THE “AMAZING” BLOG
It’s your event, or perhaps you have been asked by your boss to book the entertainment for your awards evening. So the person you hire is a direct reflection on you. You need someone that is going to fit in and be liked by everyone, be polite and respectful of your guests space and those moments that are as important to the event as much as the entertainment. As mentioned earlier a professional will always care more about his feedback, his living depends on it and ultimately thats feedback that you will be receiving from your guests or even the boss!
Good feedback only comes from being liked by everyone, it’s so easy to get this wrong by forgetting the basics. Being polite, not making fun out of people who they ask to help with the performances. Not interrupting the flow of the evening or dinner service or even conversations.
But what else makes the difference and why might it cost more?
Insurance – Public liability this is an essential! Most venues require at least £10million. But more importantly you need to make sure everything is covered because things can go wrong. Drinks can get spilt, bags might be tripped over even something as silly as a paper cut. These things can happen, particularly in an environment when there is alcohol around!
Being a member of Equity not only shows that your performer is a full time professional (these days the entry requirements are a little different but when I joined I had to provide 20 contracts or past and future work and do an interview!) Also it provides public liability of up to 10million.
The truth is though you never ever want to use your insurance, and is it hopefully just a tick box paperwork exercise. The more experienced the performer the more different situations they will have been in and recognise if things are not going to plan or any potential hazards so you don’t have to experience them again!
I have lost count of how many risk assessments I have filled in and scenarios I have had to imagine. For the British Grand Prix we even have to do a 3 hour course on Terrorism threats!! So all this goes into the the vast pot of experience that will means that you have less to worry about!
Personally I always mentally run through what i do from the point of view as an audience member. For example, there are great tricks that used borrowed items, if an audience member lets me borrow a ring for example I know i have to treat that item with the utmost respect. From down to how they feel if it magically disappears and end up in an impossible location. I will only perform this kind of routine if i know their objects are 100% safe looked after at all times while its in my care. They have my reassurance of this and will never be bullied into lending me their items! Even if i borrow a bank note and get them to sign it or if it ends up in the middle of a lemon it will always be restored clean and returned. Its a respect thing!
Accidents do happen, but they also can be avoided or dealt with appropriately. Beyond that imagine the difference between guests saying under the breath, “who booked that guy he is rude inappropriate and unfriendly” or you having guest telling you how amazing the event is, how much fun the entertainment is and you taking the credit for your amazing choice and skills in choosing the right entertainment!
Occasionally people ask me…is that your full time job… I understand why. There are many magicians around that can perform tricks and get paid for doing so, but on a monday to Friday they will go back to their desks and believe just because they get paid to do tricks they could be considered professional and so can market themselves as such! But does that matter to the guy who’s paid the bill? And what really is the difference between a part time performer and a full time professional?
In my opinion what makes a professional is someone relies on their trade as a primary income and therefore cares about it such to deliver their services to the highest possible standard to maintain their professional reputation. Its is some who knows their trade and lives it with the ability to deal with every situation almost without thinking about it! For example if I hired a plumber or the bloke next door they both might do a great job and I would never know the difference on that leaky tap. However, when things do go wrong and water starts p*ssing all over the floor the bloke next door is the one likely to be getting wet knees while the professional is the one who pulls the right tool out of the bag to ensure your feet don’t get wet. Oh, also a week later my wife will be either complaining about the wet carpet or telling everyone how great the bathroom shower is!!
So in entertainer term when are we likely to get wet feet and need those tools at the ready? Here are just a few examples.
- Straight from the initial enquiry I visualise the type of event and what will fit best. Making sure, right from the start you can be sure that what is agreed is going to work. A common example is when brides may try and book me after dinner to try and keep people entertained while the room is getting turned around. This sounds like a great idea and sometimes it works. However, if its been a long day and big meal you might find that most of your friends want to just chill for a few minutes and then they will be ready to party again later. Having someone to try and keep them going may not always work or be a good idea!
- It’s a different type of event to what was described? Again it’s being prepared. I always have a back up plan just in case. Sometime I have turned up to an event as a mingling close up artist and the agent has sold me in as a Cabaret act! (Yep, for some reason I felt I needed to pack more than a pack of cards…the hunch paid off!)
Agian, one of the most memorable times I can remember having adapt was when we (3 magicians) were booked at a “Scouse” University Graduation Ball. We all packed our pockets with bombproof drunk student tricks into our No 2 suits. Ready to start we chatted to the client who on only then pointed out the VIPs on each table, starting with the Liverpool Chief of Police working up to the Honorary Graduate…Cherie Booth!! (at the time the Prime Ministers wife!) At this point the professional magicians sauntered off to the dressing room, swapped No2 suit for No1 “pristine suit” and filled our pockets with a few different routines.
- No two guests are the same, you have to be able to improvise. Being able to stereotype your audience does help, you get to know the things the grooms men will be impressed by and the difference between them and your older Auntie and her friends. To have a good variation of routines means you can have lots of fun and hit the mark every time. Also having the ability to come off script and listen to the audience gives the magic rapport and adds a whole load more fun!
- Having the tools to spot whats happening elsewhere, when to step up and when to step back. Much of what I do is often done subconsciously. I can do many of my tricks or routines without thinking about whats happening next. This gives me a chance to think about what else is happening. It allows me to listen to the audience, see who is involved or if I need to adapt to suit them and often if they say something funny I can hear that, respond and include it, making them feel valued not ignored because I can’t go “off script”.
Also I can be aware of practical things like what stage dinner service is at, where the photographer is looking, is there someone about to start a speech etc. Being able to entertain and work around this is probably the most important tool in the box!
At the end of the day this is what you want from your professional. You wont notice how they do it but you do want your guests to telling you how much fun they had and then how amazing the magic is. This is when they will say “Thank you!” to YOU because you thought about how to entertain them and make them feel important. Most of all your party is a massive success they will remember for a long time to come.
Yesterday I was at The Midlands Wedding Show. This is a great show organised by Just Exhibitions www.midlandweddingshow.com There were over 250 brides and couples through the doors and it was great to be able to chat to so many of them.
To generalise most of the conversations fall into the categories of either, “No we haven’t thought about our entertainment yet..” or “How does having a magician work at a wedding..” with a few “Yes we have already booked someone” or “We love the idea, we are just looking for the right magician”. However one conversation stood out for me yesterday along the lines “ We really like to have a magician because we know it works so well. However, a relative recently had a magician and they were awful, the tricks were ok but it just was a little bit flat and not very good. So we want to make sure that we have the right person.”
We had a really nice chat about not just what I do but also about entertainment for events and weddings generally. It was great to be able to chat about what for me is the most important part of supplying not just entertainment but a complete service, also what make the difference between get what you pay for and not getting what you don’t pay for.
I hear so often about the soaring costs of weddings, and often this is because people know how important it is to get the basics right or when you are able to see the benefits of a higher priced item such as table decoration or flowers etc. But with entertainment it’s easy to think that a band is any band singing the same songs or a magician is just a guy doing tricks.
I believe the quality in the product goes far beyond the tricks. Although saying this a good percentage of the tricks that I perform variations of have been used on the “… Got Talent” shows across the world to secure places in the series finals. So thats a fairy good start! Ultimately It’s the bottom line basics that make that extra difference and you should make sure you look out for when booking.
A good booking system including plenty of wedding information to make sure not faux pas are made on the day plus good communication leading up to your day.
Arriving in plenty of time to be ready to start on time. In my experience things can also start early as often as running over!!
A smart appearance, some magicians may try and stand out from a regular wedding guest but I believe smart, tie and suit is always the best option, particularly at a wedding. After a short while if people are laughing and enjoying what it happening you soon get noticed as the entertainer.
Of course Public Liability and membership of trade bodies go without saying…but i just did!
Most importantly performing magic should always be entertaining and not about just bemusing an audience or talking through whats happening. It should be engaging, fun to watch and be part of what is happening.
That not only about the personality and charisma of the performer but also experience, likability and sense of humour.
So if you are looking for entertainment make sure you are not just thinking about the trick or songs being played being a professional with experience goes far beyond that and it what will ultimately make you wedding Amazing!
Today you just need to do a quick google and you get a huge lists of entertainers but not only is it easy to find an entertainer but its also easy to become one and create a fantastic looking website including lots of photos. So how can you tell the experienced professional from the part time “professional”.
Here is a quick check list!
Not the subject matter:
It’s easy to get a picture of people screaming and reacting to the most basic of tricks! So let’s look past that!
Is everyone engaged! First rule of being an entertainer is being engaging. Even more so as a magician, is what you are doing being engaging. A simple lack or politeness or personal appearance can soon disengage an audience so look at everyone in the photos. Are they all watching intently (obviously barring sipping a drink at the photo moment etc). or are some members of the group looking away or on their phones even. If its a performance at a table, look around and in the back ground are the tables nearby looking over to see what is happening? If a performer is capable of creating an atmosphere or presence in the room then this is a tell tale sign!!
If i am performing for a table I always make sure that I am involving the whole table, not only does this make guests feel important but also creates a fun experience and atmosphere in the room.
Where is the venue:
Its often easy to spot a nice venue! Its probably safe so say good performers will always be found in the best venues! Look again at where the photos are taken, is the performer regularly working in exclusive corporate environments, beautiful 5 star wedding venues or are they performing in local pubs restaurants, local social clubs or even on the streets! Alternatively not even working at all, perhaps photos taken while selling themselves that one time at a wedding fayre??
A quality supplier and quality environment will often be found together!
The old saying that appearance is everything! Again looking past the obvious and look at the magicians attire. Is it loud and probably more suited to a childrens show, is it a little dated. (ties and waist coats with playing cards on looked great in the 80s!) I believe that the performer should suit the environment and if they need a special waistcoat to get noticed then this might be a reflection on their personalities.
I often choose a smart, tailored black suit and tie for most events. This allows me to fit in whether its a Black tie dinner or a more casual event. Its recognisable that I am a magician without being gereish and its also smart!
I’m a big Apple / iPhone fan! ( Despite what people might say about the company) The best part for me is when I buy a new Apple product it’s the box it comes in. Straight away before you see the product the packaging tells you its going to be good!
How many gigs have they actually done?:
Often several good photos come from the same event so having a few photos from the a handful of events across the website is acceptable. However, if all the photos are from the same event…does this performer really work at all the events they say they do? Or maybe once they have finished their day jobs they might not have the time to chase down the photos and marketing.
Are the photos of the same thing! We all have our favourite trick. Personally it’s the ones that I have taken a long time to develop with hours of performances. However I know that whatever I perform its has to engage and get “that” reaction regardless of the trick. A photographer will hunt down that wow moment, is it the trick or the performer getting the reaction! The trick and reaction in many of the photos on a website might be telling you more than you think about that performer!!
An experience professional will have truly done 1000s of events and at most event these days there are photographers. So it is fair to assume that the photos a performer is using are the best ones available at the best venues! (if they really care about their business or appearance!)
So next time you look at that guy thats given you a bargain price and some photos and videos of an audience screaming in amazement, take a little time to look at the bigger picture!
Well Christmas is upon us already! The almost daily task of getting ready for gigs becomes routine! But lets make thing more difficult….let decide to make some website changes! Doh! Much of which you won’t even notice, its all happening behind the scenes with lots of email and support chats! Hopefully, things will be running smoothly but who knows what the technical elves hand over to the webgremlins.
My mind is just focussed on Christmas parties, all of which are being booked up very late. I have loads of new ideas to put into practice for next year. One of which will hopefully see the Blogs more regular, redesigned and focussed towards ideas and articles for the event industry and possibly the wedding industry!
So until then! Have a Happy and Amazing Xmas!
Well we are finally getting from boxes to organised, in-between the chaos have been some really great gigs. A corporate event for Morgan Sindal at the lovely venue of Coombe Abbey in coventry. I even picked up a review on the facebook page! always a bonus.
The highlight tho over the past week was a lovely wedding in St Albans. The family had chosen a Barn Converted social club, which was really quite unique. The family was lovely and also quite large as it was part Irish, the booking was described as multi-cultural! The Catering was provided by a pig roast buffet! Simple and effective and the sun shone and the day was amazing.
I was booked as a surprise magician by the father of the bride for his daughter. When she first met me the bride was visibly stressed and having something she hadn’t planned could have been very awkward. However, she soon realised how I fit in and was already by that point getting great feedback from her friends and family who I had already been entertaining while she was having photos. I simply let her know that I was there to help her enjoy the day let her friends be entertained while she go on with meeting everyone and enjoying her day. She instantly relaxed which was a real pleasure to see happen.
Sometimes, having the experience of having been at so many events its really easy to see the bigger picture and help guide things in the right direction. I think that this was possibly one of those moments. It just needed a the family to know or hear the words someone say something like “I got this! Its cool!”
So it was not the high expense wedding of a big 4 star hotel, but you wouldn’t know! However, if you don’t have the hotel you may also miss out on a restaurant manager or Wedding coordinator to help things keep moving along or getting guests to the buffet in order or introducing the speeches! There are several options to help this. Maybe hire a toast master, this can be superb but sometimes may feel a bit too official unless you get the right one for the job. Alternatively there is always the magician who knows how to use a microphone, the order of the day and how to encourage guests to follow the order of the day and enjoy themselves!
I have seen the day happen so many times when I was asked to fill in these gaps it was a absolute honour to be able to step in and help. This is also why I ask for all the timings of the day and names of important guests on my booking form. The just in case need to be prepared mentality! You will always see the words on many a website for magicians; “A magician will bring your guest together and fill in the gaps etc etc” Yes there are lots of magicians capable of this but personally I take pride in being able to carry that tool kit that is ready for everything. The tool kit labeled experience! Being able to see the bigger picture, step in and help with what ever might be needed on the day and most importantly make sure what I do fits in perfectly on the day to make it 100% personal for the Bride and Groom and professional.
So the house move happened about 3 weeks ago! It only took 95 boxes. Along with other useless statistics I would say only 50% of all boxes get opened within 2 days of moving, 10% will never get opened …ever, and the rest are all my boxes that will one day get opened but not until the shower is fixed the shelves are up the garden is trimmed back and the spare room is constructed. (Don’t mention the cooker!)
In between all this there is still entertainer work to be done. Of course finding the right pair of shoes or prop in the box that looks all the same as the rest does not make life any easier. I had an amazing wedding Fayre (Open day) at the Manor House Hotel in Moreton-in-Marsh. An Amazing Cotswolds Hotel, they always look after us well! Then there has been a nice event at Silverston as The Stig. Yesterday was an opening of a new venue in Swindon.
While taking this booking of course I had to temp fate by reminiscing about the good ol’ days with the agent. (Who I have know and worked for for over 20 years.) One of us put the curse of fate on the gig and said that we have only been kept in the business by being reliable and making sure we always get there and make it happen…whatever the circumstances! Of course thats like the commentators curse. So i was already nervous several days before.
The day itself the sun shone and all looked great. Until on the school run the car comes up with a engine fault, then I come down with the gastric bug that the rest of the family had be parading all week. All this before 10am. So several plan “B”s happen all at once. Call the mechanic, get it diagnosed…”not suitable for long journeys!” (the car not me!) Call the wife and get her to leave me her car. Get some rest, and get to the gig! Even if it means the only sun glasses in the car are the Donnas prescription lenses! Get to gig…buy a large bottle of pink medicine and get on with the gig!
For them they only see the duck floating on the surface calmly! But then again thats what the Magic and Magicians life is all about!
Up next…this week I kicked started an amazing new project…Which I am very excited about!
So I have decided to add a Blog to my site, to keep things up to date and give the world a little insight into the crazy world of a magician. If you are brave or determined enough to join me for the journey. The idea is to have somewhere to put my thoughts down and diarise, for both personal events, work events and fun happenings.
Also perhaps to give out some handy advice and share some links to other superb suppliers, facebooks pages and other great ideas I stumble across. I will try and post every week at the least. Short and sweet sometimes and others I reserve the right to have a good ol’ rant.
I’m gonna learn how to do this Bloggin’ stuff as I go. So maybe it might take a while.
So when do I start for real? Well this week we are moving house, all my time has been involved in putting things in boxed and my head if full of loads of ideas for the future. Initially there may be lots of posts here about decorating and building things!!! However as soon as the iMac is plugged in the blogs will start in earnest. For now if you want to find out some things that might be included, have a quick look around my youtube channel. You will find a good collection of work, fun and family.
’till then! The Amazing (Magic) Blog is born!