I get lots of people asking me to perform a magic show at their event, without actually knowing really what they are asking for. I guess sometimes people have seen Dynamo on telly and assume you will perform tricks for about an hour with everyone stood around watching. Usually it doesn’t work like that so I thought I’d explain a few things to make it easier. I realise people don’t book close up magicians everyday so hopefully this might be helpful for a few different and most popular places where people hire magicians.
1) Small party – if you are having less than 20 guests, in my experience, a 30-40 minute show where everyone sits down and watches at the same time is the best approach. This way everyone’s attention is on the magic and it’s a group experience. Different people will be asked to participate is different miracles i.e. one person might have to sign a playing card that ends up in a mobile phone and someone else will have to think of their pin number so I can read their mind and reveal it to the group.
2) Larger party – if you are having more than 20 guests, this is where mix and mingle, walk around close up magic is best. I would approach small groups at a time, introduce myself and interact with guests performing magic with them and often in their hands.
3) Larger party alternative – You can also have a magician perform for smaller groups in a separate room. I came up with a brilliant idea for this a few years ago which is now used by some of the leading magicians in the UK. The idea is that we set up a room, The Secret Room, and a few people enter at a time. They watch a show and then are told to keep it a secret. Have a look here for full details.
4) Client parties – Again, this is where you’d want a walk around magician to seamlessly fit in with the event. Probably someone in a smart suit who can perform clean, fantastic magic to a group of business people who have probably seen a magician before. Often canapés are going round at the same time so the magician has to be aware not to make any large sudden movements and send trays of food flying (believe me – I’ve seen it).
5) Trade Shows – there are 2 main ways to perform magic at a trade show. Firstly, close up magic on the stand so as people approach they can be entertained with some sleight of hand for a few minutes and then hopefully take an interest in what the stand has to offer. The second way is for a more formal show which builds a bigger audience. This is usually best on the hour, every hour and lasting for about 10/15 minutes. Once the show has finished, and everyone is amazed, a call to action – maybe scanning everyones badges for a magic giveaway or similar.
6) Corporate Dinners – again there are 2 ways to approach these. The first, again walk around table magic between the courses works well. The second, and much harder to get right, is the after dinner cabaret. This is the one that separates the men from the apprentice wizards. The after dinner cabaret, for maybe a group of 200 people, is incredibly hard to pull off. A skilled and experienced magician will get members of the audience up to help and be able to hold the attention of a full room – not an easy task for a beginner. Here is a video of me performing at a comedy club with the type of thing that is ideal after dinner
7) Weddings – there are 3 different times (photo period, meal, evening) you can have a magician at a wedding and I’ve covered them all here