Guest Author - Dennis Regling
Learning and performing magic tricks can be a lot of fun. It is this interest in creating illusion and amazement that draws us into the magic hobby. As we develop skills, we soon create a show. A collection of tricks with some patter.
What is often difficult for us though, is creating our character. Our on-stage persona. The personal quirks that make us a unique performer.
Do you want to be a sulking, mysterious master of of the macabre? A bumbling clown who ultimately surprises himself and others with a successful ending? A prankster, a guru, a professor?
It is our character that makes us memorable. Channing Pollack and Johnny Thompson both used wonderful dove productions in their acts. Same moves in many cases, yet it was the person they were on stage that makes each of their acts memorable and distinctively different.
How do you find that person for yourself? I believe you should be basically the same person on stage as off. If you are Robin Williams on stage and Clint Eastwood off stage, you have a problem. People will not know who you are. The inconsistensies will confuse your fan base.
If you are Robin Williams on stage one night and Clint Eastwood the next, you have a real problem. Unless the unpredictable personality is your stage trademark, you will have a hard time creating a following. No matter how small-time you may be, if you are performing for fun or fortune, full or parttime, your audience, your clients, expect the same basic person everytime they see you.
You could manufacture a completely artificial personality and try to maintain that facade "on-camera" and off. I think it is better to find the showman in yourself. Find who you really are when performing and let that personality rule your public life.
One way to do this is to do some warm-up with the audience before your shows. No magic, just you and maybe one prop you can bring alive. Just play in front of your group.
I developed a ten minute routine with just a balloon. Before my school shows, as the kids file in, I will do my balloon act. It started out totally ad libbed, and has developed into 10 minutes of laughs without words. I actually act as if the kids are not even there.
The balloon snaps me in the fingers, then the nose. It gets stuck on my finger. All sort of difficulties until I finish with a balloon animal. The kids love it. During this time though, my personality is coming out. No words, just a funperson, trying to twist a balloon. Sometimes amazed, sometimes befuddled, sometimes confident. Ultimately successful. This is also my stage persona. I put myself into the audience's seat. I am amazed at some of my own experiments. I am delighted when things go right. If something goes wrong, and what doesn't now and then, the audience never knows if it is part of the show or not.
I am just me, showing off, having fun when I play with the balloon. Although every move and word is specifically chosen and crafted for my stage shows, I come across as impromptu, confident but still amazed at the results. If something should go wrong, it is not a tragedy because I do present a perfect person, but an imperfect person.
I am the same person on stage and off. I allow myself to live in a world of amamzement and share that with folks wherever I go. I am not Penn Jillette, David Copperfield or David Blaine. I cannot be them. Their personalities would not fit, yet I can do the same effects they do, make them totally unique to me and my audiences get something from me they get no where else.
Find your stage self. Find your inner- performer. Experiment with things outside of magic and be yourself. You can be Bob Newhart, deadpan and hilarious, or Bobcat Goldthwait, manic and unpredictable. Just make sure that that person is you.
I appreciate your input on this subject.
Good luck and God bless.