by Kevin Gallagher
I have done, and still do, more than my fair share of table-hopping. It's not that I especially enjoy this form of close-up magic, it's just that many bookers and agents don't know any better. There are several skills that will be developed over the years such as, how to remain diagonally opposed to the waitress who is collecting or delivering plates to a table. What to do when the disco suddenly bursts into life part way through a routine. How to respond to someone who beckons you over to ask for another bottle of wine. How to leave a table gracefully mid-routine when someone taps a microphone and proceeds to call for order. How to make someone feel at ease when you happen to catch their eye just as they are pushing an overladen fork into their mouth. How to remain composed when someone tells you in no uncertain terms to "go away". In short, table hopping is often the bottom end of magic and don't let anyone persuade you otherwise. In general, you will have cost about the same as the table decorations or ladies gifts.
Unfortunately, for many professional magicians it is bread and butter given that like me, you have neither the inclination or skills to entertain the pre-pubic set. In many cases, the entertainment budget could be better spent and why? Ignorance. Over the past couple of years, I have managed to market a few forms of what I would term 'elevated status close-up'. I perform close-up or parlour magic regularly in the situation where I have a table at the front of an audience with two chairs which, during the course of the performance, will seat spectators. I actually carry a table in the back of the car which I fetch if I cannot find a suitable one at the venue.
The magic takes a number of forms. Sometimes, I supply timed tickets and I repeat the same act a number of times for different sessions, these being 15 minutes or 30 minutes as best applicable. Sometimes, I work a formal close-up table in an area where people are free to watch for as long as they like. I also have an booth with a number of different front panels, the dimensions of which I can supply to stand builders in the case of trade stands, that people may visit at will.
I do not have to spend the night squeezing between chairs to reach a too small gap at a table at which I can contort my magic. I never have to approach anyone, people who want to see me perform come to me, those who don't want to can do whatever they would rather. I enjoy perfect working conditions and therefore, provide better quality magic. I have a set-up period between performances, ample performing space with controlled angles and can make use of special shelves, holders and servantes.
In short I have elevated my status, together with my fee, from side-dressing to feature item and there are more areas of business to go at than I could possibly service. I can think of a some who may pooh pooh this concept but, suffice to say, my back and bank balance feel much better these days.
© Kevin Gallagher December 2002