David Kaye


This week's interview is with David Kaye, a.k.a.
Silly Billy. The following biographical information is from his website, sillymagic.com:

"In New York, where he performs more than 300 shows each year, he has been recognized as New York’s top children’s entertainer by five New York publications.

His television credits include appearances on Late Show with David Letterman, as well as multiple appearances on Comedy Central. His client list reads like a Who’s Who. Clients include Bruce Springsteen, Susan Sarandon, Madonna, Eddie Murphy, and the Sultan of Brunei.

Since June 2000, David has been writing a monthly column for M A G I C magazine about performing magic for children. The column is called Turn It Around. Silly Billy was the first, and still only, children’s magician to appear on the cover of MAGIC magazine (September 1995)."

This interview is reprinted with permission from The Boston Mini Wizard and its author, Aaron Aptaker.

What advice do you have for getting into birthday parties?

Silly Billy:
I find that for the birthday party market the most successful performers are characters, rather than someone who shows up as a magician. Silly Billy and Dr. Blood are good examples of this. Characters are easier for kids to wrap their brains around. Like SpongeBob and Elmo. These characters are more popular than Bob (a person) from Sesame Street.

This is also true for the stage, except that on stage the characters can be traditional magicians. But these are magician-characters. For example Lance Burton plays a character. His character is a magician who is classy and friendly. Kevin James plays a character too. He is a crazy magician who would do anything to create a great magic effect - even cutting up his assistants. Look how far Johnny Thompson got with the Great Tomsoni act.

When creating a show based around a character, like Dr. Blood, what is the first thing you do? How do you get an idea? What steps do you take when developing a character?

Silly Billy: The idea for the character can just hit you, like it did for me with Dr. Blood. I just got this idea one day for a new character and I loved it immediately. Actually I had the name before I knew what he looked like or what tricks he did. Other times, you have to sit down and say, "Today I am going to come up with a new character." Then you make a list and start brainstorming until you hit on something you like. Try to do something that hasn’t been done before, especially in your market.

Once you have the character, the show is the easy part. Just ask yourself what tricks would this character do?

It is much easier to design a show for a character than it is to design a show for just a magician. A Spaceman character would do what kinds of tricks? That’s easy! A Farmer would not do silk tricks. A Baker wouldn’t ride on stage on a motorcycle.
The better defined the character is, the easier it is to write the show. Think about Bart Simpson. This is a great character. He is so well defined that if I said to you "Bart goes to a farm," you would know exactly what kind of mischief he would get into. You see, once the character is defined, everything else falls into place easily. Once you have a successful character you need to be careful not to do things that the character wouldn’t do.


you can visit Silly Billy's website for magician at www.sillymagic.com


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