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Topic: Which is easier ? Party /strolling or Restaurant magic?
Message: Posted by: paymerich (Feb 14, 2005 01:18PM)
I want to start getting real world experience performing . So I pose the question which is easier for an advanced beginner to do: Strolling magic at a party or
a restaurant gig? Kid shows ? I know all have pros and cons . Looking for peoples real world experience and opinions.

Thanks in advance
Message: Posted by: pikacrd (Feb 14, 2005 01:55PM)
I think that it all depends on you. You will need a lot of the skill sets that you will learn across the various types of performing all of the time. In other words you will find that you use a lot of the same skills that you will learn performing in a restaurant while you are working a strolling gig. A lot of the same things that you will learn strolling will apply to Kid and parlor shows. Personally I find kid shows to be very hard because I do not think that I connect well with kids but on the other hand I find doing strolling magic very appealing and fun. In the real world it will boil down to you and how you feel in the different situations and environments that you work in. Once you have a few of the different types of show under your belt you will be able to make a decision on what direction you want to take your magic in.

Good luck let us know how it goes for you.
Message: Posted by: steve j (Feb 14, 2005 02:26PM)
It depends what kind of magic you do, I think if your a card guy, or do most of your effects with sleights, you should start in restaurants, come up with one or two good five ten minute sets and do that, kids are always hard even for the seasoned performer, you never know what you'll get, adults are easier to deal with however wont give you a good gauge as to how well you did. in the end it comes down to what you fell comfortable with, as you said everything has pros and cons but I think to start adults may be more forgiving.
Message: Posted by: Alan Munro (Feb 14, 2005 04:23PM)
In a restaurant you always have the pressure to show your worth to the establishment, i.e. helping the restaurant to make more money. There seems to be less pressure in most strolling gigs. Kids are the toughest audience, on the otherhand. It depends on the performer.
Message: Posted by: bnadworn (Feb 14, 2005 06:07PM)
I agree with Alan. Strolling around there is usually more chance to choose your audience and have more flexibility on timing of the performance. In a restaurant you can't (shouldn't) perform while people are in the middle of trying to eat. You have to work out when to approach a table and work the room so that you get to the most amount of tables. In a strolling gig you walk around and depending on the place it is easy to do short or long routines depending on the other activities.
I did a large strolling gig this summer and there were about 2000 people at various times in a large outdoor area. People were waiting on long lines for different activities and that allowed me to have a very captive audience. :) It also helped them pass the time while waiting. While walking around I can also spot small groups of people just relaxing and was able to do some different effects for them as well.
And personally... I love to do kid shows and perform for them (all ages).

Bottom line: Go with what you feel most comfortable.

- Brian Nadworny
Message: Posted by: Countage (Feb 15, 2005 08:31AM)
I have found if you can hold young children’s attention for the better part of an hour you will be a very successful birthday party and school assembly magician. It is very important to relate to the children. I recommend watching the Wiggles TV program and other shows like it to learn what holds their attention.

The secret to restaurant magic is getting people back. Then when corporate tells the restaurant management to lose the magician. The managers will say "No Way" He brings people in. I know from experience.

I think the big secret in birthday parties, restaurants, and strolling work is getting your business card and identifying potential clients.
Message: Posted by: Suzanne (Feb 15, 2005 09:45PM)
If you're an advanced beginner who really wants to get real world experience, restaurant magic is the better bet. Your question however was more about which is easier, restaurant or corporate walk around. That I think is really only something you can say which would be easier for you. For me, restaurant magic was the easier place to start.

In a restaurant you get to work on a regular basis, giving you the opportunity to work on the same act over and over again, one right after the other. If you screw up with one group, the next group doesn't know. You can work out your kinks that way. Corporate events are fewer and farther between than a regular restaurant gig would be so you wouldn't be working as much. Work equals experience. If you're working a restaurant on a regular basis you will make more contacts which will help you work more events which in turn gain you more experience. At the restaurant each table is a brand new audience. They won't talk to the other people who had you at their table unless you do a great job and then they tell the whole restaurant by their cheers. At a corporate walk around show, everyone will eventually talk to each other. If you were great, everyone will know, if you sucked... well they'll know that too.

Someone mentioned that when working restaurants you're under pressure. Well, I think if you don't have enough experience you would be under more pressure to do a good job at a corporate gig because you won't have enough experience to really do that job justice. Trying to do corporate magic when you're not really ready to do it (like having some experience working with the real public and not just your friends and family) would be very bad for your business and actually bad for all the magicians in your area. If you do a bad job, that corporate client won't hire you again, and probably won't hire another magician again for that matter. If you do a bad job and you got it through an agent, that agent probably won't hire you again, and that company probably won't call that agent again (and agents hate that).

You can't get experience without doing the jobs. Do as many jobs as you can, where ever you can. Granted there are things to overcome in restaurant work but that just adds to the experience. I wouldn't see them as obstacles, I would see them as opportunities.

Hope this helps.

Message: Posted by: gandalf (Feb 16, 2005 03:00AM)
I think working for Kids is the hardest/most demanding situation. Try some private parties first, see what reaction(s) you get, then move onto the restuaruants with the confidence and testimonials from the party organisers, which should hopefully secure you a place at a restaurant
Message: Posted by: Lee Darrow (Feb 16, 2005 03:26AM)
A party magician needa a 30 to 60 minute act that plays well on a reliable basis.

A restaurant or strolling magician needs 4 sets of 3 to 4 tricks that can be done without a surface and wows the crowd reliably. Switch from one "set" to another as you move around the room. Always keep in mind that the restaurant wants to serve and clear and re-populate the tables as quickly as possible (called turning the table). In a strolling situation at a party, you don't have to worry about turns.

A bar magician works essentially behind the bar only and often is also a bartender. Balancing the bar service with the magic can be really challenging. You have to be a superb magician, with a vast array of effects under your belt (you have to keep the seats filled and keep them coming back) and a fast bartender as well as a people person, host, pseudo manager, part time bouncer and identity document expert.

Guess which one's the easiest from a performance standpoint...?

NONE of them! They all have their specific challenges, limitations and pluses. Check out The Magic Menu (a 2 volume set and a follow up softcover book) for details. great stuf, written by some of the busiest performers in the field.

Lee Darrow, C.H.
Message: Posted by: Paul (Feb 16, 2005 10:21AM)
I would say the restaurant gigs are the easiest.

However kid shows and private parties under your belt initially would be the best option as you learn to put a complete act together rather than string a couple of tricks together.

You would also learn/know how to deal with children effectively in the restaurant when you come across them, and be able to do these kind of shows when asked about then in a restaurant situation.

Message: Posted by: John C (Feb 16, 2005 06:17PM)
Try it all. Work the restaurants, put together a kid's show, maybe a school show and you'll also be able to perform birthdays and family shows. If you feel good around people and can control and manage folks and you're entertaining you'll make it.

Play it for the folks not for yourself. Restaurants are nice because you have an immediate chance to right your wrongs by moving to the next table. Stage shows you have one chance to do it right. If you don't feel good about the performance you'll have to wait until the next performance to give it another shot.

It's fun and lucrative. There's nothing like walking up to folks in a restaurant, folks that you would never walk up to in "your" world and start talking to them and performing magic. Sometimes I look at a group of people at a table and they just look down and out and my challenge is to get them feeling good again. I mean, sometimes it looks like they are going to just turn me away, but, I gotta do it I say, "Hey you wanna see the only magic trick I know?" and low and behold their faces light up, smiles throughout, a few chuckles I realize then that they were only bored! Then the fun starts.

I love it!

Message: Posted by: chichi711 (Feb 17, 2005 10:25PM)
I personally enjoy performing corp parties. 60 percent of my work is School assemblies and birthday parties. The magic is really easy, but it is by far the most mentally draining. You can't let your guard down when you are working with children.

I personally would try starting with a strolling party. You really don't have much pressure. Nobody will be rushing you like a restaurant does. You will also be able to work on your routine over and over and over again.
Message: Posted by: evanthx (Feb 18, 2005 06:01AM)
I usually do most of the same stuff strolling at a party or at restaurants - it's just that at restaurants I have the table surface to put a few things on and strolling I don't. But then at restaurants I also spend a lot of time with the folks waiting, and I don't have a table surface there - but still, it's mostly the same material.
Message: Posted by: paymerich (Feb 23, 2005 04:33PM)
Thanks All for the truly excellent advice . I think my first gig will be doing strolling magic at a co-worker's wedding cocktail hour. I am going to give that a try asnd see what unfolds..

Thanks again for all the great advice it was exactly what I was looking for..
Message: Posted by: Bob Johnston (Feb 28, 2005 12:01AM)

I think the straight-up answer to your question is Party Strolling.

Skill lever aside, at a strolling gig you are really in control. No dancing around the wait staff, watching management (watching you), no table turning to work around.

It is very tempting to tell you my favorite or best performance situation and other advantages. But to your basic question, it would have to be party strolling for me.

Message: Posted by: nique (Mar 3, 2005 12:36PM)
Paymerich, what's an "advanced beginner"?!

I'd choose strolling over table hopping... at tables there're many other things to handle, especially if you get tables that are big (12 people or so). If there's loud music, the people further away can't hear and you lose half the table already. The waiters come in at bad times. If it's a buffet style setting you need to wait for the right moment for them to be ready to watch magic. When they just get their food they want to eat, when they're almost done you have to strike. The problem is while you're waiting for the moment you can be seen not working and the client won't like that.

As for strolling, you're in control of how big a group to do. There're always groups talking and you can select which ones to handle first. There're many other things to discuss, but those are a few things to take into consideration.

cheers all... :)
Message: Posted by: Suzanne (Mar 3, 2005 02:16PM)
On 2005-02-14 14:18, paymerich wrote:
I want to start getting real world experience performing . So I pose the question which is easier for an advanced beginner to do: Strolling magic at a party or
a restaurant gig? Kid shows ? I know all have pros and cons . Looking for peoples real world experience and opinions.

Thanks in advance

I know I posted on this already but reading the other posts here I think we're all missing the most important part of your question which is the fact that you want "real world experience", which I will from this point lovingly call RWE. :)

First Pablo, I'll pose these questions to you: Do you want the RWE only once or do you want it a lot of times? If you're going to try to get your RWE through corporate work, how many times do you think you can get it in one week? How many times do you think you can get it in one week if you're performing at a restaurant? (<-- very important question.... don't over look it!!!)

The answers to those questions are more important than which is easier. Look at it this way: the more you work the better you get, the better you get the easier it is. With that information, only you can answer your own question. :) *OM*

I've been doing both restaurant and corporate magic for a living for the past 20 years. In my experience, both settings are essentially the same with very small differences. Sure as others have said, you do have to work around the wait staff in a restaurant but hey, that's just part of the RWE, isn't it? Sure you have to stop when they get their food. So what, not that tough?? RWE Baby! With corporate magic you have to be worth the big bucks! If you haven't had RWE are you even worth the big bucks? Either way, restaurant or corporate, you have to worry about the client watching to see if you're doing a good job. And if you stink, (BTW Pablo, I'm not saying you stink, these are just possible RWE scenarios) the corporate guy will be more mad than the restaurant guy because he's paying you more. Then RWE can be dealing with someone who thinks you stink! hehe Hey, let's take it one step farther, shall we? You can get RWE with public relations because you ****ed off the corporate guy! You said you were good and he said you're not and he's putting a stop payment on your check! OUCH! How 'bout that for RWE? All of it, ever bit of it is RWE. I don't know if it's good idea to have "easy" as part of the equation. Life ain't easy my friend, and when people try to make it easy they usually end up making it harder. :)
Message: Posted by: Bob Johnston (Mar 3, 2005 06:47PM)

Reading “Suzanne’s” great post reminded me of one more thing nice about strolling.

You can wonder without apologies to the next group that looks receptive. In restaurant work you must keep track and develop a pattern so as not to miss a group before they leave. It is also very hard to skip a table that you know is going to be a problem.

O ya, there is also often someone strolling around with finger food you can partake of without looking to greedy.

Message: Posted by: Suzanne (Mar 4, 2005 06:14PM)
On 2005-03-03 19:47, Wellington wrote:
Reading “Suzanne’s” great post [/quote]

Thanks for the vote of confidence Bob.

[quote]In restaurant work you must keep track and develop a pattern so as not to miss a group before they leave. It is also very hard to skip a table that you know is going to be a problem.

Wow. I don't have to do that in the restaurant where I work. That sounds too hard. I've been at this restaurant for almost 10 years so I'm assuming the management thinks I'm doing a pretty good job, even if I skip tables. In restaurant work I think you really just need to go to the people who request you and to other people at your discretion when you don't have a line up of requests. I wouldn't worry about it if you want to skip table or three as long as you keep busy. If you think they're going to be a problem, don't go to them. Why would you want to perform for people you think are going to be a problem anyway? Sounds like people who wouldn't want to see magic in the first place. I certainly wouldn't want to waste my precious time on people like that.

[quote]O ya, there is also often someone strolling around with finger food you can partake of without looking to greedy.[/quote]

I'm assuming you're joking about the finger food but I'll address it just in case you're not. If you eat finger food as it's going around at a corporate function and you are NOT a guest of that corporate function, IMProfessionalO it makes you look very unprofessional. I would never eat at a strolling gig, EVER. I have no idea how you can perform magic and eat at the same time. Not to mention the fact that it would give you garlic breath and/or cause you to have spinach stuck in your teeth.

Yah, ya godda little sompthin' in yer teeth dar, Bob. *grin* (that's my Minnesooda accent dar, ya shur hehe)

Message: Posted by: Bob Johnston (Mar 5, 2005 08:57PM)
Well, Suzanne, I don’t do corporate strolls. However, I still do small dinner parties and luncheons. The host of the last one I did repeatedly asked me to try some “finger food” as is often the case. Perhaps things are more formal in Minnesota.

Perhaps it is because of my age, but I am often asked to join the guests if there are snacks around. I am surprised if (in Minnesota) spinach is considered “finger food”. I have also never seen garlic as “finger food”, but I don’t know much about Minnesota.

Actually, I think it would be very unprofessional to be so rude as to say “no” if the host asked me to try a cookie or some other (non-messy) food between routines. Most of the walk-around I do, I am considered a guest, albeit paid. I am treated that way, and I behave that way. Of course I could say “I’m sorry, but I am professional, and do not eat when working, but why would I do that.

I did a large birthday party last year where I was asked to join the adults in the kitchen for a snack, I said yes, even though I was not really interested in eating. I did some close-up at the table, but that was not really asked for. Perhaps that too was “unprofessional.”

Acting and being “professional” has to do with, far more, than accepting “finger food” occasionally at a lunch or dinner party gig.

Last year I did a walk-around at a Halloween Party. I wore (to some degree) a costume. I suppose this too would have been considered (by some) to be “unprofessional”. Even though I was paid to be there, I was also asked to be one of the judges in the costume contest.
Perhaps we (Suzanne and I) just move around in different circles.

A friend of mine is doing Bar Magic for a major distiller in NY. I will ask him, but I am willing to bet, that he is “finger fooding” now and then as he works.

[quote]being “professional” has to do with, far more, than excepting “finger food” occasionally at a lunch or dinner party gig.[/quote]
Message: Posted by: Beth (Mar 6, 2005 09:00AM)
Pesonally it seems unprofessional to me too. I mean you are paid to do a job ...to entertain. That would be like a waitress eating while she's working. Yes she's in a place where there is a lot of food flowing about, but she is being paid to give a service. I would have to agree with Suzanne it seems a bit unprofessional to me, not to mention messy. Just my opinion.
Peace Beth
Message: Posted by: Paddy (Mar 6, 2005 09:19AM)
The one thing that we have not told Pablo re: restaurant strolling, you have to keep changing the effects you do. I have, after 7 years, a lot of customers who come to the restaurants to see my magic. In fact I have had some even bring in their customers or potential customers so I could entertain them for a few minutes. Nice for my ego, but, if you keep doing the same old things, they will spot that in a short time.

Corporate strolling you can keep the same routine for a year or two before adding new effects.

BTW, Suzanne, I spent a lot of my youth in and around Minneapolis. In Minnetonka to be real precise plus graduated from the U in Mpls.

Message: Posted by: Suzanne (Mar 6, 2005 05:58PM)
Hey Bob!

Sure hope I didn't offend you with my last post. If so I'm sorry, that certainly wasn't my intent.

Thanks for clearing up the bit about the finger food thing. I'll tell you what I pictured from your comment:

[quote]O ya, there is also often someone strolling around with finger food you can partake of without looking to greedy.[/quote]

When I do strolling magic for catered functions in a banquet room, or in someone's home for that matter, (could be a corporate function, could be a private function) servers come around with hors d'oeuvres (which a lot of times is garlicy and spinachy hehe). So I pictured from your above comment someone working for one group while grabbing a little snack, moving on to another group while grabbing a little snack, and so on. I wouldn't have even replied if I had known your situation.

[quote]Actually, I think it would be very unprofessional to be so rude as to say “no” if the host asked me to try a cookie or some other (non-messy) food between routines.[/quote]

Well, that may be a "to each his own" thing. I usually say "No thank you. I may have something when I'm finished working." And this is probably my own personal thing but I don't want food on my breath or in my teeth when I'm working close up with other people.

I think it's important for the younger magicians who are just starting out to know what both sides of the issue look like. I'm glad we can have both sides represented here in the Café'.

Message: Posted by: davidmagic (Mar 8, 2005 06:01AM)
I think it depends on the situation. While I never partake of any alcoholic drink, a non-plated small bite can actually breakdown barriers. People forget theat eating together is a social "thang" and tht close-up ios much more social than cabaret or stage work. At a large home with a party-yes, at a covnention with a corporate cocktail hour -probably not, and Ido at times in certain occasions in between. I live in the Midwest where bank presidents wear short sleeve dress shirts (I never do) and if you are too Emily Post, you are considered aloof and unapproachable. So, the small one or two bites canape is okay in my book.
Message: Posted by: paymerich (Mar 10, 2005 01:36PM)
So sitting down and eating a 3 pound lobster is bad form ??
Message: Posted by: Suzanne (Mar 10, 2005 05:54PM)
On 2005-03-10 14:36, paymerich wrote:
So sitting down and eating a 3 pound lobster is bad form ??

Hhaha! Pablo!

Lobster is fine, never turn down lobster!! Just don't eat the parsley, it'll get stuck in your teeth. *grin*

Now where did I put that dental floss??? Hmmmmm

Message: Posted by: ksalaz1 (Mar 11, 2005 08:51AM)
I have been invited to "snack", dine, Drink, etc at every event I have done from coporate, restaurant, private party, etc. IMO it depends on the situation, time of the evening and the client. I have in different ocassions, accepted, declined and said respectfully, "In a moment, when I have finished working" All responses have been accepted according to the scenario.

I think that a good way to respond to the original question is to ask "How entertaining are you?" I have seen 15 year veteran magicians whose skill level is good be very boring as entertainers. SO before going and jumping into a coporate gig or a restaurant, I would do plenty of private parties for friends, don't' even charge, - until you know how to work a crowd. Then, move to paid gigs in restaurants or walk around. Experience is experience, so get some under your belt.

Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Apr 14, 2005 06:02PM)
I'm sorry I came into this discussion late; however, I think I can still contribute something of value.

I used to work with a booking agency that had a strict "no eating with the client at the function" policy. They relaxed it a bit when some of the clients said they thought it was a little too formal for their events. They have a very strict "no booze" policy. It's unfortunate that it needs to be said, but it is very important.

I like to equate the professional magician with a doctor. If you went to a doctor's office and he was dressed in a dirty jumpsuit, had grime under his fingernails and was eating a sandwich while he was supposed to be examining you, how would you feel?

Regarding strolling at parties for your friends, there is one exception I would point out for those who are not aware of it. Never perform free at a function where there is other paid entertainment, whether they are magicians or not. If they are magicians, you are slapping them in the face. If they are not magicians, you make it look like magicians are willing to perform free. This is not a good impression to leave with someone else's potential customers.

But back to the original question. Restaurant magic is definitely easier. Your repertoire is probably going to be more limited. Sometimes if you are strolling at a party, you will need a LOT more material. For example, I have had clients call and book me into a two hour corporate gig, only to find that the corporate client had brought 20 guests. How do you work that? You just do it.

I had my stand-up show in the van, so I brought in the parts that were applicable, did some strolling, did the stand-up, and did more strolling. They loved it!
Message: Posted by: Royston South (Apr 15, 2005 06:31PM)
Any body thinking of starting out in the cororate world of entertaining that thinks there ready MUST READ SUZANNE'S POSTS ABOVE.

Suzanne has hit the nail on the head, Start in a family restaurant that will build your confidence about approaching tables the Children love professional close-up magic, the family are there for a great time, Make sure you have at lest 4 good routines down,
Street entertainers have a saying 1 year working on the street is like 10 years practicing at home, belive me the restaurant is indoor street magic and within a year you will have a show you can use any place.

Best of luck