What is “It” than makes a performer shine? What is “It” that makes that one person stand out in the crowd and get a standing ovation? “It’s” not the costume and make-up. “It’s” not the skills or the props. “It’s” not their presentation skills. In fact, “it’s” not even talent!
Although these things are important, the answer is much deeper and has to do with class, charisma, personality, stage presence, communication skills, and a fun and lively attitude towards their art form.
Consider these Standouts
When Leon Mc Bryde walks on a stage the audience immediately falls in love with “Buttons,” the character he created. He doesn’t do magic tricks or perform any type of fancy skills. His special magic comes from within, from inside his clown soul… and that keeps his audiences spellbound.
Dave “Mr. Rainbow” Barlett, with his simple costume and make-up and special sense of humor, can work a crowd better than anyone I know. People love Dave and just can’t get enough of him. And when Suzy hammer, the “Pink Fairy” walks into a room everyone smiles.
Of course, some performers are very skillful. Consider Oscar “Timmy Bond” Flores, Carol “Clarol” Crooks and ‘Chagy” who excel in every imaginable skill. But it’s not their skill that people remember. It is their likable and friendly personality that endears them to their audiences. My own character, “Mama Clown,” is kind but witty and this combination creates a wonderful rapport with most audiences.
How to Create a Performing Persona
Creating our performing character is a journey of self-discovery. We become what we believe. In order to fully develop our performing personality we must have clarity about the person and character that we want to be. Once we have clarity, then we are driven to fulfill that vision.
Character development is not a quick or easy process. It doesn’t happen overnight. What is amazing and hard to believe is that it takes an average of 13 years to get in touch with the clown within us and a lifetime to perfect that character.
Developing that Special Something
So, how exactly do we learn to create that special kind of magic that stands out in a crowd? How do we learn to shine?
First, we begin with the basics. We learn how to apply our make-up and put together a costume that will be appealing to the eye. Next, we develop our ability to write skits and master some magic tricks. And we practice these skills until we get them right.
And then, one day it dawns on us. Being funny is a serious business and is not as simple as it sounds. We come to understand that what it takes to succeed as an entertainer cannot be taught and that being charismatic is like being photogenic, either you are or your not.
The mannerisms that makes our characters tick, our “look,” and the sparkle in our eyes tell a lot about who we are and what makes us unique. When our characters and our souls become one, then everything clicks and our actions become second nature to us. That is the magic that captivates and audience.
Think about it, why does everybody love Lucy? She was, in her own way, a clown. What is it that made her so lovable and unforgettable through the years?
Have you ever watched Rowan Atkinson as Mr. Bean? His childlike innocence combined with character witty problem solving skills makes me cry laughing.
Michael “Coco” Polacovs is living proof that once you get ‘it’ you never loose ‘it’. In his 80’s he walks on to a stage a stage and after a half a decade of performing he still manages to mesmerize an audience with his lovable stage persona.
Become a Student of Character
Take time to observe and study those performers that touch your heart when they walk on stage. Become a student and learn from the character they created. Try to discern what is it that makes that performer unique.
Make notes and consider how you can make your own character as unique and likable as that of your heroes. And remember, it’s okay to change. In fact, you should keep on changing and trying new things until it feel right to YOU. If you are consistent on your quest of self discovery, you will one day be rewarded with a true understanding of your own unique clown character.
Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously
Have fun in everything you do and do it with enthusiasm! Take time to love yourself and to do what you like. Take time to nourish the relationships in your life and to give to others. Get in touch with your Higher Power. Each of these things have nothing to do with, and yet, everything to do with clowning. They will help you become the best that you can be in and out of make-up.
Finally, be patient with yourself. Don’t forget to pat yourself on the back for a job well done. Remember, It’s not the destination but the journey that counts!