I have several rebuttals to this list, as a 6-year professional restaurant worker myself. Although I admire Dylan's intentions to help the magic community from things he's learned, I don't feel his list is very effective. I'd like to elaborate on it:
1. Sit down, write down a list of every effect you can do, and I mean every effect you can do...
This is unneccesary, in my opinion. But if that helps you, I'd say go for it. However, read the rest to understand my reasoning as to why this is unneccessary.
2. Cross out anything that needs more than 10 seconds prep time...
Why would you do that? You'd be x-ing out many good things that you can do in a restaurant setting. Sure, you want the majority of your effects to be impromtu or quick-reset, but it's illogical to tell people to x-out things that take more than 10 seconds of prep. I do plenty of tricks that can take longer than 10 seconds to prep...and they are great effects. Reset time is not as important as many other prerequisites, and certainly reset time isn't something to put high on the priority list.
3. Cross out anything that goes longer than 4 Minutes....
Like the time thing, why would you do that? You do need to have an arsenal of fast-moving, quick resetting magic, but if you have any kind of restaurant experience you'd know that you have anywhere from 2 minutes up to 10 minutes or so to perform. Why cross out good material that performers can and will have an opportunity for? It's more important to have a plethora of good, quality and varying magic effects for a performance...making sure to have enough "quick" tricks for many situations you come across in the business. But there are plenty of opportunities to perform longer effects for people who are into you (say, after they are done ordering and waiting for their food), and why not use your good, longer effects for those situations? Besides, cutting these tricks out of your arsenal can also be cutting into the money that you could be making (in tips, or future business via parties and other performance opportunities).
4. Cross out anything that needs a reasonable amount of table space...
Decent advice. You don't want to perform anything that takes up too much space. Honestly, your really not able to perform these things...even if you wanted to.
5. Arrange the tricks into routines (3-4 tricks in a routine), YOU WILL NEED AT LEAST AND I MEAN AT LEAST 6 Routines....
Not true. First of all, routining is something that is an off-beat in the restaurant working world. Sure, you need routines and routining is okay, but in the fast-pace, hussle and bussle of the restaurant you aren't going to be able to really think "routines" too much. I don't say routining is bad, but I do discourage anyone to rely on that because you will be disappointed. Instead, I tell people to compile an arsenal of good, reliable, various magic that you KNOW you can perform. Then, learn to "read" people, the restaurant, the servers...all that. Then tailor the magic you do to those things. By relying on routines, you'll find that many times your routines will never make it to completion, or you'll have time for more than one but not enough for two. There's nothing worse then setting people up only to have your "kicker/popularity maker" get cut off due to lack of time, or something coming up.
Stick to arsenals, and rely a lot less on routines.
Also, I know people who only perform less than 10 effects (far less than 6 good routines) and they are successful in restaurant walkaround. So no, its not true you need AT LEAST 6 routines.
6. Make sure your starting trick is short and visual to get them interested..
Instead, make sure you "read" your audience and tailor your magic to them and their situation. That is what is important. No one can tell you what "kind" of magic you need to open or close or anything in between. That is dictated solely by your audience, your skill, and the situation you find yourself in.
7. Make sure your middle effect/2effects will keep their attention, they dont have to be terribly visual but make them magical....
I don't even understand what the point of this statement is. If your tricks are not "magical" or "attention-grabbing" then they shouldn't be in your arsenal in the first place. If you are going to be routine-based, just be sure that your routine is climatic rather than anti-climatic, that meaning that you consistently build up to the "big finish." Your energy level should continue to rise throughout the routine, if you're going to go that route.
8. Make your last effect your strongest effect to leave them wanting more... Walkaway and they might come back for you another day just to see more magic, manager will like this.
Yes, you should leave your table in the strongest possible way. Rather than worrying about your closer, however, worry about the entire package. You want your customers leaving the restaurant talking about you, not just "the magic." Make sure to present yourself and the entire package in a way that will impress your customers. You want to have your customers "let you in" so to speak. You're more than just the stranger that did some magic, you're the cool guy that they'd like to get to know/see more of. YOU are what's going to bring your customers back, not your cards, coins, or loops.
9. Once you have done all this and have your routines, practice every single one day in and day out for about 6 months...
Once you have an ARSENAL you like, develop a regular practice schedule that you can keep. Don't practice "day in and day out for 6 months," practice as often and as necessary as you need to without becoming burnt out. However, your practice is never-ending. There is no "stopping date" on practicing your magic, unless your planning on giving up the Art or taking a break.
10. Once everything is foolproof and you have 6 SOLID routines, I think your ready for an audition
Definately not-true. That's is probably the most detrimental piece of advice of the whole post, and has me wondering how much restaurant experience you really have, Dylan.
First of all, nothing is ever "foolproof." If you are a working professional, your work is never "perfect." You need to practice consistently, and be always thinking of ways to make your magic stronger. Without doing that, you won't get very far monetarily or popularity-wise.
I have stated before that having at least 6 routines won't get you anywhere. No need to elaborate further on that.
This is important, however: you can have all the magic experience in the world, but if that's all you have you're FAR, FAR away from being ready for an audition. You need to learn how to communicate with people effectively, to "read" people, if your going to be successful at your audition, much less work successfully in the restaurant world. You need to know how to market yourself effectively to be able to negotiate a restaurant job and maximize your earning potential. You need to learn to be social, and how to "play the game."
If "foolproofing" some routines is all you need to be ready for an audition, then why aren't half the aspiring magicians in the world making money doing magic? The fact is, there is a big difference between the "haves" and the "have nots" in magic and it isn't solely based on skill level. The fact is, good communication and marketing combined with decent abilities in magic are what's going to get you far in the restaurant world. Currently, I'm working on expanding my business to more lucrative parts of my city, as well as doing more corporate events. What have I spent 90% of my time doing? Marketing and communication. Sure I practice, and work hard on my magic, but truth be told, I spend the most time and energy on marketing myself and figuring out better ways to do so. When ranking how important my skills are to my business, the list follows in this order:
#1 Communication/People skills
#2 Marketing/Creative Promo abilities
#3 Raw magic skill
The fact is, I've entertained people with the most basic of tricks, without any sort of structure or routine, simply because I've worked on my communication and people skills. Additionally, most of my business does not come from my raw abilities in magic, but in the ways I decide to market myself. When it comes down to it, I could cut my magic skills in half and still do ok in my business as long as I have my other abilities. If my communication and marketing skills were cut in half, however, I'd be suffering and would not grow.
You can talk to a manager all you want, you can try to wow him all you want with your best ace routine. But the fact is, if you really want to get a job and be successful, your going to need to think out and implement a good marketing strategy. You'll need to put just as much work into that, if not more.
I'll say it like this: a guy goes into a restaurant dressed in casual clothes, speaks with a manager and does the best coin routine. He asks for a job.
Another guy goes into the same restaurant. But instead sits and has dinner, taking down notes about the establishment, the people, the staff, the atmosphere, etc. He also performs a bit of decent magic for his waitor/waitress, as well as the host/hostess and any bartenders. He then leaves. He writes a letter to the manager explaining what a good time he had at the restaurant, what he has to offer as far as magic, and that he would like to schedule an interview with the manager to talk about the opportunity for the both of you. The next week, this guy shows up to the restaurant, dressed professionally, and sits with the manager. He hands the manager a portfolio which includes his resume, testimonials, contact information, pricing information, and a promotional flyer that he made the previous week. The portfolio even holds a short, 5 minute DVD of previous magic performances. That magician talks to the manager, and is not surprised to hear that the staff he performed for the week prior had mentioned his magic to the potential employer. The magician then follows all this up with a short, decent card performance for the manager.
Who do you think will get the job? The magician with the "foolproof" coin routine or the professional with the short, decent card performance?
The fact is, time spent in marketing yourself to the teeth is worth every minute, and in most cases, is more "influential" than any skill you have as a seasoned magician. Sure, having skill is important, otherwise you couldn't do the job. But the fact is, most people judge books by their cover, and if they don't...they are strongly influenced by them. Spend equal or even more amounts of your time developing a good, solid marketing strategy. You will be the one to get the job, and the "foolproof" magicians will leave with a handshake or a pat on the back, and nothing else.
Also, effective communication is important, perhaps the most important. What use is good magic and marketing if you cannot speak well. A manager will base his decision a lot on how confident you seem to be. You need to be confident and sure of yourself when applying for a restaurant gig. You also need that same confidence to be able to even make it in the job itself. Good communication skills are very important. It doesn't make a bit of difference how "good" you are if your not likeable. People will either accept you to their table or not based on how likeable you seem to be. That's all about verbal and nonverbal communication. Besides, you never know what situations you'll be getting yourself into as a restaurant performer. The better you are at the gift of gab, and knowing how to "read" people, the better off your going to be in the strange situations you'll find yourself in (and you will be in them often...both good and bad).
When it comes down to it, I just don't feel you, Dylan, gave well-rounded advice. No, I'm not coming down on you, my friend, but rather trying to help you (and others here) see the bigger picture that perhaps your not seeing. The fact is, in most cases, an "ok" magician who knows how to talk and how to market himself will be more successful than a "foolproof" magician who doesn't have those skills. Just look at the plethora of vids you can see of brillant young magicians using their webcams to strut their stuff online. However, many of them have no idea how to talk, perform, or market themselves. So, they are brillant magicians who solely strut their stuff on their webcams and for their close friends.
You need more than 6 solid routines in magic to become a restaurant worker. You need an arsenal or good, solid, reliable magic that you can depend on in various situations. You need to practice this arsenal regularly, and work on ways to improve on and expand on this arsenal. You also need to develop good communication and people skills, and consider these skills as important as the magic you perform. And you need a good marketing strategy, and consistently force yourself to "think outside the box" on ways to improve your marketability.
Only with these things will you truly be ready for an audition, and will be able to maximize your earnings. Having these things will give you the power you need to make a lasting impression, have a good following, and be able to land a good job making a decent cash. These skills also give you options for future employment and ability to entertain in different circumstances. This is the bigger picture. Yes, it's more "work" than just getting some magic routines and praticing them for 6 months...but its also gaurunteed to be more fulfilling than that as well.
I apologize for the length of this post, but I feel its best to write it all out for those who will actually read it than to leave things out. Honestly, I have much more I can say on this subject, so feel free to PM me with any questions or comments you may have. Again, don't consider this a "coming down on Dylan" post, but rather an elaboration. I've worked for over 6 years in Restaurant magic, and I'm in the process of renovating my magic business in ways to become more serious, more fun, and more lucrative. I just want the members here to be fully informed, and not make decisions and be let down due to lack of info they might not be seeing. I did that for too long, and would like to help others learn from my mistakes.
Invest in yourselves...and dare to dream.
Always B Magic!