Sorry for the delay in posting this. It was written over a month ago and submit to the SAM newsletter, but I forgot to post it here. Probably due to lack of feedback on the last one. Number 3 will be up shortly, as it was written today. By the way, I did format it, but they don't seem to take to the forum well, so enjoy the spacing.
Character. One word that frightens more magicians than thinking about the Magic Castle burning to the ground with David Copperfield’s library and collection on the top floor. That one word is something that causes fear in many magicians. I never could really understand why, until I actually forced myself to think about it. Character means a lot of things to a lot of people. It can be one’s moral upstanding. It could be what defines you as a person. Mainly, in the sense of magicians, it defines who we are when the audience is staring intensely, waiting for the coin to vanish, the card to be found, or the thought to be read. Character is the defining element for a magician. It’s what separates one from the other. Why would someone choose you over me, or vice versa? It’s because of who you are as a person AND a performer.
It’s my honest opinion that a performer, or a character, so to speak, should be an extension of the person behind it. We, as magicians, can go all out in our characters, but all the great performers live the character. The character is an extension of the person behind it. It’s most easily, at least for me, to relate to pro-wrestling. The guys that make the most money are the ones that really are their character. They believe in themselves as that person. We should strive to do that very thing. We have to believe in ourselves. If we can’t, why would anyone else?
Unfortunately, we live in an age where your character can be copied from the new pop culture magician icon. For years, it was David Blaine. He influenced many people to begin in magic and it showed. Many, usually younger, performers are stuck in the habit of not wanting to talk to people when they perform. When they do talk, they’re unsure of what to say. Now, Criss Angel is inspiring people. These people are stealing a character from someone else. I’ll admit, I use to do the same thing. I had a tendency to pattern myself after one of the former people of interest. It was at a time that I was unsure of whom I was. I had to make that distinction for myself. Luckily, I had people to help me along the way.
So, how does one develop his or her character? To be blunt, he or she shuts up and lets their nature take over. That’s what I did and everyone that’s seen me when I first became addicted to this art and knows me now can see a major difference in the way that I perform. You really do have to sit back and ask yourself the best question I’ve been asked on my character, “Who are you?” Who are you? As a person, as a performer, as an entertainer? Are you the cocky know-it-all? Are you the reserved, charming individual? Are you a spontaneous ball of pure fun? Who do you want to present yourself as?
Once you know who you are, the character should fall into place for you. As soon as I stopped thinking about it, because I already knew who I was, I started getting bookings. Once I had figured out who I was as a performer, I gained the respect of my peers as an artist. I’ve had many people tell me how much I’ve grown as a magician since moving to Albuquerque and, for a while, I thought they meant my sleight of hand skill. Now, I know that it’s my ability to entertain instead of puzzle. Personality is a must in magic. Whether you’re the mystical, mysterious performer or the light hearted clown, you have to have a personality that draws people in.
This is the piece of the puzzle that’s keeping many great technicians from becoming great magicians. I sleight (excuse the pun) change in thinking would help these people in so many ways. The best thing I’ve found about your character is that, once you’ve gotten it down and know who you are, you no longer get nervous before showing someone an effect or two. I use to have a problem with shaking from nervousness before performing, but now I’m comfortable because I know who I am and that gives me confidence in my skill. That’s the easiest way to think about it. Knowing your character equals being confident. Being confident equals more shows and more fun during the shows. Fun is what we should be doing this for. Sure, it’s an income and, for a few, our only income, but if it’s not fun for you, it’s not fun for them.
Jeff “Exodus” Corn
Last edited by exodus on Thu Dec 20, 2007 6:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.