Common Pitfalls When Hiring Strolling Magicians (and how to avoid them)

Strolling magicians who perform brief close-up magic routines for small groups of guests at a time are generally very well received. A talented close-up performer adds an element of amazement to magic that cannot be achieved from the stage; since the action is going on right in front of the spectator’s face, the feat becomes even more baffling, especially for those who enjoy trying to figure out the secrets behind the tricks. Another advantage of strolling close-up magic is that it does not require the entire audience to “tune in.” Those who wish to enjoy the performance may do so; those who prefer to socialize or just enjoy a quiet meal may also do so without having their good time interrupted by a loud performance or by others “shushing” them. But, as is the case in most areas of event planning, for every advantage of a particular element of the party, there are a dozen things that can go wrong if not handled properly. Here are some of the most common pitfalls, and how to avoid them:

Not booking enough magicians:

All too often, strolling magicians are hired to perform for groups that are so large, only a fraction of the guests get to enjoy the show. A stage magician can entertain hundreds or even thousands at once, but strolling performers can only work with a few people at a time.

Think of it this way: If a close-up magician can entertain a maximum of ten people at once, and each performance lasts five minutes, the maximum number of people that can enjoy the magic during a cocktail hour (assuming the “hour” is actually 60 minutes long) is 120.

Of course, there are so many variables that no mathematical formula can be applied perfectly. On one hand, not everyone will be interested in seeing the magic; on the other hand, group size and performance length will vary, with groups generally averaging much lower than the number 10 applied above.

For a 60-minute cocktail hour, my recommendation is generally to hire at least one magician per 200 expected guests. In a cocktail hour situation, it’s important that the magicians communicate with each other beforehand to ensure that they are not all performing the same material!

If the guests will be seated at tables, you need to hire enough magicians to have every table covered during the allotted time. For example, if you have 50 tables in the banquet hall, and a total of 25 minutes during which the magic will be performed, you need to hire 10 magicians to give each table 5 minutes of magic!

Too much competition:

Everyone loves magic, but there are certain circumstances even the most talented magicians cannot compete with. close-up magicians should never be asked to perform:

  • While the main course is being served and/or eaten.
  • While dance music is playing so loudly the performer cannot be heard.
  • When the party has been going on for a few hours and guests are intoxicated and rowdy.
  • While anything is going on that requires everyone’s attention, such as a raffle drawing.

The best times for close-up magic at an event are:

  • During a casual cocktail hour (or any party where there is no formal seated dinner and people are basically mingling)
  • While seated guests are waiting for their food to arrive
  • While seated guests have finished eating and are having dessert and coffee.
  • If there is loud dance music, and a quieter side room is offered as an alternative for guests not interested in dancing, this is an ideal environment for close-up magic.

Once you anticipate the pitfalls, it’s easy to avoid them and WOW your clients (and their guests) with amazing feats of close-up magic!

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