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Jamie D. Grant
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Hiya Gang!

I wasn't sure where to put this, but this might be the spot! Anyways, it's just a few thoughts and ideas regarding Corporate Stage Shows. Thanks for watching!

Image



All my best,

jamie
http://www.SendWonder.com
TRICK OF THE YEAR: Industrial Revelation, BOOK OF THE YEAR: The Approach, The AIP Bottle, and my new book Scenic 52, can all be found over here: SendWonder.com
Kindness takes practice. My TEDx talk
Magic Patrick
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Jamie,

This is pure gold advice to me. Thank you for sharing this well thoughtout video.


Patrick
Aaron Smith Magic
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As always.. absolutely brilliant! Thank you Jaime!
Pakar Ilusi
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I wish I knew this twelve years ago when I started doing Dinner Shows...

I don't really agree about the Dance Floor but...

Really good advice there, thanks Jaime! Smile
"Dreams aren't a matter of Chance but a matter of Choice." -DC-
Jamie D. Grant
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Thanks for the kind words gang!
TRICK OF THE YEAR: Industrial Revelation, BOOK OF THE YEAR: The Approach, The AIP Bottle, and my new book Scenic 52, can all be found over here: SendWonder.com
Kindness takes practice. My TEDx talk
illusions & reality
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Hi Jamie,

I also agree that this is excellent advice. Although it is important to always be flexible, never demanding and expect the worst case scenario, I have found that I get a lot by just asking in advance (months or weeks in advance). I certainly don't mean to take away from Jamie's helpful words. I just wanted to add a few thoughts that I've learned as well. Some additional thoughts that I have learned over the years:

In my contracts, I specify the stage space that I need, instead of asking what the set-up will be. I provide a diagram, showing that the stage space that I require. Often a hotel can set up the tables in a way to make the stage the focus of attention.

If possible, try to ask for stages that are elevated as high as possible. If the platform is just above floor height, it makes it difficult to see anything that will be performed below chest height. Some hotels will stack platforms to obtain the desired height. There are locking mechanisms to make this safe. An example of a trick that is hard to see if the stage is too short is any head-chopper. If your stage is higher than 18 inches, you should ask for stairs in front of the stage to assist volunteers coming onto the stage.

Do a sound check with your microphone before guests arrive. Most events use a cardioid microphone on a stand (like a Shure SM 58) for their speakers. Most magicians either use a wireless headset or lavalier, that often use either an omni-directional microphone or other mic that needs a separate EQ. There is nothing worse than the first impression of audio feedback. Again, a sound check before-hand will help alleviate this.

I agree with the comment about waiting until coffee is served, before you begin. I prefer waiting until dessert is finished, if this is an option. Then have MC announce that the program will begin in 5 minutes, for those needing a smoke or bathroom break. This will help short-circuit people needing to get up to go to the washroom during your show.

If there is a dance floor in front of you, ask your client if some of the people can move their chairs to the dance floor. Especially if the stage is elevated. It will remove the "moat" in front of you and makes it easier to access volunteers. Have people move their chairs during the break.

I either set-up my own portable curtains or ask for the hotel to set their own up to the side on stage right to use as wings. I can set-up there during the meal, change clothes ad break down equipment after the show, without calling attention to myself. I usually ask for off-stage space of 6-8 feet wide and 8-10 feet tall, depending on ceiling height. Again, I carry my own portable curtain stands and curtain panels to use if needed, but the hotel will usually have a pipe and drape system.

As Jamie said, treat the sound person well and thank and compliment them from stage. It is also important to treat the wait staff well and anyone else that you are working with. Try to stay out of their way, be kind and appreciative. They will respond in kind and have gotten me things that I have needed in an emergency because I treated them with respect.

If you have any type of electrical needs (extension cords, etc.), make sure to tape the plug to the wall with gaffers tape, then tape down all cords so that no one accidentally trips over them. You will always be sharing space in these venues, so do what you can to avoid accidents.

Use the best and biggest castors that you can for tables or any other props. Because the stage is made in pieces, and are often old or set-up improperly, you may have sections of stage that are not perfectly flush. Good wheels or castors will help overcome any problems.

Performing after people have just eaten, and at a later hour, can make them a little less responsive than if you are performing in another venue. I always have a professional introduction read by the MC. Make sure that it is type-written, double spaced, relatively short and easy to read. I also put in italics, (do not say, "this is what the magician gave me to read.") A professionally taped intro works as well. The end of the intro should bring you on to applause. ("Let's give a warm & enthusiastic welcome to . . ."). Make sure that they use the house mic to bring you on.

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts Jamie!

Lou

Posted: May 26, 2011 1:27pm
Hey Jamie,

I guess people are much more interested in "Topless Magic!"

See numbers of views and replies.

Lou
Frank Simpson
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Jamie and Lou have given some really excellent advice here. I'd say that about 80% of my gigs in magic over the years have been exactly this type, and the points they make are infallible.

The only exception that I've experienced is that I have never played such a venue that provided a house sound man. Usually a janitor or the like will turn on the Radio Shack $12 mike and leave the room for the night. I am comfortable projecting y voice up to about 150 people, so if I need a sound man I usually have to hire my own.

The points about treating the venue staff well will pay dividends immediately and in the future. As mentioned above, I've gotten some emergency help, but I've also gotten referral gigs from venue staff because they like working with me and know what to expect when I get there. Some of these relationships have lasted for many years.
Jamie D. Grant
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Great additional thoughts! (This was just a quick video I put together for my Magic Friday column- I happened to be at a gig, so I taped a few minutes) Smile
TRICK OF THE YEAR: Industrial Revelation, BOOK OF THE YEAR: The Approach, The AIP Bottle, and my new book Scenic 52, can all be found over here: SendWonder.com
Kindness takes practice. My TEDx talk
illusions & reality
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Hi Jamie,

It's easy to build on someone's excellent work like the helpful information that you posted. I'm sure that you and others could add to mine as well. Those of us who have learned from the school of hard knocks want to help others learn from our mistakes - as well as the good advice we've gleaned from others.

Jamie, I appreciated what you shared and the work that you put into sharing it for others.

Lou
Ray Pierce
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Wow... It's so nice to be discussing real world techniques!

Thanks Jamie, Lou & Frank for helping bring this to light.

I, too, spent years doing corporate gigs like this and it still accounts for most of my work in one form or another.

The big difference between Jamie and Lou is the size of show you're doing. If you're doing a normal "Stand Up" set, Jamie's stuff could not be better. If you're doing a larger show, then yes you have a stock plot you send them as part of producing the event. This has a lot to do with the event and the complexity they're willing to add to it. If they're paying you a lot of money and are willing to accommodate a more expansive show then you can have specific requests such as stage size, lighting and sound requirements and curtains, trussing and other rigging requests.

As an easy to understand example, if you have your high school cousin's band come and play for a big birthday party you're throwing in a local hotel ballroom, they will just show up and ask where they should set their gear up. On the other hand, if you're a Fortune 500 company planning a million dollar premium get away for all of the top executives and bringing name "headliner", that performer will have a complete list of specifics including stage, lighting, sound, back line gear, and dressing room and backstage requirements including limo's, tour bus parking and many other details the producer will provide.

We are mostly all in the middle of that! Sometimes you have to take what you can get as far as asking for details. Other times they will be very willing to accommodate your needs. I've always said that half of my job is education. Both I and the event planner want great event and I want to help them get it. To that end, anything we can both work out to make the event better is a benefit to us both. Every event has a wildly different budget and my job as an entertainer that produces a lot of different "sizes" of shows is to work with them to get the best show I can.

Many times with corporate events you won't be working with an actual event planning professional but someone in the office that got handed this project. In these cases I try and work with them to explain the advantages of more involved lighting and sound options and more production value. It's always different with each project as some will understand and have discretionary funding for this and others just won't.

It ultimately is always a negotiating process. We always want more room and they want to squeeze the most people into the smallest space. For most of our larger events we will frequently do a "site survey" with all of the participating vendors in advance of the event. This is the chance to meet the outside contractors that are providing audio, lighting (and possibly rigging) as well as the client and hotel coordinators. It's the chance to lock down and negotiate technical details as well things like green room/dressing room accommodations, loading dock access and any other things that could impact your show. This is more importantly the chance to start bonding good relationships with the other people you will be collaborating with to make the event successful including any technical staff.

Yes, "collaboration" is how I view the process, whether it is a full time production crew helping you or the janitor that turns on the "PA System", they are all professionals that work that job every day. Remember that the hotel staff that helps the show work are there every day... the do between 1 and 3 events a day in that room we're in every day... it is their home, we're just a guest. I always look at every person I meet as a professional collaborator in the process and my job is to create the team spirit that can work together towards that common goal of the show.

On Show day there will sometimes be a huge influx of people you'll have to work around including decor teams and ending with the hotel staff setting tables and dropping plates and getting everything ready for the door opening. Become adept at dodging people! It will be a madhouse of activity frequently in little light if they are doing light and sound check at the last minute. Always bring a flashlight and/or a head light as backstage areas can frequently be really dim during dinner lighting.

Yes, there are tons of options including Pipe & Drape wings/backdrops and variations on short wall/long wall stage placements, working around bands & DJ's... etc.. This could easily be an entire book of techniques and options but alas, it is mostly learned by doing it. I would write more but I'm actually off to do a site survey for another project now!

Good luck!
Ray Pierce
<BR>www.HollywoodAerialArts.com
Jamie D. Grant
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Great thoughts everyone! It seems like most of my shows are for around 50-300. It's not very common that I'm doing 500+
TRICK OF THE YEAR: Industrial Revelation, BOOK OF THE YEAR: The Approach, The AIP Bottle, and my new book Scenic 52, can all be found over here: SendWonder.com
Kindness takes practice. My TEDx talk
windrunner
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I have been in the business for over 15 years. This is good stuff
Bryan Blankenship
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VanDoren the Magician
Jamie D. Grant
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It's that time of season again and I thought it might be a good idea to revisit this and get some dialogue going. How are your stage shows going?
TRICK OF THE YEAR: Industrial Revelation, BOOK OF THE YEAR: The Approach, The AIP Bottle, and my new book Scenic 52, can all be found over here: SendWonder.com
Kindness takes practice. My TEDx talk
Chris Stolz
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Good timing. I read this just as I'm waking up from a long night last night doing a corporate show. I remember watching this video several months ago. You've got some great stuff in there.

Of any of the issues I encounter on arrival, the big two are always A) Crummy, or no sound equipment (whether it's in my contract or not) and B) that pesky dance floor. Last night it was the dance floor with tables up the sides, across the back and nothing in the front. In that case, we didn't have a whole lot we could do other than give the back tables the option of moving onto the dance floor with their chairs for a better view. Some did and it became a running gag in my patter for the night.

The other topic I would toss into the pot is around format. For me, I always like to offer an evening in two pieces so that I'm doing 30 or 40 minutes of table magic, followed by a break while they get settled and open up the evening, followed by the show. This gets me meeting everyone before the show and gives them a chance to see what I do and get to know my style. I find it makes a big difference when the show comes along because we've already met and their 'birthday party magician' expectations have been squashed. They tend to be more excited about the show right off the top and by then, will have bought into my personality and style. I almost never do a corporate show without doing some walk around magic for this reason and it works well for me.
David Charvet
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If you can find a copy of my "Banquet Magician's Handbook" (1996) I addressed many of these issues. Of course in 15 years, not much has changed! The big keys are PREPARATION and COMMUNICATION BEFORE the show.
Jamie D. Grant
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Quote:
On 2011-12-11 10:21, Chris Stolz wrote:
Good timing. I read this just as I'm waking up from a long night last night doing a corporate show. I remember watching this video several months ago. You've got some great stuff in there.

Of any of the issues I encounter on arrival, the big two are always A) Crummy, or no sound equipment (whether it's in my contract or not) and B) that pesky dance floor. Last night it was the dance floor with tables up the sides, across the back and nothing in the front. In that case, we didn't have a whole lot we could do other than give the back tables the option of moving onto the dance floor with their chairs for a better view. Some did and it became a running gag in my patter for the night.

The other topic I would toss into the pot is around format. For me, I always like to offer an evening in two pieces so that I'm doing 30 or 40 minutes of table magic, followed by a break while they get settled and open up the evening, followed by the show. This gets me meeting everyone before the show and gives them a chance to see what I do and get to know my style. I find it makes a big difference when the show comes along because we've already met and their 'birthday party magician' expectations have been squashed. They tend to be more excited about the show right off the top and by then, will have bought into my personality and style. I almost never do a corporate show without doing some walk around magic for this reason and it works well for me.


I agree 1000%! Doing Walk Around before dinner is absolutely key to building a rapport and getting everyone excited. It's also the perfect set up for approaching people, "Hi everyone, sorry to interrupt, but I'm this evening's entertainment and I've been asked to come around and introduce myself. I'm Jamie- the magician!" Etc, etc." It works like a charm!
TRICK OF THE YEAR: Industrial Revelation, BOOK OF THE YEAR: The Approach, The AIP Bottle, and my new book Scenic 52, can all be found over here: SendWonder.com
Kindness takes practice. My TEDx talk
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