icc birmingham events

ICC Birmingham Event

Close-Up Chris

ICC Birmingham Event

Behind the scenes as a table magician

As a “supremely talented” close-up magician in Birmingham (if we do say so ourselves), our team often finds ourselves gracing the stage at the international convention centre. This gem of a venue in Birmingham plays host to countless “super important and fancy” events throughout the year, and we can’t help but get giddy every time we’re invited back.

Just the other day, we were hired to perform at the Travel Lodge awards evening, and guess what? There were 1000 guests and only two magicians! Talk about a magical challenge!

Now, let’s see how we “pulled off the impossible” and made jaws drop…


For those lucky enough to have graced the halls of the international convention centre, you’ll know it’s a colossal beast. With a whopping 10 conference halls, it’s all too easy for guests to stumble upon their own personal Bermuda Triangle. So, fellow magician Russ and I made sure to arrive fashionably early (usually 1 hour before performance), equipped with a compass and a sturdy sense of direction. Navigating the backstage labyrinth of corridors and stairs felt like a quest fit for a medieval knight.

After what felt like an eternity, we triumphantly stumbled upon our elusive dressing room, where we meticulously stashed our suit pockets with more secrets than even the most cunning of wizards could muster. The Room

international convention centre

We sauntered down to hall 4 where guests were starting to gather, and boy, could you feel the buzz in the air! Typically, we’d dazzle them with our close-up magic during the drinks reception and again at the tables during the meal. But this time, it was a quick drinks session before the guests made their way to the main hall.

Travel Lodge had all their teams from every nook and cranny of the UK and even had some fancy guests flying in from Belfast and Germany.

Of course, there were those eager beavers who just had to strut their stuff on the red carpet, where a photographer was snapping away, capturing those oh-so-serious professional shots. Can’t resist the allure of the limelight, can they? 😉

Russ and I ventured into Hall 4, where we were greeted by the sheer vastness of the room. A whopping 100 tables, each accommodating 10 guests, and my heart immediately went out to the chef tasked with the Herculean feat of feeding this horde! I mean, I’ve managed to whip up a Christmas lunch for 14 guests, and the mere thought of keeping that much food warm was enough to give me a good ol’ case of cold sweats! Can you imagine the logistics involved here? Hats off to the chef, my friends, hats off indeed!

Back to the Dressing Room

As if there was going to be a short awards session, we casually strolled back to the dressing room and definitely didn’t get lost or find ourselves locked outside…But once we safely made it back to the dressing room, we bumped into the superstar DJ, Tom, who wanted to witness a few mind-blowing tricks before we dazzled the masses.

Tom genuinely appeared to be smitten with close-up magic – reactions from guests always vary, but Tom’s laugh-out-loud responses were absolutely brilliant and his laughter was downright contagious. A delightful ego boost as we ventured into the next segment of the night…

international convention centre magician

Tackling the masses

As a table magician, we’re constantly faced with a multitude of challenges: interrupting a table of strangers, captivating their attention, handling the inevitable interruptions when the Hunter’s chicken is served, not to mention the obnoxious remarks from those “clever chaps” who can’t wait to tell you how it’s all done. But hey, two magicians against a thousand guests would surely give Jesus a run for his money – and you do remember some of his most famous tricks, right?!

As each table was numbered, we made a rather ingenious agreement. I graciously volunteered to tackle the even numbers, while dear old Russ, who has a knack for looking a bit odd, took on the odd ones (his wife loves him though).

With the noise levels gradually rising, we cranked up our vocals to an impressive 11 and dove right into the performance.

Now, let me be perfectly honest with you. Performing table magic under such challenging circumstances separates the boys from the men. It’s a place where shrinking violets dare not tread. No, you need nerves of steel as you strive to capture the attention of ten guests who are, right from the start, sizing you up and forming judgments.

But hey, that’s the beauty of it, isn’t it? We embrace the challenge, armed with our wit, charm, and a dash of magic.

Soon, word was getting around that the ICC magicians were kicking up a right magical stink and before you knew it, we were being beckoned over to perform for expectant guests.

But this wasn’t just any old table, oh no. This was one of the VIP tables – you know, the ones that scream wealth and prestige. And guess what? All eyes were on me! Time to put Close-Up Chris on the ICC map. The 10 ladies? They were in great spirits, let me tell you. And boy, did we have plenty of chuckles during that ten-minute set.

international convention centre magicians

How long do you stay at a table?

A table magician will typically stay for around 5 minutes but depending on a few factors this could be shorter or longer.

Reasons it’ll be shorter: typically, either you’ve got a gazillion tables to visit and you want to breeze through them all, or your table isn’t giving you the right vibes, so it’s better to keep it short and sweet, not overstaying your welcome.

Reasons it’ll be longer: Personally, if I’m having a jolly good time and the audience is having an absolute blast, I’m not going anywhere in a hurry! I’m going to squeeze every drop from those enchanting teats and leave them begging for more. Of course, I’ll keep in mind the old saying “always leave them wanting more”!

I am a pro after all!

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Challenges as a table magician


As mentioned, the sound levels made communicating with our esteemed guests a tad strained. While some close-up magicians have ingeniously crafted acts that can be performed sans words if need be, I, unfortunately, don’t possess such talents – quite the opposite, to be honest. My set consists of a plethora of “funny” lines, and I often find myself engaged in a battle of wits with noisy environments, which I must admit, tends to be my natural nemesis!

But fear not, the show must go on and armed with over 25 years of experience, I’ve discovered some tips and tricks to overcome some of the issues.


The hall at the ICC was dimly lit and ideally, I could have done with getting hold of the dimmer switch and cranking it up a little. No biggie.


It’s par for the course but when you’re performing at a table, as sure as eggs are eggs, you’re going to be interrupted by the serving staff. Will they arrive at the end of the perfectly crafted routine that you’ve expended much blood, sweat and tears over? Nooooooo. They’re going to arrive just as you get to that tantalising, orgasmic moment where you’re about the make the BIG reveal! Sod’s law.

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However, the beauty of close-up magic is that it’s totally modular. You can cut routines short because your audience generally has no clue where it’s going and usually (!) never suspects the ending. Just be sure to give back any personal items you may have stolen… think watches, wallets and thoughts!

As we worked our “magical” skills at the tables (because who doesn’t love a good magic trick?), DJ Tom decided it was time to crank up the volume on a whole new level. Let’s just say things got a bit “tricky” and we had to relocate our performance to the drinks reception area, where some eager guests were already gathering for more red-carpet snapshots.

We gracefully ended our mystical journey, shedding our wizard ensembles as we bid farewell to the ICC and soared away in our luxurious private jets.

international convention centre

Who is Chris?

Chris is a magician extraordinaire of Birmingham, who happens to know a trick or two (or maybe a few more). He’s got a crew of talented magic buddies to tag along, making him the perfect choice for those big events where you want to sprinkle some entertainment magic.

With a combination of mind-boggling sleight of hand, mischievous pickpocketing skills, and a touch of mind reading, Chris will not only engage your guests but also bring the laughs, making your Birmingham event an unforgettable experience. His promise? Nothing ever tacky!

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