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Online Zoom magic shows vs in-person shows


Differences between online virtual magic shows and in person gigs!

It’s been a crazy year. This time last year I was just recovering from a very long run of Christmas shows that took me to Amsterdam, Belfast and all over the UK. This December, I also did a bunch of shows but didn’t leave the spare bedroom. In this blog, I’d like to talk about the differences between online zoom magic shows and in person events.

No more pasties on the M1 at 3am!

Obviously the big difference between Zoom magic shows and in-person, is I don’t travel! I’ve spent 20 years travelling all around the world and performed in every top venue in the UK, so I don’t really miss the 8 hour drives or the endless hours in the airport waiting for delayed flights.

Can you still do in the hands magic on Zoom?

My in-person magic has always focused on magic that’s happening in the hands and with a zoom show, that’s an issue. When a spectator opens their hands to reveal something incredible has happened, its always a huge surprise. Obviously, with a Zoom virtual magic show I maybe hundreds of miles away so I can’t do the sneaky things that I’d normally do. With my Zoom magic shows I still wanted to create the amazing moment where magic happens in their hands and I’m delighted to say, I’ve managed it! It was a monumental challenge but I’m very pleased that I can still get the incredible magical impact doing a show at a distance.

Live shows rely a lot on funny “banter”. At a close up gig I always try to have loads of fun with each group and some gentle ribbing of the spectators of course. With a Zoom show, you still get all that but with an exciting twist. Now I’m in their house, I can see everything around them and sometimes it’s pretty crazy. I’ve done shows with people watching sat around a camp fire, back of a store cupboard and one person had locked themselves outside and watched while waiting for a locksmith!. This all adds to the fun atmosphere of the show.  

With a virtual magic show on Zoom, I can’t get spectators to examine objects to make sure there isn’t something sneaky about them so I tend to do magic where that isn’t a concern. My Zoom magic show is about 70% interactive mindreading and the rest visual magic, using iPads and sleight of hand.

Zoom magic show are more interactive

Zoom magic shows are more interactive. My close up magic and iPad magic shows are honed from thousands of performances. With online magic shows it’s much more about the people. The audiences of my Zoom shows make the shows! I’m asking people to suggest random things and there are lots of funny exchanges. With close up magic, I might be performing for 5-10 people at a time but with Zoom, it could be a hundred or more so there are some very big laughs.

Technical issues

With an in person show, I’ll usually arrive between 30 mins – 90 mins prior to the show starting, depending on whether I’m doing a stand up show or close up magic, how familiar I am with the venue and if there is any technical concerns that need addressing when I’m on site. With a Zoom magic show you can do all the technical checking you want to before the show but of course, you are still at the mercy of the internet. I try to mitigate issues by using very fast hard wired internet and I have a back up modem if the were any drop outs with the internet.

Customising Magic

One of the most fun differences with Zoom magic shows and in person events is how easy it is to customise my magic for a Zoom show. As well as custom iPad magic, I can also offer custom graphics, music, client logos etc. Obviously, I’m very used to producing bespoke magic for live in person events but usually I need to make sure that the audience can see it clearly, particularly with iPad magic. The great thing with magic on zoom is that it’s full screen and at the perfect angle to enjoy the magic.

Drunks at a magic show

One of the big differences between virtual magic shows and in person shows is that I very rarely have to perform for drunk people! At a live show, I tend to perform earlier in the evening so it’s rare for people to be crazy drunk but it does happen. I’m used to performing for the exceedingly tipsy so I know not to get them to hold onto my £1500 iPad! Of the close to 200 Zoom magic shows I’ve done, I’ve only had one or two close to drunk but of course I now have the magic power to mute them! 

My gran doesn’t know how to use Zoom!

With Zoom, one issue is I’m at the mercy of everybody else’s technology and there understanding of it. I think everybody working from home now has had some experience with one of the main video conference platforms and most of the world has used it to chat with loved ones but there are still a few people who struggle with it. In advance of the show I ask the booker to have a run through with any guests they think might struggle. I join the call about 5 mins before I start with camera off so I can see if people are struggling so can help if needs be.

You get the best seat in the house for a Zoom show

A huge positive and difference with online Zoom magic shows is that I control the environment they are watching me in. I don’t have to worry about shouting over loud music or bad angles to view the magic. Everybody has the perfect seat in the house.

With Zoom shows, the magic and mindreading seems more impossible. Obviously, if I read your mind and we are in the same room, it’s amazing but if I’m thousands of miles away, that seems even more impossible. The same thing with sleight of hand tricks. If you choose a playing card from my deck in the UK and it disappears and travels to your apartment in New York, that seems even more incredible!

Challenge accepted

I love to be challenged as a magician and since I started doing my Zoom magic show in April, I’ve had to adjust to lots of them. I’ve invested heavily in state of the art equipment to turn a spare bedroom into basically a TV studio and I’ve adjusted all my magic to working and truly amazing people over Zoom. 

Magicians are used to problem solving but I can honestly say this has been the greatest challenge of my professional career but one I’ve truly enjoyed! Obviously, I’ll love it when I can finally get back to doing in-person gigs again but Zoom magic events are here to stay, maybe not as regularly but they won’t disappear !