Booking a Magician – Case Studies

UPDATED: 26TH JULY 2018: It’s true that no events are the same and what makes for great entertainment at one, may die a horrible death at another.

To avoid the “horrible death scenario” make sure that, when you talk to entertainers on the phone, you give them as much information as possible. This allows us to see whether a) we are the best entertainer for you, and b) exactly what we can do for you, to give you – and your guests – the best night possible.

I thought it would be helpful to give you a few examples of some events I’ve performed at, including weddings and corporate events. Not only does this allow me to write yet another blog post, boosting my Google rankings (and my failing ego by putting some testimonials on the page), it may also give you a few ideas for your own party.

Hopefully, the case studies will give you an insight into the process of booking a magician (always an intimidating prospect if you’ve never done it before!), along with some of the questions I usually ask to work out how I can best be of help.

The Daily Mail – Corporate Event

The Daily Mail contacted me about their Christmas event. They were having a small (in number) celebration for their executives in a Manchester bar and was wondering if I could help entertain them.

Of course I can!

The client explained that the restaurant was going to be made up like a “Dickensian Christmas” scene and they were wondering if there was anything I could do to fit in with that?

I decided to infect both of my children with cholera and smallpox and got them a job in a textile factory for 16 hours a day.

I am, of course, deadly serious.

We bounced a few ideas back and forth and I suggested that I could find a costume to suit the occasion and that I could also source props that would match the era (so no iPhone magic tricks for this gig!).

I had to search, but I eventually found Paula at the Chester Costume House, who, among rails of gorgeous clothing, had this outfit.

John Holt - Victorian Corporate Magician

I also managed to buy some specially aged cards that I could use in my tricks (although I was unable to locate a quill that could write on playing card stock).

As the clients were having a sit-down meal, they wanted to book me to entertain groups around the table between the courses of the meal. It was only a small group of 25 or so, so there was no rush and plenty of time for everyone to see some magic.

It was a fun day. And not just for me it seems, as I got this email the next day:

“We had the pleasure of John’s “magicalness” at a Christmas event we were organising and I can honestly say the 2 hours flew by! John seemed to have a knack of being able interact with each guest, making them comfortable enough to participate and be involved. He worked the table so everyone saw his magic tricks and I can honestly say I still cannot fathom how he did them! If you’re looking for a genuinely talented and fun entertainer, who will seriously impress, then John is your man.”

(I’ll be honest, I’m not a big fan of using quotation marks around words such as “magicalness”, as it implies sarcasm. I’m still leaving it in though!)

*** If you’re planning your own corporate event, you’ll be wanting to avoid these 7 deadly mistakes! ***

Nicola and Mike – Wedding Magician

Nicola contacted me as she was wanting to book some wedding entertainment to keep her guests happy.

She had heard that wedding magicians were popular, but wasn’t sure how to best use one.

Magic works best as a ‘filler’ for when there’s nothing else going on. It keeps the atmosphere fun and the energy high during those moments when there is potential for a “lull”, so I asked her how many guests she was expecting and what else she had planned for the day.

As Nicola had booked a string quartet to play during the wedding breakfast, we decided that this probably wasn’t the best time for me to perform. You can have too many good things at once. (I’ll be honest, the wedding breakfast is my LEAST favourite time to perform, as there is a lot of standing around, waiting for guests to finish eating. Also, I’m very aware that I may have just described myself as a “good thing”. This, ironically, is not a good thing.).

I asked if she had any concerns about any other times of the day. It turned out that she was a bit worried about the photo period – a 90-minute gap where there was nothing going on for the guests. The wedding was taking place at a beautiful venue with gorgeous scenery, so she wanted to get some great photos outside, but didn’t want to feel rushed or pressured to get back to her guests because they were getting bored, angry or homicidal (I may be exaggerating this a tad).

No-one wants homicidal wedding guests.

I suggested this as the time I should perform, as I can keep the guests occupied, giving Nicola and Mike all the time they need to get those perfect photos.

As soon as the ceremony ended, I was ready. I mixed from group to group for 90 minutes, giving the happy couple the space and time they needed to get photos with everybody before they were called in for the wedding breakfast.

John, Thank you so much for entertaining our wedding guests last Friday. We were so sorry not to have a moment to spend with you especially when we heard from all of our guests that you were fabulous and funny too! The main reason I wanted you at our wedding was because I’d heard you were funny and that is certainly reiterated in the feedback from our guests so a BIG THANK YOU John.

*** What do you do when the wedding planning gets TOO much? Do this! ***

Colette – Birthday party in a village hall

Colette phoned me as she was holding a birthday party for approximately 90 guests in a local village hall.

She was interested in booking a magician, so I talked to her about the event and the various ways I could help.

Initially, we talked about me performing close up magic, as guests arrived and then table magic between courses of the meal.

However, the more we talked, the more I realised that Colette wanted a “feature show” – something she could base the evening around, rather than mix and mingle magic, so we talked about me performing a stand-up show for everyone after the meal.

As she also booked a DJ, we arranged for him to play some music as people arrived and ate so that there was something to create some ambience before I took to the stage and completely sucked the life out of the room.

Colette was initially worried about my show being unsuitable for some of the younger children, but I assured her that not only would they appreciate it, I can get them involved with some of the tricks.

(Besides, when it comes to performing magic, there’s not much difference between a drunk corporate audience and children.)

After the meal, I performed my stand up magic and mindreading show for everyone. This show has a great deal of interaction, is quite funny and gets lots of people involved.

It’s all about fun and getting people laughing!

And it seemed to do the trick!

Thank you so much for your show on Saturday. So many people said they haven’t laughed so much in ages! Very clever skills combined with an ability to draw people into the whole process. If I have another ‘do’ I would definitely book you again but in the meantime will highly recommend you!!

*** If you’re planning a birthday party, here are 11 easy ways to reduce party planning stress! ***

Tracey Bailey – House party

Tracey contacted me to see if I could help provide some entertainment for her son’s 21st birthday party, which they were having at their house. She wanted to make sure that people had a great time but didn’t want to take up too much space (thankfully, I’d recently lost some weight!).

She wasn’t sure how magic would best work, so we had a chat about how many guests she was expecting, as well as their ages and whether it was just a family-only event, where everyone knew one another.

This may sound like niggling details, but events, where guests are family-only, can be a vastly different dynamic to events which also include friends, work colleagues and clients.

“Family-only” events tend to be more relaxed, as everyone knows one another already, so there’s no tension to diffuse – no ice to break.

As they were having a buffet-style dinner, I advised me starting shortly after this, as there is no point in me performing for people who are clambering to get to the food! This would also give me a solid block of time in which I can perform, my ideal preference, as it keeps the energy going.

For forty guests, I suggested a performance time of 90 minutes; probably a little longer than most magicians would recommend, but I find that, at family events, you can easily get diverted from the actual trick and have some great interactions with the guests. It’s great to be able to spend time in creating these kinds of “unique interactions” that make each gig different and memorable. The last thing I want to do is curb these moments because of time restrictions.

Tracey was going on holiday the day after our phone call, so she was glad that all my booking is done securely online, meaning that there’s no envelope licking and no running to the postbox – it’s all sorted with a few clicks.

We booked John to come along for our Son’s 21st birthday gathering with ages ranging from 3-80 and a small guest list of around 40.  He was brilliant! An amazing magician but much more than that as he’s a fantastic entertainer. He kept in touch regularly during the booking process and I was 100% confident that he was the right choice before I’d even met him! He had everyone enraptured with his magic and his personality – my guests literally followed him around the tables because they were that impressed by him! Everyone was talking about him. I would strongly recommend John to anyone looking for a reliable, entertaining and clever magician.  Put simply he is Magic! Thank you !!

*** Thinking of having a house party? Here’s a nearly complete guide to throwing your own house party to help make your night a huge success! ***

Hydro66 – Trade show Magician

I had been contacted by Hydro66, who were looking for a magician to work their trade show stand at the Cloud Expo Europe event, held in London. Specifically, they were looking for a way to use magic to convey some of their key messages and benefits, and also to draw footfall to their trade show stand.

Once I had done a bit of desk research into the company, I came up with a few ideas, such as using ice cubes in a dice stacking routine, to illustrate the fact that the company cuts cooling costs as it’s based in Scandinavia – where it’s always cold!

I also shot a quick video for a trick which highlighted that they could save half of their storage costs by using them.

In fact, here’s the exact video I sent them, once I had come up with the handling:

(You’ll be relieved to know that I added some scripting to it later…).

Using magic as a media to convey your sales idea or presentation is a fabulous soft sell – it gets the information across, but not in a way that makes it seem “salesy” or sleazy.

There’s no hard sell. People aren’t intimidated to come right up to your stand and see some magic.

We had a great time at the show and it was a big success for the company.

Here’s what they said a few days afterwards:

“Thanks for bringing to life what we do right in front of people’s eyes! You really struck the perfect balance on the stand and made the show a big success for us.”

*** Want the keys to having a successful trade show? Here’s how to make trade shows work for your company. ***

If you’re thinking of booking some entertainment for your event, speak to different entertainers and give them as much information as you can. It really can be the difference between having a good event and having a GREAT one – the kind of event your guests will remember, talk about – and thank YOU for – for years!

If you’re looking for even more ideas, you can read some more event case studies here.

So, now that you’ve seen how magic can work at pretty much any event (and it really is, by far, the greatest form of entertainment there is), why don’t you shoot me a quick message about that event you’re thinking of right now? You know, that shindig you have planned?


Use the form below to get in touch. Tell me all about your event and what you have planned (and what you’d like to happen) and I’ll see how I can help give your guests a fabulous time so that you can sit back, relax and enjoy the night!