Hire a Great Magician
How to Hire a Great Magician
By Wayne Kawamoto, About.com Guide
How to Hire a Great Magician
When hiring a magician, you want an entertainer who is professional, will do a great job, offers a fun show, performs great magic and makes your event memorable. Unfortunately, there are lots of so called “entertainers” out there who call themselves magicians, but do little more than put on bad shows, waste your money and embarrass you, the host. So how can you separate the bad magicians from the great ones? Here’s how.
Unfortunately, there is no certification for magicians. Anyone who buys a few cheap tricks from the magic or toy store can call themselves a magician. And many bad magicians, as well as incompetent clowns and characters do just that.
The first thing is to decide what type of magic you want for your event. Magicians generally perform two types of magic: stand-up/stage and close-up/strolling. In stand-up/stage, the magician performs a show that’s appropriate for small to large audiences that can include birthday parties, schools and theaters. The bigger the venue, the larger the tricks and presentation.
In close-up/strolling performances, the magician walks around at an event and performs “close-up” tricks using cards, coins and other objects. Strolling magic works well at open houses, cocktail parties, company picnics, holiday gatherings, hospitality suites, picnics and other events.
Insist on a Magic Pro Professional magicians provide fun, magical shows, and it can take years for a performer to hone his or her show to the point that it’s a great one. Any professional these days should have a web site that offers information about them and their shows. And the top professionals feature videos on their web pages that let you clearly see the types of routines that they perform and their presentation and interaction with audiences. Comparing videos is an excellent way to evaluate a performer.
A good magician is flexible and can customize a show for a particular audience and age group. An experienced magician will ask you about your audience and event and tell you what he or she can offer to give you the best possible show. In general, percentage wise, there are more incompetent performers who try to perform at kids’ parties, although there are some who are less than stellar who perform close-up and at more formal stage shows.
Hiring the right magician for an event is important. You don’t want someone who performs mental predictions and mind-reading for a kids’ show. And you don’t want to hire a magician who only performs for kids to perform at a grown-up function. Also, if you have visions of people being sawed in half and levitated at a grand event, you need to look for a big time illusionist. Again, a magician’s web site and video should tell you what you need to know.
Working With Bookers Look in the yellow pages and you’ll see all manner of “party planners,”-firms that provide party equipment and entertainers, including magicians. “Party planners” are also known as “bookers.” When you call these companies to hire a magician, price is definitely an indicator-the lower the price, the more likely the magician is not a full time pro and not as experienced or entertaining.
A low-end booker also handles bouncers, snow cone machines, clowns and characters. And beyond telling you that the magician puts on a great show, a low-end booker usually has little idea of what a magician does and what his or her show is like. About the only thing that they may know is whether the magician has a rabbit or not, but the inclusion of a rabbit is no indication of how good a show will be.
A low-end, assembly-line booker will probably tell you that a great magician is available to perform at your party, and once you decide to book, hang up the phone and then see which magicians on their list may be available.
If a low-end booker doesn’t even know which magician he or she is going to send, how can they know if the magician is right for your event? They usually don’t understand that a strolling/close-up magician has to attain a high level of skill to perform. To them, a magician is simply a magician, just as they can get just about anyone to put on a Sponge Bob or Barney the Dinosaur outfit and ship them out to a party.
As a general rule, low-end bookers handle the beginning and below average magicians. Those who improve their shows move on to better bookers and higher pay.
A high-end booker, on the other hand, will ask you questions about your event and choose the magician that will be best for your audience. High-end bookers often have videos that they can show you of their performers so can get an idea of the performer’s skills.
Hiring for Kids’ Shows As a general rule, any performer that offers a magic show along with face painting and balloons and games is probably not going to offer first rate magic. Many clowns perform a style of magic that they call “silly magic,” and most clowns admit that they aren’t magicians and can’t hold kids’ attention long with magic. There are high-level clowns who perform excellent magic shows, but they are rare exceptions.
If a costumed character says that he or she performs magic, this is likely to be a poor magic show. Many costumed performers purchase a few low-end magic tricks so they have something, anything, to do with the kids when they visit. There’s only so much that a person in a Sponge Bob costume can physically do. And it’s virtually a sure thing that the person in the suit is not a serious magician who has worked to create an entertaining show.
There are some accomplished magicians who wear wizard suits to kids’ parties and perform magic shows. Unfortunately, there are also costumed performers who purchase and wear wizard suits and call themselves magicians when they have no real show. In this case, it’s good to find out more about the magician. If he or she is a full time magic pro with experience and a good video, it’s likely that the wizard show could be a good one.
Bottom Line There are lots of performers who call themselves magicians, but only a select minority truly offer entertaining and mysterious magic shows. Hopefully the tips in this story will help you to hire a magician who can make your event a fun and memorable one.
Wayne N. Kawamoto