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Alan Munro
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Inner circle
Kentwood, Michigan, USA
5876 Posts

Profile of Alan Munro
I'm one of those guys who has never come up with a set, for working restaurants. I have to be more flexible than that.

As for not opening with cards, sometimes rules are meant to be broken. Some performers shouldn't open with cards, others do well with it.

There's only one way to find out what will work for you in a restaurant - get out there and do it.
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the Wilds of Ireland
862 Posts

Profile of deadcatbounce
In the summer, I do 3 nights a week in my local bar/eaterie. It's mainly families. They tend to eat at the same place more than once a week, so the chances are, I'll do them twice in a week, so I have to remember what I did for them previously.

It's not difficult, as I ALWAYS start new folks off with either CMHandcuffs or sponge somethings, either a 2 ball, 4 ball routine, or sponge bunnies. I love cards, but I never ever use them till the third effect - I just feel that you can lose parts of the audience with cards so early on - like the young kids, and the Mum, most likely. When I do card stuff, it always involves either signing the card, mutilating the card, burning burning the card, or card on ceiling. Card on ceiling is still one of the most popular requests - I'm running out of celing space..

I've just checked my list, and I'm set to do 17 different effects. I use the double shoulder holster that's been discussed here before, and wear it over a tee shirt, and under a waistcoat (vest, to you Americans). I usually give away these little wands that unroll into big long things.. cost around 60 cents your money, but the payback is bigger... Smile Can't remember the name of the wands right now, but I recommend them - they pack small, but play very big indeed!

People are impressed by card destruction - no argument at all there.
Sankeys "Carbon" is a current favourite. As is "In a flash",(Sankey) but I use it sparingly..It's such a stunning effect, people are inclined to forget to tip - so I REALLY build it up, and I use Micheal Close's "hand" gag - so they DON'T forget to applaud!

One point - after the first effect, I ask if anyone's ordered steak - I then know how long I've got before the first food arrives, and I time things to suit. Steak is about 15 - 20 minutes. Otherwise, I have about 10 minutes.
Nothing worse than being in the middle of a 2 minute routine when the food arrives. It's "end of story" time when that food hits the table. Don't even try to continue - quit the table and thank them. That's my experience. If they want to see more, they'll ask for it, when the meal is over. If that happens, I go back and do something other than the interrupted effect.

Now.. here's a VERY important point. At a family table, I almost never perform anything that includes the parents. They enjoy watching their kids being entertained much more than being "performed on" themselves. But - I AM actually performing FOR the parents - they're the ones with the cash!

My main income is from weddings, and I always ask the kids, their name, age, and if they're married. They always say "no" the last question, in a kinda serious tone, so then I give them all my business card, and say "Ok, when it's time for your big day - you'll know where to look for your wedding magician" Of course, the card gets to the parents, who, in many cases, have older kids, or know of someone who's arranging a wedding.

I do this for 2 months in the year, and I break in most of my new stuff at this time. The same families come year after year, so it's a great incentive to develop new routines, update old ones, and working the same place gives you a "constant" I can rely on - something less to be concerned about - I know the staff, I know the tables, I leave wax under the tables, I know the staff, - you get the picture. I work for tips, which just about cover my expenses, but the exposure and experience I get from it is invaluable. I'm in Ireland - and tipping magicians is a novelty.

There you go. Some more advice...!!
"With every mistake - we must surely be learning..." George Harrison.
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Profile of magic_man_jim
Hello...i agree with all the advice given to you so far...i have to say Jay Sankey's Restaurant and Bar DVD is a very good recomendation!

The advice about your people skills is right on...I NEVER approach a table saying "hello I am mrs magic, would you like to see a trick" or anything like that!
I approach a table as a "normal person" and then use a magic effect to introduce I am magic without me saying.

as for "sets" you hit it on the head when you said you will use your practiced routines as a guideline.
what has worked for me is I make up a storyline and do magic to tell a in a way the spec. meets a guy and he tells a story and all these magical things seam to be comeing to life around the table. This is just what works for me, because I come from a acting background. This storytelling builds drama which is how you pull in your crowd. Then when you are telling a story and something magical actually happenes they are pulled into a world they create. Try it sometime you will see what I mean.
Magic is not to fool...but allows you to believe!

Jim Boothe
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