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.