THE “AMAZING” BLOG
How to Spot a good Wedding Supplier…from a suppliers point of view.
Its still wedding fayre season! There are of course several aspects to wedding fayres. Firstly being there to meet Bride and Grooms 2B and listening to their stories. There are so many different plans and ideas which is what keeps the wedding industry so interesting.
The other side of the wedding fayre from the point of view of the supplier is getting to meet other suppliers. (which sometimes mean tasting cakes and ice cream!) What looks like a room of different suppliers to a bride, in reality is sometimes a bunch of hard working small business owners having having a day out of the office at their own networking event. (i.e. having a laugh together away from the family and calling it work!) In fact I can recall, one quieter fayre, it was like a bunch of school kids misbehaving and having a laugh, then as soon as a bride entered the room it was like teacher had arrived and we all went back to our best behaviour. I remember leaving that day with my jaw aching having laughed so much. I wont tell you which suppliers were there tho!!
I digress, as usual! This weekend was again a smaller venue with less brides but these fayres are often the ones which have the better quality of suppliers as they are hand picked by the venue. So Tip #1 for today. Don’t ignore the smaller wedding fayres, because quite often they will contain gold!
So what makes a good supplier and how do you spot them. I think before anything you have to remember most suppliers are small businesses so tick box #1 has to be The Person behind the product. I am going to mention a few suppliers just for example (this is not a paid advert!! 🙂 ) I taste a lot of cake and so being just across the room from Victoria Brook from Victoria’s Sponge Henley www.facebook.com/pg/victoriasspongehenley She was always smiling always chatting but also open and to me that suggests that is a business I would buy from. If they are interested in not just their product but also getting to know others and being fun and friendly then you know they will go out their way for you the client.
Secondly is the product. So for me I try a lot of cup cakes and samples, i’m not really a big cake fan. So of course out of politeness I tried a cup cake sample. Expecting the usually sweet butter icing and a bit of sponge. Not here! Wow immediately the difference in product hit home! (In fact I almost swore!) Victorias sponges totally took me surprise, actually taste, not over sweet and not dry but actually really Awsome! Find out her next fayre and try for your self.
So the day is good, cake and coffee flowing and a great backing track (kind of pop swing type music? Stuff that you love to listen to but not cheesy, dunno what that genre is 🙂 !)
Its filling the quietness of a room perfectly…then suddenly this guy walk past singing into a radio mic. My tiny brain puts the pieces together. It’s not a prerecorded track it’s actually live. Like Wot!
www.leeosbourne.com or if you prefer www.facebook.com/leeosbornesings or @leeosbornesings
Let’s break this down….When you are at a wedding fayre as a supplier the worst thing you can often have is a musician or DJ in the room. They have the ability, if they want, to make sure you know they are there, they ignore the fact others want to talk, they just fill the room. It’s not often their fault, it’s just a REALLY hard thing to get right. Show off their product but without over imposing. It’s kind of like if I did a trick in the room that makes everyone shout and applaud loudly and using my experience I CAN do that! It’s easy if you know how, although it also kills the room and everyone stops for a short time. Gets me noticed and causes a moment however its not my job and its often its not the right thing to do!!
So just this fact shows me Lee knew his stuff, how to play to the room perfectly.
So I got to chat to Lee later on when he wasn’t singing, turns out he fills rule #1. He’s a great guy, great fun to chat with. I can also tell he has a lot of experience straight away. (He told me he had been singing for over 20 year!) but apart from that, he knew his product, ie himself. He knew what worked for him and what he can use best to do his job well. Right down to which was his best side when it came to instagram photos!! 🙂 Seriously though if you just try and do the latest Micheal Buble track because it works for them but you are of course not Mr Bubbles then it wont work!! Experience and learning to be yourself only teaches you that.
Then there are the extra bits that only a supplier notices! Appearance, yes Lee looked immaculate and again perfect for his style but there is a reason for this. It’s not just attention to detail but it’s about caring about that image. So I noticed Lee didn’t just grab a sandwich at the bar, he took his time to step away from his stand, take off his jacket and then take a break. You don’t want to see a supplier scoffing next to the stand but also when that tomato does slip out of the butty its not down the front of the suit!! That’s not a metaphor btw!
Also, I noticed while setting up his stand and equipment (which was GOOD equipment, not just cheap stuff) before and after he found a side room in the venue to change out or into his suit. To a non supplier this will totally go unnoticed but I believe its important point that many over look! Sadly I do know many performers that will travel and set up in their performance suits. If you want to look good you and appropriate for your client then you shouldn’t be sitting in a car travelling for maybe a couple of hours and then setting up in what you are going to then perform in. It just doesn’t make sense. Golden rule. (Even though many at weddings venues a change room isn’t always available but it’s easy enough to change into a fresh shirt and jacket, even just by the car).
So there it is, just a little insight of my thinking what might make a good supplier from a suppliers point of view and also the things I try to think about when it comes to what I do and that why I notice when others take on those values. In this case Lee Osborne gave a perfect example for me to say here is a guy that is getting it right…in my opinion of course! I know just from seeing Lee in action I’m am sure he has loads more performer “habits” (speaking from my own experience) that make what he does unique but also a reliable quality product.
Lee has a great product. Have a look at his videos and website. www.leeosbourne.com
He is a great guys and friendly in addition to this had the experience to deliver (and most likely deal with the unexpected).
He has has the awareness to that attention to detail that makes a professional truly look and be “professional”.
If you want to book Lee of course just get in touch and give him a call!!
Thank you, Lee for giving me a the material for another rambling blog!!
Welcombe 2020…It’s wedding Fayre Season!!
Welcombe to 2020! No its not a spelling mistake! (See below!) Just as things quieten down following the business of December and Christmas it is time to start to get organised as the wedding fayre season kicks in!
Its been busy right from the start of the new decade. First starting with a wedding fayre on first weekend of the year and a fayre every weekend since.
My routine is something like this…Maybe a busy Saturday or a gig on Saturday evening. Then a wedding fayre on Sunday. Monday look through and recall everyone I have chatted to on the day before. Send out some details and quotes if they have asked. A trip to the Magic Circle club night on that evening. Tuesday and Wednesday follow up ay other quotes, a bit or prop building and the usual distractions. Then from Thursday and Friday its thinking again about the next wedding fayre.
So when i think about January I usually think about chilling, recovering and getting things back in order! The reality is, the more time I have the more time I have to think about new ideas and getting creative. So I just get busier!!
This weekend will be a very nice wedding Fayre at the Welcombe Hotel in Stratford. on Avon I love this venue and already with just 6 weeks into the new year it is my second visit. The first was for a lovely corporate event in the second week of January!! So it truly has so far been a Welcombe 2020! Maybe see you there!!
As for creative ideas, the next update will be a hand idea for helping to plan your event!! See you soon or at the Welcombe!!!
A funny thing happened to the experienced entertainer!
A memorable part of the evening was also when the host decided to introduce me to the whole room! Something as a close up magician that rarely happens, in fact NEVER. So I am being introduced with pockets full of close up magic, reception drinks type magic and I can see where this was going, the guy was going to introduce me and then expect me to do a big visual trick for the whole room! My brain was in Prof Steve Peters “Chimp” mode, i.e. PANIC this guys about to stop talking and all i got on me is a few elastic bands, string and cards…help!
So the he stops talking and with a big flourish “And I give you Brett the Magician!”
It was at this point two things happen! The whole room applauds and stares at me! The next thing…the Chimp shuts up and I go straight into Entertainer mode! I do a polite and quick introduction then go straight into a prediction routine that sits in my back pocket as a classic “goto in any situation” routine. It goes flawlessly and even though it was an awkward room layout and I had my back unavoidably to some of the audience they loved it!
So what the heck just happened! In all truths experience happened! That moment of panic and thinking things through literally just disappeared as I went into a routine without even thinking about what to do. It really happened like that, I just went into entertainer mode and did it!
I know it so easy to say experience is what you pay for and thats the difference between a working professional and a guy that does gigs at the weekend. However, this is the first time that I had actually experienced it for myself in such a natural but quite bizarre way. The reality was that I was actually still thinking what am I going to do here when my subconscious brain is already performing the routine! Weird or what!
It great to have challenges and new experiences but so rewarding when stuff happens that the audience really doesn’t see! It really is amazing!!
Why the Dog?
Another gig over and I am sitting in the car trying to update my social media, as every good business should when something amazing happens. As always I heard got loads of verbal feed back, “wow you ARE Amazing!” “That is just incredible!”, “You are simply incredible!”, “Shut the Front door!” (it wasn’t even cold?..huh! All this feedback and I have NOTHING to show for it on social media!
A lovely Cotswolds venue, a group of 32 very fun American family and friends (thats as much as I can share!). And also very vocal, but genuine in their responses and reactions. I was lucky enough to have a “crew/green” room right next door to the dining room. I spent a lot of time enjoying hearing what they “thought” I had done as they chatted all night about it. After all that is my job to create converstartions!
The party flies over from the US and has done so every year for the past 35 years. The host was actually telling me that they can’t travel all together because some go off elsewhere after the week but also his jet only seats 13 people. I though “that must be annoying!!”
Memorable moment;…I had a lovely volunteer who signed my £10 called “Butch”! A great American name and so much comedy material “ohh you are Butch” etc etc. An english audience would find this weirdly amusing but here just wouldn’t work! So I didn’t and my brain just didn’t those jokes privately to myself! (its also not my style of comedy perfomance!)
So at this point what I am missing, as I try and post to social media, is photos, videos hashtags or even a link to the venue!!
Firstly, for me pulling out a phone and getting a video or a photo while I am performing or even getting someone to video never feels right or comfortable. Getting venue staff to hold a camera, it just doesn’t sit right with me. My feeling is, it’s my job to entertain without being over imposing. I know many people just accept cameras these days but there are many that still feel uncomfortable with this. So for me it’s often a no go, keep it safe option. My job is to entertain and not to start trying to focus on self promotion, its annoying at this point but thats the gig!
In addition to this, once again I am in the, not so rare, situation (for me at least) where the client has asked for photos or social media not to be shared of them or the event, mostly for security reasons etc. In this case as they are staying for the week I cannot even share the location! Doh! So once again I am struggling for a social media posting. Once again It a picture of my Dog that will make the front page instead!!????????
On the plus side I get to make a blog post out of the experience and appreciate and be grateful that I am working at these types of gigs! May there be many more to come!
If you are not famous but want to experience what they do…I guess you will just have to book me!!
Adding that extra to make the difference!
Wow a busy August, Holidays are over and September is manic! I am super excited with loads of new ideas coming to fruition as a consequence of being busy but also having time off to get thinking ideas.
Just one of these is a special gift or trick that I can perform for a Bride and Groom! Before I reveal (or don’t reveal this) let’s go back a bit. I have always found that many weddings it is incredibly hard to spend enough time with a bride and groom to involve them in the fun. Usually they are being pulled in so many directions either socialising or having photos taken or even getting stuck in a dress in the loo!
So finding the perfect time to chat to a couple can be difficult. Until recently, the solution, like much of what I do evolved! I was working again at a venue who recommends me they know what I do and I know how they work, their format really quite well. Over a series of weddings we worked out a perfect way of finding time for me to meet the couple but also at a time which helped the venue with the running order. Just as everyone is called in to dinner the venue wedding manager wants to keep the bride and groom ready, but not waiting around bored on their own and also not wandering off. They have to get all the other guests herded into dinner and then get service ready etc. Essentially be in 3 places at once, its a manic time 5 minutes for them!!
So we worked out a clever plan that if we get things right I can get to meet the bride and groom, entertain them while the venue manager sorts out everything else. The last thing a Bride and Groom want is to be stuck in a corner on their own and told to wait while their friends are getting on with the party. Everybody is happy, and the bride and groom don’t even notice our cunning plan! Nowadays what ever venue I am working I always try and suggest this plan to the venue manager and they always love it!
So now my problem, I needed something to totally wow the bride and groom, it has to be fun and not awkward for just 2 people. Also quick and fun and tie in with other tricks but unique for them. I like the idea of souvenirs but didn’t want the here’s just a card with your name on it type item to “give away”.
Again like much of what I do something evolved over time. Its similar to what the rest of what the guests might see, so the Bride and Groom can re-share the idea, however its like a gold plated version. It also has a big WOW factor and is great fun. Its also not a tacky give away but encapsulates the moment and wedding vibe!
Now my OCD kicks in! This has to be just right, I want it to be unique for each couple and personalised. Ignoring the hours of research and sourcing items, I am currently finding each time I prep this trick its taking me probably about 45mins… if not more! Although it will get quicker!
However…This is the thing…I love doing it and I love the time it takes and the opportunity to get something perfect for someone else! I love the idea that a Bride and Groom will choose me to be part of their wedding day. I feel that I owe them what every I can to make it special for them. To just chuck a box of cards in a case and turn up and just do tricks really isn’t my thing. I want to add something extra and put that silver lining to what I do. If this means taking extra time to prep things then thats totally cool with me! Not just for the Bride and Groom opportunity but for all their friends who will constantly feed back about how much fun things are. It’s taking that extra time to make sure things are perfect and add the finishing touch that people notice, talk about and rebook me time after time! As I said…I’m cool with that!
So at your wedding If you want to find out what’s in the box…get in touch!
The Science of Magic…Why do we enjoy looking at magic?
Everyone knows these are tricks and not “real”. It’s not as though we don’t know our senses are being deceived. But we still watch and wait for the reveal. So some clever bods at a university laboratory dedicated to understanding magic – the Magic Lab, and Dr Kuhn, part of the psychology department at Goldsmiths, University of London actually study this! Weird!
So there are several things that makes our brains tick and of course they say scientifically it can broken down it to several parts! Let look a the basics!
As the title suggests, the principles behind magic are rooted in areas that overlap with psychology – perception, attention and how we process information. We love to see what we don’t see, or perhaps we love the fact that we are being distracted! We essentially are presenting the brain with something its designed to be alert for. Deliberate distractions that keep the ol grey cells occupied essentially! A happy brain is a busy one!
“Nature of Perception”
Dr Kuhn says part of the fascination is trying to reconcile something that we’ve seen, with what we know is not really possible. Rabbits don’t suddenly appear in top hats from nowhere. People can’t get sawn in half and walk away.
He says it’s a sensation that produces a deep-rooted response, trying to reconcile this “cognitive conflict” and triggering part of the brain, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. (Obviously we all know about our dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and where it is, we all have one, you are probably scratching it right now!!)
From a very early age we are drawn to what we don’t understand, says Dr Kuhn, with an evolutionary incentive to try to make sense of what seems to be unexplained. “We learn to develop this way,” he says. Dr Kuhn likens the appeal of a magic trick to that of a horror film.
If such bloodshed was seen in real life, he says, it would be traumatic and awful, but when it’s shown in the safety of a movie, the fear becomes something that people can enjoy. Likewise, if we were confronted with something which disorientated and distorted our senses, it would be deeply disturbing, but when it’s put into the context of a magic trick, it becomes entertaining and amusing.
The fact that we know it’s not real is an essential part of making it an enjoyable sensation.
“It’s an exciting time to be researching magic,” says Dr Kuhn, showing how trickery can give “fresh insight into the strengths and weaknesses of our own minds”.
So obviously thats what makes us want to watch magic! As long as we tick those boxes we are ok easy!… Until we realise that once the brain susses out that its seen it before and it knows what’s coming then we will loose the magic. The magician becomes like the B-movie and no longer the latest in CGI technology that we thought we were watching.
So this is where the creative performer turns what the brain wants and keeps it wanting, being creative with the ways in which the alternative perception are presented and every time making them a surprise. We all know that that bit of rope will become one again or the car will burst into flames in that movie but when or how becomes the important thing that makes it grey cell interesting.
Us humans are social creatures, we love to interact communicate but of course we still have those monkey hang ups that create social boundaries and shyness etc. If one of us yawns we all pick up on this, even on a subconscious level we all start to want to yawn…you maybe just did…or you want to? (Ok i’ll stop playing with your mind now!)
Its the same with laughter and having fun. Laughter is actually scientifically proven to be contagious (Thank you again Prof Wiseman!) Laughter spreads, it also helps us to relax and generate endorphins. The more we laugh the better things get, we also start to be more receptive as to what is making us laugh and is happening in front of us. We hitch hike the imagination train a bit better as well and get excited about our new realities.
So what better than combining our two scientifically proven theories. This is what a good performer is all about. Naturally being able to spot the social surroundings when it is the right time break those barriers, add some laughter, get the happy feelings happening, get the monkey brain excited about what’s gonna happen and leading it in the right direction and then sneak up on you with a unexpected reality that will stretch our imagination to the limits of excitement.
Its very scientific but in reality just great fun!
What you won’t see on this website…
So this last month has been a really fun one. With a huge variation of work presenting awards, working again at the Royal Courts of Justice at the “Legal Walk”. We have had Armed Forces day and Fathers Day with brings out the themed entertainment. Then I get to return to Silverstone entertaining in the Drivers Lounge.
One of the most memorable gigs though, as is often the case was the one that didn’t stand out on paper. In fact there wasn’t much paperwork as it came in very last minute.
An enquiry for a gig in Henley on Thames to cover another magician who had a change of plans. (I don’t know why this happens so often yet it does. I loose track of how any times I get a booking because the original entertainer has dropped out. Although, strangely enough I am more than often charging slight more than the original. Maybe there is a lesson to be learned there! l! If I have a booking then there has to be something special to make me need to rearrange with a client. Once it’s “in” it’s “in” even if I am offered more money for another gig!) Anyway, the bottom line is this gig was on a cruise boat on the Thames. The event was a 50th Anniversary party. A cruise gig can often go either way, it can be great and lots of fun or you can be trapped on a boat with a bad crowd for 3hours with no where to hide or they want just an hours entertainment and you are stuck there for 3 doing nothing!
However, this was an awesome venue (boat) they looked after me superbly, the audience were great and the 50th couple were so relaxed and easy going.
It was lots of fun and I got a chance to perform a wider repertoire than usual which was fun! I got several nice natural breaks while people were eating and speeches were happening. Also I found a nice quiet corner to have my dinner as well. Even better the host also wanted a quiet corner on the top deck to have his dinner, so I ended up have a lovely conversation about his family and his 50 years and how he planned the event etc. At the end of the evening, the 50yr Bride, (is that the best way of describing her??) as she said “Good-bye” she stopped and said very openly that I was absolutely “Amazing” and how great I had been and how I had kept everyone talking and having loads of fun with such clever tricks. This did surprise me a little as I had really just been doing my job as always, there weren’t any really big wow moments as it just wasn’t the layout or appropriate to get the tables really excited. Despite this she had noticed how I had mingled to get to know everyone and bring people together.
All this is fairly typical, however what makes this one different for me, was the surroundings. Firstly I spent much of my teenage years (and some of my grown up years) kayaking on the stretch of Thames from Reading to Henley. We were lucky enough to take the route up stream and I got to relive my childhood. Then it was the most still and calm midsummers eve I have seen for a long time, the river was totally flat and just awesome with several parties happening along the banks.
So I know this part of the river pretty well, I also know many of the celebrity homes along that part of the river, George Harrison’s, Paul Daniels etc etc. Shiplake College, Henley Rowing clubs. Its great seeing these houses and where the celebs lived although it just reminded me how I was surrounded by celebs but actually this wasn’t where the party was, it wasn’t about them being there. What was important was the people I shared the boat with, the people that booked me to make them feel like celebrities for the evening. The hosts who wanted their guest to be wowed and have fun. This was the perfect metaphor for how celebrities make me feel.
The most important person to me at any event has to be the host and their guests (and not always in that order. Occasionally I get booked by a host who doesn’t like magic but knows that what I do will will be a great way of making their guests feel important and entertained perfectly.) For me these are the celebrities and in that sense its almost impossible to fill my website with photos of me with celebrities!
So this is why you wont often see celebrities on my website, you wont see me posing next to celebrities in a way of saying “look at me and who was at that party I was working at!” To me thier not the important ones…the most important people are those who I am there to entertain!
Britains Got Talent…a story or a Trick!
SO this week we have seen an amazing final for Britains Got Talent. But Why has it been so amazing? To start with we have had more magicians than ever, surprisingly as SiCo initially hated or avoided them. However, they have had to bow to public opinion and have now realised just how popular magic is amongst the general public. But why do we love magic so much? Some people hate it… although in my experience the reason why so many people hate it is because they don’t like not knowing how things happen or that feeling of being fooled. Often however these are the best people to entertain! Not because I want to fool them even more but often because as an entertainer its always very rewarding to be able to entertain and have these spectators feel entertained and not fooled. Also they will often be the people who will tell everyone about how good the magician is, usually with the words “I dont like magic or magicians…but…”
So just for now let’s forget the tricks (Well lets come back to that later or the next Blog)…what is it about magic (or maybe just my magic!) that people love?
Before anyone is given the puzzle to work out I always believe that I am there to ENTERTAIN. I am an entertainer and that means that I spend a lot of time thinking not just how perform a trick in an entertaining way. (Once I have the plot, then I know how I can fit the misdirection in to it and all the other things that make the trick mindbogglingly amazing!)
Everyone loves stories! Magic tricks usually give us an opportunity to tell a story and sometimes add a personal connection particularly if that story includes a personal borrowed item. With the opportunity of telling a story comes the opportunity to involve people, draw the audience in, involve them emotionally. This gives people the opportunity to responded create a connection with the performer and then respond, celebrate or just applaud the grand finale of that story or adventure.
Again having the opportunity of telling that story gives a lovely opportunity to involve some rapport and comedy with an audience to make them laugh and draw them in even more emotionally.
Of course not all magic needs a story or even not all stories need to be comedies however for me this is how I like to perform, I love the intricacies of a joke, comedy humour etc, everyone loves a good laugh. Sometime they also need a good laugh!) Oh and it also doesn’t need to be at someones expense in fact that’s my first rule of entertaining, If everyone can’t laugh at a joke then its not funny. If you want to explore more about finding a funny joke or what makes us laugh dig out Richard Wisemans Quirkology book! Any way back to the magic!
The trick is all about the plot of the story. I hate magic routines, I hate it when magicians suggest you have to start your routine with a trick that instantly engages (they call it “an opener”) Its a bit like when a stand up comedian gets on to the stage, the internal dialogue of the performer and audience is saying…whats the first joke going to be, get that first laugh then it will be ok? Although wait a minute, look around and you will see the best comedians will actually not even have a first laugh joke, they have the confidence that they don’t need that first laugh. It’s all about meeting the audience, saying hello and getting them to engage, join in and start that journey of entertainment.
A good magic trick or magician should also be the same. My magic performances usually start with mingling during a drinks reception, this is often the best way of getting to know people as well. Often the best trick is saying hello, making your new friends smile and engaging with them socially. Then they know I’m just there to entertain (and not to fool or make them feel fooled). I do this when perform my magic, but also my magic is laid out like a story with moments of fun and building to a sudden and unexpected surprise ending. Some stories need a big surprise but some stories are great because you know what the ending will be but you just want to relive that experience.
(That’s a bit like watching your favourite film several times, you know the story but you just want to be involved in the telling and the emotion over and over again. People say you a magician never repeats his tricks. I probably try and avoid repeating the same tricks to the same audience, not because I am worried they will see how its done – they won’t – but why not tell a different story if I have a wealth of great stories to tell!! Often that one guest does follow me or insist that I do the trick again to another group or they sneak a peak at me doing it to another group. They are quite welcome to do that I’ve nothing to hide! )
Back to the story…If I am performing a routine…errr…. story….trick then the magic is there to add those special moments. Often I have a start usually just saying hello or asking to borrow an item or just simply welcoming body language is enough for people to want to engage in what follows. The middle is just the journey to get to the end, it can be where those little moments happen the card that disappears and then reappears without thought, an action that might hardly get noticed but when it is it adds to lift the storytelling. (A bit like when that stormtrooper hits his head or when Stan Lee appears as a cameo or the irrelevant but deep characters of a Coen Brother movie make them so watchable!) I love adding those tiny parts, (often they might cost more perform then the final effect, but so worth it!)
Then the big finish happens the surprise ending and people love it because the story has been well told!
But with every good story there is always the Epilogue, this is the bit I love to add in. Coming back to a comedy analogy (yes I’m a comedy geek, have you noticed) a great comedy moment happens when the gag is done but then its taken that one step further and then further again. That’s what makes a great comedian, the mind that spots those extra moments past what most of us have already expected…(Its why Airplane IS the funniest film of all time, there are the gags that you see coming then they just squeeze in one more and then another and another). Once the main trick is done it’s great to just be able to add that bit more. Like the borrowed bank note that appears somewhere amazing…before its given back it might accidentally vanish again and reappear and then get wiped clean of any signatures etc. Its those added moments that add the surprise the fun and ultimately entertain and not bewilder!
Everyone loves Stories and if Magic is performed well then it performed with a great story. The best story is sometimes when you don’t know that it is being told!
Back to BGT…my most hated performance this year was Mr X, great tricks but a magician hidden behind a mask. Why was he hiding, really I though “get out there let’s see some engagement with an audience”. It frustrated me so much. I genuinely hated it until that final DUH! moment I hadn’t seen coming, that moment when Marc Spellman revealed the whole story, which for him has been a journey of probably about 3 years. The parts that start right from the first, first audition, we think its over when he finished his journey at the semi finals but then there’s that killer finish a huge surprise that took an unlikely to win act right to the top with probably the biggest piece of showmanship that the show has ever seen. But even more blowing the roof of the production and pretence of the “TV show” experience of what is unseen as BGT!
Thank you Marc!!
“It’s only doing magic tricks what could go wrong?”
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!
Why book a professional, and whats the difference…we all do magic tricks?
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.