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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » New to magic? » » What's Your Persona? (1 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Ravenspur
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I'm reading Gerald Edmundson's "The Ostrich Factor." One of the first suggestions is developing a persona. I watched Gazzo yesterday on YouTube. I couldn't stop laughing. Out loud. By myself. Definitely not my persona. I watched videos of Docc Hilford the other day. I was spellbound.

As a teacher, I have a persona--or several--but I'm not sure that all of that would work. I'm a joke--often in the dad variety of jokes. I pick on/joke with kids in a way that let's them know I care. I tap the on the opposite shoulder so they turn and look the wrong way. I can lecture at the drop of a hat on Hamlet, Gatsby, and the history of the English Language.

I'd love to hear about the personas of others and how they developed or are developing them.
funsway
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Having a persona can have advantages, but does require work to maintain a backstory.

I hardly think it is one of the first things to worry about as a magic performer. Voice control, mental role play and practice discipline can all be more important.

I do not believe developing a persona is necessary to be an effective performer.
However, how I explain and frame my role in a magic event can be critical to audience engagement - but that can change each time.

What you do in a classroom can work. Be yourself. Assuming an artificial role can be unnecessary work. Read the science fiction short story "moon moth."

Style is something different
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst



ShareBooks at www.eversway.com * questions at funsway@eversway.com
Ravenspur
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As a classroom teacher, I have a bunch of roles. Aside from professing that my jokes aren't funny, kids will tell other kids that I'm funny. I call kids by name. Often remake their names by reversing their initials. (There are kids in their 30s that still have those names). I do the shoulder tapping thing. I tell them I'm immature for my age. I guess you'd say I'm offbeat, constantly surprising them with what I say or how I say it. Find the absurdity in things, making things ridiculous in a nice way. I guess these are moves. Kids always want to know what I'm like at home. Some who have met my own children always ask this. Frankly, I'm pretty dull.

I don't think I need a personality like Gazzo, though character-based magic seems to be a big thing these days, especially with the younger crowd.

What do you mean by style?
Mindpro
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This is always an interesting topic because usually, the advice offered is very one-sides and short-sided. The "just be yourself" approach or advice is usually not the best for many, as, simply put, most people are not that good of a persona for a performance and live entertaining situation.

Then, this is usually followed by someone describing what THEY like and citing some example of others that are somewhat similar.

All of this is fine but in reality very few mention or talk about the greater picture - what is best for your performance market. To get the most out of such a persona it should be aligned and congruent with/for your target audience. It's best for connection and rapport, best for bookings and business, and usually becomes easiest for you to execute because you know it is aligned with your buyers and audiences.

So often by answering a few decisions and consideration upfront, it can often lead you in the best direction.
gomerel
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At ren faires, I am a jester. I haven't developed beyond that.

In Old Sacramento, I am an actual historical character.

Elsewhere, no specific character.
funsway
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"Find the absurdity in things, making things ridiculous in a nice way." Doesn't sound dull to me, and apparently not to students either.
To me, that is a style of presentation. Can't a magic effect illustrate the absurdity of daily life?

Why should an audience expecting magic be different? Or do they expect something else?

Yes, character-based performances does seem popular - but I am not sure about the magic part.
Some younger folk seem not to have a personality to draw from and effect many different false persona. Not sure how they keep it straight.

As Mindpro noted, who is your intended audience? How do you get them to expect magic rather than tricks or skill demonstrations.
"bookings and business" don't seem to be part of your objective, but understanding your target audience must be.

I have performed a lot in classroom settings, and "keeping the audience on the edge of surprise" was part of my style of classroom management. Magic was part of that.
So, the skills you already have can be part of the "self" you can be for any audience. Ot need to create fiction when you are already dynamic.

If you decide to "go big time", then you may need an agent like Mindpro, or a marketable image. What are you desiring to accomplish with your passion for magic?
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst



ShareBooks at www.eversway.com * questions at funsway@eversway.com
TomB
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Ravenspur, it sounds like you have your character as a teacher and probably as magician as well. You have a dry sense of humor with some dad jokes. You like to purposely make mistakes then recover with strong punch. I think these skills add to your character. I would imagine reciting Shakespeare could be some decent patter. Boil boil toil and trouble for any witches brew. Romeo and juliet for any hypnosis love potions. Having said that, what is your appearance as a magician. Are you dressed the same as when you teach? Maybe you are the next Professor.

I had a teacher reverse initials. Having the initials TB, he called me tuberculosis. My favorite memory of him is when Excalibur, his yard stick, would awake a sleeping student by smacking his desk. One day, it broke on a kids desk I was not very fond of, he went over and kicked the garbage pail, and shouted, oh horsepeepee.
Gerald
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Quote:
On Jul 18, 2019, funsway wrote:
. . . I do not believe developing a persona is necessary to be an effective performer.

I partially agree about the importance of developing a persona. The strength of the magic itself can engage spectators. The effect of the magic and visual allurements of the craft can attract attention and interest. A performer, skilled technically with strong material can hold the spectator's attention and can be entertaining.

However, if we think of successful professional entertainers over the years, we see definable strong performance personalities. Red Skelton comes to mind. Although he played a number of characters, the strength of his persona undergirded the character he portrayed. He was always "Red" underneath. The persona of Don Rickles also comes to mind. Would he ever have been a successful comedian without his clearly definable performance persona? I doubt it. John Wayne was always John Wayne, no matter what part he portrayed. His strong persona never changed, but it was legendary.

Mac King, David Copperfield, Lance Burton, Don Alan and a long list of others all have/had clearly definable performance personalities. These performers all do/did great magic, but they have/had the personality to strengthen their performance. Would Mac King be as successful as he is without his performance personality? Although he does great magic, he probably would not be where he is in his career without his entertaining, jovial persona.

Certainly, I believe a magician must develop technical skill and the theatrical elements of the craft. "You can't sell from an empty cart." But to choose appropriate material, venue, costuming, etc., one should know "who he/she is" as a performer. If the entertainer doesn't know "who he is" as an entertainer, how can he expect audiences to know?

As in most things, balance is the answer. A combination of skill, knowledge of the craft, knowledge of show business and personality have a chance of producing the desired result.

Regards,
Gerald
Gerald
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BTW: Unless you are a consummate actor, it is best to be a sort of caricature of yourself. You can emphasize your personal strengths and present them in bold relief. Subdue your weaknesses for your performance personality. Most everyone has strengths and weaknesses. If you have no personal strengths, Smile you will need to develop them. This can be a soul-searching project.

Regard,
Gerald
Ravenspur
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As a teacher, I have a performance personality, and it is often a caricature of myself. I laugh at my own jokes, for example, not something I do outside of the classroom.

One day I got a big cardboard box and told any kid in class that I would give them a dollar if they could guess what was inside. The box was closed, but I let them hold it. Then they guessed. Most guessed nothing. Then I opened the box and on the bottom I had written, "Something." They loved it. At home, I have done similar things on occasion like watch Antiques Roadshow alone and later watched the rerun with my mother-in-law. Then I would make amazingly accurate predictions of the value of antiques before the appraiser stated it.
Gerald
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As a teacher, you most certainly know what it takes to engage an audience! Sounds like you are on track! Keep going!
Regards,
Gerald
TomB
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I have a friend who has a tattoo that says, "your name" on his buttocks. It was a good college bar gag but now he is married with kid.

Who knows, maybe he was one of your students and you motivated him. I would have loved to have a teacher show magic tricks.
Ravenspur
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TomB,

One of my favorite student antics happened when the first Mission Impossible with Tom Cruise. He was in the Caféteria and as the metal gate was coming down from the ceiling after first lunch he ran and rolled under it, popped up, ran around the counter, and then slid out the tray return window. I saw him years later. He's now embarrassed.

Another time, I was reading to one of my academically challenged classes, and I saw something big go by the window. (I'm on the first floor). I said to the kids, did someone just jump out of the second floor window? And they nodded. I didn't believe them. Then the kid popped up to window level and ran off. I found out who it was an turned him in. His parents kept him out for a week and had him evaluated for being suicidal. He wasn't suicidal. He had hung out the second story window and dropped.
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