees and other entertainers.
Jimmy Muir was acknowledged by many of magic's greats as the funniest guy on the planet. Whether it was performing at a huge national convention or emceeing the floor show at his San Francisco hotel, Jimmy's material was always top notch. The original Laugh Lines booklets are sadly out of print and jealously hoarded by magicians and comedians. Individual volumes are hard to come by—especially the later volumes, which are nearly impossible to find. Long out of print, Laugh Lines is once again available in a new, fresh series. The new edition replaces the occasional dated, pop culture bits and replaces them, on a one-for-one basis, with new, fresh material to liven up your club, close-up or stage act.
Audiences love it when the performer, seemingly off-the-cuff, has an instant, ad-lib response to any situation. The secret is to simply remember a handful of your favorite lines from Jimmy's material and deliver them at the appropriate time. Now you'll always be prepared.
Don't take our word for it. Here are a few of the rave reviews for Laugh Lines:
"Here is the greatest collection of tested comedy material in years-gags, stories, jokes, comedy lines, etc. — stuff that is sure-fire and usable by any talking act. In addition, it contains the funniest Comedy Mind Reading Act we have ever seen. A laugh from start to finish." - Mitch Kanter
"Hilarious!" - Max Holden
"[T]his material is very good … should be particularly welcome today as an antidote to the excessively large doses of 'serious' mindreading that the public has been asked to swallow." - Paul Fleming in the Paul Fleming Book Reviews
"Jimmy Muir has made a collection of typical American gags and comment suitable for use in magical patter. The material is witty and should be of real help to magicians who want to make their patter produce more laughs." - John Mulholland in The Sphinx magazine
Paul Fleming wrote:
This little volume of 32 pages is well printed on good paper, and bound in soft boards. It presents 30 pages of actual text, made up of "funny lines, bits, gags, witty sayings, cavalier retorts, sardonic observations, amusing verse, ludicrous comment, and miscellaneous side-splitters culled from the humorous Americana of the day." If this sounds like a "large order" for so slight a book, it may seem somewhat less so if one notes that there are many synonyms in this description, and that few of these descriptive words have a very specific meaning. If we place them all under the general heading adopted by the author - where they fit very comfortably - and recognize that we are, after all, only promised 30 pages of "laugh lines" (which might be defined as any lines that produce laughter), the undertaking does not appear to be an unduly formidable one.
The only part of the booklet which applies directly to magic is an eight-page burlesque mindreading act, which is designed to run from three to four minutes. We once saw such an act presented by the great DeWolf Hopper, and another (if our memory is not playing pranks) by J. Warren Keane, and both were excruciatingly funny. We personally should be inclined to delete a few of Mr. Muir's lines as being in rather questionable taste, and several others as being too highly repetitive, but otherwise we feel that this material is very good, and that (if well presented) it will prove genuinely mirth-provoking. It should be particularly welcome today as an antidote to the excessively large doses of "serious" mindreading that the public has been asked to swallow.
The rest of the material is of the "irrelevant and immaterial" type which is the stock-in-trade of the master of ceremonies. It is difficult to see how the majority of these "laugh lines" could be worked into a program of magic, without being obviously dragged in; on the other hand, a fair number could readily be so modified as to serve the purposes of the magician. As for the wizard who also has the task of introducing other "acts" and keeping things moving with a steady flow of nonsense, this material should be very useful. Here, again, some of the lines could stand a little cleansing, though on the whole they will be quite inoffensive to all but the very squeamish. However, we hold that it is quite unnecessary for a competent magician to mix dirt with his gems of wit. We have played audiences of practically every type - old and young, learned and illiterate, sophisticated and Sunday-Schoolish - and have yet to see the need to use even slightly off-color patter before any audience. And as a spectator, we have seen blasé, sophisticated audiences rocked with laughter by delicious absurdities, expertly delivered, which contained not the slightest suggestion of smut. On this point, and on other phases of the problem of patter, we hope to write at some length at a later time; and we shall not pursue the matter further in the present review, except to record the fact that the great bulk of the material in Laugh Lines is commendably clean.
Of course, the effect produced by patter is much more a matter of delivery than of the lines themselves, though bright lines unquestionably help a lot! As Jimmy Muir says, in his very brief foreword: "A good line can be built from a chuckle to 2 heavy laughs by the inflection of the voice; by a glance; by a gesture." This modest little book will not make an expert patterist of every reader, but it is vastly superior, in our opinion, to a "comedy manual" published a few years ago at three times the price. To quote the author again, "It's safe to say that if you treat these lines well, they will treat you well."
1st edition 1945, PDF 44 pages.
word count: 9593 which is equivalent to 38 standard pages of text