What to expect at the venues you could end up working

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What to expect at the venues you could end up working

Postby RobMagic » Aug 3rd, '08, 21:36

Hey guys

This thread really is started in the hope of having in one place a list of advice that workers on these boards can add to help other people either starting out or thinking about starting performing for money (or offering the services for free)

My thinking comes from this, many an new Amateur such as me have probably been doing lots for friends and much for random people in variuos places and finally someone is asking them for their business card and maybe thinking about booking them for an event. But these amateurs have no real idea what to expect of the various venues they might turn up to for the first time or two.

Anyway I thought it'd be a great idea to get our noggins together and provide some real valuable advice.

I've had my first paid gigs this weekend, 2 gigs in 2 days (start off easy they say) anyway one was a 50th Birthday at some huge house that I had to travel to and was very much a private affair. I knew nobody there what so ever and the host was far too busy to be off introducing me to the people there. So what does one do in this situation? I'm sure the real expereiced guys would have known that this quite common and mentally prepared for it or other wise in advance. Me? Had no clue what to expect and winged it along the way. it was a bloody good time, I had some real easy to please people starting off in the lounge as, as you can imagine, people were everywhere this seemed like a logical place to start. I found two young lads and started with them, perfect as it happens and the rest of the people there were fine.

Now at this party and its probably very common (again I wouldn't know) there were also your real "a$$holes" the guys who want you to fail and they actually end up become your biggest supporter when they've done their best to disturb you. I tell you, if I hadn;t done the practice in the pubs I'd have gone home crying rather than be able to get some huge laughs and have a carry on with these guys. I also found the pi$$ed up people who are fantastic, flirty, OTT and just like to be the general jokers. You know the kind? don't give them a card to hold as they'll turn it over too early but bring as many laughs and fun to your performance as they do troubles.

All in all it was a real mixed bag and not the usual "pub crowd" say. These people all know each other already, very familiar with everyone and you're very much on their home turf. It was a tough crowd but probably very common in what you might find in this environment. I kept my stuff bullet proof and very examinable at every stage. Nothing that went on too long and easy to follow. You also need stuff that can be done in very low light as lots of people will be outside at this time of year and the sun don't shine late into the night.

My 2nd gig, the first one I've ever had booked was today at an indian wedding which was the most fun I have ever had with magic. I had some great advice off guys on TM telling me some of the things to expect which helped a lot. I've never been to an indian wedding before but I tell you what. These guys know how to party! and I'd rather go to one of these things any day over the many traditional english do's that I've been to as a guest. The music was loud, loads of dancing, lots of courses of food coming at no particular interval, you have some language problems, they love to drink so again its short and snappy here. They'll tell you when you mess up (this was advice from someone on the forums but fortunatly I avoided any of this) and you will have kids following you around table to table to table. you'll also get people asking you to do their table as they've been watching from over the way. Bl@@dy good people, very amenaible and its massive ! Speaking with many of the guests after they said they're always like this and its typical of an indian wedding. What are the other pit falls to watch out for? Avoid spelling tricks unless you're great with names :) not that you'd go for this in this environment anyway, forget the patter if the volume of this music was another to go by, stick to what you can do without the patter but is stunning!

ok I think I'm rambling more than anything but to get back on track I can sum up with a few questions (there are not exhaustive)

What are the types of things you can expect to experiece at a wedding (indian or otherwise and different types will have different issues)
What are you likely to experience in a bar setting?
What are you likely to experience at a house party?
Corporate walkaround? sit down dinner? wedding reception? office xmas party? any and every type of venue you can think about really

That way the newer performers can brace themselves and prepare themselves properly for the experience they might be about to have for the first time or two.

sorry its such a long post I thouht it'd be a useful thing to start

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Re: What to expect at the venues you could end up working

Postby themagicwand » Aug 3rd, '08, 23:11

Agecroft wrote:
What are the types of things you can expect to experiece at a wedding (indian or otherwise and different types will have different issues)

Weddings are usually great places to work. Almost nobody will know you're coming, so you will be a surprise. Get ready for the "oh, there are some children over there" remarks - don't let them get you down. Just explain that you're not that kind of magician - unless you're a kids' magician of course!

Get paid on arrival if at all possible as bride, groom, best man etc will get drunk, will disappear to have photos taken, will end up smooching on the dancefloor etc. Get 'em when you arrive and explain that it's just easier to get paid now rather than later so you don't have to disturb them again.

If you're working during the wedding meal, do the top table first. Put on a good show for them. I tend not to disturb people when they're eating. It only seems polite. You may find your performance time being interupted by speeches too. That's fine. During the meal you do find yourself being paid for sitting on your backside doing nothing a lot of the time.

If you're working to entertain folk during the lull between the meal and the evening reception, this will be a lot more "full-on". Nowhere to hide. Just get on with it.

If working the evening reception, well always inform the bride (or whoever books you) that you can't compete with a disco. Make sure they understand that. Perfroming magic when nobody can hear you talk and your vision is compromised by darkness and flashing lights is no fun. If there's a seperate bar area, then use that. Just ambush people while they wait for their drinks, and before you know it you'll have your own private audience gathering. I've worked weddings before where I've had everyone in the bar area with me, while the DJ has been playing his gramaphone records to himself in another room.
Agecroft wrote:What are you likely to experience in a bar setting?

Usually drunken lads trying to screw your effects up. However once you've won their respect they'll be your staunchest allies. I head for their tables on purpose because I know the experience will make me a stronger performer.

Girls however are far more fun, especially for more psychic guys like me. Palm reading, tarot, mind reading - all goes down a treat.
Agecroft wrote:What are you likely to experience at a house party?

NOWHERE to run, NOWHERE to hide. Very different from a bar or wedding setting where no-one is really expecting you and you're just an added treat. Usually everyone will know you're coming, and they'll want to make sure that they get their money's worth. Expect to be backed into a corner with 20 people bearing down on you. No time or place for faint hearts. I actually perform better when I'm backed into a corner (just like a rat), so I'm happy with it.
Agecroft wrote:Corporate walkaround?

Corporate can be great fun. It can also be a nightmare. Corporate normally equals free bar, 40 year old sales reps away from their wives and familes and reverting back to their 18 year old selves, peer pressure to drink more and act like jack-the-lad.

"Who's this poncey magician then? Can you make my wife disappear? I wish someone fookin' would! 'Ere, can you turn this £10 in £20? No? Not much fookin good then are you?"

You get the idea. But then again if your corporate booking is for an ad agency, or marketing firm, or a perfume ditributors, you're laughing.

IN GENERAL - wherever you're working, make sure you know what you are letting yourself in for. There will be incredible highs and there will be incredible lows. If the business isn't for you, you'll find out very quickly. You'll be perfoming right under the noses of people you do not know and who do not give a sh*t about you. There is, as I said before, no place to hide. If they don't like you, they'll usually tell you - either to your face or by the look in their eye.

A good night will leave you feeling like you could walk on water. A bad night will leave you wanting to crawl under a stone and stay there. I love it. It's the best job in the world!!!

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Postby RobMagic » Aug 4th, '08, 08:33

Brilliant, just the kind of info I was hoping would be put on here, I'm abviously very new to this being paid to perform malarky but I've loved it so far and mirrored what you've said!

Thanks for the reply

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Postby Lady of Mystery » Aug 4th, '08, 13:08

One of the things I'd always say about any gig is to get there early if you can and have a look around the venue. Work out where the tables are and what your angles are going to be like. If you're going to be performing during the meal, I agree with Mr Wand that I'd never interupt people who are eating. Have a chat with the organisers, find out how dinner will be served. Will the be served table by table, all at the same time? What order will the tables be served in and what time will service start. I like to start performing for the last table to be served and move towards the first. Take a break when your next table's eating and pick up again once they've finished. It's also worth finding out how long it's going to take to serve. After dinner during coffee's also quite a good time to perform.

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Postby bob07977 » Aug 6th, '08, 18:46

Sounds like you had a great start. Well done :D

I echo what the others have said regarding 'tough' customers - they do usually end up being more impressed than anyone. There will always be those that won't believe anything you do simply because they cannot comprehend it. I give up on those sorts after a while.

On weddings you will always have some cultural differences. With Indian weddings lots of booze is consumed and they almost always have free booze/open bar. They will try and encourage you to drink but I would stay sober for the whole time because your tricks may suffer if you start drinking. Also, Asian guys are usually more protective over their ladies than most, so that something worth bearing in mind. It's worth finding out who the immediate families are at the beginning as they will usually have their hands full and not want to be performed to. The girls immediate family may also be quite emotional towards the end.

Hope it helps. Keep up the good work!

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Postby Craig Browning » Aug 6th, '08, 21:05

My biggest suggestions for the newbies that start getting offers is to invest into some actual business courses... I don't mean the overpriced marketing systems sold in magic shops but rather accredited classes in a real school that will teach you about BUSINESS (which is the bigger part of "show"). You will also benefit from classes and/or workshops involving people/communication skills, how to dress for success and how to create an effective networking plan... in fact Microsoft offers free as well as low cost business courses on line depending on what software you have... I use Office Professional e.g. I have access to tons of resources... granted, it's based on the Microsoft Corporate Monopoly idea of global control but at the same time, it's available and practical... as are some other similar systems hovering about... just look.

Richard Webster has a book on creating a Business Plan that is highly recommended for the newbie wanting to get serious as well as some of Michal Ammar's earlier material on negotiation techniques, etc.

What's important is remember who you are and what is viable for you right now. You age can limit where you work and trust me, you can be "too old" for the gig just as you can be too young.

I think Paul's post lends to you a great bit of solid foundation so study it! :wink:

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Postby Rufio » Feb 27th, '10, 15:10

Sometimes there are occasions when the spectators throw up variables that you didn't expect, and can become a real talking point.

I've only had my second paid gig 2 weeks ago, although another magician I know mentioned there is a vague possibility I'll "inherit" his clients due to a relocation down south, so I'm hoping that paid gig number 2 will be one of many. The only PR I do is occasionally hand out a shoddy Vista Print type business card out when performing socially to strangers or friends of friends. Some say they will recommend me if their friend gets married or has a party. I hope to finally get a magic website up and running when a friend films me performing magic in the forthcoming summer.

Anyway, as to what to expect... I was still a bit nervous for this gig, which another magi had recommended I do as he was unavailable. It was for a christening with the "reception" at a nearby hotel. It was very much a family affair, and so I was an absolute outsider as knew nobody there. However, things started off really well, with some visual effects such as Bigger Finish by Sankey and Interlaced by Sanders.

What I didn't expect was my mindreading routine (or rather the use of a Mind Reader Wallet with a word revelation). My take is to really draw it out, and I ask the person to think of a favourite teacher at school. It was around a long table with children, the elders and the middle aged. The man I was "reading" was one of the elder ones. The routine became really amusing, as it was clear that the teacher was a talking point, and making educated guesses I realised it was "someone who was popular with the boys", which got great laughs for some reason.

To cut a long story short, the "teacher" was in fact his wife of many many years, and of course everyone knew this! It was this effect that managed to draw everyone in the room in, and everyone stopped what they were doing to listen in. At the end of the performance I got such a big round of applause that was so pleasing, it was a reaction I could never expect but extra mileage was gained from playing up the relationship and family environment. Good clean fun. The word was "LUST" by the way!

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Postby Matthius88 » Feb 27th, '10, 22:23

Some cracking advice in this thread, maybe the mods should sticky it?

I've only had one paid gig and to be honest, it was about as easy as they come. It was in a private room in a golf club for some ladies who play bridge, all nice as can be so no trouble makers. Im sure it would have been far more nerve racking if it was a busy function with drunk people.

Hint though, watch out for people like that, some of them have been playing cards for decades and they were bloody sharp when it came to false shuffles and cuts. One of them even asked me if I was using The Pass (I wasn't).

Makes me wonder how honestly they play their card games though!

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Postby Mandrake » Feb 28th, '10, 18:45

Matthius88 wrote:Some cracking advice in this thread, maybe the mods should sticky it?
Consider it stickied/stuck... :?

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Postby Matthius88 » Feb 28th, '10, 19:19

Mandrake wrote:
Matthius88 wrote:Some cracking advice in this thread, maybe the mods should sticky it?
Consider it stickied/stuck... :?


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Re: What to expect at the venues you could end up working

Postby Hardik » Mar 31st, '10, 13:50

Agecroft wrote:My 2nd gig, the first one I've ever had booked was today at an indian wedding which was the most fun I have ever had with magic

I'm glad you enjoyed - I always have a blast at (Indian) weddings - they never fail to entertain.. Though to clear up I assume you went to a North Indian wedding ( which are just awesome.. South Indian weddings are Zzzzzz.. )

And congrats on your first paid gigs !!

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set list for your paid gigs

Postby Jason Ladanye » Apr 15th, '10, 04:27

my advice to any type of magician... for your paid gigs is to be prepared with a set list. I showed up for a wedding in Albany, NY prepared to do walk-around/strolling magic. so basically all my material was just short and sweet/hit and run type material. Thats what they hired me for. However, last minute the clients changed their mind and they wanted a 35-40 minute formal show. my mind went blank lol... but i wrote out a mini set and did 30 min of awesome card tricks and they were happy.

lesson learned, i should have had a formal set ready to go, even though I'm hired for walk-around.

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Postby dat8962 » Apr 15th, '10, 09:50

You'll find that most working magicians with experience will have three or four different 'shows' depending on the booking and will take a spare along with them just in case.

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What Can You Expect From Venues

Postby Allen Tipton » May 26th, '10, 10:56


1. Devise AT LEAST ONE Act you can perform ANYWHERE under any Conditions.
On stage, No stage, no platform,
Band behind you,
Poor OR no lighting,
Waiters jostling you,
NO table space (work with stuff in your hands & standing up)
No audio/mikes (buy a walk around portable mike, in case)
No or very little reset. Often has to be reset in the toilet!

2. Keep a RECORD BOOK of ALL venues performed at. With:
The Venue. Address Phone number etc .
Date of performance
Length of Act.
Effects used.
and ANY things to be aware of--in case of future bookings. Don't rely on
your memory (notoriously poor with magicians) WRITE IT DOWN.

Although it is now 60 years since I worked the Hasbury Conservative Club,several times, in Worcestershire I can still recall the note in my Engagements Record Book:
'Very high,climb up from the front, tiny stage, set in the Corner of the room with an 8 foot x 4 foot mirror directly behind me!'

And in my home town, Cradley Heath, Worcs. :
The Saltwells Pub. Have to work standing on the padded, bench seating,one end of the room. Window behind me.

And another venue, the name now escapes me but the warning doesn't:
'No room to work! Stand on a beer crate & use the piano top as my table'
And I can remember working Davenports mini Passe Passe Bottles, on the piano top, leaning to my right to work them!! I was about 15/16 at the time.

Keep notes in a hard cover book: It will give you peace of mind.
And peace of mind gives you--relaxed, enjoyable performances
Don't be lazy, as some magicians are; stick with the book.
You know it makes sense! In the long run.

Allen Tipton

Began magic at 9 in 1942. Joined Staffs M.S at 13. Nottm.Guild of M. (8 times President. Prog Director 20years)IBM. Awarded Magician of Month 1980 By Intern. Pres. IBM for reproducing Dante's Sim Sala Bim. Writes Dear Magician column for Abra. Mag.
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Postby Starving Stu » Jun 4th, '10, 15:35

I've found no gig is the same. Every wedding is different, every party is different, etc, so I just turn up and improvise. I wing it and think on my feet. I think that's the best policy. The venue will always be different to what you expect anyway. I take my magic in a nice suitcase (I only do close up) once I have a quick look around I know what effects to take out and I ask to leave my case behind the bar or in the kitchen or staff room. Don't expect any help from the host, they've probably never booked a magician before and they're paying you, you're to help them not the other way round. Turn up early as mentioned, make sure you're dressed correctly for the type of event and never drink any booze before or during the gig. I'm amazed at how many magicians do.

Drunken people are a pain. I did a wedding Sunday, it was 2:30 in the afternoon and half of em were already drunk. Just laugh it off and have a joke with them, but really just think of the money :wink:

If someone offers you a tip and slips you a fiver or whatever thank them, put it in your pocket and don't make a big deal of it. Ironic thing is it's normally the annoying drunks who in the end will tip you! Always be polite and never use offensive language even as a joke.

Oh and one last thing, always take your money from the host and slip it in your pocket. But check it outside out of view to be polite! I'll never forget the time I drove all the way home and found out they'd paid me less than what we agreed........... :roll:

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