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When Not To Hire A Magician

Magicians are not perfect for every event. Some of us are quite versatile and offer different performance options that add value in a range of settings, but the truth is, you can’t throw in entertainment thoughtlessly and assume that it’ll work every time. I perform at over 100 events a year and about once a year I leave the event thinking “I’m not sure they needed a magician for this.”

I, and most magicians and mentalists, perform two styles of entertainment: strolling entertainment and stage entertainment. Strolling entertainment is perfect for receptions and cocktail hours, and on stage entertainment is great to cap off a meeting or gala where the audience is sitting around a stage or performance area.

Strolling entertainment works in a range of settings, but not all. First, it doesn’t work well in very loud settings, dark spaces, or crowded environments, such as bars or clubs.  It *can* work, but it’s not ideal. The performer needs enough space to move around comfortably and communicate with spectators. It also doesn’t work well during dinner. It’s fine during cocktail hors d’oeuvres, but if people are eating a steak, they really don’t want to put down their fork and knife. These limitations concern the environment, but the purpose of the event is also relevant. I remember one mixer where everyone was trying to meet and talk to prospective clients; they weren’t interested in a show, they needed to network, talk about their products, and seal the deal. Consider the point of the event and what you want attendees to be doing or feeling throughout the night and if there’s a time when a magician or mentalist would be appropriate.

Stage entertainment also has its place and time. The performer needs a designated space where the audience can all see/hear the performer clearly. At times this means a riser, lighting, sound, etc. Again, the context is important. You can’t perform an interactive show during dinner, or while people are milling about. Corporate magicians and mentalists are ideal for after dinner entertainment to bring everyone together and cap off the night. Often clients will want the entertainer to break up a training or corporate meeting. If everyone has their laptop out with spreadsheets open and are working with presenter X and are then asked to shift gears to presenter Y, the magician, the show won’t feel like a real show: the audience hasn’t had the time to shift their mindset. For these sorts of events, I feel it’s best that the magician or mentalist performs at the beginning (eg before the “work” has begun), at the end, or just after a break.

If you have a question about your event and how a magician or mentalist would complement the festivities, feel free to reach out, I’d be happy to offer additional advice.