The great Robert Houdin (see http://www.scoopmagic.co.uk/the-best-tricks-ever/ for more on Houdin) said a magician is an actor playing the part of a magician so should a magician put as much thought into the character they are playing as an actor does?
When a magician performs their tricks it is very rare that they are being entirely themselves. Some magicians become a slightly exaggerated version of themselves while others adopt entirely different personas complete with outlandish costumes. However, no matter what character a magician portrays it is important for them to consider who exactly their character is then do material that suits that character. I confess that while I was learning the ropes I could be a little bit inconsistent, one minute I’d be doing silly juggling in a jester outfit to AC/DC the next I’d be hammering nails up my nose in a suit to classical music. This is jarring for the audience and reeks of amateurism.
Having a defined and developed character can also elevate a magician’s tricks to a new level. An example of this would be Morgan and West’s cup and ball trick which you can find here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCpyujSCGjg&t=24s. Essentially this is just a sugar cube repeatedly reappearing beneath a teacup followed by a surprise object at the end. On its own this would be just a good magic trick but, thanks to the time travelling Victorian magician personas that Morgan and West inhabit, it becomes a hilarious and baffling exploration of reality, quantum physics and the nature of truth!
Of course, most magicians prefer to be just an exaggerated version of themselves but it is important that they exaggerate qualities that the audience are going to enjoy. I like to think of my performance persona as a graphic equaliser with the ability to turn up or turn down various aspects. Most audiences probably wouldn’t appreciate it if any performer turned up their arrogance, sleaziness or cheesiness to unbearable levels. Personally, I turn up the confidence, the energy and the sense of humour, also the cheekiness goes up a little bit too.
Have you met a magician who doesn’t know who their character is? Or do you not think character is important as long as the tricks are good? Let me know in the comments. As always please feel free to like and share and remember if at first you don’t succeed, then skydiving isn’t for you!