If you’ve been watching the blog (or my Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter) lately, you probably noticed that I had a nice little chat with DJ Stacey from PopJukeBox. During the show, we talked about what I do, and how I got to where I am, and some of the stories continued after the microphones were shut off (or, before they were even turned on, really). Eventually, she asked about my shows. And while I do a decent number of public shows and events through the year all across the globe, I also do a collection of private events.
Over a given year, I split my time between doing public theatre shows, and private events like Christmas parties, fundraisers, galas, weddings, and the like. And when I mentioned weddings, Stacey reacted with a “huh...you know, I never thought of a magician for a wedding before.” But it does happen. It’s not common in North America, but in the UK, it’s actually quite common...in fact, there’s a whole industry built around it.
But truthfully, I’ve had this conversation more than a few times...although not just about weddings. For a lot of people, the thought of hiring a magician for their event never even crosses their mind. And a good number of my first-time clients are these people. Now, I don’t mean that this is their first time hiring me before...I mean, I’m the first magician/mentalist/something-other-than-a-guy-with-an-iPod-and-a-speaker they’ve ever brought into their event to provide some entertainment ever.
And it always goes the same way: I show up, amaze the pants off the guests, and later, when I speak to the organizer about the event, they say something like, “WOW, that was amazing. Thank you so much! Everyone loved it...we’re still talking about it! I’m so glad I decided to do something different for our event this year and bring you in.”
The fact is, for many reasons, adding entertainment like a magician or mentalist to your event can be a HUGE boost to whatever you’re planning. And a lot of my first-time clients never anticipated the added bonuses of professional entertainment at their event. For example:
1. It Makes Your Event Go From Boring To Exciting Instantly
We all dread that demon of event organizing...that the party winds up being a drag.
We’ve all been there. We attend (or worse, planned) a party where people show up, make unbearable small-talk, silently eat a meal, endure whatever short program is planned, and head for the door as soon as they can. The night is over by 9 PM at the latest, and a month later everyone who attended forgot it happened.
This situation makes a complete one-eighty with one small addition: adding a mentalist, magician, or entertainer to the mix. Before the show even starts, there’s a buzz in the room.
“Did you hear that they hired entertainment this year? They got a Mind-Reader.”
Instant intrigue. What will it be like? Will they be part of it? Now they want to stay and see what happens. Then, the MC of the evening announces the entertainer, and by the end of the show, your guests are laughing, cheering, and gasping. They witness something they’ve never experienced before. For the rest of the night (and the next day, and the next year...but more on that later), conversations are popping up all the time about what happened. Why? Well, it’s because...
2. It’s A Proven Ice-Breaker
If you’ve ever been to a Christmas party, banquet, fundraiser, dinner, gala, breakout, team-building session, picnic, or any other type of event that people gather at, you’ve likely been in this situation. You sit down at a table with a bunch of random people you’ve never met, and this happens:
“Hello. I’m Joe.”
“Hi. I’m Anne.”
From there, you either have a small side-conversation with whoever you came with, you sequester your attention away into your smartphone, or you pick up and examine the table card in front of you trying to make it look like the serif font and the fancy, acid-free cardstock is the most interesting thing you’ve ever seen. Suddenly, what should’ve been a pleasant outing is turned into an experiment of torture through forced (and failed) socialization.
Enter our mentalist and/or magician.
You know he’s there. In fact, you can’t help but notice. Laughs, claps, gasps, and cheers are heard all around you. The excitement seems to follow the smartly dressed magician moving from table to table. With anticipation building, he strolls over to your group, introduces himself, and starts doing his thing. Whatever trick he’s doing...it’s amazing. Five or ten (or more) minutes go by, the performer wraps up his routine, and makes his way to another table. As he fades into the background of the crowd, you turn to the rest of the table, and one of you says, “Wow, that was incredible! How did he do that?” Boom. Instant conversation starter. People are excited, intrigued, and ready to spark up a conversation with everyone else who just experienced a small slice of the impossible at their table.
Or, the magician puts on an amazing stage show after dinner, and the whole room is electrified by the excitement of the show. People involved in the show are suddenly the rock stars of the evening with everyone asking what it was like to be part of what just happened. People are talking, and it opens up the room. Of course, the conversation doesn’t stop there…
3. Your Event Is Memorable
Most banquets, parties, galas, and other similar events are exactly that...similar. They all blend together, and you can’t really tell the difference between the one you just attended, the one you were at last month, and the one that happened last year.
Usually, it goes like this: People show up for cocktail hour, about an hour or two later dinner is served, then a short program of speeches or recognition happens, maybe a band, musician, DJ, or the guy in the office with a decent playlist on his iPhone plays a few songs to fill the awkward silences around the room (see the “ice breaker” point above) and people slowly filter out of the room and go home.
Same. Formula. Every. Time.
So, naturally, all these events all feel the same (See point number 1).
How do you fix this? Break the mold. Add something that most (if not all) of your guests have never seen before, and quite possibly will never see again. The vast majority of people have never seen a live magician or mentalist, so before the performer even hits the stage the event is a novelty. After the show, your guests have been amazed by a one-of-a-kind experience. Suddenly, you’ve got a lasting memory in the minds of everyone in the room. From then on, every party those people attend will be compared to that “night we got the guy who plucked my high school crush’s name right out of my head.”
In fact, I perform at events where I meet someone who had seen me do a show at a previous event years ago. Not only do they remember how amazing it was, but if they wound up with a souvenir (a playing card, a piece of paper, an impossible object, etc.) more often than not, it’s in their wallet as a memento they carry with them. The event stuck with them so strongly, they keep with them all the time. And that’s because...
4. Your Guests Feel Special
As mentioned above, the majority of people have never seen a live magic act. The closest most people get is watching a TV special or a youtube clip of a magic trick circulating through the interwebs. And, more than ever, magic as an art form is getting exposure. Television programs like America’s Got Talent and Penn and Teller’s Fool Us are putting magic front and center in popular culture today, and suddenly an almost-forgotten performance art feels fresh and new. But, for most people, that’s where it ends. They see a magic trick on TV or the internet, and that’s the closest they get to experiencing real magic. From a distance, through a screen.
But the fact is, mentalism and magic (and many, many other forms of entertainment) are best experienced live. And by having a magician at your event, it feels more real. It’s a treat. Your guests get to see something that feels rare, exciting, and unique. Rather than someone saying, “I saw this amazing thing on YouTube...I’ll send you the link,” they (and the rest of your party) get to see it right in front of them. No camera tricks. No convenient editing. No “like and share this to lock in your choice.” They get to experience something ephemeral. Something that only the people in the room right then and there got to experience.
And because of that, everyone in that room feels valued. They were worth it to hire entertainment that’s so incredibly distinct and special. But, not only that...
5. You Feel Special
Believe it or not, it’s not the mentalist or the magician who’s the star of the night.
The person who booked the entertainment in the first place!
When the night is over and everyone is back in the office rehashing the events of the party, the question that will always come up is:
“Man, that mentalist guy was a blast. Who thought to book him?”
The answer is you. You did, you brilliant duck.
You’re the one getting the, “Great Party!” and “Wow, we should do that again,” pats-on-the-back around the office. You’re the capable hands that created an exciting, one-of-a-kind night. A night where everyone had a great time and made new friends out of the strangers at their table. A night that everyone is still talking about days (or months, or years) later. And they felt like they were spoiled, and that you appreciate everyone who was there.
And it was easy.
All you had to do was contact and book your magician, and the rest was all taken care of. But it doesn’t stop there.
Because you made such an awesome impression, from now on, every event you put together is going to have that same buzz of excitement. People are going to feel like your event is something to look forward to, and they’ll feel like it’s another chance for an amazing experience where they truly feel appreciated (see the whole, “your guests feel special” point above). And let’s face it...who doesn’t want that?