The Great Tomsoni & Co.

Showboat's Good Times Variety ShowShowboat - Atlantic City

... And for the last and crowning act in the Mardi Gras Showroom at the Showboat these evenings, what we get is the Great Tomsoni & Company, which, expressed in the most basic language possible, may be one of the funniest magic acts since Ballantine the Magician gave up his theatrical bookings to play the part of Gruber in "McHale's Navy."

John Thompson is The Great Tomsoni. His wife Pam is the "& Company." Like Ballantine and others, he is enormously skilled at what he does (word filters down indeed that he coached any number of others, David Copperfield included). As for his wife, she is like nobody else show business has ever seen. Expressed most simply, she is everything no magician's assistant should ever be -- jaded, set-upon, gum-chewing, cynical, even desperate to get out of this act -- and the way the two of them play off each other makes this one of the funniest spectacles of recent stage experience.

Thompson apologizes for her presence. "I met her in an amusement park," he explains. "She was a ride."

One way or another-he in the way he looks, she in the way she walks -- they both resemble the Frankenstein monster, and by the time they have completed their deceptively artless turn, people in the audience are literally wiping tears of laughter from their faces.

"You're a wonderful audience," the Great Tomsoni says. "I wish I had a better act."

Not to belabor the obvious, he already has that better act.