When the topic of magician comes up. Most people think of the someone on a stage cutting a lady in half or pulling a rabbit out of a hat. Some may be reminded of David Copperfield or Penn and Teller and their Las Vegas shows. Although many magicians perform on stage, you are more likely to see a magician at a restaurant, banquet, festival or birthday party. The fact is that stage shows are expensive to produce and except for a few traveling productions, you are unlikely to see one in your home town. That brings us to today’s topic. If stage magic shows are rare, what other types of magic shows are out there?
In addition to stage magic, there are stand-up shows and close-up magic. This week I will explore at the topic of stand-up performances and next time I will delve into the world of close-up magic.
What is stand-up magic?
Stand-up magic was once referred to as parlor magic. As home parlors vanished and comedy clubs appeared, the name changed to reflect the times.
We will consider stand-up magic as any magic performance in which the magician performs for a group of more than ten people. Most of the time the audience is seated because stand-up shows may last from twenty minutes to over an hour. Audience size can vary from in the teens to several hundred. What makes it stand-up magic is that the performer does not perform on a formal theatrical stage. However, to be more visible to a larger number of people, he or she may be on an elevated platform, usually without a curtain. This format is similar to comedy clubs where stand-up comics perform, hence the name. Many magicians have had their careers start in these clubs, including Harry Anderson and Michael Finney.
Where might I see stand-up magic?
Although you still might see a stand-up magician in a comedy club, it is much more likely that you will find one at a mall, fair, festival, banquet, picnic, corporate event, birthday party or some other venue where live entertainment is provided. Many of the shows are outdoors and they offer an entertaining break between vendors and exhibits. Others are the main attraction provided by the host to make the event extra special. Magicians who perform stand-up magic usually present humorous, fun-filled shows that include audience participation. The shows are designed to attract and keep the interest of the crowd. One group of magicians, called street performers or buskers, earn their living by doing just that. They rely on passing the hat. But, in most other situations, the performer is paid by the venue to entertain their patrons.
The places for stand-up magic are only limited by your imagination. This kind of magic performance can be a cost-effective solution to a variety of entertainment needs. Next time you see a magician, he or she will most likely be performing stand-up magic.
Last time I touched on the topic of magic in business. Here are some places where magic is regularly performed in that context. Trade shows have been utilizing magic for years to gather a crowd at the booth and cover basic information about a product in an entertaining way. This approach sets the stage for the sales staff to take over after the show. Conferences are always looking for interesting ways to get attendees to want to be at general sessions, breakout sessions and workshops. Magic can draw people in and keep their attention. A skilled magician can even customize the program with product information or with a message you want those in attendance to receive. Don’t forget magic as pure entertainment. A magician can set the mood at a banquet, reception or other social get-together. Staff meetings are another business setting where magic might be the perfect solution. (Look at the photo above of members of the Saddleback Rancho Capistrano staff and me after a morning meeting that ended with a magic show. Notice all the smiles.)
The end result of magic in business is improved communication as well as happy customers and employees. Each of these factors will have a positive effect on your bottom line. Try magic and see for yourself. If you have questions, feel free to contact me.
Magic is for kids. Right? Okay, maybe there are a few places where magic is appropriate for adults. But, certainly not in a business environment! These words are often spoken by those who don’t understand the power that magic can have on the bottom line.
Motivation and Reward
Do you need a motivator for the sales force or an attention-grabber for that new product launch? Magic can do that. Do you need something special on the program to reward the staff for a job well done? A magician might be the solution. Do you want to show your best customers how much they mean to you? Hire a magician to perform at your next thank you event.
Next week, I plan to cover these aspects of magic that can help to improve your business. I will also touch on a few more. Some of my insights may seem obvious but my real goal is to show how you can make and keep more money by doing some things that you may never have thought of.
In our discussion of magic as an aid in motivating and educating, we have already established that magic is different, interesting and fun. The fact that the impossible is happening in front of people who are watching a live performance instead of a video makes it even more powerful. It establishes you as one who is worthy of being listened to. After that, it is up to you to keep the audience’s attention and to include the information that you want them to get from you. You can use more magic or switch to something else to mix it up a bit. (Watch the above video clip and note the audience reaction at a Vacation Bible School presentation in which I used magic to illustrate the lesson.)
Magic has been used in math and science classrooms for many years to spark interest in the subject matter. Today, others are finding it useful in therapy, churches and corporate settings. I encourage you to find out more about using magic to get your point across to your audience. If you have questions, please contact me. I will be happy to point you to some additional resources.
So, you have a group of learners and you want to get them to better understand the subject matter. It doesn’t matter if they are children, teenagers or adults. Magic will get the attention of all ages of people. First, because it is unexpected. Most of us don’t regularly see magic performed right in front of us. In fact, many people have never seen a live magic show. Secondly, a magic trick combined with a well-crafted story can draw the audience in and keep their attention. Sometimes that is all you need to do. Adding additional illustrations using magic works great for longer presentations.
For example, in my “Ag Is Magic” show (shown above), I explain how food and other agricultural products get from the farm to the consumer. The audience is so busy having fun that they don’t mind that they are learning about farming and marketing farm products. At the end of the show, I provide additional resources that interested individuals can use to find more information. Next week, I’ll discuss how to use magic to educate in just about any situation.
One of the hardest things to do in this age of short attention spans and constant stimulation is to get adults and kids to pay attention to you long enough to get your point across. This is a problem for both teachers and business leaders. You know that you have information that is important for your audience but, they don’t seem interested in what you have to say or are distracted by something out of your control.
One answer to this problem is to peak their interest with something that most people don’t see every day and then draw them in by seamlessly combining that special something with the subject matter. Many of the variety arts will supply this special touch if they are applied properly. Although juggling, ventriloquism or any one of the other seldom seen performance arts can work, I am going explain how magic can be used to grab an audience’s imagination and focus attention on the desired topic.
I have been an educator in a variety of positions in the public schools and adult education for more than forty years. In that time, I’ve found that grasping the attention of the class at the very beginning of the lesson is the key to success. Next week I will expand on this concept.
Many people have the mindset that magicians are for kid’s birthday parties. Although there are magicians who specialize in this area, many magicians frequently perform at banquets, corporate events, weddings, schools, class reunions, fairs, festivals, picnics and trade shows. Some perform exclusively for adults. However, there are magicians who specialize in family-friendly entertainment. Be sure to choose a specialist.
Absolutely. When you hire an entertainer, be sure to ask for suggestions. You are paying for their expertise. If the artist is not able or willing to help, you may want to look elsewhere. An experienced performer will be glad to assist you. They can provide valuable tips that will make your job easier.
The event you are planning may be a onetime affair or it may only occur once each year. It may be the only time you have booked entertainment for an event. Although the process may be unique for you, an experienced entertainer does events like yours all the time and knows how to make them a success. If not, they wouldn’t be in business. Look for acts that regularly perform at events of the type you are planning. Experience does matter.