Recently I did a holiday party for a company that was in a situation that I normally would have declined the show as the conditions weren’t right for a successful show. Sometimes what I talk about with the client and the reality of what the show is when I get there are completely different. I’m not saying that the client was trying to deceive me, but sometimes we speak different technical languages, or they assume things like a table is movable when it isn’t.
Here’s the view from the back of the audience looking towards the performing area.
There are big tables with people only on one side. This puts huge gaps between the groups of people, which makes having them come together as an audience much harder. The other challenge was that most of the guests showed up late, and they were still eating when it was my showtime. We pushed it back 15 mins, but that’s all I could do. If I didn’t have another show after this one, I would have pushed the show back 30 mins or more.
Some performers really lose their crap about corporate holiday shows starting late. The reality of these shows is that 95% of them start late. If you have another engagement, be clear with the client the situation. Personally if I had a choice of starting the show late, or performing while people are eating, I’d pick starting the show late every time. Obviously there are things reasons to not start the show late, like having another engagement, personal plans with your family, or it’s going to start hours late!
Sometimes you just need to make the best of situations. The audience was great, and had a good time!
Back in October I started trying to go to more open mics to play with new ideas. I haven’t been to as many as I’d like, however the one I went to last night was a gave us drink tickets. That got me thinking about a trick with them.
If you showed the ticket, then it grew to about the size of a sheet of paper! For the finale you produce a drink out of the giant ticket!
That’s a great little routine that would be a good opener, especially for something like a corporate holiday party where they are giving out drink tickets.
As for a routine, you could tell a story about trying to use a drink ticket and that the bartender told you it would only get you a small drink. The ticket grows and you got a full beer.
The challenge would be making the growing ticket not look like it was just folded up behind the small ticket. I guess that’s the gag the sets up the production of the drink, so the growing doesn’t need to be the strongest trick.
Last night I did a corporate gig, it was for managers of a chain restaurant. This group was younger and fairly rowdy. This isn’t a bad thing, I’ll take a rowdy audience over one that acts like they don’t want to be there any day. They kept trying to get me to go “dirty” in the show. In the past I’ve done a lot of comedy rooms and I have the ability to do that, however I don’t think it would have been appropriate for me to go there. This was still a corporate gig.
What I did was play along with them and I didn’t try to shut it down, I just wouldn’t go dirty. I did use a lot more innuendo than I normally would at a show, so it let them know I was playing, but had a line. It kept me present in the show and I really had to live in the moment, which is a good thing!
Most performers when they have an audience that wants to go dirty, they go along with them. Honestly, I think in 99% of these shows it’s a mistake. You can play, but you don’t have to get graphic or swear. You have to remember that while the loudest people in the audience are trying to guide you, not necessarily everyone wants to go that way. The two people who don’t want you to go dirty could be the owners of the company. That’s why I try to play it safe.
As I’ve gotten older and deeper into my career, I’m learning to take more days off…more days when I could be earning a lot of money. A friend of mine who is a magician invited me to his company’s Christmas party and there was a magician there. It was James Donahue, who I know from the social media, and I’ve made a prop for him in the past, but never met in person.
It was great to see him work for actual people.
Something I always say is that if you want to really work an industry you need to be a consumer of that industry. What I mean by that is it really helps if you can see what your show looks like form the attendee’s perspective.
Every now and then, taking a night off and seeing someone else do what you would normally be paid to do is a great chance to learn a lot!
Ugh, people in Facebook magic groups drive me nuts. Someone asked about how much they should raise their prices for holiday party gigs in December. Then a lot of people chimed in that they don’t and they feel like it’s price gouging. I have a lot of thoughts about this, and the first one is … Continue reading “Raising Your Rates…”
Ugh, people in Facebook magic groups drive me nuts. Someone asked about how much they should raise their prices for holiday party gigs in December. Then a lot of people chimed in that they don’t and they feel like it’s price gouging. I have a lot of thoughts about this, and the first one is that most of these people are idiots.
I’m going to assume that we all realize it’s already December, and that if you’re not sure of your pricing, you aren’t a professional magician. In that case get whatever you are comfortable charging. It really doesn’t matter.
The reason someone gave for not raising their rates was that they didn’t want a reputation as someone who raised their rates when there was high demand. Try to book a hotel or airline ticket during spring break and let me know how cheap you can get one. Raising rates when you have a limited number of spots available during a busy season is common in many industries. It’s just business. Now look at labor, every union worker in the USA charges more to work on holidays, so why shouldn’t you?
You raise your rates when it’s busy, either they pay it or they don’t. It’s that simple. I think everyone understands why a gig on a saturday night in December might cost more than a gig on a wednesday night in January.