Clowning Tutorial – clown magic
Welcome back — today, we’re going to discuss clown magic, how it is similar to “standard” magic, and how it differs.
Imagine, if you would, a clown (either whiteface, auguste, or tramp) walking on stage with a serious demeanor. He has a beautiful assistant walk on stage, pushing a small table. She climbs onto the table, and lies down, face up. The clown walks over, makes a few mystical passes, and covers her with a large cloth. He steps back, pauses, and gestures with his arms, pantomiming up, up– up! Slowly, the covered figure rises several feet into the air. The clown confidently steps forward and whisks away the sheet, to reveal that the assistant has vanished!
Now, what’s wrong with this picture? Obviously, this is magic as it would be performed by a serious magician. There is nothing clownish, or even humorous, about this presentation. It’s clearly not a clown performing, but a magician in clown make up. Let’s look at it again, from a clown’s perspective.
The beginning is the same, with the clown walking seriously on stage. This time, he trips over his own cape, possibly having his top hat or turban fall off. Recovering, he walks over to the stage, and signals to his assistant. The assistant (possibly also a clown) ignores him. He claps for attention — she yawns, possibly turning the pages in the paper she’s reading. He walks over indignantly, only to be instantly cowed by the assistant’s glare. He begs her to come over.
Exasperated, she comes, obviously to get some peace and quiet. She pushes the table over, bumping into the clown, possibly bowling him over. He rights himself, as she climbs on the table. He comes over to cover her with the sheet – the assistant has had enough! She stands up, pushes him onto the table, covers the clown magician with the cloth, and he rises and vanishes! As the assistant takes a bow, the clown’s head pops out of a garbage can that’s been innocuously on stage the entire time
Obviously, although doing the same amount of magic (probably more — there could be a short routine with the assistant’s newspaper, as well as the clown magician reappearing from the garbage can), the second is undoubtedly a clown routine. Why? What makes clown magic different from “magician” magic?
From the example, there are several things. The magician is clearly in control of “forces beyond our understanding.” The clown, on the other hand, has trouble understanding what a “force” is; the magician is in control of his magic, the clown is not. The magician appears to be performing the impossible; the clown is either obviously faking (revealed by his own ineptitude or that of his assistant).
Always remember, when performing clown magic, that you are supposed to be a clown first, and “magician” second.
Next time, we’ll start with beginning some simple magic tricks, and see how to integrate that into your clowning. See you then!
Bibliography for clown magic
- Clown Magic, by David Ginn
- Creative Clowning by Bruce Fife, Tony Blanco, Steve Kissell, Bruce Johnson, Ralph Dewey, Hal Diamond, Jack Wiley, Gene Lee
- How to Be a Compleat Clown by Toby Sanders
- Mark Wilson’s Complete Course in Magic by Mark Wilson
- Modern Coin Magic by J. B. Bobo
- Now You See It, Now You Don’t: Lessons in Sleight of Hand by Bill Tarr