Stage Magic Show Tips

On Friday, I did my stage show at the “end of year” banquet for the Ebell of Los Angeles. The Ebell of Los Angeles is an exclusive private woman’s group that was founded in the 1800’s. They were an amazing audience!

Great time with the lovely ladies of the Ebell.
Great time with the lovely ladies of the Ebell.

The show went really well… but I don’t deserve all of the credit. Kelley, the president of the organization, was extremely helpful in making sure that everything went off without a hitch. If YOU are ever planning on-stage magic or mentalism show, I suggest you follow the same gameplan Kelley did to ensure success.

How to Plan the Perfect On-Stage Magic Show

Place seating as close as possible to the stage.

Whether your guests are seated at tables or in rows, make sure they are as close to the entertainment as possible. Nothing will kill the energy of a magic show like a 20-foot distance between the audience and the show.

Theatrical Seating is Best

If possible, create seating rows for your guests that are separate from their table seating during dinner. This way, your guests can give the show their full attention, and won’t be bothered by the wait staff clearing the tables.

No Large Centerpieces

We can all agree that it’s important that the audience can see the magic. If your guests are watching the show at their dinner tables, make sure you don’t have large centerpieces. Tall centerpieces will block the view of half the seated audience!

Have a Great Introduction

Ask the performer to provide you a short, 20-second biographical introduction that will get your guests excited about the entertainment. My personal introduction mentions my awards, recent TV appearances, and tells the guests what to expect. It’s short and gets a laugh!

Put the Boss to Work. (really!!!)

Have you ever watched an employee try and fail to grab the attention of a seated banquet audience? They keep asking everyone to stop talking and pay attention… but the crowd keeps talking. This is NOT how to start a show!

If possible, have the CEO, president, or event organizer read the 20-second intro. When the CEO steps on stage… the audience will stop talking immediately! They’ll command the respect of the audience, and ensure the show starts with an attentive audience.

Get a Riser

If your audience is more than 40 people, provide a RISER. These can be provided by the venue, and the minimal expense will pay HUGE dividends in the quality of the show. You’ll be amazed how much an 18 inch height difference improves the viewing experience.

Don’t Take Chances

Insist that your performer carry liability insurance. Even if the entertainment has nothing dangerous, there’s always a chance of a slip-and-fall. Make sure you (and they) are covered!

Clean Comedy Matters!

Nothing can ruin the fun atmosphere like an insensitve joke told in front of the wrong audience. When I perform, I never use any political, sexual, or offensive humor. My goal is to bring everyone together and give them an amazing, fun evening. You don’t want any hurt feelings, or any Monday morning calls from HR!

Sound & Lighting

Many professional magicians (myself included) can provide their own sound system. But most large venues will provide a speaker system and a sound technician. If you’re providing a system, make sure to include wireless microphones and to have a sound check conducted a few hours before showtime.

Seating at the Ebell

Here is a photo from the stage, prior to the event. You can see the separate seeting area for the guests, the seating proximity to the stage, etc. These details really helped me make my magic show the best it can be!

The BEST seating for a banquet show.