Want to do great close-up magic? Restaurant magic can help.


If you want to learn the real secrets of performing close up magic for a paying audience, get yourself a gig performing table side in a restaurant. ‘Table hopping’, as it’s called, allows you to work for a steady stream of fresh audiences – that’s the only way to learn the true craft of sleight-of-hand magic.

Here’s a partial list of the personality types you’ll meet and the lessons you can learn from each:

  • Polite people cause you to be overconfident

  • Honest people break your heart – but your magic improves

  • Cultured audiences laugh at intelligent jokes

  • Simple folks don’t.

  • People who love magic are easy.

  • People who hate magic are not

  • People that haven’t decided make it your responsibility to help them see the light.

  • People you just can’t win over – ultimately THIS number should be no more than 10%. They’ll teach you patience, and most importantly, when to leave.

Whether your hope is to travel the world working corporate events, perform at private parties in your region or rock out street magic on TV, you’ll always value your time in the trenches. You’ll learn close-up magic the old fashioned way – one audience at a time. And most importantly, you’ll develop the countless little touches you’ll need to conquer every situation.


Books about ‘restaurant magic’ will only take you so far. If you really want to know how it’s done you’ve got to experience it for yourself. Get good tricks. Then, when you encounter trouble, you’ll know not to blame the material.

Check out work from these top restaurant men. They each have a different style and work a different scene – try and study them all.

David Stone

Nathan Kranzo

Mike Skinner

Matt SchulienAn article with good Schulien info

Eddie Fechter

Bill Malone

Doc Eason

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8 Responses to “Want to do great close-up magic? Restaurant magic can help.”

  1. 1 Dennis van den Hove September 16, 2007 at 9:04 pm

    Nice article, now to find some time to check out some restaurants in my area.

  2. 2 Tom Cramer September 17, 2007 at 12:04 am

    Hi Aaron,

    I have been performing restaurant magic for about 3 years now.
    It has made the biggest difference in my magic. I perform a lot more, practice a lot more, and invent a lot more in trying to come up with material for the return cutomers.
    Man what a great time!

    Tom Cramer

  3. 3 Paul Rooney September 17, 2007 at 12:35 am


    The site is very interesting, the format is great – easy to read and very informative. There is nothing more fun than performing in ‘the real world’ under tough conditions for money, particularly if you need the money to pay the bills.

    It is obvious to me that you have put many months (years?) into making this site a reality.

    Many years ago I worked in an Ice Cream Parlor doing magic table to table (surrounded). This was as my sister-in-law says “Big Fun”. You will quickly discover things like “I should have never said that!”, what your magic ‘personality’ is, what ‘works’ and does not, what is practical (for you), etc., etc.

    One can dream and make all the ‘plans’, but the real working world is where the real learning will take place.

    I only wish I knew the wisdom you share here – I was always “crushed” when someone either completely rejected the magic or reacted in a negative manner – for no good reason. It pays to remember that individuals may being going through a tough time in their lives or have some serious issues going on in their life and they just happen to be meeting to discuss these issues where you are working.

    All in all, a wonderful website! Hats off to you,


  4. 4 Rosemary Eve September 17, 2007 at 1:40 am


    You covered so many important points about restaurant magic! I was in restaurants for about a year and a half and what I learned there is still invaluable to me. All those little touches you spoke of are what really makes your magic great, and after doing a bit of time in a restaurant you can perform any of those tricks in almost every situation-because you’ve experienced it before.

    Not only that… performing for those people you just can’t win over is such an important experience, and in my opinion it is way better to do that in front of a few audience members at a time (who probably wish that he/she would just be quiet and let you do the trick), then in front of a whole bunch of people the first time you meet that unforgiving person.

    Having a regular restaurant gig to go to once a week seriously improves not just your technique but your performance level and your presentation skills as well. Awesome post.

  5. 5 aaronfishermagic September 17, 2007 at 1:48 am

    Paul and Tom,

    Both of you guys have had the experience we’re talking about here – I’ll tell you my personal story and see if it tracks.

    I’ve worked restaurants during two different periods in my life. The first round involved family brunches at an Italian restaurant in the Washington D.C. area. I’m sure I learned a great deal during that gig, which I managed to hold for about a year. In truth, I really can’t remember enough to specify exactly what those lessons were. I DO remember that my ultimate success rate during that time was pretty low – at least half the people I worked for would have considered the experience of meeting me to be just “ok”. While I do remember improving during that time, in retrospect, I didn’t improve that much. I was very young, and I probably didn’t have the mental tools yet to REALLY evaluate my shows and make the changes required to glean a super great deal from the job.

    A few years ago – I started doing close-up at the Hooters in Burbank and Hollywood (both in Los Angeles where I live). About a decade had passed since my last round, and I found my growth was exponential, and almost immediate. I’d gotten serious about magic as a career, and the gig really pushed my over the edge. For the first time, I started performing all sorts of bits and gags – close-up magic standards. I freed myself of old attitudes about what magic ‘really was’, and I started having fun with people. I sat with them, talked with them, did magic at times and at other times, not.

    Before I knew it, my sleight of hand, the serious stuff, became practical and fun. When you concentrate on having a good time with people, and not just performing your set, everything loosens up. It becomes a party. All of a sudden – no one can see your pass anymore. People aren’t even looking for that sort of thing. They’re just laughing and talking and having a great experience. Essentially – you can do anything you want. You’re free to go where the people take you.

    And the funny thing I learned was, when you’re ready, it happens fast. I found my new running speed, in large part, within a few weeks of taking the gig. 6 months later – I plateaued again. In order to keep growing, I had to look for bigger waves.

    Thanks for writing your experiences guys. It’s great to read them.

    With Thanks,

  6. 6 Andre Limantara September 17, 2007 at 2:44 am

    Hi, Aaron

    It’s interesting. I did few restaurant gigs few month ago and I also do corporate party these days. I do feel the same thing. I learnt a way of table hopping from my friend. of course in the beginning, I met several “bad” people and it was really and really frustrating. that was then. Now I approach people as if I’m their friend who want to share a bit of imposibilities. I tend to put my self as ordinary guy who could do few tricks. Of course, it doesn’t work every time, but I got most of it.

    And doin this table hopping stuff do improves not only your skill but the way you connect with people


  7. 7 Matt. G September 19, 2007 at 8:19 pm

    Hey Aaron,

    I understand what your trying to say and maybe that is where I should go next, get a gig in a restaurant. I’ve shown magic to friends and strangers and I got a request to do magic at a friend’s wedding. The wedding is not until october but I do not think I am qualified to do it. Of course I have a routine and everything it is that I just never had any experience do magic for money. I have been serious about magic for about a year. Do you think I am ready to get a job as a restaurant magician? Should I say yes to do my friend’s wedding? Is there a step I should take before getting paid to perform magic? I just do not want to rush things and find myself in an awkward position. Thank for your time.

    Cheers, Matt

  8. 8 aaronfishermagic September 19, 2007 at 8:51 pm

    Hey Matt,

    There is no firm rule to help you decide when you are ready and when you should wait. You can only decide THAT for yourself.

    But keep this in mind – no matter how long you’ve been practicing in your room, you’ll never be able to become a great magician without experiencing many of the ‘awkward moments’ you’re trying to avoid.

    It’s surviving those experiences that will give you the chops you need to please real people.


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