How many magic tricks should I do? That’s an important question for professional magicians.
I was recently emailed by a magician, who was worried about how many magic tricks he should prepare for a small dinner party.
Most often, magicians perform to a large group of people. At weddings or parties there tends to be 100-200 guests. At large events, there many be 500 – 1000 guests standing around, having drinks and chatting. That’s the perfect environment for us strolling magicians. We can mix and mingle with guests, moving from group to group and performing the same sets of magic tricks many times through the course of the event. In these situations 5 or 6 polished and practiced magic tricks will keep most magicians performing through the whole evening.
Sometimes things are very different.
Quite often, we find ourselves booked for a small intimate event. Perhaps only 15 or 20 people having dinner or drinks and looking forward to being entertained by a magician. That’s much more of a challenge to a close up magician. It’s very easy to burn through our normal working set of magic tricks far too quickly. Especially if, the guests stay in one large group, so we are pretty much doing a small parlor magic show rather than walk around. Performing 2 hours of none stop magic to the same small group can be a real challenge.
Michael Fairall is a very good friend of mine, and a professional magician that I perform with on a regular basis. Michael’s main clients are affluent socialites in the best parts of London. He is often booked to arrive at small intimate parties to present after dinner magic. I asked Michael to share with you, his experience dealing with small events, and his most useful tips:
How close up magicians deal with small events.
If you know in advance that the party or event will only have a small audience, it may be wise to explain to the client that a 2 hour none stop show would not be the most effective way to use a close up magician. A better way to present the magic would be to have a 30 minute after dinner show, rather than ‘walk-around magic‘. You can then enter the room, capture the rooms attention and entertain them all as a group in a balanced and structured show.
If that’s not possible, or you discover the size of the audience on the night, you need to pace your magic. Take your time. Allow the natural course of the evening to roll out as you pop in, a few times through the evening and perform some magic. Chat with the guests, engage with them, and don’t feel you have to blast magic trick after magic trick at them for 2 hours straight. Keep them wanting more.
Hold it back.
Remember to hold back one of your strongest magic tricks for the very end. There is a good chance that you will be asked to do, ‘one final trick’ to everyone right at the end. You need to have something special, in reserve for this request. This last magic trick will be the climax and the most remembered magic of the evening. If you don’t keep some strong magic held back, you run the risk of burning through your best material, and having to end on weaker magic tricks, which haven’t been worked on as well as your main core tricks. That’s no way to be remembered by your guests!
DO THIS: Unless you find out in advance about the number of guests that will be attending an event, you leave yourself open to the unknown. To a professional, the unknown is the enemy. It stops you from being prepared, and preparation is the key to success. Make sure you always ask the audience size when you take a booking. If your work comes in from an agent, ask them to include that information on the contract.
Pace your magic throughout a small event. Leave the guests to chat, eat and socialize. Move in and out of the action, in a way that keeps them wanting more and means you don’t burn out of your working material too early.
Choose one of your best tricks, that you will hold back as your finale. When you end your booking and meet the client to thank them, expect to be asked to perform your finale. If they don’t ask, you can always offer. It will highlight to the client that you are not clock watching, and that you have gone that extra mile for them.