There are a few things that magicians are not likely to tell you, aside from the usual “how did you do that?” type questions. One of the main ones is that the actual tricks we do don’t matter as much as you think they do.
They really don’t.
A lot of magicians are doing pretty similar material.
In fact, a lot of magicians are doing the VERY same material as other magicians, and this isn’t a bad thing.
You don’t mind at all if you book a band for your wedding and they perform a song that you know someone else does. Besides, it would be silly to learn different tricks for the sole reason that someone else does it.
Magic, like music, is lucky enough to have performance pieces that are deemed as “classics”. I’m pretty sure that most wedding DJ’s have songs that they are sick and tired of playing because they get asked for them all the time. In fact, sticking with a DJ analogy for a moment; you wouldn’t book a DJ purely for the music he would play (unless he was a niche specialist), as all wedding DJ’s are likely to have the same collection of music.
You might book him more for his lighting rig, his dancefloor or because, after chatting to him, you get a good feeling about him.
And this is where it counts. It’s not the tricks, it’s the magician. When you’re booking a magician for an event, sure you want to know that he’s going to be able to amaze your guests, but that should be a given.
You’ll also want to know if he’s funny, insured, polite, suitably dressed, able to interact with all of your guests/clients/family, reliable, has appropriate paperwork and booking agreements in place.
In short, you want to know if he’s a PROFESSIONAL magician.
Recently, I’ve had two phone calls that sparked this post. The first was from a lady who was looking for a magician for her wedding and said she had booked someone for a works party and liked the idea of using a magician again. I asked her why she didn’t contact the same magician again (aren’t I awesome…trying to talk myself out of work?). She told me that although his tricks were good and fooling, “he didn’t look at us once…he didn’t really say anything or make us laugh..”.
Now, I’m not saying that you have to book a magician who is hilariously funny or anything, but, more than likely, you’re booking a magician to help build a happy atmosphere and make people smile. Magic is not guaranteed to do that on it’s own; it needs a decent performer. It needs someone who is comfortable approaching people of all ages, building rapport and being able to make them smile.
It’s not just about the magic; as a magician, you have to be likeable, fun and friendly.
The problem is that realising this AFTER he’s bored your family at your wedding is too late!
Obviously, the best way to guard against this is to see the magician live, either in person or in a video on his site. If you can’t do that, phone up the magician and talk to him. You’ll get a good feel for how he interacts with people and his personality in a short phone call. Is he the kind of person you want to spend ten minutes at your Aunt Margaret’s table without you worrying about him making an inappropriate joke? (Having said that, I have enjoyed plenty of moments where Aunt Margaret has made an inappropriate joke TO ME!)
The other call I had was from a bride who had been let down by a magician with 3 weeks to go until her big day. I found out that the magician had asked for a deposit (which is perfectly reasonable) to secure the date but, when she had asked for a booking contract, he wouldn’t give her one, saying he didn’t do them!
Very often magicians..in fact, it’s not just magicians, so let’s not be cruel…ANYONE who offers you a cheap cash price for a service, without a booking contract, is just one better phone call away from cancelling on you. It’s why they can afford to offer cheap prices – they have no obligation. Very often, it’s also because they don’t have the appropriate insurance in place, or indeed other overheads that professional entertainers have.
Insurances and a performing agreement are the very least requirements professional magicians should possess. Also, the process of booking a magician should be as easy and hassle free as possible. You should expect to pay a deposit and receive a booking agreement that secures the date. If you’re organising a party or event, the last thing you need to do is constantly worry about one of the acts. A professional magician knows this and is a safe bet for your next event!
So, by all means ask them about the magic they perform, but make sure that the PROFESSIONAL boxes are ticked too.