The type of magic I’m most typically hired to perform is close-up roving magic, with this typically taking place in a stand-up cocktail environment. In other words, people are predominantly standing with drinks in hand, and typically with finger food circulating around the room. At most of these events, the tasty morsels are being served by waitstaff.
I wanted to take this opportunity to share one simple idea for organisers, which will help to ensure they get maximum impact from my performance in such an environment, while also maximising their value for money.
The idea/recommendation/suggestion is simply this: politely talk to the waitstaff at the start of the evening, and tell them a magician will be entertaining the guests. Ask them to please avoid serving those groups that I am currently with.
That’s it! But why? And am I simply being a prima donna?
The answer is simple. A lot of magic, and the impact of it, hinges on timing. And few things kill the finale of a routine more than having a plate of food presented in the middle of a group that I am performing for.
Picture this: I’ve been with a group for five minutes or so… building rapport and taking them on a brief journey, building things towards a dramatic finale. Moments before this finale occurs, a plate of food is shoved into the middle of the crowd by a well-meaning waiter. I step back. People grab sausage rolls, napkins, they dunk sushi in soy, and a minute later the waiter is gone. But, so too has the maximum impact of the effect I was building towards. If a person’s borrowed finger ring, or signed playing card, now appears in an utterly impossible location, some people will invariably think to themselves “oh, he just put it there while we were distracted by the waiter. Big deal”.
The other challenge is that much of the magic involves people physically – they are holding things, examining things, using their hands. This is made much more challenging with food in hand.
Please, don’t get me wrong… If this does happen during a performance, it’s not a huge problem. People will still enjoy the show and will still feel entertained, and you’ll get the credit for both the food and the entertainment. I won’t make a fuss as it’s not an insurmountable problem, and as it’s something I’m very used to.
But, with that said, a few quick words to the waitstaff, I believe will increase the overall impact of the magic, and in turn, help to ensure you get the best value for money. To reassure the waitstaff, you can also tell them that I’m usually only with each group for five minutes or so, so people won’t miss out on food. And of course, if someone I’m performing for looks like they want what’s being paraded past them, please, by all means serve them!