Unless you happen to work in show business, you probably are not used to interviewing magicians. But when planning a party, you cannot just open up the yellow pages on the "birthday party magicians" page, pick up a name at random, and hope for the best. What questions should you ask in order to be sure that you get the best birthday party magician in your city?
For starters, you should ask about his or her experience: How long has he or she been performing? Was he or she always a birthday party magician? A stage magician may know all the tricks, but if he or she does not know how to handle children, things may get out of control at any moment.
What makes he or she act different? Most of the children at the party will most likely have seen a birthday party magician before, so you need to find someone memorable. Does he or she do card tricks, animal tricks, use silly props, etc?
Who is their usual audience? Some birthday party magicians have tricks best suited for small audiences, while some will revel onstage in front of a large crowd. Some can work with small children but are afraid of pre-teens, and for others it is the other way around. (And some, but only the best of them, can work with teenagers. If you are thinking of hiring a birthday party magician for a teen party, make sure you warn him or her beforehand!)
Does he or she require any particular installation? While most birthday party magicians are ready to perform mostly anywhere, they can provide you with some advice about the kind of "stage" more suited for their kind of magic. Some will want dim lights, some will work best under the spotlight, and most will need at least some elbow room and a place for their magic table and their props. Most birthday party magicians will prefer an inside location, particularly if it is windy outside. It would be a shame if their hats blew away with the rabbit still inside! Also, remember to ask them if the want chairs for their children or if they want them sitting on the floor, or if they are ok with children having food while they are performing, etc. They know you are the one paying and you should set the rules, but remember that a birthday party magician is an artist too, and he or she knows how to work the audience in order to create the magic.
You will also need to know how long the act will run. Kids these days have a rather short attention span, so it is usually best to keep things under half an hour.
Does he or she have any references; any satisfied customers you could contact to get an opinion, or perhaps a letter of recommendation? If none are available, perhaps you should ask the magician for an impromptu demonstration of his or her capabilities, but excuse the pun, it could be a bit tricky.
After you have asked your questions, you should expect to hear a lot of questions from your birthday party magician too. It's not that magicians are nosy, but they will want to know how many kids to expect, if they are expected to perform just after the piñata (not a wise move), if there is more than one birthday child, etc. While at this stage of the negotiation you are the one answering the questions, you can also get a lot of valuable information just by seeing if he or she is professional and enthusiastic. In the end, the birthday party magician and you should be intent on creating a memorable evening for your child.