The Magic Secret! Adding Texture and Dynamics To Your Show.
One common fault when watching comedy magicians, who haven’t had a chance to perform enough to perfect their craft, is that the pacing and general tone of their act does not vary enough. It is not uncommon to see a performer find a pitch and pacing for an effect and then repeat it for every trick in their show. It is just as common to see a show where every trick runs about the same length. This kind of thing certainly achieves a kind of consistency but really can make for an uneventful show lacking in true theatrical impact. While consistency in your performing persona is a sign of assurance it is just plain boring to be repetitive in what you do with your material. I have seen performers present several routines in a row that require bringing assistants onstage–this becomes a crutch. A little re-thinking and adjusting the running order might make the show a lot more interesting and less formulaic. Maybe for one of those effects that requires bringing assistants onstage the performer could go into the audience and perform a trick front of house. Breaking the fourth wall in this manner would be a surefire way to add texture and variety to the show.
In a well-balanced show you need to add texture and dynamics to paint a truly vibrant picture. Some effects need to be longer and some shorter in order to keep the mix interesting. Not every effect can be “killer;” you need to manipulate your running order to maximize the effect of each item. In a fancy dinner they often serve a sorbet between main courses to cleanse and refresh the taste buds and you can do the same in your show. Variety is the spice of life, and this applies especially well to a variety act! Look at the tone and approach of each effect and make sure you are not falling into the trap of being repetitive in tone or content. Shaking things up visually, verbally and mentally quite simply make you a better and stronger performer. If you talk a great deal in your show it could benefit you greatly to perform an effect that is silent or backed just by music. If you perform wacky comedy then perhaps one more serious effect can create a contrast that will heighten the impact of the lighter material.
This concept of texture and dynamics is a somewhat more abstract idea than is generally discussed in articles on comedy magic, however, in my opinion it is a vital one to consider. There is a great deal of emphasis placed in magical theory on Robert-Houdin’s quote, “A magician is an actor playing the part of a magician.” While valid on a certain level I feel this statement needs very careful re-examining. I think it has lost something in the translation, and often seems to lead to an element of self-importance and preciousness entering into a performance. It is more important to be a good magician with a strong act than a half assed actor. Let’s balance Robert-Houdin’s quote with a little Shakespeare; “The play is the thing!” It is no good working at being an actor unless you have a worthwhile vehicle to act in. Focusing on texture and dynamics is a splendid way to turn an act into a genuine performance and before you know it you end up with an arc and a subtle storyline to improve your show.