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Topic: Developing Your Personality
Message: Posted by: Stephen Barney (Jun 15, 2004 04:00PM)
I wonder if any of you have any thoughts on how to improve you presence and appeal to the audience. You know how some performers can walk on to a stage and own the room everyone automatically likes them.

We all know about practicing routines and slights and this may lead to a technically flawless act but how do you develop the rest? It seems to be part character, part charisma, part confidence.

What do you all think for instance how do you develop and improve your charisma?

It seems to me that developing these things can do more for your act than a cleaver slight.
Message: Posted by: magicmonkeyphoto (Jun 15, 2004 09:47PM)
The best things you can do to start with would be to take an acting class that is focused towards theatre acting as well as an impromptu comedy class. Both will help with stage presence as well as confidence. The second will help with being able to be funny on a moment's notice while interacting with your audience (assuming you do close up or are somehow talking directly back and forth with the audience from the stage).

Message: Posted by: Stephen Barney (Jun 16, 2004 02:23AM)
I agree but I think the hardest to develop is the charisma and I am not sure how best to improve that.

This topic really interests me shame there is not more debate
Message: Posted by: Big Daddy Cool (Jun 17, 2004 04:20PM)
You are talking about "IT". You've heard it said some have it and some don't? It's true.

"IT" is that special X-Factor that makes people pay attention to you no matter what you say or do.

Bill Clinton has IT
Hulk Hogan has IT
David Copperfield has IT
Beyonce has IT

Unfortunately, nobody can really figure out how to get IT. If somebody can, they would make millions! IT seperates the workers from the SUPER STARS!

So to answer your question, I'm afraid there really isn't an answer...
Message: Posted by: Stephen Barney (Jun 18, 2004 12:56PM)
If you mean that superstar quality, you're probably right but you can improve on your own presence. It's just really hard to put on paper how. For instance you may go in for a competition and really wow the magic judges and not score high with the lay judges. That is fixable; it is about creating an impression and being likable and stage presence but again, the how is hard to put on paper.
Message: Posted by: Big Daddy Cool (Jun 18, 2004 04:00PM)
Oh, that.
Actually it is really not as difficult as you think. But it is a lot of [b]work[/b]. (I know a lot of you just tuned out...)

In a nut shell, you must make a conscious decision about who you are going to be on
stage and commit to it. I call this "Creating a Character."

1) You must figure out who [b]you[/b] are first. "But BDC I know who I am, I live my life everyday don't I?" Nope, sorry. Most people never give thought one to who they are as people. So you need to do a self inventory and learn stuff about yourself. There is no right or wrong way to do this, but I have developed a worksheet for my students if anyone is interested.

2) After you've done that, you must decide which [b]three[/b] traits you will emphasis. This will be the basis of your character. For me it was a love of Jazz and Swing Music, Comic Books and 1940s pop culture. Again, I have a great essay by Ryan Pilling on this step. E-mail me for a copy.

3) Make a choice. Will my character now be an amplified version of myself or a separate persona built upon those traits?

4) Make another choice. Will I be the Killer, The Victim and the Witness? In other words will your character create the magic, be a victim of the magic or be a witness to the magic. Think about that and let that hang on the clothesline of your mind...

5) What presentational style will you chose? Storyteller? Educator? Mad Scientist?
Gambler? There are almost limitless offshoots and combinations. For example once you've decided that you are going to be the killer, are you going to be a gambling killer who exposes his cons to educate? Lots of fun possibilities here. Big Daddy Cool is an entertainer who kills.

6) Write your character's bio. The character's history. Including who his parents were, where he went to school (if at all), how he became an entertainer, or gambler, or Mad Scientist. And if you are playing an amplified version of yourself, write your bio, your history. Make it as long or as short as need be.

Now, that you've done that it's time to really go to work...

7) What is your character's time, space & weight. Boy, this is complex, but it deals with specifically how your character moves. Largely this will be determined by what you've done so far, but there is still a lot of discovery to be done here. Every part of your character's body has a specific speed (time), space (size) and weight (light or heavy). Start with the head, move to the arms and then the feet. Experiment. Walk around with these attributes. Think about how this character should be physically. Once, you've figured out the head, arms and feet, move to the waist, knees, thighs, finger tips and so on, until every part of your body has a specific time, space & weight. [b]This is not easy and will take hours and hours of work[/b].

8) Decide how your character will speak. Slowly, quickly, with an accent? Not at all? And Why? Go back to the bio and figure it out.

9) Clothes. You've heard it said that clothes make the man? It's true. Although the
costume is near the end it is one of the most important elements. The audience must know what you are about from the second they lay eyes on you. Part of that is you time space & weight, but a BIG part is your costume. For Big Daddy Cool I needed to create an image that was the flashy showman and entertainer but conveyed ties to the Mafia circa 1940s. By combining styles associated (by the General Public) with the time period I've done just that. Before I open my mouth or bob my head, they already have an idea of what I'm all about.

10) Now, the hardest part. Examine your repertoire. Does every thing you perform fit the character you've created? If not throw it out. Your character dictates your repeater, not the other way around. This will be the hardest part, because more than likely you've been performing routines that you shouldn't.

11) Write a script. First write a script for each routine you've kept so far :). Then decide what story you want to tell the audience. It could be a true theatrical narrative (in the case of BDC) or the story could just be "hey I came here tonight to show you some really amazing things." But what ever it is write it out from beginning to end. Write stage directions, prop placements most important, segues! Write a script. Just do it.

12) More than likely you are going to run into a snag in step 11. Some of the magic that you kept, doesn't move your story along. It may fit the character, but it doesn't fit the script. Lose it.

13) Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse! And do it with a director. Or if you have the resources
with a theatrical director, a magical director and a choreographer working in tandem.

If you follow these principles I promise you will see the results from the lay audience that you desire.

[b]And[/b] I didn't even mention that if you work with an assistant or larger cast, every person in the cast must follow these steps through the Time, Space & weight stage as well.

[b]And[/b], as you are examining your repertoire you are also going to eliminate any magic that isn't commercial and appealing to a lay audience. Screw the magic guys and the judges. Think about the audience.

Gosh, I hope this helps. There are a lot of other resources available as well. One good source is Rich Tenance's column at Online-Visions.com, and this is a regular topic on the Kevin James Forum at kjmagic.com.
Message: Posted by: Stephen Barney (Jun 22, 2004 11:12AM)

Great post lots of informative stuff there I am plowing through and analyzing the things you said. I PM'd you for the resources you mentioned.

Once again, thanks for the post.
Message: Posted by: Carron (Jun 24, 2004 10:09AM)
I recommend you check out some books by Daniel Fitzkee. He has some great ideas on character development

Message: Posted by: Stephen Barney (Jun 25, 2004 06:18PM)
I think you will find it (Dariel (SP) Magic and showmanship for magicians etc) very good. The trick brain etc and of course don't forget Henning Nelms.
Message: Posted by: Brent McLeod (Jul 8, 2004 03:18PM)

BDC has hit the nail on the head-all his points are so correct!

I was going to add to the point of basically having a good act-be confident in what you are doing, and make sure you enjoy what you are doing. If anything seems a bit corny etc-drop it from your act-have poweful routines especially if you have developed a character.

Reactions from a lay audience will tell you what works-this will breed confidence in you & your Presence on stage will develop & you will end up with an act that will go over so well as all your weak routines will not be there

This will take time but it does work!!

Good Luck
Message: Posted by: landmark (Jul 8, 2004 10:41PM)
In addition:

Charisma = Strong need to [i]communicate[/i] effectively one's strong, positive, unselfish, inner intention

Jack Shalom
Message: Posted by: Kevin Vu (Aug 26, 2004 06:28PM)
Howdy Everyone?

Well, I've been into magic for about 4 years. I bet that's not long compared to a high percentage of everyone. Experience is the key to performing. Which I still don't get the part at the end. hahah I know you will learn everyday when you perform magic. How things go, good and bad, props, etc.

But I do like #11 Big Daddy Cool. Thanks, your post really helped.

It's hard to think of what type of personality I have. I have the comic side of me, the hardcore manipulator, friendly but not comedian-like. There's a whole lot to think about. I just don't know what to do.

But I guess I'll try and figure it out along the way.

Kevin Vu

P.S. Thank you, everyone.
Message: Posted by: Patrick Differ (Aug 26, 2004 11:08PM)

I dig.

If I may add...You are bridging the gap between "intent" and "perception." Perception is reality, not intent. :coolspot:

What do you want your guests to perceive? And exactly how do you intend to do that?

P. Differ
Message: Posted by: jrbobik (Aug 27, 2004 07:49AM)

Great post and well written.

I would add only one thing that I feel is a big key to your presence when entering a room. Make EYE contact with as many people as possible. It does not matter what your character is, just make eye contact with as many as possible. It will first off make them notice you, and second, it helps with figuring out the crowd.

I also stand tall and walk proud. Not an arrogant walk, but a self assured walk. Be proud you are a performer and you know that you can make all these people laugh, giggle, or ohh and ahh over what you can do. Just look like you belong there, and know what you are doing.

Just my 2 cents.

John B
Message: Posted by: Mark Rough (Aug 27, 2004 08:43AM)
There are some great resources out there. BDC's post is one of them. Also check out Richard Tenance's "Acting for Magicians." There is a great essay in Jamy Ian Swiss's book, "Shattering Illusions," as well. I can't remember which chapter it is, but it discusses how he teaches his students to develop their stage personality.

Big Daddy, if you come back to this post and see this, I'd love to get a look at the worksheet you came up with.

Message: Posted by: themagicofjoseph (Sep 18, 2004 10:08AM)
I agree, but I think the hardest to develop is the charisma and I am not sure how best to improve that.

Hello All.

My ideas on this is; some have it, some can develop it, some will try and not be as successful. People can sense "Fakeness". Being up front, honest, and polite, along with some charming wit will develop it.

I think that people who seem to have less charisma are the ones with the "Better Than You", arrogant personalities, putting the spectator on the spot with the, "I did it and you can't" mentallity. It's best to put the spectator above you. (What I mean is, you put their enjoyment first, not you doing the trick.)

Everyone has certain friends that, when they're hanging out with, you can be goofy, open, and funny. It's THIS part of you that you have to bring into your presentation. Be goofy and tastefully witty. Joke with them, and have fun. During this is when the "offbeat" occurs that allows you to do the little moves needed.

Here's the way I try to keep developing. Have you ever (yes you have) listened to music when no one was around? Did the dance moves that you pray nobody ever tapes to be sent in to Funniest Videos? I use these "moves" when practicing linking rings, multiplying balls, basically any routine, even spongeballs. I just go with the music and let my hands just go, and sometimes I come up with new moves. Ok, off track a bit. When you're doing your whatever dance to the whatever music, this is part of your true inner self that is the energy within. Bringing this out, and being comfortable with it will increase what your looking for. I hope this helps.


Message: Posted by: THEHATER (Oct 28, 2004 06:28AM)
We should always put a smile on our face, kindness in our pocket, understanding in our wallets and passion in our hearts. That will help.
Message: Posted by: Burnt (Mar 12, 2005 09:14PM)
Just try to become confident with what you do. Just practise your magic to be confident, but also don't practise and forget that a VERY important part of magic is the audience!

I have met quite a few magicians who just practise magic over and over and are amazing, but all the time spent practising means they are not getting out and meeting people, so when it comes to a show then they mumble or just don't 'click' with the spectators. The more people you meet the more confident you get in general. If you interact with people well then you will soon learn how your presence can be gained. The walks, the talk, the clothes, the appearence, the style, the smile, the humor, the seriousness, etc., its all part of you. Nothing seems worse then a fake either. You have to learn to work with what you've got and once you understand your own anatomy, then you'll now what to do with it to enhance the qualities you want to portray on the stage.
Message: Posted by: Nick Wait (Mar 17, 2005 02:29PM)

What a truly awesome post. Keep 'em coming.

Message: Posted by: symbolmike (Mar 18, 2005 10:48PM)
Studying books and applying the theories on "Charisma" has helped me by leaps and bounds. I was extremely introverted and a shy "performer". Charisma is the "IT" as mention above. It is the people magnet and I highly recommend any book or audio source that teaches the principles. One thing though, you MUST implement it and not just read or listen to it.

Best wishes,
Message: Posted by: Willtwin (Sep 1, 2008 10:56AM)

Really helpful post it has definately got my brain rattling and has almost opened the gate for me to delve deeper into my magical performance. Its always nice to see how people analyse their own performance: the strengths, weaknesses etc, because it can sometime highlight aspects of concern in you own performance.

Great post

Message: Posted by: Big Daddy Cool (Sep 4, 2008 10:18PM)
A recent PM brought me back to this post. Since this thread originally appeared, I have expanded on these ideas and principles in my book Theatrical Magic. Not only do I go into further detail on each point, I also supply you with the worksheets and creative exercises to help you really put it to work. Without sounding like a commercial, I want to recommend that anybody wanting to pursue these ideas further pick up my book.
Message: Posted by: Josh Chaikin (Nov 11, 2008 10:15AM)
I couldn't agree more. After having several conversations with Big Daddy on this topic, I have a copy right next to me as we...err...type. It's well worth the price from what I've read through so far.
Message: Posted by: montymagi (Dec 5, 2008 12:41PM)
BDC is my Yoda. The words of wisdom flow like a fountain. The only thing I will add to this, and this part is going to hurt, stage time. If that means doing free benifit shows, entertaining at the nursing homes etc., do it. The more you are in character the more your character will develop. You will learn by doing it over and over again in front of people, what they respond well to and when you lose them. Getting paid to do magic is great, but sometimes its worth it to find a charity to work with just for practice and exposure. Once you really know who you are on stage people will respond.