From the Trenches
By Dan Farrant - Tuesday, January 29, 2019
Welcome to the first From The Trenches blog post. My name is Dan Farrant and I am a full time, close up magician in London. Vanishing Inc. contacted me and asked me to write a series of posts offering hints, tips and advice from a magician who was out there working in the trenches. Hence the title. In this post I’ll be talking about how to approach a group or table.
How to approach a group or a table
Approaching a group of strangers is one of the most daunting things that you’ll have to do as a working magician. These people are in the middle of a conversation, enjoying a party and you have to go over to them, interrupt them and then ask them if they want to see some magic…
You’re not alone with feeling overwhelmed about having to do this, we’ve all been there.
I remember when I started out doing some of my first events, I would walk amongst the groups avoiding everyone.
I knew if I did engage a group that they would enjoy my tricks but I just found it so hard to do that first group.
I’d feel sick with nerves.
Then when I finally went over to a group I was so nervous that they obviously said no thanks we don’t want to see any magic. It sucked.
As an introvert, it’s something I struggle with sometimes even today after doing over 1300 events over the last 8 years or so, but, there are some tips that I’ve picked up to make it a lot easier and now I can’t remember the last time someone turned me down when asking if they wanted to see some magic.
Now, to clarify there isn’t one right way to approach a group.
Some of my friends will just start a conversation and not reveal they’re the magician until they’ve chatted for two or three minutes and that works for them.
Also, once you’ve performed for a few groups, word will get around that you’re there and people will want to see your magic.
This makes it a hundred times easier as people will bring you over to show their friends.
Looking for an opening in a group
If you see a group of people and they’re standing in a complete circle with no gaps, don’t try and squeeze in.
Look for groups in an oval shape where there is a gap for you to enter. It will make it a lot easier for you to get their attention.
I will approach a group and say:
“Hi guys, sorry to interrupt you, I’m Dan, I’m the magician for the party.”
Their reaction at this point will then determine whether I use the next line or not. Some people will react in an overly positive way as they love magic so I don’t really need to tell you what to say next as they will be dying to see some magic.
A little side note, I’m sure some people will disagree with apologising to them for interrupting. It’s fair point as I am of course hired to be there and show them magic and so there is no need to apologise.
But, for me, it works and it suits my persona and character. I want them to feel slightly sorry for me. It might not work for you though, give it a go both ways and see what feels right.
Anyway, if they don’t react in an overly positive way and just stare at me blankly (as is often the case) I’ll then say:
“They (or insert the host of the party’s name if you know it) said you would be a good crowd for a trick/to warm up on before the food… ”
Or something along the lines of that.
I love this line. They either genuinely believe me and think that the host said they’d be a good crowd and so they won’t want to disappoint their boss/the wedding couple/birthday boy or girl so often they’ll laugh embarrassingly and say of course!
The other reaction is that they know I’m lying and so will laugh.
Either way, they relax and will give you their attention.
Since using this line for the last 3 or 4 years or so, I’ve had zero people turn me away and it sets a great tone for the magic.
Going up to tables is ever so slightly different.
It’s a little easier to get everyone’s attention as you are standing and they’re sitting but the people on the other side of the table are a little further away and so sometimes it can be hard to get everyone’s attention.
Some magicians won’t try and engage the whole table when they perform.
I’m not saying that this is wrong but I’m definitely in the camp of don’t start doing magic until you have the whole table’s attention.
It’s just easier to work a little harder at the start rather than having half the table not being bothered.
Sometimes though you’ll get that one person that just won’t give you the time of day. Just carry on as usual and don’t worry about them, after the first trick you’ll usually get such a good reaction that they’ll pay attention.
So the table approach. There are a few tactics I use.
I’ll start off by choosing two people who look friendly and stand in-between them looking through my cards as if I’m preparing something (I don’t open with a card trick at tables but if they see me with cards they’ll know I’m a magician). This is usually enough for someone to see me and say:
“Oh are you the magician, can we see some magic?”
It’s the tables where everyone is deep in conversation that are a little harder.
Again, choose two people who look friendly and go up and say something the lines of:
“Hi guys, sorry to interrupt you, I’m Dan, I’m the magician for the party. So and so said you guys would be a good table to warm up before the starter/main/dinner.”
Most of the time they’ll say of course. To which I’ll say something like:
“Great, I’m going to have to interrupt everyone else now, I hate this part…”
99% of the time they’ll then get everyone’s attention for me and give those people a nudge who just won’t stop talking.
It’s then up to you to warrant them giving you their attention as quickly as possible.
I’ll write a post about choosing openers another time but for now, just make sure you do a really good trick as soon as possible and you’ll be fine.
Anyway that’s how I do it and it works for me but I’d love to know what do you say when approaching a group or a table?
Let me know what works (or doesn’t work) for you — feel free to contact me through my website [hireamagician.com](http://www.hireamagician.com).