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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » New to magic? » » Choosing a character (7 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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asif
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Hello all, it's been a while since I have posted something. So here it goes, as a person I'm a fun loving, little bit humorous one( I always have that smile in me). But I don't want my magic to be filled with humour or fun. I want the audience to feel the mystery side of magic (I like the mystery in cyril's magic). I have videotaped myself and felt like I'm not made for fun type magic. Also I can't make much facial expressions, which limits me. So guys please help me. I don't know what is my character.
eralph357
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Many comic magicians or comedians I can think of have humor that involves very little facial expression. One of my favorite comedians, Steven Wright, is notoriously deadpan. Personally I'd recommend you use a character more like yourself than try to be something unnatural.
ThSecret
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I feel as though character is built over time. Its not like putting on a halloween custom at the end of October, but more like constantly working on and adjusted your craft that makes oneself.

As for not being made for fun type magic, I doubt it, as a performer you must make it fun. I feel all the little aspects come together to make a good performance; part of this is showmanship, acting, the way you move, your facial expression, your look, the effects you do, your music, or miming, etc.

A good part of you post suggests, not a magic issue, but once of acting/performing/theatre. Look into these aspects of performing, and draw inspiration from other non-related productions you personally enjoy. What makes you continue to watch your favourite tv show? What draws you in? Is it the suspense? The comedy? The Horror? A well thought out story line? Good acting? Post production effects? Maybe a little of everything? Then see how you can provide such feeling in your performaces.
"A play does not take place on stage but in the minds of the spectators."
friend2cptsolo
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One thing that did help me was to look up synonyms for the word "magician" = "a person who performs supernatural"
now what I find is...http://www.thesaurus.com/browse/magician
words like:
charmer
genius
virtuoso
witch
wizard
conjurer
diabolist

NOW take these words and just do a quick google image search .... example "virtuoso"
well with this example I see a lot of violinist all wearing very proper formal wear, if I relate this to character of a magician. I would say maybe it is someone very methodical in both his/her words and movement.... Everything is very clean and proper when presented ......
Image




NOW what is a Diabolist???
Image

Scary magic!!!! Casting FIRE!!! Making the unwanted Disappear!!!

Cyril
Image


Relaxed, and casual while at other times serious and intense.

Mix and match what you like best, something that suits you. How do you want other to see your magic?
To me these visuals help.
Russo
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Look at the UNCLE in the" NUTCRACKER SUITE" = a mysterious but loving Uncle that can do mysterious things - NOT scarey- just FUN, Protective and Entertain. ?????
Dan C
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Hey Asif,
You mentioned that you aren't good with facial expressions. Not to pry but why is this? There are ways to learn and get around all kinds of things.
Just my opinion but I feel even a "serious" show is better with bits of humor and fun sprinkled throughout.
friend2cptsolo
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Yeah I was not suggesting that he should make his character scary but that maybe picking a wider range of traits could be useful.

Even a serious show often has humor or humorous events in it, breaks up the monotony.
asif
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Thank you friend2cptsolo, that's a great advice. Also Dan thanks for the insight.
Dan C
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One thing I remember seeing years ago was a small play where an actor would periodically run across the stage with a card that determined the audiences "reaction" at that point. If you are performing a scripted show this could be accomplished with a screen displaying words or better yet emoji synched to your routine. You could then remain deadpan. Even better would be have a live assistant run the screen. This could actually be quite funny if they ran it similar to a "Mystery Science 3000" episode with commentary on your show. Hope the ideas help.
ThunderSqueak
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Choosing a character is a pretty personal thing, and I am sure that even the greats try many different masks until they find the one that just "fits"

Speaking of deadpan magicians... one of my favorites is Rob Zabrecky, when I first saw one of his acts I was nearly on the floor with tears in my eyes from laughing so hard. He is so serious in his nonsense it is just wonderful Smile

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XohbF527jN4

Anyway... no idea why I felt the need to post here... Back to work @.@
Russo
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I forget his name - but there was a Magician - seen several time on Ed Sullivan - The Magician and His Wife on stage and HE always had his shirt tail sticking out of his fly-(on purpose) without noticing it -deadpan - through his whole performance - FUNNY.
EvilBob
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I don't think it needs to be as binary as "just fun" or "just serious". Heck, I'm sure even the Devil does his work with a twinkle in his eye.

Your "character" - if you feel you need one - is something only you can draw out. That sounds like a bit of a cop-out, but it's true.

All I can suggest is that you spend some time trying a neutral presentation. Don't try to push any character, just talk your way through your techniques as you practice them. You might find yourself comfortably slipping into something that flows from you and feels natural.
HenryleTregetour
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Quote:
On Jan 28, 2017, asif wrote:
. . . as a person I'm a fun loving, little bit humorous one( I always have that smile in me). But I don't want my magic to be filled with humour or fun. I want the audience to feel the mystery side of magic (I like the mystery in cyril's magic). I have videotaped myself and felt like I'm not made for fun type magic. Also I can't make much facial expressions, which limits me. So guys please help me. I don't know what is my character.


Hi Asif,

I really can't give any advice about choosing a "character;" they say be yourself, which of course is a lot easier said than done.

However, one thing you might consider is tailoring your character to your audience. Some audiences might respond better to the more mysterious side, others might be more receptive of the humor. As for me, I am new to performing--I have not had my "initiation by fire" (performing before a audience for more than four) like you have. I am interested in performing "period" magic, specifically medieval/renaissance. Now I expect to have more than one kind of audience, in fact at least three (maybe four?). First, there is the adult audience I would perform within the context of my medieval recreation group. Second, there is my children's audience (this is also within the context of medieval recreation). A third would be a Renaissance faire audience for whom the "medieval attire" would be more of atmospheric window dressing than anything else. The first audience would probably be more interested in magic from the actual period than the other audiences. The children of course would be most interested in fun. Then the faire audience, which would consist mostly of families out for the day, are wanting to be entertained and don't care about authenticity.

So, I have a basic character which changes with the target audience. The audience determines the show. Furthermore, the context can determine the character. I am a big Halloween person, and I think doing a Halloween show would be fun. Also, I can see myself doing children's birthday parties. In both these cases the medieval thing would not work, so I lose the medieval character and tailor my character to the show.

I hope these ideas help.

HLT
danaruns
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With all due respect to Henry, whose ideas seem to work well for him, I think I may disagree with the notion of tailoring your character to your audience. One can be like Dana Daniels in his "No Show," and "put on" characters as if in a series of skits. But I think what we are talking about here is more fundamental. And part of choosing a character is defining who you are as a magician. Successful magicians are consistent in their character, they do not try to be all things to all people. Of course, this sometimes defines and even limits the work one gets. Think, for instance, Dan Sperry (the anti-conjurer, a kind of magical Marilyn Manson), or Rob Zabrecky (creepy and funny Addams Family persona), or Pop Haydn (swindler and cheat transplanted from 1910 into modern America). Sperry, for instance, doesn't get children's birthday parties or corporate gigs. On the other hand, his character has gotten him work he never otherwise would have gotten. A consistent and well-defined character tells the world who you are, and makes you an individual, distinct from the fungible concept of generic magician.

Of course, character should be crafted to appeal to your target market. What is your niche? Who is your target client? To whom are you trying to appeal? If you try to appeal to everyone, you'll end up appealing to no one, and will become lost in the marketplace. So, you can do it one of two ways. You can either: (1) determine your niche and craft a character to appeal to that market; or (2) craft your character and find a niche that meshes with the character.

Generally, I agree with those who feel that a performance character is best when it is somehow an extension of one's self, with certain actual attributes exaggerated. Are you brainy? Be a magical scientist. Are you someone who likes to flirt? Be a magical Don Juan.

Asif, you sound like you want to be someone who wants to present magic as very serious. I suggest you look at the characters of people like Jonathan Pendragon (very serious) or Shin Lim (seriousness combined with beauty). Or perhaps a Jeff McBride, who goes big and important, but integrates his love of martial arts and Kabuki theater (exaggerations of his traits), and occasionally tosses in a Commedia dell'Arte character for some comic relief in what is otherwise a very serious show.

Just some random thoughts. As always, your mileage may vary.
"Dana Douglas is the greatest magician alive. Plus, I'm drunk." -- Foster Brooks
HenryleTregetour
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Hi Danaruns,

It is nice to meet you.

First let me say I am sorry with regards to the loss of your friend. My heart goes out to you and everyone else whose lives he touched.

With regards to this discussion, in general I think you have made some very good points. Perhaps more in the role of devil's advocate, let me make a couple of statements.

My impression is that Asif is very new to performing magic; I am too. His question suggests to me that he is going through some of the "growing pains" that I am--finding his "voice" as a magician. Again, I believe you have given very good advice. Nevertheless, what one desires to be is not always the same thing as a person will become, ie. one's niche. And what one will become largely results from the inner being, ie. one's "real self."

Now I am not meaning to sound fatalistic. We have the ability to do a lot in terms of shaping what we will be. But there is also that deep part of us where we realize that something just doesn't fit.

You are right--my ideas work well for me (at least I hope they do!). Nevertheless, more implicitly (perhaps too implicitly?), my post has to do with experimentation, trying different things in order to find what works for someone. Something that I did not state in my post is that what I would really like to be is a medieval "wizard" in the sense of someone learned in magical lore--astrology, alchemy, magical properties of gemstones, etc. (I have actually in the context of learning about medieval magic done a lot of reading on these topics the past few years--I am an academically trained professional historian, by the way). But the problem here is that I may not have an audience that will respond well to this kind of character, but who knows? As Dick Oslund says, it is in the presentation--make it entertaining--but this is a really hard nut to crack!

Thanks again for your comments.

HLT
Pop Haydn
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A big part of bringing the character into being, and having him accepted by the audience, is to develop the backstory that brings him into the present with this audience. Why is he here? Why would he be doing a magic show for this crowd?

As the performer begins to answer these questions--he is a time-traveler, a ghost, a five hundred year old wizard, etc.--one will discover the biases, beliefs, unique perspective and/or values that make him/her interesting and real.

Humor and conflict will grow out of these peculiar choices, and by the characters attempt to hide or reveal, or to prove his identity to the audience.

This backstory isn't "told" to the audience. It informs the script and action.
acesover
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Where is your comfort zone? Can you pull off being mysterious without looking silly. By silly I mean not being mysterious at all but rather put on. It is not that easy to take on something you are not especially if you are performing for people you know.
If I were to agree with you. Then we would both be wrong. As of Apr 5, 2015 10:26 pm I have 880 posts. Used to have over 1,000
WitchDocChris
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I am huge on character. I, personally, think it's one of the most important things a magician can work on.

That being said, the first character you try to do will very likely not be the character you settle on. I know when I started I was a bad mish-mash of Ricky Jay and Derren Brown. It did not work and I am glad there's no video footage of that period for me to stumble onto.

Like Dana, I am an advocate of taking an aspect of your personality and amplifying it. Like Pop, I am an advocate of having a backstory. Developing the character as much as possible in the beginning saves you a lot of work later down the road.

Does the back story have to be fantastic? Nope. My character's backstory is my backstory, simply emphasizing the aspects of my personal history that are relevant to the character and performance. I genuinely studied occult philosophy and ceremonial magick when I was younger, and I am genuinely thrilled and fascinated by ghost stories and the idea of post humus existence. I genuinely believe we create our own realities and that everything is an interpretation of energy signatures. Those are relevant to my performances. My high school girlfriend is not relevant, so it's not part of the character backstory.

The easiest way I know of to figure out what your most prominent aspects are is this: Ask your friends. Not just one or two, but as many as you can, and keep an actual tally. Ask them to be honest, and don't get defensive with any of their answers. Take one or two of the most prominent things mentioned, and decide what kind of person would have those characteristics?

The easiest way I know of to decide whether something is working or not is this: Do I feel silly doing this?

When I started out with that psychic card sharp character, I would often feel just a bit silly doing the routines. The tricks were solid, or the scrip was solid, but they never really meshed with my personality. It was too serious for me. So I lightened up and changed my material and let more of my natural personality come through. Now it works pretty well.

Always remember that character development is an ongoing process. Always evolving as you grow older and gain more experiences to work into your performances.

edit: Oh, and take acting lessons. I cannot recommend acting lessons highly enough.
Christopher
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Deley
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Hey Asif,
you can watch the magicians you identify, or think they have the same style as yours.
Watch and observe how they do all the stuff not just de card trick, but the expressions the way they talk or look. For example:
Bil Malone: the funniest magician I ever saw (in my opinion of course) I try to do things like him.
For you I don't have good examples but you can try David Blaine on the start of the tv shows when he was mysterious and "dark"
or Chris Angel.
But you need to think a lot about that because everyone need a sense of humor, because magic is not that beautiful thing you see on TV or Youtube, you gonna cross with people who just wanna see you do something wrong or comit a mistake.
The humor help in those situations because you always can make a good finish with a bad situation!
Remeber ever is not the trick that matters is how you make people feel.

Try to work a lot in your character because is one of the most important things in a magician.

I hope it has been useful... Smile
Pop Haydn
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Quote:
On Feb 2, 2017, Russo wrote:
I forget his name - but there was a Magician - seen several time on Ed Sullivan - The Magician and His Wife on stage and HE always had his shirt tail sticking out of his fly-(on purpose) without noticing it -deadpan - through his whole performance - FUNNY.


That would be the Great Tomsoni.
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