THE FUNCTIONS OF CHAR^^
Gary Provost, Make Your Words Ify^
Character vs. Magic
Wien it comes to character and personality in ma™ th, schools of thought. The first has been labeled byXae1 ""
loot at me" school. The second I w„„M j ?61 Uo!e th, element school. Close mZlhl fo T*^ S school m this passage from his book Workers: Number f^®"™™ My own preference ts to consider the magician in th r^ yon Sow IZTr T When SCrMn is the ¡Sen and £ , istracting it is. You become aware of impossible l,™ ™ e sPectators are able to see
SSiSfta i£ a,so the fuMtfcn °f the mind of th 0,1 18 t0 transmit the music from performance toiTST * mmd °f ^ "
However Midiao/'ri ^ 1 str°ngly disagree with this vie», makes it easier Z ™1 80 llf *«es the opposition case that it a movie theato hirtl""^!," Why ' disaBrce- IVe °ften ™creed but I've never com. „ . • enthusiastic about the film I've just seen,
230 SmSmB the J"™" 0f the scrMn- 1 don'' reCaU
I Be0 a movie 1 want to be aure to see it ion«. 'Tlw n<! I" By contrast, 1 do want my clients to think, e-""lt;„0rtic1»r,s0re an entertainer 1 want to be sure it's Darwin time 1 1"' „„„..„toed many memorable movie screens, if 'rhS,r[joetho,"",1^emOTabla performer, self-effacement is not the
£f B>«° ,. W ™ magic to say that the magician's job is to seU «»Pie 8 ^ ,,fchl 1 a^e with wholeheartedly. Aa a per-""self f'115 18 °nB mvsclf as a medium for conveying the magic. , men 1 d0"'1 —„a medium for selling my peraonality. The magic „ ¡Mr lhe maglC J the oerformer: the performer should transcend Kdno'r^ KuSz has written, "Our magic should be strong L map'- , , y,ut we as performers, need to be even stronger and memorable " ^ ^ Magic by Goshi Qoshman put it
more blunt r- . muaic I suggest that 8 more profitable modglis a Instead of S^Cjnuch better, standup comedy. Look at the most field that pays ^ tWnk Jay Uri0 sees himself as merely a snreessftd ™m ^ jQkeB frDm the minli of the comedy
2 ' inds of the audience? Jay Leno is there to sell Jay Leno ""ifhfokes are the way he does it. The jokes exist to serve him; he Wt exist to serve the jokes.
I J »os like Jay Leno, Steven Wright, George Carlin, and all the tiuccesrful comics today have reached the top because they've h succeeded in creating a style, attitude, and persona so memorable, unique, and appealing that it is indelibly stamped on the minds of the audience. To do that, they carefully set out to fashion a »«forming personality, then chose material that conveys that personality to the audience. They do everything possible to draw attention to themselves, that is, to spotlight their unique view of the world.
The result is that audiences seek out those comedians rather than other comedians who might well be telling very similar jokes. When people walk out of one of their concerts, they may well remember some of the joke3 they just heard, but most of all they remember the performer.
When you're performing, the spotlight should be on you every minute. Even when the focus is on an assisting spectator, the audience s concern should be with how that spectator reacts to you. Ultimately. J»n are the subject of the performance. The entire performance should be an unfolding of your personality to the audience's view— hopefully, to their continually increasing intrigue and enjoyment.
Will this approach, as Michael Close suggests le the magic? On the contrary, it will increase the i^*" 11,0 'mD assuming that you carefully select effects and preseP tT°f the a* * off the persona you've creatcd. Steven Wright's bo^'0"8 'hat ' persona enriches his gags, making them much flln ^-psv same words were coming out of another comic's mouth' lllaQ if ^ way, your persona should enrich your magic, m i tfle ^ memorable ' ¡> 1116
In the chapter on Suggestion we saw how expectation m audience's perception of an effect. One of the most jm a" elements creating expectation is what kind of person the believes the performer is—their perception of his character-^ t point when he starts the effect. In the Suggestion chaptT ^ analyzed this phenomenon strictly from the point of v,ew 0f preî"t But there are other aspects of your persona besides prestige that affect an audience's expectations and therefore their perception^ your magic.
I'll give you a graphic example of this factor at work. When I wa8 ^ law school I worked as an instructor in the Harry Lorayne Memory School. Half the lessons in each course were taught by Harry and half were taught by me. Consequently I had many opportunities to see Harry Lorayne perform memory demonstrations for the students. One stunt he sometimes did was to memorize a deck of cards. Onlv, he didn't memorize it. He would classic force a card on a student and tell him to place it in his pocket without looking at it. He would then rapidly spread through the deck, pretending to memorize it, and finally name the forced card.
I'm not telling tales out of (memory) school. In his card books, Harry has admitted that he sometimes passes off card tricks as memory demonstrations and he has even published a couple of these pseudo-memory stunts. In any case, there is no doubt that Harry could have performed the demonstration legitimately if he'd had to, but he didn't have to so he didn't.
In my gambling exposé lecture I put the memory skills I learned from Harry Lorayne to good use. The last effect I perform is one in which 1 memorize a deck of cards, relating the demonstration to the card memory required in games like bridge and gin rummy and also to card counting at blackjack. Unlike Harry, I perform the stunt legitimately, using real memory. Is this because I'm too ethical to
S^t*5L « 1»« lts PTihe deckfrom begtnmng to '» — »" Ut as «at memory. The on£
of-hand expert means that when l tQ use reai memory expect me to use sleight of ^ under which the demon-
SO 1 can stress the stringent conditions una ions of our
«ration is performed. Because of the audien^ s pe, p characters, the memory expert can use sleight ot hana, sleight-of-hand expert has to use memory.
I once saw James Randi on a TV show where he was attempting to expose the trickery of a previous guest on the show, Uri ueuer. Although Randi did a good job of duplicating Geller's phenomena, the host was totally unimpressed. He kept pointing out that Randi 8 demonstrations were just tricks. Yet he had not made similar comments to Geller on the previous show.
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