Tap above to watch video report by Martin Stew
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”.
Mr Delaney said: “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.
“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).”