‘I took on a booking to help a friend who was away performing overseas and could not do the date. The client was a VIP and had used him before, so he wanted to recommend a magician, he knew would do a great job. Because of this, I did not use a contract and simply agreed to 2 hours walk around and table magic, during a meal for the guests. However, when I arrived, I discovered it was for only 5 people, two of which told me right from the start that they ‘Didn’t know why the host had booked a magician as they hate magic’. Ahhh! The venue was a small room, with no ‘side rooms’ to retreat between courses. On top of this, the client wanted a 2 hour close-up magic show consisting of an hour during drinks and an hour between courses through the meal. That’s a LOT of material for just 3 spectators and 2 hecklers to enjoy! Luckily, I was able to pace the magic, and the client agreed that it was better for me to pop in at points through the evening and perform little sets of magic, so it did not dominate the evening too much. The lesson: Prepare in advance and find out about your audience and the location, BEFORE you actually get there to perform! – Dominic Reyes
Dominic’s experience teaches us that you have to be ready for any eventuality. He’s an established pro and had plenty of material to perform the gig professionally. However, if he had taken the time to ask a few questions FIRST, he would have been able to prepare and start the gig, in a structured and paced way.
Here are 4 quick tips to help you never have this experience at your close up magic bookings:
1) Get information about the close up magic bookings from the client
It’s vital that you or your agent either ask the client in person or have these questions on your booking form:
- The location – The full address and phone number for the venue
- Is there parking available?
- Are there any special access requirements? – Ferry crossings, security gates, limited access conditions.
- Who is the event planner or point of contact at the venue?
- How many guests will be attending?
- The dress code for the event.
- The duration you would like the performance to last
- Will the event be walk-around, table magic or a show?
- Will other entertainment be running while the magic takes place?
2) Arrive early
Make sure you arrive at the venue an hour before you need to start. That way you have enough time to check out the venue, and deal with any surprises that have popped up.
3) Find a room or screened corner to be your base.
You need a place you can retreat to for resets and the breaks in the evening, so you’re not just standing around. Sometimes you can ask for a room for this, but other times, it may be a ‘chair store’ a screened off area or simply an unused corridor. Stay well away from the serving stations and the routes used by the waiters, as you really don’t want to be in the way.
4) View the room layout
Being forewarned is being forearmed. Taking a look at where you will be performing BEFORE it’s full of guests, will give you a chance to ask for some changes, or to adjust your planned material to fit perfectly with the setting. Look out for these points:
- Is there space to access all the tables when the guests are seated?
- Which tables have a clear view of your performance?
- Will other tables be able to watch the magic tricks, while you perform them to other tables?
- Will this need angle adjustment to some of the techniques?
- Does the seating allow everyone to see ok?
- Is there going to be a lot of room noise?
- Will the lighting cause you any problems?
You may also find this article on mistakes magicians make when getting to a gig useful.
We would love to hear any similar experiences you have had, or any advice on handling close up magic bookings that you would like to share. Please add them to the comments section below: