The days of going through a talent agency to get a magician or entertainer for your event are long over. Today most event planners and talent bookers find entertainers for their events by doing research online. Although there are online talent websites where you can choose from a variety of entertainers, you still need to screen performers for your event even when booking on these websites.
Whether your party or function is a corporate banquet, street festival or private party, there are certain things to look for to make sure you’re getting a quality entertainer at a reasonable price.
Here are 5 things to look for when choosing your next magician or entertainer:
Today, having a video demo is mandatory for any entertainer wanting to work and invaluable for a meeting or event planner who wants to screen an entertainer before hiring them. A good video demo will show 3 things to an event planner:
- The style of the performer. A video should showcase the style of the entertainer whether it’s comedic, more mysterious or maybe a combination of both—depending on the type of act. You should be able to get a feel for whether the performer would be a good fit for your particular audience if the video was done correctly.
- The content of the act. Is the content appropriate for your audience? If you’re planning a corporate banquet, you probably wouldn’t book a nightclub comic due to the possibility of them working “blue” (“Blue” is an older show business term meaning, “off color” humor or comedy). If your event is more casual, a nightclub comedian may be the perfect choice. Again, you should be able to tell from the video what type of content the performer has, if the video was done correctly.
- The audience’ reaction. This is crucial. A good video demo should show clearly how the audience reacts to the performer. If the act is a magician, there should be “ooh’s” and “ah’s” (corny but true!). If it’s a comedic act of any type, there should be lots of laughs. If the act has a video of him or her without an audience, you may want to skip that entertainer. You need to see the act in front of a “live” audience to make a good determination of whether they’re a fit for your event or not.
In today’s politically correct environment, even the slightest remark or subtle joke may be misconstrued and offend someone. I was taught that if even one person in the audience is offended, it’s like offending the entire audience.
Hiring a performer who does off-color humor is risky at best unless you’re booking a nightclub or comedy club where this is readily accepted. In the early 90’s I started working comedy clubs and it was actually expected that you would work with risqué material. This was due to people wanting to see comedy and material that, at the time, they couldn’t see on TV. This was in the days before cable TV.
It’s best to steer clear of any act that is off-color unless it’s at an event where you know it’s appropriate to the audience.
Today, if a magician or other performer doesn’t have a website, they’re credibility and experience should be questioned. Having an active website shows professionalism and should have a video demo right on the site for easy viewing. It should also have action shots of the entertainer performing, their credits and experience and the types of events they have done. This will give you a good indication of whether they’re a good fit for you particular event and audience.
You should be able to see testimonials from a performer. If they don’t have them on their website, you should request at least 3 references from other clients they’ve worked for. Third-party testimonials are crucial in determining whether a magician or entertainer is “worth his salt”. The act can tell you in his website copy and other marketing materials, but when they have either written or video testimonials from bookers and audience members that can make a huge difference in whether the act is worth the money they’re charging.
Although not mandatory, a client list on a magician or entertainer’s website can help you in determining if they have experience working for the same type of audience or function you’re booking for.
You wouldn’t book a children’s birthday party magician for an all-adult party or corporate event but there are plenty of magicians and even comedians who specialize in corporate work. It’s easy to research Google for acts that specialize in a particular market by typing in the type of entertainer you’re looking for as well as the type of event. For example, you could Google “corporate comedian” or “children’s party magician”.
Its very easy to find any kind of magician or entertainer you want for your event with the internet and Google today. Knowing the type of act that you prefer (i.e. magician, comedian, variety act, etc.) first will save you lots of time in screening them. Just make sure to check the 5 things above to make sure you’re getting an appropriate act that has a proven track record of doing the job right.
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