Harry Anderson Tips His Mitt! . . . and you won't believe what rolled out of that mitt. All of the sidesplitting routines that helped make Harry Anderson a household name are packed into this book. That's right; The Skunk Trap, The Gang of Four, The Handcuffs, The Burned Bill Routine, The Monarch Monte, and yes, Harry's classic Needle Thru Arm plus many more. We don't have to tell you how commercial these routines are since you have seen most of them on The Tonight Show, Saturday Night Live or on Harry's own TV special, Hello Sucker. Follow a youthful Harry Anderson into the streets where his character, Harry the Hat, developed during years of busking. Read outrageous stories from these humble beginnings that led to starring roles on television's Night Court and Dave's World. Harry can't promise you will become a Hollywood star but he will show you exactly how he developed the many routines that carried him to the top of his field. You will see magic effects slowly evolve into the classic routines that Harry ultimately performed as a headliner in casino showrooms, comedy clubs and on television.
During a live performance at the Comedy and Magic Club in Hermosa Beach, California (where Hello Sucker was taped) we photographed Harry's entire act and these action shots have been used to illustrate many routines. But Wise Guy is much more than just a book of tricks. Included are the theories and the psychology that form the basic foundation from which all of Harry's magic emanates plus the exact patter that accompanied each effect. There is also plenty of close-up and mental magic that you may have seen Harry perform on shows such as Late Night with David Letterman or Larry King Live.
It's not very often that a magic celebrity puts virtually every effect that made him a star into a single book but that is precisely what Harry Anderson did in Wise Guy. Whether you are looking for a thought-provoking discussion on how to entertain an audience with magic, or just an evening of belly laughs, Wise Guy is the answer. 167 pages jam packed with dozens of photographs and illustrations, a wonderful introduction by ventriloquist Jay Johnson and all beautifully hardbound with a striking dustjacket. $35.
A PEEK INSIDE HARRY ANDERSON: WISE GUY
[Here is a perfect example of how Harry could take a standard magic prop, one that most magicians wouldn't give a second thought to, and turn it into a memorable piece of theater that encompassed humor, tension, shock value and of course mystery.]
THE FINGER CHOPPER
Harry used to do the finger chopper in the close-up room at the Magic Castle. When I commented on his hilarious routine he just shook his head and sort of brushed off the compliment. Years later I realized that mentioning the Finger Chopper to Harry caused his mind to drift back to the days when he really did the Finger Chopper and really got a reaction. It was back when Harry worked with his girlfriend Alison. She was a normal and pretty girl in every way... except one. Half of her little finger was missing. Now don't get ahead of me.
Harry had one of those little wooden finger choppers that Micky Hades used to sell. The kind where the blade could be removed and clearly shown. It was a very convincing little guillotine that did not look like a novelty store toy. Harry would get a guy to examine the chopper and then cut a cigarette in half. Then he held the guy's hand up and told this silly story. Pointing to the first finger he began: "This is the King, this is the Queen and oops, this is the evil Duke. We're going to have to behead the evil Duke." He slid the guy's finger into the hole and then held tightly onto his fingertip... uncomfortably so.
Now Harry looked at the audience and changed the subject completely. "Isn't it strange how cooperative a person will be with a magician. I mean this guy doesn't know who the hell I am." (This was long before Night Court.) "I come out all dressed up. I do a couple of card tricks, so he jumps to the conclusion that I've been hired by this establishment. Then I come up with this line about an evil Duke. Evil Duke? What the hell is that supposed to mean? I bring out this device and demonstrate exactly what it does and what does he do? He puts his finger in it. How many of you in the audience have ever seen one of those little finger choppers made by the Adams Novelty Company? The little one with the trick blade?" (Two or three people always raised their hands.) "That is what we in the business would call a trick finger chopper. How many of you ever owned one of them? A couple of you. Is this one of those trick finger choppers? No! This is what we in the business call a professional finger chopper."
Harry just kept on talking and squeezing. Pretty soon a little bead of sweat would start to form on the guy's forehead.
"You look a little nervous. That's because you know what's gonna happen, you just don't know when. That's what gets people. Not that it's gonna happen, but when. That's why people can deal better with a hurricane than they can with an earthquake. You can see a hurricane coming and get ready for it. But with an earthquake... POW! Right out of nowhere. It's Mother Nature gone psycho. People hate that. So in order to put you at ease, let's make Alison the clock. We'll pick a number like three. No, that's too common. How 'bout four... and a half. Yeah. That's good. At the count of four and a half it will happen. Now you can relax. You know what's gonna happen and exactly when it's coming. Ready Alison? One, two, three, four and a half."
At the count of four and a half, Alison extended her half finger. It looked exactly like the old gag where you bend your finger over. Then three things happened at once. Alison turned her hand around revealing that she had indeed lost half her finger. A look of terror gripped the spectator's face. And Harry slammed down the blade. As Harry tells it, there were wet seats every time.
This is a fine example of exploiting your resources, using what you have at your disposal, or in this case, using what you don't have.