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"Huh" says George and hits Signor Blitz over the head with a frying pan and runs off the edge of a canyon.
Potty the Pirate
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Dennis, the list you supplied (as Tom pointed out, in fact a list for writers of fiction), really doesn't work in my opinion. Then again, I'm not trained at RADA or something, but have developed my pirate character over years of performing in various pirate-themed shows. But essentially, like the rest of you, my performing character, Potty the Pirate is merely a distillation of my own self.
What IS important though, is that I have answers for the kids when the ask: "Who's your captain?"; "Are you REALLY a pirate?"; "Why are you wearing those funny shoes, pirates don't wear shoes like that?" etc. Also, it's essential to be comfortable in your role. To be a convincing character actor (which is what I consider myself, in addition to the tricks and gags I offer), you have to BE that character. Well, in my own case, I've lived a fairly piratical existence, so you could say that I'm a method actor. I really did spend ten years at sea, mostly in the Caribbean, and the numerous and various pirate shows I've been involved with (everything from "Pirates of Penzance" - many times, to Pirate song-and-dance shows, and other similar themes like "Beggar's Opera", etc), all help to lend an air of credibility to my stage persona.
Because I've spent a long time at sea, I know small details that others might not be aware of. Eg, my "Vanishing Bandanna" package is all beaten up and old, and inside there is a tape cassette. That's because, I can explain, as all sailors know, your post often arrives at port days after you've sailed, and it's possible to keep missing your post for weeks, months, or even years at a time.
I guess it's these small details that can really help to sell your character, but in fact you have to be yourself, it's no good pretending to be something you're not. Kids will see straight through it, and will be unimpressed.
that's why I like the scarecrow theme (and the pirate theme),because there really aren't any rules, you can pretty much make them up yourself. Rather than a big checklist of what your character should be, simply use your imagination. In my opinion it's simpler, and will lead to your developing a more convincing and entertaining stage character.
Potty Smile
Tony James
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I think Dennis is much closer to the mark than perhaps some of us realise.

Famous in the UK and possibly even more famous in Australia is and was a show known as The Two Ronnies. Note I don't say an act. It was a show featuring two known and established individual people, Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett.

Check them out.

And whilst you're at it put "Two Ronnies" into Google and sites will provide you with copious quantities of pictures. Then you'll see what I am getting at and why Dennis is so close to the mark.

Corbett is the slim diminutive (5 foot 1 inch) variety act, a comedian who like so many turned his hand to sketches.

Barker, the big avuncular one was an actor and could and did play almost any kind of character, sometimes with no physical change to his appearance whatever.

The point is this. They worked separately in life, with their own careers. they worked together in their joint show and also quite separately in that show.

At some point Corbett would play himself, talking to the audience in hilarious terms about his life, experiences and particularly his home life - a gorgon of a wife, a mess of a home and dreadful children. None of it was even remotely true but as a stand-up (or in his case, sit-down) comedian his 'character' was nothing more than slightly exaggerated version of himself.

Barker, on the other hand, simply couldn't do that. He could not be himself. He loathed and hated people talking to him. He couldn't and wouldn't attend an event and make a speech. He would occasionally go and dress up as a character and talk as that character. But never as himself.

When they worked The London Palladium (twice) with a stage version of their television show (which they then took to Australia) they had at the very start to make an entrance and talk to the audience as themselves. No problem for Corbett but Barker couldn't do it. It was Corbett who had to help Barker (who wrote so many of their sketches) to play a version of himself. Which he did but hated it and couldn't get through it fast enough.

So you see you can as Dennis suggests play absolutely any role whatsoever which suits you and with which you feel not only comfortable but the ancillaries, props and costumes are practical and don't inhibit your performance.

And on the other hand one of those possible characters could simply be a slightly larger than life version of you from which you have hopefully eliminated those undesirable traits such as a limit to your patience and a homicidal attitude towards children.

Personally I'm just me, a slightly larger than life version of me. I'm an adult, not stupid but I am an adult and as all children know, adults don't always understand what a child says first around, they can look and not see what a child can see, like a tiny bird in a bush, so obvious to a child whilst remaining invisible to an adult and these and other adults traits I play upon to provide my character with a degree of - to a child - a degree of amusing confusion and perhaps silliness.

But I'm not stupid and not one of those delicious simple childlike clownish characters I find so funny but could never be.

I'll let you into a little secret. As any long experienced pro will tell you, you will recognise real success in yourself when you are yourself, even if that self can only be expressed through a different looking character. It's essential with children because a child can spot the genuine from the fake in seconds. It seems to be an instinct many of use tend to lose as we get older.

Beware of children. They know the difference between the genuine and the fake.
Tony James

Still A Child At Heart
Signor Blitz
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Hey George,
Was the fry pan from the ACME fry pan company (lol) Beep Beep
Signor Blitz the boring
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Dash it, I missed Signor..picks up frying pan and straps rocket to back.

That's a great post, Tony. I loved the two Ronnies and although this isn't a good example of anything you where talking about, I happen to have it in my favourites on youtube: .

Ronnie Barker was one of our greatest comedy actors. When you saw him (very rarely) in real life you could vaguely see how he accomplished Arkwright and other characters but Fletch was just this perfect comic creation that should've been out of a man like that's realm. Absolutely extraordinary.

Corbett is a treasure (watch him in the clip above) noone can tell a joke like him. I don't remember any of the shaggy dog stories (I tell a lie " don't tell me you have a set of golf clubs down there too") but his presentation was utterly engaging and hilarious who cared about the punchline!

Playing someone different to yourself can work fantastically. Done well you have something unique. Done anything less than perfect blzzzhh (that's how I spell a raspberry).

As Tony says "Beware of children. They know the difference between the genuine and the fake."
So if you aren't playing "you" make sure you believe in however else you are being as much as the children do.

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On 2008-01-05 21:28, kimmo wrote:
KNOWING your character inside out probably aids the creative process rather than hinders it. There is so much more to BEING a pirate or a clown than just throwing on a costume.

kimmo that's is true. when I decided I want to do a children's show as a cowboy I wanted more then just a costume. so I started to look what I like and don't like. what is a cowboy and what does he do?

so I started to learning trick roping and catches. I close my show with this. what is the one thing a cowboy does? lasso! (lariat)

the nice thing is that there are so many magicians around but not so many cowboy childrens shows. this puts me in a nice position.
Al Angello
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I knew my friend Robert Blake the Dutch cowboy would chime in sooner or later.
Al Angello The Comic Juggler/Magician
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Al, that's the nice thing if you have a themed character. it also gives many different ideas than just being a magician.

cowboy - cowgirls
wanted posters
harmonica - banjo
medicine show
can can girls
gorcery store
bad guys
sheriff - deputy
ghost town
etc. etc.

so many things possible with western. I see that I can do many years of exploring here for new ideas in just this one theme only
Dennis Michael
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Yes, the Character List I got several years ago, and saved it because it is "food for thought" I didn't save where it came from but I knew I had it.

As Kimmo said, when working with a puppet and one must give the a character, to make that puppet real as possible this list is valuable.

Obviously a Pirate Character would play better if the routines and props were themed related to a Pirate.

A Silly Magician Or Clown Magician could get away with doing more silly stuff than a Classic Magician. In the reverse, it would be harder for the Silly Magician and Clown Magician to pull off something serious.

Tricks and routines "Play Different" and "Work Better" based on character.

Your personality, that is if you really understand it, (That's a topic in itself), has a lot to do with what works and doesn't work.

Now a "Cowboy Singing Magician" is an interesting character, I absolutely know I couldn't pull that one off!

What is really important in this topic is fully understanding "Character" I would love to be an illusionist, but I don't have Black Hair that youthful handsome appearance, however, John Bundy, made me rethink this. Could I be a Count Dracula and do a Halloween Illusion show? Absolutely, and the routines would be re-designed on the theme. I do thank John Bundy for his insight on one of my dreams that I pulled off successfully.

Character requires thought, requires knowledge of what is "self-image" (Be yourself is not as easy as one thinks.) From this build on it. Does one of the listed characters appeal to you more than others, that a start on what might be a successful character. Knowing this makes purchase much simplier, as well as what to wear.
Dennis Michael
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I decided to pick my new character by putting the numbers of the cable movie channels into a cup and picking out numbers and taking my character from the descriptions of the main character on that movie or show either from the TV guide or IMBE. I'm proud to announce I am now:

a humorous black man who is also a serial killer who is pursued by an insane sheriff whos brother I killed. I am competing to win a cheer leader compitition but learn that friendship is more important and have sex with three women I meet at a laundry mat. My catch phrase is 'Great Scott!' and I'm a made man.

I'll let you guys know how I incorporate Hippity Hop Bunnies into this. Thanks for the tips on character developing!
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Last week the birthday girl kept asking "are you a real magician"....then went on to say all the effects she remembered from the last party. She remembered the magic wand...

In my programs I play me, playing characters.

Have harmonica will travel...

Coming soon to a mail box near me...a Zydeco Tie....can you say thimbles...

Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
music, magic and marvelous toys
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