Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Project 365 (104/365): Tommy Cooper

.:104/365: Tommy Cooper:.

When a man can just stand there and do absolutely nothing for ten minutes and elicit uproarious laughter for it, you just know that there is something special about this guy.

Many magicians regard Tommy Cooper as the funniest man alive, and it’s hard to disagree with that evaluation. Throughout his television career, his unbelievable comic timing, his notorious habit for laughing at his own jokes before he even delivers his punchlines, all of these things come together and produce a man who seems to tickle every person’s funny bone with no effort at all.

When you consider his comedic material, Tommy’s jokes aren’t terribly well-written, or even that amazing. But it’s the presence that he emanated whenever he was performing that just sold his act as something better than anyone who would try to take his material and rip it off word for word. It’s a talent he had in spades, and it was something very few people not named Palito (Rest in peace, sir.) were capable of doing. Clearly, Tommy was a rare find, and a consummate entertainer, through and through.

I believe that the greatest magic trick Tommy has ever done is to generate laughter from virtually nothing. Just by standing there, just by looking at his audience, he already gets people laughing and rolling in the aisles, for no discernable reason. The man may have done amazing magic, but he was the greatest magic to behold: I cannot think of another man who can get the reactions he does while doing so little. He is simply at a whole different level.

With humble beginnings in the world of magic, Tommy Cooper has become a household name to many people, especially in Britain. His devilish sense of humor, his childlike impish nature, all of these combined to make for a man who was funny, but extremely talented in the magic arts. Many people tend to think that he was always a bumbling magician, yet nobody realized that it was all part of the act. Tommy Cooper did not make a mistake unless Tommy Cooper wanted to make a mistake. He was very precise and very adept with his moves, his choreography, everything. There wasn’t a wasted moment in his movement and his approach.

It was very unfortunate though that he passed on in 1987. As an esteemed member of the Magic Circle, the man passed away in the only way that seemed fitting of a performer of his calibre: he died onstage, while performing, due to a massive heart attack. His trademark red fez, one that has adorned his head anytime he was seen doing magic ever since he supposedly borrowed a similar hat from a stranger, fell off his head when he slumped onstage and breathed his last. It was almost a symbolic gesture that it was the end of the laughter for a man who, for decades, was the most naturally funny man the world has ever known.

Many people will point to his ill qualities, his vices and his shortcomings, but ultimately, few will deny that despite all these things, Tommy Cooper was an amazing performer, and someone many comedy magicians and even comics aspire to be like.

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