Here is a great article by Matt Colman. Who is Matt? Matt Colman is a highly respected full time professional magician from England, he is also a writer and innovator of magic, and he has published several books for magicians. You can find out more about Matt Colman and his work here http://www.mattcolman.co.uk.
With over fifteen years of experience as a professional magician in England, I am going to tip you the real secrets of hiring a high quality magician for your event, and how to avoid the low quality magicians that could actually do more damage than good to your event.
Simple Magicians jargon, the three main types of magicians:
o A magician that performs card tricks, coin tricks and smaller tricks, ‘street magic’ style, up close, either around tables, or in a drinks reception/mingling environment is called a Close Up Magician, Table Magician, Strolling Magician or even a Street Magician.
o A magician that performs magic on a stage or in a parlour environment is simply known as a Stage Magician, Parlour Magician or Cabaret Magician.
oA magician that performs mind reading or ‘Derren Brown Style Magic’ is known as a Mind Reader, Mind-reader, Psychological Illusionist or Mentalist.
A great magician can be worth their weight in gold at any event, it’s crucial if you want to not only provide entertainment for your event, but to enhance the atmosphere and give it that unique edge, choosing the right magician can be a little more ‘tricky’ than one might imagine. A high quality magician with years of experience won’t come particularly cheap, so here are my top tips to ensure that you get the best value for your money. Where magicians are concerned – you really do get what you pay for.
Ask Google or any search engine for a magician in your local area, and it will unmercifully spew out a brain overload of prospective close up magicians, children’s magicians, stage magicians, entertainers, mind readers, comedy magicians, illusionists, jugglers and many more – but who do you choose? How do you choose them? And, how do you know they will be the vital ingredient for your event?
If you’ve already began your search for a magician you will see many advertise on their websites the same buzzwords such as ‘Unforgettable’, ‘Unique’, ‘World Class Magician’, ‘Absolutely Amazing’, ‘Perfect for your event’ etc etc, but how much of that is fact, and how much of that is fiction? You will soon learn how to separate the truth from the embellished truth.
Firstly, decide exactly what kind of magician you think would be best suited to your event. To help you search with using search engines for the right magician for your event use the ‘magicians jargon’ terms along with the following to help your searches become that little bit easier. If you want a magician that can mingle with your guests in a drinks reception type environment you will need to search for close up magicians in your local area; if you need a magician for a ball or dinner the same search terms or table magicians instead of close up magicians within your local area will give what you need, having a magician work around the courses is no problem at all to the professional, but the amateur may have a difficult time with organizing their entertainment around the meal. If you are looking for a wedding magician, again you really do need somebody that specializes in weddings, not particularly someone that does the ‘whole shebang’ as it where – as the old saying goes don’t spread yourself too thin. Magicians that claim they can do everything from close up magic to fire eating, and from illusions to children’s parties, probably haven’t dedicated all the required time to the specific area you need them for. I strongly suggest not hiring a close up magician that also does children’s parties, unfortunately there are many great children’s entertainers out there, but many think that the same rules apply to entertaining children as entertaining adults – in reality it’s a completely different ballgame. Both are highly specialist arts.
Many children’s entertainers will learn some basic magic tricks and try to piggyback close up magic work from their children’s parties. Ideally if you want a children’s entertainer, find somebody that specializes solely in entertaining children and if you want a magician for adults find somebody that exclusively performs high quality magic for adults. Perhaps you want a cabaret magician, or stage type entertainment, there are many genres here; mind reading, comedy, stand up magic, hypnotism, illusions, ‘Tommy Cooper type’ magicians and so on, think what would be best for your event and guests – If you think your audience would appreciate a comedy magician more than say a mind reader, search around for comedy magicians in your area, a big tip here is to make sure they have at least one video of them performing, there is nothing worse than an unfunny comedy magician! If you know the type of people at your event are not the kinds that like to be in the limelight, a hypnotist is definitely not for you! Good stage magicians and illusionists are usually quite good crowd pleaser’s, but it’s generally old fashioned style entertainment that won’t suit everybody. Illusionists and traditional stage magicians are ideal if you have international guests as they have ‘non patter’ acts that are performed just to music. A good mind reading show can be extremely impressive, it can be completely baffling, entertaining your whole audience and even be very funny, however there is plenty of boring mind reading shows and not all of them are geared towards family audiences if there are children in the audience, again check references and videos.
Once you know exactly what you want for your event, and perhaps even a style that you think would best suit your engagement, perhaps you want the older looking wizard type magician or the young fresh and modern close up magician, have a look at a various websites until you come across a few that you think would be ideal for your event. Pay attention firstly to there style and image – If it’s a black tie event, you probably don’t want a magician that wears jeans and t-shirt and other casual wear to performances, if you’ve got a young hip crowd perhaps you want the fairly young magician that does dress more casual. Perhaps you want close up magic and stage magic, see if they offer both services – many will give you a great package deal for both.
Sometimes it’s better to hire somebody non local to you that covers performing in your area, a lot of magicians have a ‘one fee everywhere’ for performing anywhere in the country so you are not landed with a huge travel expenses on top of the performing fee.
Every magician’s website should have; genuine high quality references and testimonials, photographs – and not just studio photos but actual performance photographs, a video if possible so you can get a better idea of what they do, and finally they should present to you all the information you need about there performing experience. It should tell you how long they have been performing, notable places and companies they have worked for and what makes them stand out above the crowd. When you contact your short list of magicians be sure to include all the necessary information about your event; including type of event, time, date, location, number of guests, and if you have an idea of the budget you have allocated for a magician, mention this as well.
Sometimes when you search for a magician an agency website will pop up with various magicians and alternative entertainments, remember agents usually charge around 15% commission, so you might end up paying more through an agent. Sometimes it’s better to cut out the middle man for a single performer. If your event requires multiple acts of different entertainment branches, agencies are usually the best way to go to manage your entertainment, however most magicians will be able to recommend colleagues that work well together if you wish to hire multiple magicians.
Unlike most professions where there are always ‘cowboy’ services, surprisingly there are very few ‘cowboy magicians’ out there, however, there is a huge range in quality. The easiest way to find the good quality magicians from the lower quality magicians is by the fee. A full time professional will work hard on his trade, he has the experience and the skill required, dedicating their life to performing magic, their fee reflects this and their customers will pay the fee every time for an unbeatable service. On the other end of the spectrum you have the amateur, the guy just starting out, or the ‘seasoned professional’ that perhaps should of retired when his tie went out in fashion in 1963. These are usually the weekend hobbyists that will do the job for you and won’t charge you very much. Whilst every magician has to start somewhere, don’t settle for anything less than the best when it comes to high quality, professional magical entertainment. It takes a long time to become a good magician, amateur magicians could potentially ruin your event, they might make an off the cuff remark towards the guests that is not well taken, their magic might not be very good or they might just be extremely unsuitably dressed for your event. Full time professional magicians have to be great in every aspect of performance and people skills, generally you can’t go wrong with a full time professional that has all the proper credentials I outlined above.
Many magicians offer close up magic in one hour or two hour time slots, generally two hours for around a hundred guests is the best bet, that gives the magician adequate time to see as many people as possible.
Once you have your enquiries back, done either by phone or email, here comes the hard part – which one are going to choose? Unfortunately I can’t make that decision for you, generally the better magicians will be in the same price range, like I mentioned above – the lower price magicians will usually be amateurs or part time magicians that might not give you the full magic experience that will make your event stand out a mile. Magic is a very special art form, the best magicians are not only great at magic they are also great with people and that comes with many years of experience.
As with all rules there are of course exceptions, but if you follow my guide, I’m sure you’ll find the perfect match for your event. Magic is one of the most entertaining, fascinating and fun enhancements for any type of Party, Wedding or Corporate Event – not only is it universal in captivating all ages but can bring people together, even help sell products or unbelievably raise the atmosphere of an event. A fantastic magician can be a giant cherry on the cake.
Good luck with your event, and I hope it is a huge success!
© Copyright 2009 by Matt Colman Magician. All Rights Reserved.
Matt Colman is a highly respected full time professional magician from England, he is also a writer and innovator of magic, and he has published several books for magicians. You can find out more about Matt Colman and his work here http://www.mattcolman.co.uk.
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