Ben want's to know the best time to perform magic tricks at a dinner party:
I was asked to go and perform my magic to guests at an Xmas party in a hotel I work for. It was table to table; each table had about 10 people. But I wasn't sure when would be the best time to perform? I think it should be Between the courses of the meal. There was a DJ booked for after the meal, so the lights were going to go down and everyone would get up to dance. So, I was not 100% sure when would have been a good time to go round. When would you recommend close up magicians should perform?
That’s a great question Ben. Timing at an event is something that many magicians come up against.
To begin with, you are there to enhance people's evenings. The guests are not there specifically for a magic show, so you have to make sure that you fit in with everything, but do not disrupt the flow of their evening.
Don’t compete with the food.
It’s not a good idea to perform during the main course; the guests should be able to enjoy their food. Polite people will watch you and let their food go cold, and everyone else will eat their food, but you will not have their full attention, either way it is a lose – lose situation.
Perform to a table or two as soon as the guest sit down. Speak with the waiting staff and find out which tables are being served first, then start with the tables that are being served last. This way you will get some applause from these tables so everyone else will know something is going on, and it will set the night off well.
Ration your tables.
Count your tables, and look at how much time you have to perform for them. You can then calculate the average amount of time you can spend at each table. Do not forget to factor in the main course and reset time. For example, if you have guests sitting down at 7:30 and the DJ begins at 9, you have 1 1/2 hours maximum. If you discount 15 minutes, (to be safe) for the main course, then that is now 75 minutes. If there are 10 tables, then that is 7 1/2 minutes per table which should be reduced down to 6 minutes so as to account for any reset time or disturbances.
Pacing the magic tricks.
In this situation, perform something quick to begin with, and then follow with a couple of magic tricks that are short and fun, and have an impossible climax. Magic tricks like a Drawing Duplication, Bill in Orange or Ring Flight work well to end a set like this.
A general rule of thumb is to not perform during the main course. Perform during the starter, desserts, and coffees if it is necessary for timings. You can work a room so that you begin with the tables that are last to be served; this means that the first tables will be almost finishing their starter when you are finishing with the later tables.
Get some friends on in your team.
If you speak with the waiting staff, show them a trick or two and befriend them then they will help you out rather than nudge you out of the way if they have to serve something to the table whilst you are in mid trick!
Find out the agenda.
Be sure to check if there are any speeches or any other disturbances that may interrupt the meal, as you will have to factor this in as well. This is question worth asking at the time of the booking so that the client knows that there may be an extra fee if they wish you to stay on longer.
The early bird.
It can be tricky making sure you see everyone and make sure everyone has a great time but if you arrive at your venue with enough time and ask the right questions when booking your gig then you will be able to easily work out timings, make sure you get to see everyone, and receive rapturous applause from the whole room!