Father Christmas Only Has to Work ONE Full Day!
Christmas is just around the corner. All of the signs are there; constant toy adverts on the television, Tesco’s stocking Easter Eggs, and magicians are existing on Redbull and hope. It can be a confusing time for those of us within the magic fraternity. We do lots of corporate parties and even our regular gigs are filled with groups wearing Christmas jumpers and looking to have a good time. Suddenly we find ourselves doing gigs were most people are happy to see us! People are laughing at our weakest jokes (my personal favourite ‘Careful of the pen, it’s Sharpie’ actually got a cheer yesterday), actually want to volunteer, and are grateful for your performance. On the other hand we’re busy. Very, very busy. Those of us fortunate enough to have a good reputation amongst clients and magic colleagues find ourselves turning down or passing on jobs that in leaner months we would be more than happy to take. I’ve already spoken about minimum charges and how we as a profession should be careful, but at Christmas it’s very much up to the consumer to be careful. It’s the one time of the year when – in London at least – it is slightly less of a buyer’s market. Magicians quickly fill their calendars and then begin to farm out lower paying gigs to other magicians as better paid jobs come in. You won’t necessarily be getting a ‘worse’ magician if you pay low rates, but unless your contract with a magician specifically says that THEY will be the one attending, if you’re paying under the odds*, don’t be surprised if they send a substitute.
Consumer advice aside, this is an amazing time of year to be working. We get to go from party to party, enjoy festive sights and sounds that we would never normally be a part of. In the past week I’ve been hugged, kissed, proposed to twice, and told ‘I love you’ more times than late-2000 Ryan Reynolds. Were you to cut me right now I would bleed cranberry sauce I’m that stuffed with Christmas cheer. It’s wonderful and I’m very much enjoying it. I find it’s a real privilege to be a part of other peoples Christmas’, making them that little bit more magical.** But that is why I think it’s really important that, if you’re hiring a magician, be clear about what it is you intend. I bring this up because of a recent gig.
I was contacted and asked to quote for an hour and also two. After doing so I was asked if I could perform for one hour, during the meal. No problem I said. Was there anything else I needed to know? Theme, numbers, anything outstanding? Nothing came up and so off to the gig I went.
When I arrived and found 20 tables of 16 each waiting to be filled I very quickly realised that an hour was not going to be enough. Not nearly enough. I had been booked to start on the hour and so when, at ten past, people only just started filing in I was left with an obvious choice: Did I stick to what I had agreed, or stay longer and do my best? I didn’t leave the room until half an hour after I had been contracted for. I still didn’t get round every table, but I hit most, and I think I made it a better party for everyone I saw. And yes, obviously I gave extra time to ingratiate myself to the person who booked me with the hope of a few more gigs in the future, but really the main reason I had for staying is the pride I take in my work. If I’m at a party and I’m the magician there, I want people to enjoy my magic, to enjoy the whole experience. I wanted to try and ensure that that party was a bit more special, and so I stayed much longer than I had been asked to, for no additional fee, as it was the only way I felt I could do that.
I don’t think that it’s even a rarity. Most magicians I know do this job because we want people to enjoy themselves. We spend a lot of time getting very good at what we do, and so professional pride if nothing else compels us to do our very best. Of course, the client did get lucky that my next gig wasn’t until much later that evening and I could spare that extra half an hour. It’s not something you want to be relying on usually. But now and then, it’s something we’ll do. Because we really do want you all to have a wonderful Christmas.
A quick aside; often this is a solitary job. Not so at Christmas. Large parties are suddenly the norm. This has given me the opportunity to work with a few of my magical colleagues. On a couple of jobs I’ve even had the chance to work with two people who are very much the reason I’m able to be a professional magician. If you are every looking for an amazing performer well… obviously hire me. However, if I’m not available I will almost certainly be recommending either Owen or Brendan. Not just two of the best magicians I know, but two of the loveliest people. A gig a few weeks back with them was one of the best magic experiences of my life, and I was lucky to be able to watch both of these consummate professionals perform.
See you next week!
*As a guide, any client paying under £300 to a magician at this time of year and expecting THEM to turn up need to be sure that’s what the agreement is. A decent professional can easily expect £550 for a two hour slot at Christmas, and last minute bookings can expect to have to pay more than normal, not less as is the norm.
**Yes, I DID have to go there!