Magician says business is booming in lockdown

Luke Powell, PA

A professional magician who saw his bookings vanish at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic said demand for his online shows has soared during lockdown.

Darren Delaney said the past three months have been his busiest-ever period, despite only being able to perform remotely from his home-made studio in Lewisham, south-east London.

Since April, the 44-year-old has performed more than 200 shows to audiences all over the world through video conferencing platforms like Zoom, with clients including web giant Google and investment banking firm Credit Suisse.

The full-time magician of six years said he made the switch online after the first national lockdown in March caused bookings for his face-to-face shows to “disappear within the space of a few days”.

Magician Darren Delaney films his show using Zoom
Magician Darren Delaney films his show using Zoom (Yui Mok/PA)

Mr Delaney told the PA news agency: “I was scrambling around at the time, thinking how can I cut my living costs? What have I got in the savings account? Because I had no idea when I would work again.

“Then a friend who works in the telecommunications industry messaged me to say ‘Do you think you can do magic on video conferencing?’

“My first response was ‘I can’t see how that will work’.

“Then shortly after, I had contact from a client of mine, asking if I could do a show over Zoom. It worked surprisingly well, so that was the start of it.”

Mr Delaney, whose repertoire includes cabaret-style, close-up and table magic, performs live through Zoom and is able to interact with his online audience in real-time via a laptop.

But he has had to adapt some of his tricks to suit the new format.

The Magic Circle member said: “What I realised very quickly was that there are some things I do in real life that I can’t do online, because they rely on me borrowing something from somebody, or there are some tricks that are only impressive if the props can be examined, which isn’t possible on Zoom.

“I’ve had to adapt some tricks. I can’t have you pick a card on Zoom, but I can ask you to name a card, for example.”

Mr Delaney, who has been performing magic since the age of nine, said bookings had increased significantly during winter as companies looked for Covid-friendly entertainment for their Christmas parties, with clients coming from around the world.

Darren Delaney does magic
Mr Delaney has been doing magic since he was nine (Yui Mok/PA)

“November, December, January, and now I’m booked up now for February, have been the busiest months I’ve ever had since I’ve been doing this,” Mr Delaney added.

“In December, I don’t think there were any days where I did less than four events, and there were a couple where I did seven in the same day, which wouldn’t be possible in real life (pre-lockdown).”

Other magicians who have switched to online performances said the format has allowed them to entertain audiences from all over the world with ease.

Edinburgh-based magician Elliot Bibby said he has performed around 500 shows in the past year.

The 28-year-old said: “It has been everything from family shows to high-end corporate gigs, and I think the power of Zoom is that people from all over the world can watch.”

Meanwhile, Nick Einhorn, who has been a full-time magician for 25 years, said it was only in October that he started putting together an online show.

The 45-year-old, from Hertfordshire, said: “I kicked myself into action, knowing that some people had been successful with it, and realised if I couldn’t be successful with it, it wasn’t because of the market, it was because I wasn’t looking hard enough.

“I slowly started putting a show together, and December was great (for bookings). The spillover is that there has been enough work for January and February.”

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