October 13, 2017

Last night was a blast at Ogilvie Elementary School for a PTA Family night.


The director of the program just sent an e mail that included the following…

“I wanted to thank you again for coming to do your show at our school last night. Everyone (both kids and adults) had an AMAZING time!”  – Jen D. Family Night Organizer

The parents and the kids giggled and laughed throughout the program and the kids seemed to have so much fun participating in the magic tricks.  I also love to promote reading during the program so I am a motivational speaker for kids and families.  I want to get people excited about reading.  I know that reading will make such an impact on their school work in all subjects.

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Magic Snowman appears as we talk about snow and awesome books such as “The Snowman”

I have toured the entire U.S. promoting reading in schools for the past 30 years and continue to pursue this goal.  I was the first Minnesota Magician to do a reading magic show and have been much copied and not duplicated.  Many librarians have commented that this was the best show of its kind.  I just like to do my best.

The goal is to encourage reading and I like to do it in a fun and fascinating way.


more at http://www.magicnorm.com/school.html

This motivational program is perfect for I love to Read Month or other school events in Minnesota.

Guest Author on Magician’s Book

October 12, 2017

I am having much fun as a guest author on a Minnesota Magician’s Book.  The Amazing Jeffo has one very good book that was published about 5 years ago and he now is working on his second.  This will have a lot of the wit and wisdom of this funny fellow.

My duty is simple – to edit and to also punch up the punch lines of his comedy writing.  It is a very fun process.

Jeff is very fun to collaborate with.  He has a brilliant wit and a playful attitude.

Jeff cards hero

Jeff has presented comedy magic throughout the U.S.  He is also a motivational speaker and his site is Jeff-Speaks.com

Check him out for your corporate group or special event.


Jeff Speaking at U. of M.

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Jeff Smith on Channel 5 TV

Clean Comedy and Amazing Magic for Adult Audiences

November 6, 2015

I love to share the gift of laughter and last night  I enjoyed  the wonderful group at the Lake Shore Drive Condos in Richfield. Jeff M. Invited me and his 60 guests were so much fun to entertain with Comedy and Magic

The Entertainment director for this lovely place is Nancy Brofford and she was kind enough to write…

“Fantastic show – Norm gets people in the audience involved. Our folks really enjoyed it.”



I just do my best – I learned that in Cub Scouts!

Please check out… MagicNorm.com


Magic is fun… learn more at the library and look for my fun kid’s magic books! They are now best sellers!

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SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAAt the Red Balloon Bookstore for a show and autograph party. It was fun to meet the families.

Magic Show at Cannon Falls, MN

August 6, 2015

Minnesota Magician – Mr. Norm brought the Magic of Reading show to the Cannon Falls Library in July 2015 and everyone had a blast.  The room was packed with smiling faces and echoed with laughter.  It was a fun group.

The librarian wrote :

“Mr. Norm was a great success! He actively engaged the children of Cannon Falls with his fun filled program of mesmerizing magic and comedy!  A great time was had by all ages!”

  • Ms. Cyndi – Cannon Falls Library

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It is fun to bring my comedy magic show  to families across Minnesota and Wisconsin.

This week was especially fun with shows for a corporate event at the Coffmann Union Hall ion campus of the U. of M. and also for a Town celebration.  How can I help bring fun to your next family event?

Check MagicNorm.com


Dick Oslund – Millions of Miles, Millions of Smiles!

February 25, 2015

Dick Oslund has traveled Milliions of miles in his RV presenting shows to thousands of high school and grade school audiences.  Here is an article I wrote about him for Kidabra Magazine.

Dick Oslund Magic Man

Dick Oslund is one of the top kid show magicians in the country. He has done school tours for over 40 years. That is 14-16 shows a week and a thousand miles of driving a week all across America. At over 400 shows a year, and 250-400 kids per show… well by my math he has probably performed live before more people than any other magician. Aside from school assemblies he has appeared at trade show, fairs, scouts and the banquet circuit for club gatherings.

Dick O currentn

Here is a current photo of the Magic Man himself – Dick Oslund.

He has lectured on kids show magic at I.B.M. and S.A.M. local clubs as well as national conventions. I first saw him lecture when I was a teen at the 1976 I.B.M. national convention. His ideas on magic and comedy are worth a serious look.

Mr. Oslund has a quick wit that grabs the kid’s attention and gets them roaring with laughter. A show that stands out in my mind is when I saw him perform for a school audience of 350 kids in the late 1990’s. He had that bunch rolling in the isles, yet still in the palm of his hand the whole time. There were moments of complete silence as they hung on his words and then sudden bursts of spontaneous laughter as he made the magic come to a surprising climax.

Every word and gesture had a purpose and there was no wasted moment or movement. He commanded complete focus of the audience from start to finish. I was also struck with the efficiency of the amazing tricks he did. They were very visual, and magical. His magic tricks were amazing, with sleight of hand using coins, balls, silks and even a rabbit from the hat. The magic was direct and powerful.

From a backstage view, the other interesting thing is that he was so efficient and wasted no time. He put each trick away as he was reaching to get the next one out. Yet there were no awkward pauses. He had jokes to cover the transitions and keep the show moving at a quick pace. This allowed him to have his suitcase of magic packed and ready to go by the end of the show. Often he was out the door of the school and into his car before the crowd completely cleared the gym. When doing 3 shows a day with 30-60 miles between each show, well you need to be efficient. But there was never a dull moment. He had a place for everything.

Dick Oslund – Magic Author

Kid stuff 5

Kid Stuff Five was a very influential magic book published by Magic, Inc in Chicago. It had many routines and was over two inches think hardbound.

A classic set of books in “magic for children” genre is the Kid Show Magic series. These are the books by Francis Ireland Marshall, produced by Magic Inc. in Chicago. Volume #5 is a thick hardcover book that was state of the art for its time and is still an excellent resource. In this huge book you will discover Dick Oslund’s complete Environmental Themed show from the 1970’s. Few realize that Dick also did most of the writing for that entire Volume #5. This was one of the first series of books on the exclusive topic of children’s magic. It’s well worth a look!

Dick Oslund was drawn to magic as a child, and then in high school began presenting magic at functions around his town. “All my friends were earning a few bucks bagging groceries and I was making $25 a night performing magic,” he said. “All through high school it was a paying hobby.”

This fun job of making people laugh helped him in the service. “I never cashed a Navy paycheck in four years,” he said. He didn’t need to cash check he was doing quite well doing shows on and around the Navy Base.

The Navy offered a lot of travel and he met many magicians at the magic clubs around the country. “I had my whole show in a cigar box and got $20 to $25 for a performance,” he said. “That was pretty good money in those days.”

After the Navy he became a full time magician with his home base in Chicago. He was a regular at the Abbotts Magic convention and often guest starred in the Foxy Follies. This was the final night show, produced by Karrell Fox, that spoofed all the acts that appeared at the convention.

“People ask me if I buy specialty items, but everything here I bought at yard sales for a dollar or two,”

Oslund says that the secret of magic is simple. “It’s 85 percent psychology, 5 percent sensory illusion, 5 percent sleight of hand and 5 percent esoteric science.”

After all these years, Dick still enjoys bringing laughs to audiences around the country. He believes young people today live in a harsher world than ever before, making laughter and fun important.

“If you see someone who’s not smiling, I say give him one of yours,” he said. “We could all use a few more laughs nowadays.”

Oslund cover of MUM

Mr. Oslund is now 81 and spends summers in Michigan and is still very active volunteering in Scout camps during the summer months and he enjoys the winter in Florida. Even though he is officially retired, he recently did a fill in as a replacement act for yet another school assembly tour. He is just enjoying what he loves to do, make magic and sharing laughter.

So he has not really retired. “You might say I’ve only slowed down a little,” he said. “I can’t quit this. I’m having too much fun.”

Dick Oslund – Three Tips for Kid Show Entertainers.

#1 – KISMIT – KEEP IT SIMPLE, MAKE IT FUN – This is Dick’s basic philosophy that got him through over 60 years in show biz. When he considers adding something to the act, he thinks through it from many angles. Before making an addition or change to the act, he analyzes it to see if it would work under many conditions and for many types of audiences. Is it simple enough for youngsters to understand yet is amazing to the older kids? Is it foolproof so you can concentrate on the presentation?

#2 – Along with Keep it Simple is – Make it Fun! The comedy and bits during the show add so much to the overall reaction from the crowd. They love to laugh and participate. Look for slow spots and add some fun. When you keep their attention and interest with bits and gags, you will keep the fun going.

#3 – The show should be adaptable. You want amazing magic that can be done anyplace, for anyone. Often school shows in the old days would have audiences of Kindergarten through 12th grade all at the same time. He kept everyone’s attention from the jaded Jr. High to the sophisticated Senior Class. His show could also play great to adults at the Rotary, Elks or other clubs and yet be adaptable to Scouts, schools and family nights. If it is good magic all groups will enjoy it.

Special Bonus Tip: Dick says “Study the art of magic and read the classics: Tarbell, Fitzkee on showmanship and creativity, and look for Kenneth Webber’s brilliant book Maximum Entertainment. Understand the philosophy of why the magic works. This will make you a better magician.”

Dick recalls the story of a young and an old sailor watching ships going out to sea. The young sailor says, “Man there is a lot of water out there.” The old salt says – “and what you see is just the top of it.”

What for Dick’s New book coming soon!  It will be filled with many many kid show and school show routines that Dick developed over the years. He performed in many high schools and Jr. Highs and had them busting up with laughter at his comedy magic.

Check out Dick’s website

Oslund    http://oslund.weebly.com/

Best-selling children’s book author, and kid’s comedian, Norm Barnhart has many items to help add comedy to your act. Please check: NormBarnhart.com


Its Not Even Close to a Best Selling Book

February 25, 2015

But, maybe some day it will be.  A guy has got to dream!

Yet, this book is now out there and getting some nice comments from those who have read it.  Even those who have not read it are saying things like, “It would make great kindling.” I wonder if they mean for Kindle or for a campfire?

The publishing world is filled with published publications. AND my new book is another!!

Cool Magic Book

This is a Cool Magic Book for professional Family Entertainers.

You might want to get it…. it is at Amazon.com Just click below to go to the book or look it up by title on Amazon.com


This book is cool – mostly because it is shipped from the great cold north.  Grab a cup of Cocoa and chill with this action packed book.

More at NormBarnhart.com

Hello on this Fun Friday!

June 20, 2014

Just a quick note here and a link to a column I wrote for a local newspaper called the Lowdown, that covers a county on the Eastern Twin Cities. it is an arts, events, local news and history paper that covers Stillwater to Forest Lake, MN.


It is from April 9th, 2014. We had a lot of late snow this year. It went into April and we had 10 inches of the cold white stuff on one day that month.



Hope you enjoy the humor in the article and it brightens your day.


Cido in NYC 2012

Here we are having fun in NYC last year after my lecture at the club. The hilarious Pee Wee on the left and amazing funny guy CIdo on the right. I am blessed to have so many cool friends. Wish I could visit them today.


Jokes of the Week

April 4, 2014

I appeared as M.C. at the WCA convention in Chicago this past week. many people asked for the list of odd jokes from one evening’s show.

One that I remember was…

“I wondered why the baseball appeared to be getting larger… and then it hit me!”


“I changed the name of my I Pod to Titanic.  – It’s syncing now.”


“I really love this new book about anti-gravity. I can’t put it down.”


“I used to think I was indecisive, but now I’m not so sure.”


“I stayed up all night to see where the sun went… then it dawned on me!”



I will add more soon.



Arthur Pedlar Receives The Legacy of Laughter Award – 2014

March 18, 2014

101_0518  Vercoe on uni vercoe  Verco  and alan1 Arthur Pedlar as Vercoe!   –  Legacy of Laughter Honoree      by Norm Barnhart

Watch out! Way up above the audience on a 8 foot unicycle is that fantastic and funny Vercoe. His wild antics have the kids gasping in fear as he seems about to fall, then they burst into giggles and applause when Vercoe suddenly astounds them with a high in the sky silly stunt.  Kids of all ages love Vercoe.

The comic genius behind Vercoe is Arthur Pedlar, the hilarious comedy entertainer from England.  For over 60 years Arthur performed as Vercoe around the world, including performances in Australia, the United States, Israel, Singapore, Japan, Russia, and throughout Europe and Scandinavia.

The life of this comical guy began way back in 1938 when a 6 year old Arthur was taken to see the Bertram Mills Circus. He saw the silent American hobo clown Emmett Kelly perform that day. He also enjoyed the antics of Coco and his team. This captured Arthur’s imagination and started his fascination with clowns.

The Vercoe Show

The audience is totally focused on Vercoe. This funny guy has stumbled through attempts at doing many unusual stunts and yet somehow succeeds to the audience’s delight. A highlight comes when he discovers parts of a bike in a trash dump and then tries to ride the two separated sections of the bicycle. It is a laugh riot as he attempts, fails, then finally succeeds in turning these broken pieces into a working, yet comic, vehicle.

The audience also enjoys the unique music Vercoe plays on a tiny and rare soprano (Eb) saxophone. He also can perform with clarinet and violin. He is accompanied on piano in the act by the up-tight Professor Forte a classic strait man and clown. Forte plays the piano with grace and style as Vercoe does amazing stunts and acrobatic feats. One feature that has the audience on the edge of its seat is balancing a bottle on top of another bottle stunt. The upper bottle slowly begins to spin and turn to the audience’s amazement.

More than half the fun is getting there.  Vercoe does amazing stunts on the tall unicycle as well as unique acrobatic tricks, but along the way to the ta-dah moment there is much comedy byplay that keeps the audience laughing throughout.  He fails and flounders as he attempts his next stunt. Just when the audience thinks that there is no way Vercoe can accomplish the stunt, he does. This brings thunderous applause. But the audience laughs as Vercoe’s funny comedy antics and failures build to his final moment of triumph. The audience loves him. They love the underdog who will not quit and who somehow finally succeeds.

Arthur Pedlar’s Comedy Roots

Arthur discovered that he could be a clown when, as a tongue-tied lad of 15, he made his debut. He and his brother attended a Quaker school and he was not good at sports, and he did not seem to fit in. His brother persuaded him to participate in the end of term party. Arthur donned clown make-up and a putty nose in such a way that he was unrecognizable. He managed to do a mime performance with tin pans and rulers balanced on an open case.

“When I stepped on stage my heart was beating 90 to the dozen,” Arthur reported. “Nobody had a clue who it was, and I got an enormous laugh immediately, just by peering around the curtain. All my nervousness left me and I felt completely at home, which was a new sensation to me.”

He discovered how silent communication could work for him to bring laughs. This shy young man discovered that his antics brought a hilarious response. He now could make people laugh from behind the mask of a clown. This was as major turning point in his life. A few years later, during his National Service, he made the soldiers laugh with his comedy mime skits. His comic skills were developing.

After the service, he stumbled into the world of circus clowning when his father bought a copy of The World’s Fair, a show-business weekly, to find the address of the firm which supplied ordinary gold fish to fairs and municipal ponds. This was to replace the one a heron ate from their backyard pond.  His dad then read out loud, the advertisement from Spider Austin looking for clowns to go to Paris to apprentice for the Cirque Madrano. So, in 1953, Mr. Pedlar moved to Montmartre to learn his art. Every three weeks Arthur and this clown team would create and perform a new routine. These were very physical routines and the management, and audiences, expected polished artistry. He was offered a position to continue touring with the tent show, but felt he was needed back home to run his father’s shop.  By this time he had an act that appealed to adults as well as families.

During the 1953–54 season in Paris, Arthur had the opportunity to work for three weeks with film star and comedian, Buster Keaton.

“My first major employer was the Southport Town Council who booked me to entertain at Civic Receptions and conferences, these led to further one-night stands and it grew from there.” He has never had to sell his act. As he recalls, “ALL my engagements have been through being seen.”

Arthur has since performed with many circuses and was an active member of the British Clown Association. One day a chance meeting with a clown, further changed his life. It was Richard Snowberg, who at the time was the president of the World Clown Association. This connection later led to performances at Clown Camp in La Crosse.  Mr. Pedlar was honored in the Clown Hall of Fame, as the first living non-American inductee.

Mr. Pedlar was also elected as president of our World Clown Association in 2003-2004.  He served with distinction and dedication.  For years he has written educational articles for this publication.

Mr. Pedlar was also a long-standing member of Holy Fools, has been attending the clown services since 1986, and nowadays presents one of the readings. With church clowning Arthur states, “We mustn’t forget to include the adults and give them something to ponder, after all it’s likely they will be the majority of the congregation.” All ages enjoy a laugh and a bit to think about when shared by Arthur.

Israel Circus School

For many years, Mr. Pedlar was a dedicated producer of the clowns for the Israeli Circus School. This is a wonderful performance group that brings middle easterners together with circus arts and a desire to share cooperation and peace.

The Israel Circus School holds a special place in Arthur’s heart. He was made honorary president of the organization as a tribute to his dedication over the years. The school teaches circus skills to Jewish and Palestinian youngsters together. The Circus began in 1999, bringing to children and older youths some of the skills and creativity associated with the art. It seeks to bridge relationships between the different cultural communities using circus and humor as a common language. The project, has opened new vistas of opportunity for Jewish and Arab co-operation.

The group of clowns went on to became a Clown Alley that was recognized by the World Clown Association on the 1st of May in 2005.

An generous donation from Mr. Pedlar and the W.C.A in the US, meant that I.C.S could build a new stage in the Center, buy very expensive training equipment and get a computer for their office. A big part of the dream for the Circus School came about with the delivery of circus equipment sent from England by Mr. Pedlar. Arthur sent unicycles, walking globes and a large collection of juggling equipment. Arthur’s generosity of teaching, equipment and cash helped immensely to see that the school to survived its first year.

Arthur Presents an Award

Arthur was also very honored to have presented the Russian clown, Oleg Popov with the ‘Legacy of Laughter’ award for his services to the world of clowning. He said: “For me it was a great pleasure to meet one of my all-time heroes and give him an award at the same time.”  Mr. Pedlar travelled to Aachen, Germany, where Oleg was performing, to bestow the award. This trip rekindled memories of the first time he ever encountered Popov in 1956.

“Oleg and myself are the only non-American clowns to have been voted into the International Clown Hall Of Fame & Research Centre and we share a passion for making people laugh and entertaining the audience.”

Recently Arthur booked the Southport Theatre to celebrate his 80th birthday. He invited the general public to attend a performance that included a hilarious appearance of Vercoe doing his full act. This was a spectacular birthday party with performance by Roni and Gigi from Japan, Rubin Madsen from Sweden, Nola Rae who was trained by Marcel Marceau, the  clown/priest Roly Bain, and the Scottish clown Tweedy.

Arthur is a Historical Storehouse

Arthur has given wonderful talks on the history of clowning for our W.C.A. conventions and other groups such as theatrical clubs in England. He even dons a comic wig and nose and goes into some hilarious bits to keep the group laughing. He shows slides and movie clips of famous clowns and explains what it was that made them funny.

Arthur’s lecture shares how the greats used many props such as tiny or high unicycles, cars, umbrellas, and even wigs coupled with eyebrows that move. He also discusses the acrobatic or musical talent that became identifiable to these wonderful clowns of yesteryear. He touches on many famous clowns including; Charlie Cairoli, Kooky, Lou Jacobs, Professor Mumi, Grock, Ollie Popoff and Bertram Mills’s Coco. This lecture is fascinating as Arthur shares from his personal recollections and meetings with these great clowns.

Professor Forte – Vercoe’s Pianist and Funny Guy

Arthur’s nemesis on stage is the daft Professor Forte, played by Alan Whiteley. Alan is a wonderful, classically trained music graduate who is also a church organist and leader of two choirs in Southport England. For over 20 years Alan was Head of the Music Department of New Heys Comprehensive School in Liverpool. He is official Musical Director of Clowns International.

Arthur values the accompaniment that Alan provides on the piano. Music adds so much to an act and live music allows for crescendos and rim shots to accentuate the comic moments. Vercoe’s act is also enhanced by Alan’s strait man attitude.  Professor Forte looks on in disgust as Vercoe tries to entertain with his juggling items, pratfalls and fall-apart chair. Alan acts as a foil to the humble clowning and antics of Vercoe.

Vercoe alan Piano 4My memories of Arthur Pedlar come from his many years of entertaining at Clown Camp in LaCrosse. His hilarious, dynamic and physical performance brought howls of laughter and was a hit with the clowns in attendance. He also performed and lectured at many W.C.A. conventions. He worked tirelessly to bring an international show to the New Mexico Convention.  This was a fabulous program and the audience laughed with joy at the comedy antics of clowns from Japan, Sweden, England and U.S.


Arthur Pedlar is married and has two children.  He is a most deserving recipient of the Lifetime of Laughter Award presented by the World Clown Association. WorldClown.org

Funny Guy and Ringling Brothers Clown – Jim Howle

March 15, 2014

Jim Howle is a fantastic and funny man who has entertained audience around the world with the Ringling Circus.

He is a terrific artist sho’s prints are in demand.


Jim is a featured speaker at lots of places including the CornVention last year in Iowa.Aits_comedy_cover_dec2011 jim_howle