When Performance Goes Wrong: Lessons from an Embarrassing Wedding Gig

When Performance Goes Wrong: Lessons from an Embarrassing Wedding Gig

We've all had those moments where things don't go as planned. As a performer, these can be especially memorable and instructive. Embarrassing moments are a part of every performer’s journey, especially within the early stages of a career.

This is a story from a wedding gig that taught me some invaluable lessons whilst giving me a memory to chuckle about.

The Story

I was booked to perform at a wedding along with another magician. Our roles were clearly defined: we were to provide relaxed, close-up magic for an hour, and then I would finish with a brief stand-up piece to add a touch of mystery before we left.

As the event was wrapping up and we were preparing to leave, something unexpected happened. The other magician decided to take the spotlight in a way that was not planned. He stood on a table, shouted to grab everyone's attention, and performed an impromptu trick. He wasn’t booked to do that! We were hired for subtle, intimate magic, not a loud, impromptu performance. The guests were baffled, and was I.

Immediate Reaction

As he jumped down from the table and approached me, he asked, "I rocked that, didn’t I?" In that moment, I felt sick to my stomach. I could see the confusion and discomfort on the faces of the guests.

He asked for my opinion, and I had to be honest. I didn’t want to be but I have to; “It was awful, don’t do that again," I told him. I also gave him some advice on how to handle larger parlour spots more appropriately. Truth is, I could see his idea and concept but it was not executed well.


On the way home, the agent (as usual) called to ask how the event went. I couldn’t bring myself to tell him what had happened because I didn’t want to sound negative or like a snitch. Plus, I felt that my opinion was irrelevant since what works for me doesn’t necessarily work for everyone else. So, I glossed over the incident, saying, "The guests had a fantastic time," which they did thank us for as we left.

The next day, the agent called again. "Joel, what the f*ck were you doing magic tricks standing on the table for!?" he demanded. I explained that it wasn’t me, it was the other magician. The agent then asked, "Why didn’t you tell me that yesterday?" I replied, "What would that have changed?" Unfortunately, the agent has never booked either of us since.

Lessons Learned

  1. Respect the Client's Brief: Always stick to what you were hired to do. Deviating from the plan can confuse the audience and the client.
  2. Honest Communication: Be upfront with your agent about what happens at events..
  3. Professional Boundaries: Just because you have an opportunity to show off doesn’t mean you should. Every performance should be tailored to the audience and the occasion.

It’s easy for me to hide behind an example of another performer; there have been many embarrassing moments in my career that I’ll certainly add in the future.

Your Turn

Have you experienced a similar situation? How did you handle it? Share your stories in the comments below. Let’s learn from each other and continue to improve our craft.