I recently noticed that a private package delivery company has co-opted a phrase that was once the sole property of comedy and comedians - “It’s all in the delivery”.
So, I am writing today to reclaim that phrase, and to examine comedy’s place in magic. A lot of performers would like to have more comedy in there show, but they don’t necessarily want to be funny. Why? Well, my guess is that some performers want to protect the notion that a magician who performs for adults, needs to be serious, if he wants to be mysterious. And I support them in their beliefs. We all want our audience to have a great time, so it is wise to consider exactly how we want them to feel after our show, both about you and about your show. But, with comedy, you have to be true to your M.O.!
Adding comedic elements to your show can be done in a few ways. You can insert funny lines in your normal patter, or arrange for something funny to happen during one of your tricks, or you can find something about your onstage persona that is funny. It doesn’t have to be goofy. It can be wry, witty, deadpan, whatever is organically right for you. You can speed up the injection of comedy into your show by working with a director/teacher that is experienced with comedy and how it pertains to character. (I am available for this kind of coaching and have worked with many performers over the years.)
By approaching my audience as a “comedic character, who does amazing things”, I have found that they are just as amazed by the magic, but they are left with a feeling that’s closer to joy than bewilderment. Maybe my quirky, energetic performing persona gets past a few more of their social barricades. By inviting them to laugh and become intellectually engaged in my characters' humorous take on life and the world, I create a sense of comradery. This occurs both with large audiences and in strolling situation. I sneak behind their social curtain, and then the magic hits them like a sucker punch. (forgive the violent reference) It’s like a friend of theirs suddenly, out of the blue, did something ridiculously amazing.
This stage persona of mine is an enlargement of my offstage personality. I selectively exaggerate elements of my normal everyday behavior, and then inject it with a Double-Red-Bull punch of energy. (Another violent reference. Comedy is full of them – “I killed last night”, “They didn’t know what hit them!”, etc.) I love that post-cardio-pumped-up feeling I have after a good show. I exhaust myself when I perform. I don’t save anything. I leave it all out on stage. That’s my M.O.
What do you want to leave your audience thinking and feeling after your show? What’s your M.O.?