Comedy & Magic

The First Friday Comedy series returns to the Avi Resort & Casino, this Friday, Oct. 4, after a month-long hiatus in September. Get ready for another evening of non-stop laughs to start the weekend off right. This time the lineup includes headlining magician Chazz who incorporates comedy; feature comic Gene Moore; and emcee Andy Kern.
All of the talent comes from the comedy organization called The Comedy Machine, which has been supplying venues across the country with some of the funniest clean comedians around.
Andy Kern is the company founder. He once dreamed of becoming a professional football player and when he realized that wasn’t going to happen, he jumped into standup comedy with both feet.
Kern has performed in comedy clubs, colleges, military bases and casinos from Canada to California, from the “Chitlin Circuit” to South Central and Comedy Central.
Gene Moore’s comedy is high-energy and fast-paced. The writer, actor, producer and funny man is a front-row friendly comedian that can entertain any audience.
His humor is observational, hopeful and based on his life experiences as a Latino Army veteran. His stories are relatable and humorous to all audiences no matter where in the country he performs.

More about Chazz the Magician
This multi-talented entertainer can balance creative illusions with humor as he takes audiences on a magic carpet ride unlike any other. There’s no hiding in the corner. Everyone gets to join in the silly fun because nobody wants to be left behind while everyone else gets to experience everything this guy can conjure up with the flick of a wrist. You just never know what’s up his sleeve.
Chazz has been performing worldwide for many years. He has won some prestigious awards along the way, like being named the 2006 Grand Prix Champion from the Magic Castle, a gold medal winner of standup magic from the Society of American Magicians, and he was declared the All-Around Performer from the International Brotherhood of Magicians.
We talked with Chazz about his career, his magic, and the show he brings to the Avi Resort. Here’s his take…

Which came first the comedy or the magic?
The magic came first. I was a shy kid when I was young so I think magic helped the comedy come out. Then being around people and different types of people helped. I was just listening to comedians growing up and my favorite was Rodney Dangerfield, so I used to listen to him a lot, and I watched a lot of sit-coms. You know how the old sit-coms had the slapstick comedy? I always thought that was great, especially that type of humor. So as I was growing up, I used some of that slapstick comedy along with the magic and it just seemed like people understood it well and they liked it. I’ve been doing magic since I was 6. I’m 56, so I’ve been doing this 50 years.

Describe your particular brand of comedy magic for people who may not be aware.
I think my comedy is a comedy that comes at you, let’s say, in a not normal way. Like, I don’t bill myself as a comedy magician, but I use humor. I use things that people understand that are funny. It’s not like a joke about two guys walk into a bar, it’s more like if I’m using a prop or using people — I have a very quick wit, so they may reply to me or say something to me, then I’m able to come back with some type of comedy line, or just a line that sounds funny. For an example, I was working in Vegas one time, and I brought a guy up on stage and I asked him, “What’s your name?” He said, “Neil,” so I got down on one knee and said, “now what’s your name?” And people just started laughing because it was more like I took it the wrong way as kneel.

Did part of your show develop because of the crazy things that happen when a trick doesn’t work according to plans?
A lot of my comedy actually comes from people saying stuff — like a lot of times when I bring them up on stage, they’re nervous. They say things that are funny that they don’t even know are funny, because of the delivery. They’re not delivering it as a funny line, they’re just delivering it as a nervous line. So when I hear something that’s really funny, then I take it back and then I think, “how can I add this into my act, and use the right line, the right delivery? So a lot of the comedy comes from people themselves. I think that’s why the comedy works so well, because of someone else, not something I scripted.

Do you create your own illusions?
I have my own creations, my own take on magic, like if someone does a rope trick, I might take that rope trick and try to develop it in my own style. So I have a lot of creativity in my own show. But, again, it depends on who I bring up. I never know who I’m going to bring up there and I never know how someone’s going to react. Throughout all the years I’ve been working, I’ve been able to just have lines for everything, and just be ready for anything somebody reacts to.

Where’s the strangest place you never thought you would perform?
I performed at a nudist colony. I thought I was the first until I started talking to other comedians, and magicians. I guess magic and nudity go hand-in-hand. When I got the call it was pretty crazy. I thought they were joking. I also worked a funeral. The funeral was probably the strangest because they actually had me perform at the gravesite while the gentleman’s coffin was still sitting above the hole. After they gave the eulogy and everything, the widow said, “we have a special guest he’s a magician.” I guess her husband that passed really loved magic, and so she wanted me to include him in some of my tricks. Yeah, so…he was in the coffin. I always have lines I can use and I can be creative so I was able to come up with some things that worked out. It was funny and definitely strange.

How do you get things to work out no matter the situation?
I think if you get everybody on your side from the beginning is the key. Every show I start by getting everybody involved. When I’m on the stage, I start off with music, I get everybody clapping, and I get everybody involved, so they realize, “Hey, look, I’m just one of you guys, I’m just here to perform a job.” I want them to think of me as one of them, not this mysterious magician, and I’m here to fool you. No. We’re here to have fun and enjoy.

What’s your favorite thing about what you do?
Making people happy. I really feel like — if my show is 20 minutes or an hour, whatever my time is — if I can get them to forget about whatever troubles they might have going on in their lives. If they can forget it for a while, I feel like I did my job. There have been many times people come up after the show — I always greet people after my show — and I thank them, because really, if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be able to perform, obviously. I have people say, “I had the worst day,” or “my grandma just passed away,” or “my mother just passed away, and for this last hour, I just forgot about all that.” That right there is better than anything in my act I’m performing, or any awards, or anything.

Your least favorite thing?
I really enjoy most everything about my job, even when there’s hecklers or bad people or whatever, that doesn’t bother me. It’s just sometimes when I’m traveling I have to get up early and I am not an early person.

How do you handle hecklers?
I learned from the best, Rodney Dangerfield, he was actually a friend of mine. I have a lot of lines. If they’re just adding a joke, I’ll laugh, and I’ll give ’em props, “hey that was pretty funny, maybe I’ll use it in the next show, but don’t ask for residuals.” But if someone’s just being obnoxious, I’ll say, “Excuse me, sir or ma’am, I didn’t realize there was a speaking part in the show for you.” It’s polite, but it let’s them know, “hey look, you need to quiet down.” I don’t get mad, I don’t get angry, if people want a few minutes of fame. If it’s a funny line, I’ll let them have it, I don’t care.

What was the best laugh you ever received?
It wasn’t a pleasant one, it wasn’t laughter for me, but at me. Ii was at a private show at a house, and a woman put me in a straight jacket, then a gentleman thought it would be funny if he came up, and he tightened the buckles. When one of the buckles came between my legs, he grabbed it and yanked it really, really tight, and it wasn’t pleasant for me but everybody was laughing because he lifted me maybe three inches off the ground — that’s how strong he was. I remember after he buckled me in — and I was going along with it — he took me and threw me in the pool. It was a genuine straight jacket, 100 percent canvas and when it’s in water, it tightens even more and it becomes stiff. So I was sinking and I looked up and I saw everybody around the pool and they were staring at me laughing because they thought it was funny that he threw me in the pool. They didn’t realize that could have ended my life. But I was able to swim out of that straight jacket and get out. They were laughing and cheering at the end, because they thought it was funny. So that was my biggest laugh at my expense, not because of magic.


Grand Ballroom at the Avi

Friday, Oct. 4 (8 p.m.)

See “Showtimes” for ticket info