Odds are most readers have never heard of Carl Ballantine. However, once upon a time he lived. That time has ended.
He was the worst magician in show business – so his act became a bumbling magician who once in a while pulled off a successful trick, much to his own feigned surprise. He was funny as all hell.
My friend Larry, a publisher in Massachusetts (hence the name, “The Mass Pube”), remembers one of Ballantine’s routines: “At one point in his act, he’d tear a newspaper page into strips, boldly claiming that he would restore the paper to its original state. Then he’d stop to read the want ads.”
He worked with a pathetic, sad-eyed Bassett hound named Louie, “the Smartest Dog in the World.” He’d enthusiastically issue commands while Louie sat there inert, expressionless, ignoring him. Drove him crazy! He’d turn his back or face the audience, and Louie would sabotage the magic trick……by the time Ballantine turned around, Louis was back to zombie mode, the trick totally ruined.
Maybe you hadda be there. It was hysterical.
BTW – he took his stage name from the Scotch, not the Ale.