October 24, 2012
When you’re exploring the history of cups and balls or writing an A-Z of magic, it can be easy to forget that the real reason people come to Sternberg Clarke is to book entertainment for corporate events and weddings. Fun as Magic Month has been, it’s important to keep things on track and so, if you’ll permit us to talk business for a little while, perhaps you’ll find our Top 5 Tips for Booking Magicians for Events useful...
Personality Goes a Long Way
Magicians are like a box of chocolates, you never know which one you’re going to... wait. No you absolutely do know which one you’re going to get, that is what we do. But the point is that every magician is different; ‘Street Magician’ Damien O’Brien is great for edgy, modern events but his charm might be lost on an older crowd, just as the slick style of someone like Gareth or Spencer is perfect for sleek corporate events but might not be the right fit for an event with an ‘Urban’ feel. That’s not to say that our magicians can only do a certain type of event, but finding the right match of personalities can make the difference between a good performance and a great one.
Don’t Get Too Hung Up on Video
We’re usually the first ones to extol the virtues of promo material when choosing acts but magicians are a slightly different ballgame. Magic is, by its very nature, a little secretive with tricks involving amazing feats of dexterity and finely honed techniques. But it’s also something that’s very ‘in the moment’ and is naturally tough to capture on film. While many magicians do have videos, most tend to focus on ‘flourishes’ and audience responses so as to avoid giving too much of their act away. Another thing to consider is that so much of a magician’s appeal is tied up with their personality (see above), not something that you can ever get across in a video. So don’t be put off if a magician doesn’t have a video, many amazing performers choose not to!
Too Many (Magic) Cooks?
Clients often ask how many magicians they would need for an event with a certain number of guests. It’s an important thing to consider, but there isn’t exactly a formula for calculating the right magician/guest ratio. It’s better to consider a few different factors like the timeframe, size of the venue and what else is happening at the event. Crazy as it may seem, not every guest will want to see a magician and not every guest should – a magician needs to create a buzz, an aura of mystery and exclusivity, hard to do if there are 10 of them wandering around 100 people. Also consider that magicians tend to draw a crowd, so plenty of people get to see them in a relatively short space of time.
How Long Should They Perform For?
While it’s natural to want to get the most for your money from an act, it’s generally best to have a magician or mind reader perform for no more than 2 or 3 x 45 minute sets. Magic thrives on surprise and impact, and while most magicians could keep going until they’ve guessed every card, torn every £20 and smashed (and restored) every watch in the room, it’s hard to maintain that sense of wonder after 4 hours with the same 100 or so people. Once again, it depends on the format of the event and the number of guests but generally sticking to 3 x 45 minutes max is a safe bet.
Themes and motifs give magicians a brilliant opportunity to be creative. Whether that’s tailoring a trick to a Victorian theme or using magic to express the strengths of a product or brand. Costumes can often be a good way to reinforce this but they pose a unique set of challenges for a magician, foremost among them being the issue of pockets. Magicians need quick and easy access to cards and props since much of their work is improvisational (or literally ‘off the cuff’) and no matter how darling Dan may look in that reindeer suit, if he doesn’t have somewhere to carry his cards he’s not much better than walking furniture. Then there’s the fact that, for some magicians, their ‘look’ is part of that all important personality that we discussed earlier and consequently they’ll be less inclined to ‘slip into something less comfortable’ for a one off gig. The key is to discuss costume and themeing well in advance to make sure everyone’s on the same page.
By Garreth Owen