Magic in clowning – what’s the difference between magic and clown magic
I’d like to make a few short comments about the performance of magic in clowning – where it’s appropriate, and where it’s not. For instance, it would be out of character for a bumbling clown to suddenly put on a serious demeanor. Then, with the aid of a beautiful magician’s assistant, saw a woman in half, or levitate her, or cause her to mysteriously vanish and reappear. Any of these would be totally out of character for virtually any clown.
However, it would be perfectly in character for a clown to attempt to be the suave magician and be revealed for the charlatan he is. Either by his own bungling or that of his assistant (likely an auguste or tramp clown). Since the clown is, by definition, a bungler, this would be fine, and totally in character. In fact, once having been exposed/failed, it would be fine for the clown to successfully complete the magic (with the help of the audience, a volunteer from the audience, or perhaps with a clown assistant).
There is another way for the clown to perform magically, however.
Something that we forget too often is that the clown is, himself, a magical character, a toon come to life. Whereas the clown cannot perform magic in character (most of the time; if it’s in character for your clown to successfully perform magically, do so! No one complains that a clown juggler can juggle, or that a clown balloon artist can twist latex into wonderful shapes). Magic can (and perhaps should) happen to the clown, without his even being aware of it. For instance, it is perfectly in character for a clown assistant to a magician to be handed three rings, only to have them magically link in his hands. And the clown having a befuddled expression as to how this could have happened!
Likewise, why not have the clown pull out a handkerchief to hand to someone (or blow his own nose), only to give it away/leave it lying and pull out a second from the same pocket (followed by a third, fourth, etc.)? Why not have things magically multiple, change color, disappear – with the clown acting nonchalant, as though this is an everyday occurrence?
Now, if your clown doesn’t perform magic, that’s fine. Not every clown should, any more than every clown should twist balloons, use puppets, or have the same make-up as every other clown. But if your clown does perform magically, why not broaden our horizons a little, and truly portray a magical clown.