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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Penny for your thoughts » » First proper paid gig, set up I'm not used to (9 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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russellajallen
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Hi guys,

Over the last few years Ive been performing at friends parties (pretty casual stand up acts, lasting upto about an hour, and only once or twice a year!) Off the back of that I performed at a holiday park where my parents have a static caravan over the summer. It was good practice for me and it was a favour, in fact my dad bought a prop for me as payment whixh was good of him. This was a 45minute small stage / stand up act at the parks christmas dinner, with a musician playing either side of my act. The good news is Ive been asked to perform again, and they've said it'll be a paid gig.

The fee is yet to be discussed, they've pencilled me in for now and in the new year we'll discuss rates etc. This is also new to me. From what Ive heard though they're expecting me to fill 2hours for £250, which to me seems a bit ridiculous. 2hours is a lot of time to fill. They also expect me to perform much like a musician where its not ticketed and seated, itll be people who are staying at the park that weekend, so people coming in and out of the bar throughout the evening which again isn't ideal. The chairs and tables will be set up as s normal night in the club.

Has anyone whos performed at these style evenings got any advice for me? I usually have a running theme through my shows with call backs at the end. If people are coming in and out though, Im probably best foing a series of short pieces arent I?
John C
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Walk around. With short 10 - 15 minute standup.
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Mark_Chandaue
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Wow you are right that £250 for 2 hours is low. I was getting that in 1985 for doing holiday parks and I never did more than an hour and that was for magic. Is this 2 hours with or without an interval?

I can't speak for this particular site but generally if they have a clubhouse with regular entertainment people tend to get there at showtime and stay for the show. Sure people will arrive late or leave early but you should have a core audience which is likely to include kids. If it's a park made up primarily of owners then day of week and time of year will have a significant impact on the size of your audience.

Personally I wouldn't do 2 hours of stand up for £250 (these places usually want stand up not walk around). The amount of effort required far outweighs the reward.

Mark
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russellajallen
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Hi Mark,

Even as someone who hasn't performed a fully paid gig it's clear to me that 2hrs for £250 is too low - I'll need to discuss this with them. I'd be more comftable doing an hour, and even £250 for an hour seems low. I know it's my first paid gig so can't really justify going too high, but at the same time I don't want to set precedent at a low price.

It's standup they'll be after and that does include an interval. The usual crowd are typically caravan owners, mostly people aged over 50, and there will be a few children in the audience that I'll have to keep in mind. Audience size last time was about 60 people but this was ticketed. It's a saturday night in august.

None of my material is appropriate for kids, and by that I mean it's aimed at adults, and not likely to be much fun for kids, not "innapropriate" per se. Would you add a couple of effects aimed at them?

I really need to negotiate as it's a good opportunity to get some exposure and a paid gig so don't want to lose it, but at the moment I'm struggling.

I appreciate your thoughts as always

Russell
Martin Pulman
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I would say £250 for two hours is a pretty decent wage for an untested act doing their first real paid gig. I would try and negotiate over the time rather than the price. 45 minute stage act supplemented by a similar amount of time table-hopping?
Mark_Chandaue
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If you know the place it helps. Personally I never adjusted my act for kids and I made it clear to the booker that my show is aimed at adults, however my act was clean and family friendly and there were nearly always far more kids than I'd have liked, but magic is an easier watch for kids because it's more visual.

£250 is not terrible for an hour in that sort of place especially if they know it's your first paid gig. An hour is a decent length, 2 hours you are getting into full 2 act theatre territory and that's a lot of effort to write if you don't already have a full 2 hour show. It's also a long time to hold people's attention when they haven't come out specially to see a show. I agree with Martin negotiate the time rather than the price. Not sure table hopping would fly, it's not the norm but I'm assuming this is an independent park as most of the chains book through agencies so they may be open to it.

When the park is primarily holidaymakers they are more likely to be there for the entertainment, when it is primarily owners they tend to be there to socialise.

Mark
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Martin Pulman
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Mark is absolutely right. Two hours is a hell of a lot of time for one person to hold an audience's attention on stage.

Mark knows a hell of a lot about working as a pro in all environments. I would certainly listen to any advice he has to give.
Mark_Chandaue
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I particularly know about holiday camps as they were my bread and butter although I was doing magic rather than mentalism.

Mark
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Mr. Woolery
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If I had that offer, I would take it. Tell the booker you can do 2 sets of about 45 minutes each. The first, do your show as normal. The second, do readings from the stage. I really like Paul Voodini's thoughts about those readings. If you can do a couple of oracles (I would use tarot and psychometry, but you do what you like), you can fill your second set just talking to people and it will still entertain. If you read cards or palms, set up a table afterward for those who want to pay for a reading.

Is it grueling? Yes. Is there potential profit there? Sure. And at the end, I bet what you learn will be worth more than what you were paid.

Patrick
Mark_Chandaue
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In this environment readings from the stage would be a tough sell. You would be expected to do a 2 hour cabaret with a short break in the middle. You could get away with doing 2 separate 45 minute acts but any deviation from a cabaret performance would be a tough sell.

Readings you could possibly get away with at a table during a lunch time mid week but evenings cabaret is what the punters expect and is what the bookers are looking for. Holiday camp entertainment tends to be cheap and cheerful and pretty formulaic. A typical holiday camp evening consists of kids club e.g. Big fish, little fish, cardboard box, some games, followed by bingo, followed by the cabaret, possibly followed by the disco. Maybe a talent contest thrown in mid week. Out of season you might find independent camps willing to deviate from that formula, August they tend to play safe.

Mark
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Slim King
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Take the money .. Do your best ... good luck Smile
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Mr. Woolery
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Thanks, Mark. Not familiar with the venue, just thinking of how I would try to stretch material to fill 2 hours, so I was fixating on how to use the time, not on what would be appropriate for the audience. Glad to be set straight. (Still, the psychometry could be done entertainingly with a tongue-in-cheek presentation (as could tarot if you had one of the novelty decks - just think of a Hello Kitty Tarot reading from stage). That said, I really don't know the venue, so could be totally off-kilter in my thinking.)

But I do think Slim sums it up well. Do the gig, do your best, we wish you the best.

And, for the OP, if you have not seen Paul Draper's At the Table lecture, he has a thought about using the little fortune telling fish as both a way to fill time with kid involvement and as BOR sales after the show. If that's up your alley, it is worth the price of the video. (If not, it isn't. Caveat Emptor. It really isn't a lecture about material for performance, but a video about the business of being a mentalist/magician.)

-Patrick
russellajallen
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Thanks for all the advice, I've got some time to work on it so I can really consider what to do. The park itself isn't part of a huge chain, it's independent and they don't put things on every weekend, its maybe every other weekend. One week bingo, one week quiz, and then music in between - it's not a big place so stand up cabaret type set would be the right play. Last time I performed there we had to hire a temporary stage as they don't have one. Performers just perform one end of the room.

It's a long narrow hall and tables are scattered through out with seats facing all directions, I asked for a stage last time due to the shape of the room but it's under new management now and it's not something they usually provide.

I will definitely do the gig and do my best. I know its going to be tough due to the layout and the crowd which is why I want to do it. Last time I performed there it went down well with them but I come away thinking "Never again!" as I screwed a couple of things up (no one at all noticed, I covered it well) and felt nervous as hell throughout. I'm deliberately putting myself through this again - nothing ventured nothing gained!
Sensio
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By "reading between the lines" of your post, I feel that you have some deeper worries about the unknown situation and possibly the attention and "investment" from the part of the spectators in this indeed "fluid" environment.
In reality, any solid and tested material will succeed and amaze; the issue is if the performer likes to work under such conditions. Coupled with a low fare leads to the vivid conclusion "what's the meaning of all this if at least I don't enjoy it a bit...".
Maybe this is something that bothers you. Or maybe this is a quick assumption from my part.
If it has some bit of truth then really the only advice I would give is to perform what you are competent at AND have a close friend together to share with you this crazy weird experience... All pro's have funny moments instead of successes to talk about for years to come.
dusty
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Hi Russell,
Your motivation for performing seems to be I need the money, so will take the gig and try my best, as I will get some exposure.

The question you need to ask yourself, with no stage, people coming and going, no real opportunity to be introduced, potential for kids running around, etc. etc. would this be GOOD exposure????

Yes the fee is very low and if all of the concerns raised above were dealt with, I might take the gig for the expereince, however, as you say the expect you to perform as a musician would and just perform without the all of the normal parameters required to give an audience a quality experience.

I have booked acts for over 25 years and can't list the number of times musicians take this sort of gig they refer to as a paid rehearsal. They feel they are nothing more than musical wallpaper, and many others turn down work like this.

My advice has always been, if the parameters do not enhance or at the very least support your performance don't take the gig. The money paid will not make up for "never again" feeling you are likely to suffer for many years to come! javascript:emoticon(':hmm:')
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Dusty

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kinesis
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Good Post Dusty.

My gut reaction was "Don't do the gig". Nothing to do with the money but the structure of the gig.

I would suggest 45 mins stand-up (even that's pushing it), 15 min break, 45 mins walkabout close-up magic. £250 is not bad for a first paid gig but you have to establish that any future employment will be at a more realistic price.

This type of performance is pretty darn soul destroying, unlike singers and musicians (no offense to these guys) but magic requires a lot of audience attention, you're not going to get that unless your act is pretty full on. And if you need spectators from the audience to assist, you can pretty much forget it.

Derek
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russellajallen
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Hi Guys,

The money isn't actually a motivator to be honest - I don't need the money I have a full time job. It was more of getting a paid gig under my belt which is my motivation. I have a couple of months before they guys who organise nights at the club are back in the country to see what material and structure to use - if I'm not confident it will work for me then I will pull out for now, and maybe suggest to them I come back to do their christmas show again, with the same structure as I had last time. I may even be able to suggest that this night that they have in mind is structured slightly differently, and negotiate changing the room around etc.

I know from the first time around that this type of gig can be draining - after having done several shows for friends (as in friends hosting it but many strangers in the audience) and getting a buzz and a lot out of it I went into the show at the park with high hopes, only to come out the other end feeling defeated. If I'm to do it this time, maybe I will suggest it's on my terms - even though I don't want to lose the opportunity of future paid shows.

I'll keep you informed into what I do and appreciate your words, Mark, Dusty, Sensio and Derek.
innercirclewannabe
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I wouldn't advise you to suggest to them that they do it on "your terms", I would urge you to tell them it is ONLY on your terms. I learned the hard way years ago that taking a booking when the venue was wrong, was a recipe for disaster. You don't perform to the best of your ability, your audience doesn't enjoy it, and your confidence takes a hit, not to mention your reputation. The latter is not so easy to repair. The wise performer in me these days ALWAYS checks out the venue prior to confirming. Remember, you're supposed to be the pro.You know how to do your job and you should also know what is required for you to do it well
Good luck to you whatever you decide.
Robert.
Tá sé ach cleas má dhéanann tú sé cuma mhaith ar cheann.
Mark_Chandaue
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Thank you Bobby for saying what I haven't had the time to say.

Print Roberts post, frame it, hang it on the wall and read it every day or at least every time you get offered a paid gig.

Take the gig and do your best is well intended but it is bad advice for all the reasons Robert has stated and Bobby has been round the block more than a few times. When you are getting paid for the gig you have a responsibility to be up to the job. If you can't negotiate favourable conditions then the job can do you more harm than good just from an emotional perspective and from a career perspective. It's better to be great for an hour than average for two. The reputation you gain trying to do an unsuitable gig will affect your ability to get the suitable ones.

Mark
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dusty
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As I said above:

My advice has always been, if the parameters do not enhance or at the very least support your performance don't take the gig. The money paid will not make up for "never again" feeling you are likely to suffer for many years to come! javascript:emoticon(':hmm:')
Regards,

Dusty

aka Max Gordon.
"Always give 100%, Unless you're a blood donor!"

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