Smoothini wrote:Man, I don't even know what or who the "Ghetto" Houdini really is.
Yes, that is what I noticed in the clips - but I didn't know how straight-forward I could be on an open forum. But since you have revealed it in an open and almost "naked" way - I hope you don't mind that I say a few difficult things.
What I see in the clips is not a character, but a facade. An artificial exterior. I see someone who appears to be kind and sensitive, whom, now and then, suddenly remembers "Oh, I'm supposed to be nasty" and throws the facade forward, and then sinks back to being private again.
There is no dramatic glue that hold these sparks together, so it becomes a series of cold starts - and for each cold start, you feel that you have to become louder or nastier to keep the interest up. The resulting impression for the viewer is that you seem insecure with yourself.
My foremost advice is, start to take acting lessons. If you want to play a character that is far from your own nature, you need good acting techniques.
My second advice is - you need to apply a base layer to your character. A simple subplot that are running through the whole act - that can cover the "naked" spots where you now becomes private. (Examples of "naked" spots are when you are waiting for a spectator to come up on stage, waiting for a reply... all spots where your character has nothing to do).
Preferably something very simple, so you don't have to think.
Examples: "I have a mortal fear of snakes"
i.e. everytime you don't have anything to do; avoid shadows, look suspiciously at mike cords and ropes, shudder when you see snakeskin belts... just so it is appearant that your mind is occupied with something else than waiting for the next line to be said.
Or use a song. Immerse yourself in a silent beat or groove.
Something like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0RJfQekojlA
(You can find better songs, probably - but use a similar tempo, and something that is easy to hum). Let that beat hum at the back of your head through the whole act, and let it emerge when needed, with subtle signs that you are jazzing to a beat; tiny head and hip movements etc.
Then, as Richard said, you need to take the character further.
Is your character a person that you would enjoy meeting if he was real? (Like the character Will in the TV-series Fresh Prince...) Or is he someone you would hate (like Basil Fawlty in Fawlty Towers).
In any case, it needs to be crisp and crystallized - For example, look at Norbert Ferre:
He has two characters - but when the first character is there, you can not even see a trace of the second character. And when the second character turns up, there is not a single trace of the first. Crisp and crystal clear. Your character needs to be equally crisp.
Btw - in your spongeball routine, should not Smoothini have blue balls?
So, what kind of person is he?
I'm non-american, so I can't even begin understand the issues with skin and pigmentation over there, and might accidentally say something that is culturally wrong - but I guess there's some material to play with in that context as well.
( I imagine a person of color who, when his application to join the K.K.K. is denied, believes that it is because they don't like HipHop - would that be amusing? I.e. a character who understand the broad strokes, but are way off on the details).
What makes him tick? What does he like to eat? What makes him strong, scared, mad, romantic, envious, vulnerable.. etc etc.
Contrasts are good as well. If he is misogynic towards one kind of women, he should be the opposite, a smooth-talker, towards another kind of women. So that it becomes wild contrasts when two women, one of each kind, join you on stage.
You should also evolve your stage looks somewhat - take it further, so shoes, clothes etc are in sync with the charater.
Your body control can be improved as well, for blocking, stance etc. Begin with mirror excersises. Close your eyes and make a strange pose. Imagine what it looks like - then open your eyes. If it differs from your mental image, you need to exercise more, until you know exactly where your body is.
I hope I didn't offend you by being outspoken.