Some of the most popular venues for close up magic are restaurants. People go there to relax, enjoy great food, socialize and be entertained. Because of this, restaurants are very busy places, and it’s important to know a few things about the structure of the evening and how to approach performing magic tricks where people are eating.
There are a few factors that you need to identify as soon as possible when you arrive:
Will you be the only magician?
Luckily, being a magician is not like time travel, and the universe will not end if two inhabit the same space. Mostly you will be the only magician, but sometimes if there are several hundred guests, the clients may have booked a few magicians to make sure everyone gets to see the magic. The ideal ratio tends to be one magician for every 150 guests. If it’s a large event, you may be working with a few more magicians, so find out where the setup area is and go meet them. Now is the time to make sure you are not going to be doing the same tricks, and to decide how the tables will be split up.
How many tables?
You need to ensure that every table gets to see some magic during the evening.
When does the meal end?
Find out what will be happening when the coffee’s are served. Will there be speeches? Perhaps dancing or a cabaret show will start. Do they have an after dinner speaker or awards? Knowing this is vital as you can then split up your time at each table to make sure you don’t get struck at the end with tables still to do.
Is there something happening between courses?
Sometimes awards may be planed between courses, or a speech will be given. Find this out in advance, so you don’t get any nasty surprises, right in the middle of performing at a table.
What type of meal will be served?
Will it be a set series of courses or a buffet? If it’s a set meal, find out how many courses will be served.
You are going head to head with food, which is satisfying one of your guests primary drives, so don’t try to compete with that!
Dominic Reyes writes: I was performing at the Dorchester and was booked for a private room in the Chinese restaurant. All good, but it poses a challenge for magicians. The room is tiny. Just big enough for one large round table, with no side rooms and only one exit. The entrance is a solid windowless wooden door leading to a very busy corridor used by the waiters to serve all the areas. Basically, I had nowhere to wait other than in the room with the guests thought the meal, which consisted of 9 courses. As soon as a course ended, it was whisked away and another arrived. This can be a problem for magicians, as there are no defined start and end points for the magic to be presented. I ended up entertaining while the guests ate. They did not seem to mind at all, but it’s very hard to keep the group’s attention while they rolled aromatic crispy duck into pancakes.
If it’s a buffet, you will face several problems doing magic tricks where people are eating:
- People continually getting up to leave the table.
- Some guests will have finished while others still have full plates
- Guests from other tables can visit the table right in the middle of a trick.
- Courses tend to go on for much longer
In those types of meals, it’s often better to let the first course, go by, and wait for the guests to become more relaxed. After they have all visited the buffet at least once, they will be more relaxed and happy to focus on other things.
Knowing the format right from the start, lets you decide how much time you can allocate to each table. Find this out right from the start, so you don’t have to rush the last few tables. Not fun at all.
DO THIS: When you arrive, go and look around the room before your guests arrive. Count the tables and look at the layout. Chances are there will be staff putting out the finishing touches to the tables. One of these people will be the event planner. That person can very quickly answer your questions so you are all set for the event.
Do you have any further tips for doing magic tricks where people are eating? Leave a comment below