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p.b.jones
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Milford Haven. Pembrokeshire wales U.K.
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HI,
Jim Snack, started an interesting dicussion as part of another topic regarding the effect of MITS on the performers character.
I would like to exapand on that here and see others views. I have heard many performers here speak of Miscalling colours, getting animals wrong ext. I personaly don't do this as I do not like the way it reflects on my performing character. I have similar bits of busines but the way I do it does not demean my magicain character.
How do you feel it effects you?

P.S I once saw a magician miscalling colours ext and a kid of about 5 or 6 said "is this bloke #@*%%$ Retarded!"
Phillip
Jim Snack
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Phillip,

I used to drive my wife crazy asking, "What's my character?"

I could never really figure it out, so I started to worry less about my character and more about the material I was selecting to perform. Did I feel comfortable with it? Was there anything that bothered me about it?

For example, I used to do a strait jacket escape, complete with corney bits of business I picked up here and there, and a few bits I developed myself. I never felt comfortable with the routine or the audience reaction (unless it was a rowdy, drinking, blue collar crowd). Eventually I decided that it just did not fit my style.

Style is a concept that relates to character. Broadly speaking, in comedy you can be a clown or straight man. Jerry Lewis was a clown. Jack Benny was a straight man. Both can be very funny, but completely different performing styles. The clown would miscall colors. The straight man would never do that.

The magicians I've always admired were the smooth, suave manipulators. Straight men. Not to take anything away from a comedy magician like Mac King (one of my favorite performers); I just know it's not my style.

Now I worry more about style than character. My wife used to tell me to stop worring about my character, the audience will figure it out. That kid of 5 or 6 you mentioned in your post certainly figured it out!
Jim Snack

"Helping Magicians Succeed with Downloadable Resources"
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NJJ
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I often get called all sorts of insulting things regarding my intelligence!

As a magician, I take my character from the type of magic I do.

For children, my magic is silly, surreal and unexpected. My personality matches this. My character revolves around the fact that I THINK I am a smooth magician but I obviously am not. The magic that occurs is never what I intended yet it still never fails to amaze the children. The fact that I share their amazement that something unexpected happened means that the children don't feel 'tricked'
spatrick
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Tom Sawyer let me whitewash these
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The struggle with character is always a confusing one. Go into any busy magic shop and look around at the magicians purchasing magic. You will see many with that "Does this fit my act" puzzled look. It's pretty intense when you are looking for it.

My style (Character) is a crazy person. Not in the traditional sense but in a kinda fun way.

I start the show with a bit of classic magic to music, which is all skill. Then for the rest of the hour I act like a nut, tell corney jokes, goof with each volunteer, smile and giggle with the audience, enjoy the performance with the audience, and at the same time make some pretty cool and unexpected magic happen. It always seems to work.

S. Patrick
Emazdad
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Plymouth UK
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I've never thought about my charactor, Emazdad is me, I just act naturally when I'm performing. I'm a gemini so both Clive and Emazdad are both me.
Yours Funfully
Clive "Emazdad" Hemsley
www.emazdad.com

"Magic is a secret, without the secret there is no magic"

Remember there are only 3 types of people in the world, those that can count and those that can't.
magic4u02
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Philadelphia, PA
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PB:
Thanks for a great post and opening this up for some really good discussion. Thanks also goes to Jim for his very insightful comments and suggestions. Thank you both.

I must admit that what Nicholas said is almost exactly how I see myself as well and what has really worked for me.

I think finding ones style is a trial and error sort of situation. Everyone thinks they know what is going to work for them until they realize that what they think THEIR style is is really not how others perceive them to be.

I always tried in the past to present my magic as straight forward and very serious. I tried to be the perfect manipulator with a sense of flare.

That was until ater a show one day, I was acting myself and being silly with the kids. I was being their friends and down on their level. I then realized, that that was when the kids liked me the most. that was when they could relate to me the best because I was not this scary adult figure they did not understand.

For me, that opened me up to exploring what my style is and what gets me the best reactions from the family crowds I mainly perform for.

I am a thin guy with balding hair. If i play the straight guy too much, the kids only think it is so out of character for me.

So what works best for me is this guy who is silly and fun and who is just out there to have a good time with the kids and tell a few magical stories. It is a show where the unexpected does often happen even if I am not totally sure of how I did it.

Ido end up amazing the children, but more importantly I make them smile and giggle and have a good time and for me that is REAL magic.
Kyle Peron

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Frank Tougas
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My character is not really a character at all. It is simply me. A nice guy who can do some goofy and amazing stuff.

Somehow I have been endowed with magic, and while at times it gets me into trouble, it and my good naturedness gets me back out of it.

I think it has more to do with my mind set than anything. I am very appreciative that I have the opportunity to bring some fun and wonder into a child's life. My show incidently is called Frank's Fun&Wonder Show.

The philosophy that gave me the mindset is simply this. "I am a very lucky guy, I get paid to play with toys in front of other kids."

This is a valuable thread - it would be nice if we could get some of what had been posted previously placed here. I wrote some of my best stuff there and I'd like to get a little credit for it Smile
Frank Tougas The Twin Cities Most "Kid Experienced" Children's Performer :"Creating Positive Memories...One Smile at a Time"
magic4u02
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Frank:
(applauds) Happy now? =)

Seriously though, this really is a great thread and we are getting some great reponses and post going. I look forward to reading others comments on this important topic.
Kyle Peron

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Al Kazam the Magic Man
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Thanks for the thoughtful topic PJ Jones. I perform a lot as a clown. I miscall the kids's names and, and sometimes the colors of my props. If there are grandmothers in the crowd I try to joke with them about things. I'm 47, and feel I have to try and at least have a bit of fun with the whole range of ages that may be in the audience. As a clown the kids expect me to be a git goofy at times. For me I always try and get it right when the kids help me out with the correct information, but as usual I can forget pretty quick, sometimes to their amazement. One thing that helps me here is that most of the kids here only speak simple English, so I can ham up the English part to have some fun with them. This fits my clown character pretty good I think. As a straight guy I would think I don't do that as much as I do when as a clown.
JoJo
Al Kazam --> Magic guy in Perth Australia
magic4u02
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JoJo:
Nice discussion and it seems your character and style works for you and you get good reaction from it. I feel if it is comfortable for you, and your getting good reactions, then stick with it.
Kyle Peron

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Cheshire Cat
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I personally don't go for excessive mis-calling of colours or animals etc. I just try and be extremely pleasant to children and create an ambience of uninhibited fun with them, and total confidence and relaxation of the adults. I find I now have the ability to constantly ad lib and quickly react to situations, in fact some days I feel I should be paying myself for entertaining me so well!! I suppose one line I use during magic is a pseudo air of absurd pomposity - which of course is constantly deflated by things going wrong! (but always a magical ending!) My wife has a great repeat and recommendation rating for her shows by basically just being like a nice schoolteacher - without any false personality being used at all - although she does use the 'colourblind' routines!! An interesting topic. All I would say is never try to be someone else. When I first started I had been greatly influenced by another entertainer and maybe tended to try and be him! Obviously this was a mistake! I'd also avoid any extreme characterisations as these can take away a certain neutrality and maybe create a percentage of both children and adults who positively do not like you (what do you think?) Me too Emazdad, another Gemini.

Tony.
p.b.jones
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HI,
Just to contribute to the topic, my kids character is one of a competent Wizard who likes to tease the kids. if I perform an effect where something goes does not go acording to plan (it always does eventualy)
then it is not my fault! for example at one point I have three rings linked and I get a boy usualy about 4 to check the rings are linked by holding one I then turn away to talk to the other assistant leaving the boy with one ring in his hand and me with the other two. I do a double take and say " so you are a magicain too egh you did not tell me that when I picked you! for another effect a girl is holding four coloured silks which she is going to hand me one at a time I say " please hand me one of the silks it does not matter which one" as she passes me the yellow one for example I add "as long as it is red" How I play from here is based on how the kid reacts I have a way forward for any senario howver the most likely is that a member or two of the audience will say "Yellow" and I then say " OK if they want yellow give me the yellow one next" I never look at the silks or girl I just push them in the bag without looking I then continue as required depending on the sequence the child follows. So now when the magic has gone slightly wrong I say to the girl "that's strange did you give me the silks in the right order?" usualy they say no but sometimes they lie which gets a laugh from the adults. either way I have got my desired error and it was not my fault was it?
I no there are lots of you that will not like this aprouch. But it works for me.
Phillip
NJJ
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Here is a thought...

Everyone has a character, a personality and style that they portray to their audience. By not thinking about character or just 'being youself' you leave your audience's perception of you in the hands of the gods. Not thinking about character is akin to getting dressed in the dark.

Ultimately, 'being yourself' is impossible. We have many different selves that we use on a day to day basis. E.g. the way in which you talk to your parents is very different from the way you might talk to your children.

Also, your idea of what your 'self' is may be very different from what other people see. Ever watch yourself on video and be surpised that you look and act completely differently from what you expected?

Your character doesn't have to be wacky or overtop, it could be quite normal and friendly. However, if you don't pick one, your audience will pick one for you.
Frank Tougas
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Nicholas,

I am thoroughly confused by your statment. Just who's self are you being when it is impossible to be yourself?

If you mean we are all multifaceted - you are quite correct. Otherwise you are describing someone with a multiple personality disorder, which is great for magic because you would never be without an audience (Ba - Boom, Ta!)

I think the wisest thing you said in your statement was at the end, about the audience picking your character for you. But I don't wholly agree with you on that point.

Character or not, in the end the audience always picks it for you. They do it by acceptance, by buying into your concept, by their appaluse, by return engagements or by bye bye.

I don't tell people how they should formulate their on-stage personna. That is in the end their own very personal decision based on experience, luck, the flip of a coin or however they decide to arrive at it.

I question whether it is alright to tell someone else that what have chosen and continue to do successfully is somehow impossible - it lacks credibility and in turn stiffles lively debate.
Frank Tougas The Twin Cities Most "Kid Experienced" Children's Performer :"Creating Positive Memories...One Smile at a Time"
magic4u02
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I think it really comes down to experimentation and also trial and error. One must find out what works best for him or her. What they feel most comfortable on stage being and what gets them the best results and the best reaction form the people they perform for.

If at the end of your show, your getting a lot of smiling faces and acceptance, then that is when you need to evaluate what you did during the performance and what was it that really seemed to click for you and your audience.

Taping every show you perform and getting into the habit of honestly reviewing them, can really help for you to determine what really does work for you.
Kyle Peron

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Cheshire Cat
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Just to go a wee bit off topic here, I have observed that to be a successful children's entertainer you have to be visually 'right' (whatever 'right' is). We have had comments made to us about others such as 'he is so tall the children were frightened of him', - or ' I can't stand that horrible old man with bad teeth', or (sad but true in our area), 'the entertainer was black and the children had never been in close contact with anyone black before and were frightened, - or (of an overweight entertainer who's stomach hangs over his trousers and his zip 'area' at the front doesn't look too 'tidy') - 'I'd not leave my kids with him', - or a lady entertainer with peroxide blonde hair, stressful eyes and an appearance of anxiety - 'is she alright with children?' In other words parents can have pre-conceived prejudices which in turn they pass on to their children. I am 5ft. 10 ins., middle aged and slim (ish), my wife is a slim, pleasant lady. The only 'image' or 'character' fault we are aware of that may be portrayed to some is that we may appear too 'upmarket' to them and they (the adults, not the children), subsequently would feel ill at ease dealing with us (or spending their money with someone they perceive to be richer than them). But there again we all know that 'downmarket' image entertainers of a rough appearance and vocabulary can have difficulty sustaining business and respect amongst professional type people (well I know it!). Clown makeup entertainers may also have the constant worry of a child casting one glance at them and screaming the place down, - thus I would imagine that creating a 'sympathetic' appearance must surely be essential (is this so?). As if we don't all have enough to think about already within our entertainment 'characterisations', keeping the bookings flowing, taxes, insurances etc. I've always said that being a children's entertainer is like walking on thin ice, - and this is why we all deserve high financial remunerations for it.
Jimeuax
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Characters!--Lets think about some well known magicians--to me anyway---Lance Burton is "Mandrake"or "Channing Pollock"---Jeff McBride is "goth"or "new age"--Mac King is "country bumpkin"---David Copperfield is well.. "David Copperfield"-ha!--David Blaine is Punk/hiphop---Chris Angel is "goth"---David Bass--"was goth"--Ayala is "zorro"----anyway name someone who is well-known ,and a label or character will probably come to mind---this may not have anything to do with Kids Magic---but it is an interesting thought---no?----------Cheers!---Jimo
magic4u02
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Jim:
Just goes to prove that power of a good character and a thought out style of performance.
Kyle Peron

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johnpert
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After taking a break from magic due to a busy start in my teaching career, I lost the personality that was successful for me.

A few years later, I returned to magic and did a childrens b-day party. B/c the magic club I belong to is primarily of adult magic material... my presentation was to serious I found.

I began reading my books and other material and was reminded that the journey is more important than the magic. The kids need to have fun along the way---- laugh laugh, wow- that was cool.

For me, the serious style doesn't work so much. I find the style is best suited for adult performances where dry humour is also understood.

just my thoughts,

j.
Jimeuax
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When I work with little kids, I usually just try to be a "funnier" version of my self. I am a Speech Pathologist so most of the kids I do magic for, know me. It would be strange if I totally changed character for them. In my older kid and adult shows, I adapt a more "theatrical" character. It seems to work out so far.....cheers!---Jimeuax
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