And there in the shower it hit me.... Style Vs. Character. Some have one, some have the other. (Some have neither too) Sometimes they meet in the middle. It was this thought that opened my eyes.
Every so often a thought comes to you from one simple thing you might see or read and you smack yourself in the head and think, "Why didn't I think of that sooner?!" Let me explain to you what I am talking about.
Some people have a performing style while others have a character they portray onstage. (some would even go so far to talk about the difference between character and chariacture, but let's keep this simple hunh?) Some prime examples of characters are Sylvester the Jester, Rudy Coby, and Simon Drake. They play up the characters they have created for themselves to convey their particular ideas and views. They use costumes, scenarios, and even manners of speaking to create a different persona that lives in their own world on stage. These are the people who have become magic innovators and helped everyone look at magic a little bit differently.
Now here is the one that might surprise you a bit. Prime examples of people with a style are magicians like David Copperfield, Houdini, Amazing Johnathan, and Lance Burton. They are themselves on stage but have a certain style of performing that is personal to them and them alone. (Tho' by now thy have created so many imitators, their style has been copied, but never duplicated) These people have been the major inspirations to magic on a whole and helped bring it to the public eye in a positive light.
I'm not saying people who are characters have no style all their own, or vice versa. However one will stand out more than the other usually. There are those who have mixed the two. However, in mixing them you make them more subtle.. which some might say is better. However, that is neither here nor there. Jeff McBride, Kevin James, and Penn and Teller have mixed character and style to a great success. They don't rely on one or the other to make them recognizable. (I'm not saying the others listed above DO, but one does tend to stand out more than the other in those cases.) The mixture of the two gives you a nice blend of magic and performer.
Neither one of these is better than the other and it's up to YOU to figure out which one is the right path to follow. Now if you don't feel you have one or the other, and are just standing on stage being a phony smile and stick on head producing Cd's, doves, or canes for no reason, you might want to step back and re-evaluate your magic motivations sometime soon.
The bottom line is you need to have something that sets you apart from the rest of the herd in crappy rented formal wear. They might be able to take your tricks, but they'll never take who you are.
Don't dream it, be it....
(Special snuggly hugs and manly pats on the ass to Chris Lyle for planting this seed in my head. Good game.)