Many people think that close up magic is more difficult than stage/cabaret magic. This simply is not the case. Let me tell you why…
In recent years the trend has gone from magicians performing larger cabaret shows to performing close up, mix and mingle magic, to small groups at a time. The experience of this is/can be wonderful. Everyone feels involved and they get to interact with the magician. They can touch him (appropriately hopefully), smell him (good – usually) and communicate with him (again, depends on who you’ve booked).
Having a fantastic magician at your special event (corporate party etc) can be a brilliant addition. You don’t get to hang with all your guests all night (you have to do the rounds), but at least you know they’ll have a great experience with the magic guy/girl. The only thing it misses is often a group experience.
The advantage of a cabaret magician performing after dinner is that he’ll make everyone have a shared experience. Instead of everyone comparing notes of tricks they’ve seen, everyone will have seen the same show. Hilarious when Jeff from accounts comes up and gets his mind read and his PIN revealed, when the CEO has a bag on his head and has to pop balloons that magician is somehow revealing the colour of, or when Jenny from HR is asked to think of any word from a novel by Katie Price and the magician tells her what she is thinking. These are water cooler moments that everyone will remember and talk about in the office on Monday and in the weeks to come.
You might think that performing on stage is easier because you are further away from the audience. In actual fact, the skill level of the sleight of hand is often the same as close up magic (depending on which magic is being performed), but having a good performance is much more difficult. As a close up magician, you really just have to chat to people and do your tricks. A level of performance skill is required, but as you are performing for small groups you get to essentially practise the same routines over and over again in one evening. Much harder to do in a cabaret situation as you usually only get to do it once per night, you have to write and rehearse your material and as everyone is watching at the same time from different angles, you are much more exposed. The front row are often only a couple of feet away and you have to get it right first time.
Also, there are a lot less places to perform as a cabaret magician to bring your experience up to a high level or as Jimmy Carr puts it, Air Miles (he says the only way anyone can get good it like pilots – they need the flight hours). I perform at Edinburgh Festival, Magic Castle in Hollywood, comedy clubs, variety nights and other places to keep my stage performance up to scratch. There are only a handful of great, funny magicians in the UK and many close up magicians. I guess the main reason for this is magicians often start doing what they see on TV. David Blaine and Dynamo are huge and kids getting in to magic copy them. They show magic tricks to their friends at school or work colleagues – no need to get booked on talent, they can just do it. Much harder to convince a hundred people to watch at the same time – if they did, they’d start to realise that they aren’t as good as they thought they were.