Comedy Acting Techniques for Character Performers, by Colin Underwood. Surprise is vital for character entertainers and…
Special Characters can add a wonderful dimension to a magic show – Colin Underwood, a professional corporate magician from Johannesburg, shares some ideas on how to create a believeable character for your show:
Start by creating a character brief wherein you write down key aspects of this new character. Play around with the traits and have fun.
Colin’s crazy businessman character looks something like this:
CHARACTER: Crazy Businessman
Type of performance: Walkabout Character
Name: Mr. Barnaby Smythe
Place of Birth: Surrey, England
Occupation: Insurance agent at Whiltelsby and Newcombe Insurance brokers.
His dress code: Sloppy
Suit: Dark, Red tie, red braces, red handkerchief, Attaché brief case, Umbrella, Bowler hat. Red or Black shirt. Sometimes he will wear a waistcoat.
Favourite food: bananas and popcorn.
1. Very polite to ladies
2. Tries to maintain a smart composed attitude at all times even when he walks into a wall or door.
3. Life deals weird situations where inanimate objects always seem to attack him or cause embarrassing scenarios.
4. Strange magical occurrences keep him confused about his environment.
5. Walks with purpose but still walks into walls.
6. Sneezes confetti
7. The universe revolves around him and he is most of the time in his own world, not noticing anybody around him.
8. Mostly silent but will talk if necessary in hot potato voice or in gibberish.
This brief gives one a framework to work from onto which you can peg various gags and situations. Now you can ask yourself the following:
1. What can I do with the items on him?
E.G Eat the banana, use zipper banana, forget to peal the banana.
Phone rings he uses the banana as phone.
2. How can I exaggerate a normal action?
Braces get stretched. Umbrella opens continuously and becomes a fight to keep it closed.
A can of Coke magically appears in his shoe.
3. What known gags or comical situations can you apply to the existing props?
Floating suitcase mime act, take bowling ball from suitcase.
Take out a raccoon and shoot it with cap pistol.
Now you can add magical effects to the character.
– For example, he uses well-known paper glue as a chap stick. The stick vanishes. His tongue now stretches, comes out completely, he glues it back in his mouth but at an angle. Eventually tongue is fixed.
– He tries to roll a cigarette (right next to a no smoking sign)
– The paper bursts into flames, the lighter he borrows disappears. He opens his fire wallet to pay for the lighter but the wallet bursts into flames. (In the old days he would light the cigarette from the wallet and the vanish it.)
– He can make the cigarette vanish and appear continuously. He places cigarettes into his bowler. They vanish and turn into a red sponge ball. Ball vanishes and reappears.
– Ball is placed in mouth as if to eat it, pulls a face removes ball but another appears.
This character is a solely walk about situation type character but the principals mentioned apply to a show as well.
Use Mind Maps to literally map out the gags and sequences. One can visually see on the mind map links to certain props and gags that would otherwise take a lot of performing time to link together spontaneously.
This allows you to go over the character when at home and create new situation.
Create small comedy situation sets which have a distinct beginning and end. Perform these within the show.
“I hope this character creating idea is useful. It has been for me. My business character developed over a long time with gags happening as I added a new item of clothing or specific prop to his appearance. He didn’t have an umbrella until much later. The props in the suitcase changed over time and aren’t fixed. I enjoy keeping this part pretty loose so that new ideas are created.”
– Colin Underwood, Magician
#CorporateMagician #CorporateEntertainer #WeddingMagician #magic #JohannesburgCorporateMagician #PerformanceTips #KidsParties #MagicShow #CharacterMagic