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Topic: Bad kids show
Message: Posted by: magicguy67 (Oct 29, 2005 12:26PM)
Has anyone ever had a bad kids show.like the kids rae screaming not paying attentionyou know.also I'm 13 and going t do some shows and I'm a little afraid the kids wont respect me because I'm young.
Message: Posted by: Steve V (Oct 29, 2005 12:46PM)
They won't! Your best and pretty much only shot is to do shows for four year olds because to them you are a geezer. Forget about 9 and over, walk away from them. As for 'respect' I have no idea what that means any longer. One last thing. If you are going to do shows make sure you do a show and not your close up tricks in front of kids and think that is a show. You can blow it for other magicians who do have a legit kids show.
Steve V
Message: Posted by: Dennis Michael (Oct 29, 2005 01:03PM)
Stick to the Younger crowd for now, the 4-8 year old crowd. Also get a tutor to help you develop routines that keep the kids active. Kid entertaining is a mixture of magic, fun, interaction, and audience participation. Most routines don't include that in the routine.

What routines are you doing?

Message: Posted by: Ron Reid (Oct 29, 2005 01:16PM)
Hi magicguy67:

Sure, you can do it - I started doing kid shows when I was your age. I did just about every show that came my way. Things will be a little more challenging for you than for an adult, buy there's no reason why you can't do shows for all ages.

I would say to start off by getting a good book on children's magic. There are some terrific books that will show you how to manage groups of children, what to do when things go bad, what types of tricks to do for kids, etc.

I'm not sure how much money you have to spend. But, let's assume you're on a budget like I was when I was your age. David Ginn is probably the most famous children's performer - and he's got a lot of books, some of them on sale right now. You can go to http://www.ginnmagic.com and buy "Creative Kid Talk" for $5.00 plus postage. That book will answer a lot of your questions, and will help build your confidence.

Here's just one idea to mange kids, especially if you're afraid they'll be screaming and such. Almost all kids will want to come up and help you with your routines, so you can start off the show by saying in a friendly way, "Today, I'm going to need some helpers to come up here to help with some of the tricks. But...I always pick people who are sitting down, and who know how to follow directions. So, if you'd like to help, make sure you're sitting down with a big smile on your face. Let's begin." or something like that.

I hope this helps you, magicguy67.

Message: Posted by: magicguy67 (Oct 29, 2005 04:23PM)
I have dan harlans video and that's worked.But nobody here has ever had a bad kids show?
Message: Posted by: Steve V (Oct 29, 2005 05:04PM)
Of course some groups of kids are horrible. I did a show for fourth graders once, you know, those rotten nine year olds. Not only were they mostly boys but it was the last day of school and they were freaking out. Good luck using Dans material.
Steve V
Message: Posted by: itshim (Oct 29, 2005 06:05PM)
I've noticed that few people on here tell people about there bad experiences. In the past I've had shows that stank and that is with the advantage of being a teacher of 11-18 years old for 6 years before I ever started doing shows. Anybody who tells you that you can learn how to handle kids from a course is trying to sell you the course. The way to learn is by experience and starting small. Try out magic tricks on a group of kids in a safe enviroment. That is with somebody around who can be the disciplinarian if you start having problems. Learn what they like and don't like, the more they like what you are doing the less problems you will have (whatever your age). Also think about the location you are performing in. Can your audience see and hear you properly. My worst shows have been in dark and echoey rooms. Listen to the advice of others but never assume they know everything. REMEMBER they know what works for them NOT for you. Another thing to remember is that no matter how good somebody is now, they all bombed at some time - even if they can't remember it now. I think a lot of older performers conveniently forget this.

Kind regards

Message: Posted by: Matt Pulsar (Oct 31, 2005 05:15AM)
Just make sure you play through. You are going to bomb some time, so when it happens don't give up, don't leave the stage, keep going. Make light of yourself and pull them back in. In the end, many times, what you think was your worst show ever will still get complements from the parents. They are more interested in the kids having fun and playing and enjoying themselves than how good the tricks are. Every trick can fail, and yet if you are entertaining that matters more.
Message: Posted by: JohnCressman (Oct 31, 2005 09:25AM)
I haven't had a terrible kid's show... but just Saturday, I did a show for a group of kids. The birthday boy was 2 and I couldn't hold his attention, so he kept running around. Still, the other kids were older and more responsive.

Also, I had where the birthday girl kept running up and looking though my bag of tricks... that was...er... frustrating...

You really need to be quick on your feet.
Message: Posted by: Steve V (Oct 31, 2005 12:04PM)
I will admit it....at a party for some great six year olds the one twelve year old did get smacked with a balloon pump. Luckily he didn't want the other kids to see he was a wimp so he didn't react like it hurt him as much as it did. He stopped running up and trying to grab things though.
Steve V
Message: Posted by: Neale - Bacon (Oct 31, 2005 12:09PM)
First of all let me say that every magician has had a show of kids who were rowdy or over excited or in some cases badly behaved, however as a children's entertainer, it concerns me that I hear such a negative tone towards kids from some entertainers. I won't quote because I don't want to point fingers but go back through the posts in this thread to see what I mean.

It is not just here, but I hear magicians say stuff like this all the time. Children are not stupid, and if they sense you don't like them or are just there for a quick buck, they will act accordingly.

Now stepping down from my soapbox...
Message: Posted by: twistedace (Oct 31, 2005 09:18PM)
You have to be the cool guy not the authority figure. You're the magician and you're the poster child for "good time". Everybody has to fall flat on their faces a few times at a kids show in the beginning to learn how to do a good kids' show! Have fun and be as goofy as heck. I suggest you listen to Den Dowhy!
Message: Posted by: triadsong (Nov 7, 2005 08:34AM)
I had a show yesterday -- Christening party with 25 kids between 0 - 16. About 12 were interested in the show and participating. The help from the adults was minimal and the main difficulty came just before the finale -- Rainbow ice was served!! So, we took a two minute break and I did a few close up effects for the older kids and the adults who stayed.

Oh well, the adults who stayed with their kids kept them polite and calm and all were happy. I paid attention to every child I could possibly pay attention to and in the end I was paid more than my agreed fee as well! BUT, no tip can make up for the fact that I truly miss working with my wife who stays at home with our daughter while I perform.

Regardless, just keep up your practice and focus on the age range you are comfortable with. Don't let them scare you. If they see fear or hesitancy then crowd mentalilty takes over and you risk the the older ones treating you like the substitute teacher in class.
Message: Posted by: nucinud (Nov 7, 2005 11:48AM)
Sometimes you just have to leave your ego outside the door. Some people think we are babysitters. And having interuptions like rainbow ice, or some guest making a grand entrance during your act is just fine.
When that happens, I try not to take it personally. I just try to think I am getting paid. Even though I would rather have a polite audience and applause and laughter. But that is reality when you do private parties.
Message: Posted by: Paddy (Nov 7, 2005 12:45PM)
I did a Christmas show for a troop of Girl Scouts 2 years ago. No matter what I did I could not control these girls. Some of them actually got up and tried to walk in back of me during the performance! I turned to them and bluntly told them that if they didn't sit down right then I ws ending the performance and leaving.

Well they did go back in front but still the constant yelling back and forth to each other.

THEN the troop leader called me about 4 months later and told me how dissappointed in the show she was!! I asked why she waited 120 days to complain, I gaurantee my shows but not after that long a period. Well she hinted that another show (for free of course) would make her happy. I explained that after being with her troop of girls "I will not accept any job from the girl scouts again unless the leader can assure me they will behave like human children." (Exact words I used.)

Well a friend of mine got the troop the next year and had the same problems I did so at least I know it wasn't my show. BTW I do over 100 kid's parties a year plus restaurants so I must be all right at controlling kids most of the time.

Message: Posted by: Amazing Magic Co (Nov 7, 2005 01:04PM)
Sometimes "Children's Entertainer" is a subjective word where, at tiems, everyone may have a different interpretation.

Good luck.

Message: Posted by: Steve V (Nov 7, 2005 01:49PM)
I did my one free charity show of the year for a group of monsters, this was in September and I don't count it as a reg. show cuz it is always out of control. The lil' monsters surrounded me, one would distract while another would grab. I finally told the kids if they didn't back off I'd beat their parents. One girl said quite seriously "can't you just yell at them?". Yeah....good times. Oh, next year they are on their own.
Steve V
Message: Posted by: chris mcbrien (Nov 7, 2005 10:42PM)
Ok, I'm going to take another route.
He SHOULD do the show for the older kids. Being able to perform for your peers successfully is very important...even if the ages are remotely close this is important. The most important factor to success:
DON'T try to be "ultra-cool" or "mysterious". Just be yourself and invite them to enjoy it with you. Have them help you as much as you can, and approach it as more of a "relax and enjoy the ride" kind of thing.
Or you could take the easy route and skip it altogether.
When you're young and performing, it's always harder to gain the respect of your audience. They'll respect you more by just being you...that's who they asked for anyway!
A quick PS: I don't just say this as a bunch of "hot air". I was doing Charles Dickens and Shakespeare for my peers and older at your age. Believe me, you may have some rough times...it's all part of the game. And in the end, you really can't take yourself that seriously! You're only a speck of time to the audience!
Message: Posted by: tjmagic (Sep 14, 2006 08:16PM)
Sometimes it's just the conditions that are horrible adding to the demise of the event. Here is my most recent and, I must say, worst performing experience yet. You'll have to excuse the tone as it is still a close memmory.


Recently, a woman engaged me to entertain at her child’s 4th birthday party having seen my preschool show at her child’s daycare. Being a local businessperson she decided it would be a great idea to have the party at her workplace – a restaurant and bar.

Eureka! What a great idea, right? Me thinks NOT! Since she owns the place it must have seemed like a perfectly good idea. The party was to be held on a weekday night at 6:30pm.

Well folks, truthfully, a restaurant is NOT the ideal location to have a child’s party. In fact, not even close. But if there’s a private room that's inaccessible to the general public it can work okay.

To my dismay, upon arriving at the restaurant I found that it was not to be held in the restaurant portion of the eatery, but in the bar. Uh-Oh! Nevertheless, I wheeled into the bar with the party going full tilt. The bar was dimly lit as bars tend to be, with a single window behind the stage area and dusk fast approaching. The environment was chaotic at best with parents talking loudly in order to be heard and children running amuck. The only light source was coming from a shoulder-high window BEHIND me. We magicians hate light coming from behind us.

Although informed of their low-levels of sugar intake, the kids appeared to have been on 30-minute sugar IVs prior to my arrival. Trust me, they were swinging from the chandeliers. Also, several of the parents were consuming alcohol – not very common at preschool-age parties. It could have been disastrous had I not brought my sound system with me. The sound levels were at a fever pitch. And so began my perilous uphill battle to entertain these folks with my dinosaur-themed magic show. Yes, the mother had requested a dinosaur show to fit her theme. She'd seen my dinosaur daycare show a week prior.

As you might suspect the outcome was horrendous! It was like performing in an aviary! It was pure unbridled bedlam with just a few kids and parents watching. Amid the continuous bar chatter from parents, all during the show several children were playing onstage almost underfoot, interrupting occasionally to growl at me with dinosaurs in hand. My multiple but humorous pleas for the removal of these “angels” fell on deaf ears as no parent laid claim to them. Shocking!

Later I found out the mothers of these children were next door in the bar having drinks while the rest of the crowd “tended” their children. This was better than dropping them off at the party, which they’d done a month earlier. Don't anyone scream "White Trash!", although possibly fitting, it wouldn't be proper.

Finally when the onstage munchkins started playing with my magic props, I stopped the show altogether and asked that parents, ANY parents come forth and cart these kiddos away. They did and I finished the show.

After the show several parents stopped by to express their disgust with the situation and commend me on a job well done. They told me they were glad I’d stopped the show and commiserated with me for a brief moment on the dismal state of contemporary parenting skills. I appreciated their sentiments, but was ready to bolt out the door screaming all the way down Fairfax Avenue. I didn't though, remembering that I could always cry myself to sleep that night.

The birthday mother was annoyed, embarrassed and apologetic as she helped me outside with my rabbit and props. She said she felt the birthday child had enjoyed the show and the kids didn’t know the difference. But, I did and EVERYONE else did too. Once again, environment, or lack thereof is everything and it had contributed to, if not ruined, the entire birthday experience for everyone!

I perform at hundreds of parties every year and have to say that this was one of the most challenging and most nightmarish performance conditions I've encountered to date. If all kids parties were this way, I’d either be out of the business or strapped down to a gurney on the express shuttle to a rubber room.

And although I don’t work for tips and do charge a fine fee for my services, this woman in the restaurant/bar business offered me no tip. And trust me, given the circumstances, a tip would NOT have been considered inappropriate.

Storal of the Mory: Don’t have your child’s party in a bar, just don’t.
Message: Posted by: rossmacrae (Sep 14, 2006 11:54PM)
Remember TV's "Super Chicken" and his sidekick, Fred? Fred would get horribly injured, and the common response was "You knew this job was dangerous when you took it, Fred." On the other hand, vaudeville performers always used to say that you really need a bit of '**** you money,' so you can just say '**** you' and walk, and still pay the rent tomorrow. The ultimate horrorshow of my career was one I knew I should have abandoned, threatened to stop and leave, threatened again, appealed futilely to the parents, but finished because I really needed the money. And, in the end, the idiot parent stopped payment on the check anyway.

I feel for ya - kudos on keeping ANY degree of composure
Message: Posted by: tjmagic (Sep 15, 2006 03:15AM)

Thanks for kind remarks. I have enjoyed your DVD and gained valuable knowledge from what you shared on it. It's nice to know that every once in a while we're not alone in our experiences.

Message: Posted by: vincentmusician (Sep 23, 2020 04:37AM)
Hello Tim:
Bad kids? There is no such thing as a bad audience, just a bad performer. Who ever said this does not do enough kids shows and home birthday parties! No matter how good you are, sooner or later, you are going to get them.
Bad venues? It is amazing that some parents have no idea what a Magician's Show requires to perform properly and I find that I often do not get a good performing situation. However, experience will teach you what do do and how to deal with this.
To Tim. I have seen your videos and you are a very good performer. You do your show the best you can and carry on, but when things get out of hand, I just go to my last routine and end my show. There is a limit to what I will put up with. If it is any comfort, when you get a good show with a good audience, it makes you appreciate it even more. Cheers! Yours truly, Vincent!
Message: Posted by: TheAmbitiousCard (Sep 24, 2020 02:24AM)
Why should a parent know what a magic show requires?
Message: Posted by: David Todd (Sep 24, 2020 05:17PM)
[quote]On Sep 24, 2020, TheAmbitiousCard wrote:
Why should a parent know what a magic show requires? [/quote]


I would take the initiative and email the clients a week before the party with a Tip Sheet on [i]"How we can make this a Memorable and Successful Magic Show"[/i].
The email could contain a PDF document and/or a link to your Website which has a list of things that will make the show go smoothly, including sample seating plans (illustrations showing typical living room set ups). If you can get them to send you photos from their phone showing the room you will be performing in (with the dimensions of the room, if it's not clear from the photos) then you know what to expect and can make suggestions for where you will need to set up your performing area with your table and how to arrange seating for children. Your list of 'Tips for a Memorable and Successful Show' should include everything else you require. If you need a few minutes of set-up time in private ,let them know that ahead of time, so they don't expect you to just walk in and set up your show while surrounded by the kids. Obviously if you have a "packs small, plays big" type of suitcase show that is pretty much set up and ready to go as soon as you open up your case that takes away a lot of the pressure of needing extra set-up time when you arrive on site, but if your show has more large props and tables that need some set-up time, let the client know you will need that time with no one else in the room while you prep for the show.

Here's a great article by Dan McLean on "Advancing Your Show" , about how to contact your clients in advance to let them know the requirements you have for your show. This is aimed primarily at performers working theatrical venues, but the ideas can be adapted to those working birthday party shows in private homes.