Born into a family of magicians, Malu grew up in the circus, traveling around the Fire Nation and Earth Kingdom. As a natural performer, Malu toured with the Fire Days Festival, entertaining Fire Nation citizens all over the world. His specialties included juggling fire and turning fireballs into doves. The trick that made him famous was called "taming the dragon", where he used firebending to conjure a large dragon made of fire. He did not share how he performed his tricks, as he believed magicians should never reveal such secrets.
When Aang, Sokka, and Katara attended the Fire Days Festival, the crowd that had gathered for Malu's show drew their attention. Aang volunteered to be Malu's assistant for his next trick, but the magician instead selected Katara. He bound Katara to a chair and cast her as the captured princess in his skit, while he would perform the trick "taming the dragon". During the performance, Aang grew worried when Malu built suspense by pretending to lose control over the fire dragon and let it harm Katara. In the belief that he was saving his friend, Aang leaped onto the stage and ruined the trick by airbending the fire into a whirlwind of confetti, much to Malu's dismay. The disgruntled performer asked if Aang was trying to upstage him.