Be good at tricks. The end. Not really. Tricks do matter, but that really only scratches the surface. Lot’s of close up magicians can do tricks. I’ve been doing this for over 20 years and along the way I’ve learnt a few bits and pieces. I thought I’d share my wisdom in this blog. I have to be careful as muggles also read this, so I can’t give any magical secrets away.
Length. First of all one of the best ways to make yourself look good as a close up magician is by booking the correct length of time for the number of people at the event. If they are having 20 guests, you will look bad if you’ve booked yourself in for 8 hours. I like magic as much as the next guy, but theres always a cut off point. Often people will ask for a length of time but you need to guide them. For example, 20 people = either a 30 min show straight through for everyone or 45 mins or mix and mingle. 40 people = 60 mins mix and mingle. 100 people = 120 mins. This can also vary if they are having a meal or not. Agencies will often ask you for more time than the number of guests should warrant. You would think they would know better but usually they just give the client what they are asking for. The customer isn’t always blindly right – often they appreciate the guidance.
Versatility. Over the years I’ve discovered that being versatile is a must have quality. If you go to a job and the audience are different to the one you expected, you still need to give them the goods. Maybe an older, younger or non English speaking audience. Make sure your act is adaptable. I can perform most of my close up material with very little patter. Most of it can be understood in any language. This often comes with experience, but it’s worth thinking about how you can perform all your material for someone who can’t understand a word you are saying.
Turn up early. Get to the venue, or at least near the venue, way before the start time. If you are being paid a good fee (and to be a professional, you should be) I think part of that fee is to turn up early. No one wants a sweaty magician arriving just in time. Many times when I’ve booked table magicians to perform at larger events and require a team of people, I always book the people that arrive early. If anyone is a ‘last minute Larry’, they go down to the bottom of the list for the next gig. I normally leave an extra 30 mins for every hour of driving. So for a 2 hour drive, leave 3 hours.
Patter. One of the worse things I see is when a magician has over rehearsed what they are going to say. Rehearsal is important. And it’s better than just completely winging it will lots of explanatory patter (here I have a deck of cards. I am now shuffling the cards. I am just putting the cards down etc). But an audience can feel patronised and be left cold if you just go through your little routine without any interaction and making it personal. Ask people about themselves and react accordingly. People love a show that is obviously personal and unique for them. If it’s too set and rigid, you might as well send a video along and ask people to watch that. The more you can bespoke your performances for each individual groups, the more they will enjoy it and be more connected to the magic.
Oh, and be good at tricks. That’s a must
Photo by kind permission of www.lorenzophotography.co.uk