What do they mean, "What's your character?"

Josh Burch

Elite Member
Aug 11, 2011
2,961
1,096
Utah
Hey everyone,
I feel like older magicians are very keen on asking young guys what their character is. I think it would help us to be able to define our own characters if we understand how to identify others characters. Perhaps we could make a list of what we get from other magicians characters. I don't think there are any wrong answers here. I'll name a few here to start, please add and critique my list as you see fit. I'll include what I think their character is in one sentence and why they perform their magic in another.

Derren Brown- I see him as a legitimate mind reader with real world psychological know how the only reason he claims it's fake is because it's the moral thing to do. He performs make people question why they do things and how they do things by sharing his unique perspective on life.

David Copperfield- Is a dreamer, poet heart throb and romantic. He performs in order to make his and his audiences dreams become true.

Please add to the list
 
Penn & Teller: Vaudville variety act, talking loudmouth and silent foil.

Criss Angel: Rocker-Goth rockstar Tv persona.

David Blaine: Half stoned every day guy who does impossible things.

Max Mavin: If not Satan himself, then he certainly works for him.

Lance Burton: Sophistcated classy magician. Elligant.

Channing Pollock: Classy, sexy, charming entertainer.

Doug Henning: magic that looks at the world with a child like innocence and wonder.

Dan Sperry: Industrial Goth, edgy magic.

Yuri Gellar: "real" mentalist with "real" psychic powers.

Jeff McBride: Theatrical story teller with shamanistic influences.
 
I would actually encourage people to refrain from using vague suggestive and over used words like "cool" or "creative" as it doesn't achieve a clear and objective deffenition of character.

In Dan and Dave's case I'd suggest non conventional as an alternative option.
 

James555

Elite Member
Sep 10, 2011
172
0
Australia
I would actually encourage people to refrain from using vague suggestive and over used words like "cool" or "creative" as it doesn't achieve a clear and objective deffenition of character.

In Dan and Dave's case I'd suggest non conventional as an alternative option.

Ok my bad although they do have a 'cool' personality
 

James555

Elite Member
Sep 10, 2011
172
0
Australia
They do but how can you quantify "cool" to someone that has never heard of them before? Subjective words like cool takes on different meanings respective to the different individuals point of view.

Yes I see your point. Well would it be safe to say that what makes them cool is that they are relaxed guys and therefore their "cool" style is then influenced apon their flourishes and magic?
 
Oct 27, 2011
68
0
India
Paul Harris - Comic Entertainer , Astonisher
Wayne Houchin - Audience Performer, Someone who concentrates on his relationship with his spectator, Sleight of hand artist and magic mentalism
Daniel Madison -Underground magician, Gambler and cardist
Banacheck -Psychological manipulator, mentalist

-Punyesh
 

Josh Burch

Elite Member
Aug 11, 2011
2,961
1,096
Utah
Jay Sankey- Stand up comic who does magic, or that wierd guy who flirts too much for his own good. I mean that in the best possible way :)

David Williamson- A down to earth Jim Carrey with super powers.

Kalin and Jinger- That witty couple that everyone feels comfortable with, everyone wishes they were they're good friends.
 
character |ˈkariktər|
noun
1 the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual : running away was not in keeping with her character.
• the distinctive nature of something : gas lamps give the area its character.
• the quality of being individual, typically in an interesting or unusual way : the island is full of character.
• strength and originality in a person's nature : she had character as well as beauty.
• a person's good reputation : to what do I owe this attack on my character?
• dated a written statement of someone's good qualities; a recommendation.
2 a person in a novel, play, or movie.
• a part played by an actor.
• [with adj. ] a person seen in terms of a particular aspect of character : he was a larger-than-life character | shady characters.
• informal an interesting or amusing individual : he's a real character.
3 a printed or written letter or symbol.
• Computing a symbol representing a letter or number.
• Computing the bit pattern used to store such a symbol.
4 chiefly Biology a characteristic, esp. one that assists in the identification of a species.
verb [ trans. ] archaic
inscribe; engrave.
• describe; characterize : you have well charactered him.
PHRASES
in (or out of) character in keeping (or not in keeping) with someone's usual pattern of behavior.
DERIVATIVES
characterful |-fəl| adjective
characterfully adverb
characterless adjective
ORIGIN Middle English : from Old French caractere, via Latin from Greek kharaktēr ‘a stamping tool.’ From the early sense [distinctive mark] arose [token, feature, or trait] (early 16th cent.), and from this [a description, esp. of a person's qualities,] giving rise to [distinguishing qualities.]

The whole definition of the word. But keep your eye on the first example.
"1 the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual : running away was not in keeping with her character."

A character is a stage persona. Much like an actor has its persona(to explain a guy who plays 007 is not really 007). In movies it is vague and very understandable, sometimes this applies to theaters(although much of what you should see is not given to you on a silver plate, that is what makes reading literature with thought hard for some, you have to read between the lines and find the little quirks that the characters have to understand their actions. It is very hard to read Puškins "Jevgeni Onegin" without understanding the basics of his character) but mostly characters are hidden(much like in books). Movies need very vague approach since they don't have the time and platform to work up a plot like in books but in theater the emotion is given in a compact manner but still trying to keep a very thoughtful meaning to it.

This applies to magic in many ways. One of which is theater. You are an actor when you are on stage since nothing you do is actually real but you must convey the fact that what you are doing at that moment is very real. Chung Ling Soo comes into mind when talking about this. He went so far that he did not speak english for decades and always used friends or interpreters to speak to journalists. He did not speak on stage and if he did he spoke Chinese(don't quote me on the language it might have been something else, i'm not very familiar with the culture). He was always Chung Ling Soo until he got home, to his room and locked the door.(not literally but you get the feeling) Up until his death, if i'm not mistaken 1918, most people didn't know the truth, until attempting his famous Bullet Catch routine and failing. When he got shot(by shrapnel from his gun, terrible accident) he said the first words in English ever in his career as Chung Ling Soo: "Oh my god. Something happened. Lower the curtain.". This idea is taken to one of my favorite movies - The Prestige(every magician should watch it).

Long post but my point is that to create mystery we have to sacrifice something(much like old tales about the Devil getting your soul and you having eternal riches and a "fulfilling" life but then as they die their soul goes to the devil) and that is our own being. The extent to how far people go is their own choice but Max Maven, who was mentioned very nicely by Draven, said: "A character must not be someone else, my character is me but with some of my qualities heightened. So the person you see on stage and off stage is the same person."

I hope this gave a little bit of information on why it is important to ask this question. Many effects are created for a type of character but can be reworked to fit others.

M.
 

Josh Burch

Elite Member
Aug 11, 2011
2,961
1,096
Utah
What inspired me when making this post was a conversation with Paul Draper about a magic effect I had been working on. He asked me what my character was in one sentence. It took me by surprise but it made me realize that if I can't define my character how can I really be marketable.

I think that answering this question would help us out as magicians. If we can define others characters in one sentence we can better understand what kind of attributes make them unique. That formula can then be applied to our own characters.
 
Aug 17, 2010
411
4
What character does is provide answers to the audience's questions "who is this guy, and why is he doing this?"

If you don't answer this, the audience will. The answer will usually be "he's just some guy looking for our approval" and that's a terrible position from which to perform. You might as well just give them scorecards, because they'll judge you; and harshly at that.

Think about how the performers named above develop and reveal character - how is it that Jay Sankey comes across as a "stand up comic who does magic"? How does Lance Burton reveal sophistication, elegance and class? Why do Penn and Teller wear what they do - what does it say about them?
 

Josh Burch

Elite Member
Aug 11, 2011
2,961
1,096
Utah
Think about how the performers named above develop and reveal character - how is it that Jay Sankey comes across as a "stand up comic who does magic"? How does Lance Burton reveal sophistication, elegance and class? Why do Penn and Teller wear what they do - what does it say about them?

Absolutley! When we answer these questions we can then look at our own character. If I want to be card shark what kind of things do I need to do and say so that my audience leaves saying "Fred the magician is a really great card shark". If I want to be a rockstar magician what kind of effects do I need to perform and how should I perform them so people say "man that edgy magician would be a great half time show to the battle of the bands".

Understanding how to tap into those attributes that will make you worth so much more!

Just to add to the list here...

Dani Daortiz- Haphazard card wizard, there is no way he has control of the cards yet miracles just happen!
Lennart Green- He is either a fool with a pack of cards, or the worlds greatest cheat, every effect keeps you wondering.
 
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