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Topic: Horrible children
Message: Posted by: randirain (Apr 29, 2007 03:53PM)
OK... I had five shows in the last two days.
All of them went just fine, except for one.

But, first of all...
Let me say that I put on the exact same show all the time, and I have very good reviews.
The kids love my show.

OK...now that being said...

The last show that I just did, not a hour ago from writing this, was the worst show I have ever done.
Not because of me, but because of the children.
These were the worst behaved children on the face of the earth.

So my question is...
What do you do about this?

I just ignored it, hurried up, finished, and left.
But now I am so peeved!!

I would really like some ideas on this because I almost packed my stuff up and left.

Not to mention that I am here in Texas, it's 85 degrees outside, we are in the living room with about 50 people, and they don't have the AC on.
I am sweating like a freaking pig, trying to do magic for a bunch of brats.

It was horrible!!!!
Makes me want to stop doing this.

Any advice?

Message: Posted by: MagicSanta (Apr 29, 2007 04:32PM)
Realize you get to pack up, go home, and leave the brats with those that spawned them. Makes me giddy just thinking about it.
Message: Posted by: magicmarkdaniel (Apr 29, 2007 04:37PM)
Have a beer and make a note of their name so you know never to take a booking from them again. The opening few lines said it all. You know it's not you, so don't dwell on it. We all have the odd job that makes you think, "Why do I bother," but we also have the countless jobs where the kids think you're the best thing they've ever seen!

Letting it play on your mind will only wind you up all the way to your next gig.

Message: Posted by: magicbyswh (Apr 29, 2007 04:47PM)
Just curious, Randi, what effects do you do in your show?
Message: Posted by: randirain (Apr 29, 2007 06:12PM)
Yes, magicmarkdaniel...
I am trying not to dwell on it, but it's hard.

I have done many, many kids shows.
And, yes, I have had some pretty wild kids there...but nothing like this.
And I must say, it was not all of them. It was like three.
The rest had a good time, but these three boys are just unexplainable.
And these were 5 and 6 years olds.

It does make me want to give up.
It makes me think, "Why bother?" And that I don't need this in my life.
But I guess I'll get over it.
I have a show tomorrow, luckily it's not a kids show.

But my show consists of everything but big, colorful boxes.
I open with a series of hank magic, which includes the hank mouse.
I then do some rope magic...
Nielsen bottle with the snake can...
Egg bag...
Bunch of Gene Anderson newspaper magic...
Stuff like that...
And the last thing is I produce a live goldfish in a bowl of water and give it to the birthday kid.
It usually goes over very well, just not with little spawns of Satan!!

Message: Posted by: magicmanfrank (Apr 29, 2007 06:24PM)
On 2007-04-29 17:32, MagicSanta wrote:
Realize you get to pack up, go home, and leave the brats with those that spawned them. Makes me giddy just thinking about it.

AMEN to that!!! ;)

Message: Posted by: Ron Reid (Apr 29, 2007 06:35PM)
Hi, Randi:

What were the brats doing, specifically? Were they heckling you, saying that they know how to do such-and-such? Also, were all three together?

I admire a lot about the late Brian Flora. He was a bit too harsh for my personality, but things worked well for him. The main thing I learned from his tapes (audio and video) was to be proactive. He would state upfront that the show was not like watching television - it was an interactive show - and he had one rule: "When I'm talking, you don't. If someone's talking while I'm talking, then I have to stop the show and wait for that person. Then, I have to leave out a trick or two." I say the same thing, but not quite as blunt.

Basically, you set the parameters for acceptable behavior. And, when you think about it, kids talking while you're talking is the biggest nuisance, so it's best to let them know upfront what's okay and what's not.

I hope this helps you. I had a bad show last weekend, so it happens even when you try to plan for everything.

Message: Posted by: Stevethomas (Apr 29, 2007 07:05PM)
Be careful, the last time I made a post like this, some guy said I was a racist! Really...and, just like randirain, same show every time, GREAT show, but there's always one or two (or in this case 3) kids who want to ruin it for everybody. I even suggested it was in the upbringing of the kids and was told that it must've been my fault.

Randirain, it wasn't you. Next time, it'll be a great show, and you'll forget all about this one! Karma always comes back. I usually start the show with proactive statements (ORDERS) like Brian always taught.

Message: Posted by: randirain (Apr 29, 2007 07:58PM)
That's a good idea, Ron. I will have to figure something like that that will work for me.
(Hmmm...two that's... I so rarely get to use that.)
Anyway... I am starting to get over it.
The beer helped, Mark.

And to answer the question as what were they doing...
Yes, they were heckling me.
A little "I know how it's done"...
But more of just flat out saying that it wasn't amazing, "that's stupid", and other stuff like that.
I can deal with the "I know how that's done."
It's just when nothing you do is good enough.
I could have pulled a rabbit out of my ***, made it fly around the room, drop golden eggs to all the kids, and these three would have still not liked it.
And, yes, they were together...
But, no, none of them were the birthday boy.

The truth is that they were just not very smart.
I try to give kids credit and do more than just goofy tricks.
It works most of the time.

And, geez, was it hot!!!
Turn the A/C on, people!!!

50 people in a room, 30 of them are hot kids that just came from outside playing, it's Texas, 85 degrees, hot and humid, and they got the A/C off, the windows open, and expect me to perform.
I literally had sweat running down into my eyes.
That's how hot it was.
I was so mad!!

Message: Posted by: Tony James (Apr 29, 2007 08:43PM)
It's all perfectly normal. Happens to everyone. Take no notice. Take the money, smile, and go home to peace and quiet.

And you're right - children are horrible. We've known that in England for the last thousand years.

That's why English parents hate their children, send them off to boarding school at the earliest opportunity, and leave them there for for the next ten years or so.

Or else they have live-in staff to look after them. That's why [b]we[/b] are employed to run their birthday parties, allowing the parents to keep well out of the way.

A few weeks ago, some parents went off to New York for the weekend, leaving the children with their Nanny and the Housekeeper and the Chauffeur to run the birthday party. If they can't arrange to get away completely, then they at least have a separate room where they are holding the event so they can keep out of the way.

They don't emerge even to sing Happy Birthday and are totally disinterested in anything you may have arranged for their child to do. Just get it over with as quickly as possible.

They even have someone else to pay you at the end, so they don't have to be involved with you at all.

That's children's entertaining for you. Well, it is at least at the top end of the market in England, where all the money is.

Isn't it like that everywhere?
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (Apr 29, 2007 08:55PM)
School teachers have to put up with the same lovely children all day, every day.
Al Angello
Message: Posted by: flimnar (Apr 30, 2007 12:32AM)
Been there, done that! All one can do is brush the dirt off of one's britches and climb back on the horse! It does seem to be a part of our wiring as humans to remember one critical/negative comment or experience about us over 500 positive ones. The truth is, I have found it takes a little while to shake an experience like this off, in spite of the fact that, in my head, I know better. Keep on keeping on! (Let's see, are there any more trite sayings I can include?)

Message: Posted by: randirain (Apr 30, 2007 01:23AM)
Thanks, all... It all makes me feel better...or I am just really drunk right now.

And, no, Tony...I have never ran into all of that.
Maybe I need to up my rate or something to get to those type of people.

And, Al Angello... School teachers can send the kid to the office.
We can't...even though we would like to.
I so wanted to get revenge.
I do a very scary voodoo doll trick where I stick a real needle through my arm.
(It's sterile, I used to be a nurse.)
That scares adults, and I so would have loved to have done that to those little punks. But I couldn't, I had to be professional.

Anyway...thanks, all, for the comments.

Message: Posted by: dandanmagicman (Apr 30, 2007 01:32AM)
I once had a child pick a fight with my assistant. My 9 year old son was dressed as a clown, and this little punk starts yelling, "Hey, clown! You wanna fight?!" Who wants to fight a clown? Seriously! It was very hard to stop laughing and continue the show.
Message: Posted by: TheAmbitiousCard (Apr 30, 2007 01:34AM)
Tell them you're going to do a mind reading trick and send them outside while you try to read their thoughts, then go on with the show and never go get them.

Yep, everybody has these kinds of days. Your job is to forget this one as soon as possible, and move on and enjoy the good ones.

Since you do the egg bag, you could put a real fresh egg in one of the bad kid's pockets and tell them not to break it. You know what will happen. :)

I don't personally authorize the use of these, but boy, would they be fun.
Message: Posted by: Chubby Harris (Apr 30, 2007 02:12AM)
I did a show last year in the posh part of town, and was quite looking forward to it,...WRONG!!! What a nightmare show. This darling little angel had myself doing my Magic show, a face painter, Punch and Judy man, a bouncy castle, and a juggler ALL going on at the same time. Oh...did I mention that this was also held outside, around a large swimming pool?
At one point, a young lad just charged at my magic table and, with full force, decided to kick the thing over. Good job I did not have a loaded rabbit on top, my props went flying. But get this, the parents were watching, and not one of them said a word.
In hindsight, I should of packed up, there and then, but I carried on. I placed a birthday hat on the birthday girl's head. She took it off and just threw it across the lawn, stomping off to go back on the bouncy castle.
Funny thing is, when the dad paid me at the end, he gave me the cheque and said, "Great show" ....Huh???... One address that is now on my blacklist.
Message: Posted by: ROBERT BLAKE (Apr 30, 2007 05:23AM)
And, Al Angello... School teachers can send the kid to the office.
We can't...even though we would like to.

Randi, no matter how many shows you do or have done, there is that one show you will get it. Forget about it, it is not you.

Maybe it was the heat.

Maybe they were impolite.

I worked in an amusement park and children thought they could do everything they'd like to do. One child was throwing an apple at my head.

(Which a teacher gave the children during the show - standing in front of me. I said, "Sorry, we are doing a show here." The teacher said she did not care, it was now apple-eating time.)

I said they should not do that again. Of course he did it again, and I said to him he had to go to the back of the stage and watch the show from there. He did not like that, but this was also a warning for the other kids. That was my last try, and it worked. Sometimes if the teacher doesn't do it, I do it. Just see it as a way of raising children.

The worse thing is that the teachers think it is OK because the kids have fun.
Message: Posted by: Regan (Apr 30, 2007 07:34AM)

It is unfortunate, but it is going to happen from time to time. Don't let one bad experience get you down!!!

Message: Posted by: James Munton (Apr 30, 2007 07:37AM)

Sorry for your bad experience.

First of all, you are allowed to have a bad show. Try not to take it so hard.

However, unlike some of the previous posts, I don't think it is particularly helpful to join in a chorus of moaning about bratty, horrible, spoilt, badly-raised kids.

The only value in having a bad show is the experience you gain and the questions you are forced to answer that ultimately make you a better performer.

You have probably already asked yourself many of these questions.

I would agree with you that 50 people squeezed into a room with no air conditioning was a recipe for trouble. Could you have done something about that? Possibly not. Perhaps asked for a fan?

You had three kids who were primarily the troublemakers, and they were sitting together. Could you have done something about that? Absolutely.

In your original post, you said, "I just ignored it, hurried up, finished, and left."
Then, you asked for some advice.

If kids are disrupting your show to that extent, you cannot ignore it.

First, you try to prevent disruptions in the first place. I didn't see anywhere in the description of your show that you do a warm-up and teach "the rules".

I am a big proponent of setting guidelines at the beginning. That way, if a kid chooses to act up, you can refer him/her to the rules. This can be done in a fun, magical way.

If you still get a couple of kids acting up, you can break character, stop performing, and remind them politely, but firmly, to stop what they are doing and tell them how you would like them to behave.

If they continue, definitely split them up. Move one kid to the other side of the room and the worst one to the back, nearest the adults.

[b]You[/b] are the boss of your show. You are an adult, they are 6 year-old kids. You should be able to get to a point where you can handle anything a 5 year-old throws at you (figuratively and literally!).

I don't think you did anything particularly wrong, Randi, but we can always do things better!

But we only improve as performers if we take responsibility for everything that happens before, during, and after our show.

I am repeating stuff I said on a previous thread. It seems some people are still not taking responsibility. They will not improve as performers.

Message: Posted by: magicmarkdaniel (Apr 30, 2007 07:56AM)
Hi James,

I understand what it is you're saying about taking responsibility, and I can connect with a lot of things you do, too.

On the other hand, we have to still make it clear to the adults and parents that we're not simply a child-minding service. We're there to do a show. A big part of the responsibility is with the adults in the room to watch behaviour, and I find making eye contact with parents, then looking at the children misbehaving works wonders and takes the work off me.

The way I see it, I'm there to be (and being paid to be) silly. That's my job. It's not fair on the rest of the kids when I have to break out of the character they're enjoying to be serious for a few moments. It takes a little time for the kids to get used to your character again.

Simple guidelines in the booking pack I send to parents make it clear that I'm there as a magician. They're there to enjoy themselves, remembering the kids are ultimately their responsibility.

It's such a difficult profession these days, as some kids just don't know right from wrong. If you (politely) tell a child off for misbehaving, and they feel embarrassed at being told off in front of all their friends, you end up with one crying child and a couple of unhappy parents. I personally don't want to put myself in that position. Now, I'm not saying I let the kids get away with murder. I will only ask them to behave in a fun way, which more times than not, gets the message across. But I refuse to break out of character and spoil the fun for everyone else when there's adults in the room who can deal with the problem.

Just my opinion, it works for me...

Message: Posted by: kalanag (Apr 30, 2007 08:15AM)
Sounds like the close quarters could have played a major role in this fiasco.
It's not you, it's the children and their parents... Speaking of the poor excuses...where were the parents, and did they try to reign the little poopers in?
Munton's advice rings true. Perhaps try some "kid control"...and if you already apply this...perhaps stop, take a deep breath, and tell them of the time you couldn't do ANY magic because no one was behaving!!!! (A complete lie, but it may make them stop!)
Keep in mind, it's something to learn from. Perhaps write down what you would change if you could about what happened????
Message: Posted by: randirain (Apr 30, 2007 10:13AM)
I agree with Mark.
I was there to perform and entertain.
I am not their parents and have no right to punish the kids in any way.
If I was to, I could get in a lot of trouble.

I think I did the right thing.
It was hot and miserable, and poorly planned.
They got out of me all they could in such a situation.

Message: Posted by: TrickyRicky (Apr 30, 2007 11:16AM)
Hi, Randi.
Just let it slide.
I'll bet you've learned something from this bad experience.
We always gain something from good and bad situations.
Chin up, and carry on regardless.

Those brats are the way they are because of the parents. They let them get away with amusing themselves at your expense.

Were the parents siting there during your nightmare? And if they were, what was their reaction?
Message: Posted by: James Munton (Apr 30, 2007 11:40AM)

I agree we mostly think alike on this.

Yes, using firm eye contact can work wonders.
Yes, you give kids guidelines and remind them of the guidelines in a fun way if they forget.
No, I don't think you should "tell off" or scold a child in that situation.
I didn't ever mention "punishing" the kids, either.

But, I don't think you can always expect the adults in the room to monitor the kids and deal with disturbances.

Often parents are reluctant to do anything, not because they are awful people, but because they are respecting you as the performer and don't want to step on YOUR toes!

I think there is a problem here of expectations. You are expecting them to be the crowd control, and meanwhile, they are sitting there wondering if you are ever going to tell little Johnny to stop being a nuisance.

Also, often the parents don't [b]know[/b] what is going on. They are sitting behind the kids and can't see what you are seeing.

Finally, breaking character for 10 seconds and firmly telling a kid to stop messing about comes after you have tried everything else.

You'll find it doesn't interrupt the show at all and does not spoil the show for everyone else. In fact, everyone else appreciates it because now you can actually do the show without further disruption.

And it is [b]way[/b] more disruptive and embarrassing for the kid to have Dad come stomping through and yanking his kid off to the back!

By the way, in between writing my first post this morning and this one, I did two shows at an elementary school here in Dallas.

If you do any school shows, you'll quickly find out that teachers [b]do not[/b] appreciate a performer who can't keep control.

Message: Posted by: Buster Balloon (Apr 30, 2007 12:11PM)
During my shows I am very wacky and silly. This actually helps with extreem cases of ill behavior, because when I change tone, it is very obviouse. If a child is doing something inapropriate I will gently remind them of the rules (still in character) that everyone must sit flat on their bottoms and no talking while I am talking. But if the behavior continues, I will kneal down, make eye contact with them, and address the offending kidlets individually to tell them that they need to stop.

I do not raise my voice, I am not scornful, I am in fact very polite. But because I have stopped being silly and used my adult voice they get the message. This is actually from David Kaye's book "Seriousely Silly".

In really extreem (and thankfully rare) cases I have told parents that I need them to play the roles of parents so that I can continue with the show. If the audience is that bad, I do not want to work for those people again, so if they take offense and I burn that bridge it is ok with me.

For after the show, on the bottom of each booking sheet I have three smiley faces and one skull and crossbones with the following words below.

They loved Me
I loved them
They Tipped Me (fill in the amount)

Most shows I circle between 1 and 3 smiley faces. Rarely do I cicle the skull, but it keeps me from booking those disasters again. The more you work for people who love you, the more you will love what you do.

And remember, there are no bad kids. Their are just bad and stoopid grown-ups who are, unfortunately, allowed to breed. Idiot parents who either pass on their bad traits to their kids, or do not correct the bad behavior that their kids learn elsewhere.
Message: Posted by: James Munton (Apr 30, 2007 12:21PM)

Excellent advice!

Message: Posted by: magicmarkdaniel (Apr 30, 2007 12:24PM)
On 2007-04-30 13:11, Buster Balloon wrote:

And remember, there are no bad kids. Their are just bad and stoopid grown-ups who are, unfortunately, allowed to breed. Idiot parents who either pass on their bad traits to their kids, or do not correct the bad behavior that their kids learn elsewhere.

Amen to that!

Message: Posted by: TomBoleware (Apr 30, 2007 12:43PM)
I think James said it well about the parents.

No parent wants to make it more embarrassing than it all ready is. They donít like it, (no parent wants a bad kid) but most often they think they will only make it worst. They are waiting on you. Itís Your show and the kids are a part of it.

Now in a school or daycare, the teachers may help out if it gets out of hand, but parents simply donít want to make a scene. Iíve had parents leaving my daycare with their kids and the kids showing out to the max, the parents donít say a word. Until they get outside, away from everyone. Then they take care of the problem.

I personally think there is no such thing as a bad child, only children that do bad things. Some have problems yes, but we donít know this the first time we meet them. We shouldnít assume that a child acting up is a bad child all the time and canít be controlled. The excitement can make the best of them act up.

Message: Posted by: Doug Higley (Apr 30, 2007 01:30PM)
Tony James: I have made a promise to myself to come and read that post everyday. Next time I give somebody's obnoxious little 'food tube' the evil eye at Disneyland, I'll just blame it on my heritage. Great post my friend.

Oh...and Disneyland is the ONLY place I have to put up with other peoples biological blunders in my immediate vicinity. Enough kid show performances in the 60's cured me.
Message: Posted by: randirain (Apr 30, 2007 01:41PM)
Thanks, but to answer your question.
I don't think the kids parents were there.
There was one adult that tried to do something, but they didn't listen to her either.
No father stepped in, that's for sure.

And yes good advise Don...
But here is my problem and I really don't think it applies to any of you.
But I would like to hear your thoughts.

Kids don't see me as an authority figure.
They look at me as one of them, just a big kid.
Even if I break character and say something, which I do, it still doesn't work.
I guess it's the female thing.
But I would say the silliness, and the colorful child like clothes I wear play a part in it too.
Come to think of it...
The clothes may be a huge factor.
I usually wear dark clothes and tights with planets on them to give kind of a wizard look.
That day I wore a new colorful outfit that I was trying out.
hmmm... maybe?

But yes... I am not going to scold them. I do tell them upfront to stay seated and all that.
But they don't listen.

Message: Posted by: Andre Hagen (Apr 30, 2007 02:39PM)
Randi wrote:
Ok... I had five shows in the last two days.
All of them went just fine, except for one.

Four out of five is pretty good Randi. You must be doing your job. Don't even think about giving up. Memory is very selective, and over time you will remember that one show as a learning experience, and remember the suggestions made to avoid it in the future.
Message: Posted by: Potty the Pirate (Apr 30, 2007 02:44PM)
Randi, may I ask your age? Or is that impolite even for a pirate? Perhaps the kids don't see you as an authority figure, but then neither do they see me that way. I can become an authority figure when necessary. The fact that I'm running their party makes it neccessary for them to do as I say.
But your bad experience sounds to me like it's down to cheap clients. Any kids entertainer who works for the lower income families in the UK is asking for trouble. Sadly, those kids tend to include a high percentage of very badly behaved kids. They come from broken homes, live in poverty amid argumentative and violent adults, and have little or no sense of how to behave. Of course, it's not their fault, but it's an easy problem to avoid - simply get to the point where those families can't afford you.
I'd like to mention though, that when you do have a successful party with kids like this, it's most rewarding. And most kids from poorer families are lovely, it's only the few who have serious behavioural problems. I see these kind of kids at places like welfare clubs and single-parent organisations. The same kids who would behave badly at a private party can be little angels when they're in this environment.
Message: Posted by: James Munton (Apr 30, 2007 02:54PM)

Don't even get me started. Your post is absolutely ridiculous.

The idea that wealthy kids make for better audiences than poorer kids is both offensive and untrue.

Message: Posted by: Buster Balloon (Apr 30, 2007 03:02PM)
But your bad experience sounds to me like it's down to cheap clients. Any kids entertainer who works for the lower income families in the UK is asking for trouble. Sadly, those kids tend to include a high percentage of very badly behaved kids...

Oddly enough, I have stopped marketing to high end clients in my area for the same reason. I have many clients who scrimp and save for months, and have other family members and friends pitch in so that they can have me at their event, and they are wonderful. They are some of my favorite clients. Then I have over indulged children of wealthy parents who never correct them for fear of stifling them or damaging their young egos who I will, happily, never work for again. Living in the LA area, there is something wildly amusing and a little ironic about Lil' old me not accepting calls from a celebrity client. But it does happen.
Message: Posted by: chris mcbrien (Apr 30, 2007 03:29PM)
It can be many things!
I still think that the parents should still be able to reel them in when necessary. And I've had rowdy kids from all financial, racial and religious stratta.....kids are all the same...it's the parenting skills...
Message: Posted by: TheAmbitiousCard (Apr 30, 2007 04:08PM)
I have asked a child before.. "where are your parents?".
In the one case I asked this, it shut the kid up pretty quick.
Message: Posted by: Buster Balloon (Apr 30, 2007 04:15PM)
On 2007-04-30 15:54, James Munton wrote:

The fact is that we can only become better at something (and thus get better results) when we take responsibility for it.

Otherwise we may as well just hold up our hands and say it is all beyond our control!

Thou he may have initially come off harsh, James does make a great point. Some of the best advice I have ever received on dealing with difficult situations came from Jeff McBride's manager Tobias. "Begin with the assumption that it is all your fault, even when you know it is not".

When you approach a situation from that angle, the focus is on how you can change the situation and what you can do differently. The problem when focusing on others is that even when you are right, you cannot control the actions of another, only influence. By focusing on your own actions, you can create real change.

Next, while there are many who will disagree with me, the costume may have been a contributing factor. I used to wear a purple zoot suite when I performed. Then I changed to a bright orange zoot suite, and I lost control. My audiences were wilder and a lot harder to manage. Color DOES affect mood. It is used in marketing and advertising everyday. If you do not believe me walk into a Hot Topic store sometime and see how differently you feel than when you are at Old Navy. It is not everything, but it does contribute. And a great performer is attentive to all of the details that contribute to their shows. The color as well as the type of costume you wear do factor in to how an audience perceives you. I now wear a brown Zoot suite, but my personality is much zanier that it used to be. That is the combination that I found works best for me, and best creates the character and the mood that I want to portray.

My advice would be to trade off between the two costumes and pay close attention to how the audience responds. Over the long run, you may find that there is no difference at all. But you will have to experiment and find what works for you.

I can see where being a silly female could be a challenge when it comes to audience control. You may want to change the balance a little bit. The most effective female children's and family performers I know, have a good balance of funny and charming (think Disney Princess) with a hint of silly. Sometimes silly, self deprecating humor (the bungling clown) makes it harder for kids to take a performer seriously be it man or woman.

Other than that, the best audience control advise that I can give you is listen to everyone, and take all of it with a full shaker of salt. Every performer is different and what works for one does not work for all (sometimes it only works for the one). That not only goes for the yahoos on Magic Cafť (myself included) but even people like David Ginn, Sammy Smith, and Silly Billy. Learn as much as you can and try out the ideas that ring true and make sense to you. Keep trying until you find what works. And know that no matter how good your show is, or how good your audience management skills, there will still be those audiences that you struggle with. There will just be fewer of them. And when it does go wrong, just repeat the mantra, "It is all my fault".
Message: Posted by: randirain (Apr 30, 2007 04:18PM)
Yes... Chris... I can't seem to pinpoint it down to one type.

Frank, I like that.. and also what you pm'd me with.

Well Don... You speak a lot of truth.
And I get what you are saying...
But I don't know if I agree with the "It is all my fault" outlook.
That sounds very depressing.
There should be a way to learn to solve situations without being so hard on yourself.
After all... we are all human... and no one is perfect.

But I am going to try changing the look back.
Because before... it was much "darker" look.
That may give me more of an edge.
Put a little scare into them.

Message: Posted by: Mad Jake (May 2, 2007 10:17PM)
I find conjuring up Satan for undicplined children usually sets them straight, most of them just do a roadkill kinda twitch at most after seeing a demon in their living room :)
Message: Posted by: erlandish (May 3, 2007 01:46AM)
Kids desperately enjoy being around adults they can connect with. My own experience is that this simple truth trumps just about everything, including most environmental difficulties or incidental challenges.

Problem is, you can't connect with everybody. Some kids naturally connect to authoritative figures, some kids are naturally repelled by them. Most kids are attracted to fun characters, but few people have the same definition of fun, and while many passively respond to fun, many actively respond to it and try to become a part of it.

The best you can do is create a show that puts as many factors in your favour, use magic that's the most meaningful for them, figure out how to talk at their level, try to get the majority and/or the demographic with the most group influence onside, and hope for the best. Sometimes it doesn't work. C'est la vie, collect your pay, move on.

4 out of 5 shows sounds pretty good to me, particularly if you haven't been doing this for 20 years.
Message: Posted by: Jeff Haas (May 3, 2007 01:47AM)
Randi, the look is the difference between telling the kids "I'm a big kid" (no matter if you're male or female, and no matter how old you are) vs. "I'm an adult who's fun." Playing the part of an adult who's fun makes it easier to stop when you're interrupted, straighten up, and correct a situation. If you're in bright colors and look like a big kid or a clown, you have similar or even lower status to the audience.

Referring to a comment earlier in the thread, the kid wanted to fight the clown because clowns are supposed to get whacked over the head. That's what they're for, to slip and fall and be lower in status than anyone in the audience.

So magicians and wizards are supposed to be powerful, but clowns are goofy and trip over themselves. What might work better for you is to look impressive and in control, but be approachable as a personality. So something darker, but with a spot of color to liven it up, might be a better look. It's the point Don mentioned above.
Message: Posted by: Stevethomas (May 3, 2007 05:22AM)
It's good to connect with the audience/children, but if they think you're an equal, they won't respect you, and they'll treat you like they would a friend. You don't want that. As good as it sounds, you REALLY don't want that. You won't be able to correct anything if the situation gets out of hand or stop any action you deem worthy of stopping.

Also...if you're the "goofy" kind of character and some child does something (ex: grabs a prop and takes off with it) that you don't want, and you CAN'T stop him/her, appealing to the parents in the group is pretty much a hopeless scenario, as well. They, too, will thing you're joking around and playing. You have to have boundaries, and the kids need to know what that boundary is, both in the physical sense and in the way they should act.

Message: Posted by: randirain (May 3, 2007 09:14AM)
Here's the funny thing.
They wrote me a check and I got out of there.
The next day when I went to put all of my pay into the bank...
I found they tipped me $25.

Not sure why.
Afterwards, they said they loved the show.
It was me that thought it sucked.
Or maybe they gave me extra because the 3 kids that were bad.
Who knows.

Message: Posted by: Al Angello (May 3, 2007 09:25AM)
They emphathized with you, and everything came out in the wash.
Al Angello
Message: Posted by: Andre Hagen (May 3, 2007 11:08AM)
Yes, congratulations! All's well that ends well. As I said, you had a learning experience.
Message: Posted by: TheAmbitiousCard (May 3, 2007 11:21AM)
On 2007-05-03 10:25, Al Angello wrote:
... and everything came out in the wash.

Story of my life.
Message: Posted by: magicgeorge (May 3, 2007 11:54AM)
On 2007-05-03 10:14, randirain wrote:
Here's the funny thing.
They wrote me a check and I got out of there.
The next day when I went to put all of my pay into the bank...
I found they tipped me $25.

Not sure why.
Afterwards, they said they loved the show.
It was me that thought it sucked.
Or maybe they gave me extra because the 3 kids that were bad.
Who knows.


I have found there's a funny paradox/irony here with some people. Because I never want to be seen as a disciplinarian or the shouty guy my control techniques tend to be subtle.

Teachers and people that work with children appreciate how I control the kids but other adults assume the kids are just being good. Therefore some adults are likely to be more impressed at your patience when the kids act up than your control skills when they don't.

Message: Posted by: jakeg (May 3, 2007 12:06PM)
I think that it's important to have contingency plans when running into certain situations. Now that you've run into this problem, figure out what to do the next time that it happens. I used to put the major trouble maker on stage with me as a volunteer, sit him in a chair, and have him hold something unbreakable with both hands on the top of his head. Every once in awhile I would get back to him and adjust his hands so that he was holding it correctly for the trick. At the end of the show, (or how ever long he'd put up with it), I'd dismiss him. I found that the usual trouble maker was almost always the birthday kid's older brother.
Message: Posted by: Andre Hagen (May 3, 2007 12:34PM)
Jakeg, make the older brother(s) security guards for your show. Makes them feel important and keeps them in line. It works! You can even give them a blaze orange vest with security on the back or a badge, etc.
Message: Posted by: jakeg (May 3, 2007 02:50PM)
Hey Magicgandpa, that's a geat idea. In other words, make them an ally. I like that.
Message: Posted by: magicmanfrank (May 3, 2007 06:00PM)
Like the old saying,

"Keep your friends close and your enemies CLOSER!"
Message: Posted by: Andre Hagen (May 3, 2007 07:25PM)
Magicmanfrank, well said!

jakeg, yes you can make them your ally. If I smell trouble, like when 10 or so adults are in the back drinking and talking before the show, I tip off the "security" that if the adults make too much noise to go back and tell them the rest can't hear, and they gladly do it!

Sometimes they get TOO protective, so you have to talk to them before the show and set the limits.
Message: Posted by: triadsong (May 4, 2007 09:10AM)
On 2007-05-03 10:14, randirain wrote:
Afterwards, they said they loved the show.
It was me that thought it sucked.
Or maybe they gave me extra because the 3 kids that were bad.
Who knows.


Aren't we always our own worse critic?
I work with kids professionally every day. I love my work. I love the kids. I do not always love their actions.

It comes back to the home and the parents. If the parents are there you expect they understand you are not a babysitter. Yet some still treat you as such and let their darling angel do whatever he/she/it pleases. There are a lot of professional studies being done about the decay of family life and values. We just have to go on with the show and be professional and then pack up and realize the child is with someone else.

Congrats on the tip. You must have handled the stress well.

Message: Posted by: randirain (May 4, 2007 10:16AM)
I do have the comedy egg can. I used to do it, but not much any more.
Maybe I will use that as my brat stopper.
Make him stand up in front, not able to move...
because the "egg" will come out.

Message: Posted by: todd75 (May 4, 2007 02:23PM)
Hi Randirain...

Long time, no talk! You may remember me from the times I use to go into the magic shop you worked at in Fort Worth. Anyway, glad to see that you have joined us here on the Cafť.

Now...as far as your concern for "horrible children" goes, I can only say that this kind of thing has happened to all of us at some time or another. As many others have stated here, it is not YOU but rather the KIDS themselves. Some children simply do not have authority at home, school or anywhere else for that matter. It is going to happen from time to time but don't dwell on it. Simply move on to the next show and remember that you are most likely never going to see them ever again anyway.

Are you using control techniques before you start the show? I don't mean "sit down shut up and watch the show" but rather something more that sends a message to them that they need to sit up nice and strait, quite and listening? I don't want to give away my opening here for just anyone to take and use but I actually have the kids line up outside of the room where the show is going to take place and I talk to them a few minutes before they enter the room. Having them line up and listen is a difficult task for some and these are usually the ones I know I am going to have trouble out of because they cannot even line up and listen. Guess what? They are not part of the show at all...I never pick them unless they can show me that they truly can sit quitly and listen. I simply explain to them that we are all about to enter the room and that there will be some music playing, I need everyone to enter the room, find a seat on the floor and when everyone is quite we will begin the show. I also make sure to add in that a few lucky children will have a chance to be in the show today. Those will be the children that are sitting nice and quite and listening, not the ones that are talking. This will usually get their attention right away. What I have done is told them my expectations without calling anything RULES because let's face it, kids just don't like rules...period! After they have entered the room, I then go into my "4 important things you all need to know so that we can have some fun here today." Once again I reinforce my expectations without coming off like I am being mean. The 4 things are just simply a reinforcement! Now the show begins with total crowd control....

Anytime during the show that I have someone that decides they want to be talk, be rude or whatever, I always simpy say, "Oh I am sorry I can't talk when you're talking." This works great! Also, EVERYTIME you go to pick a helper you always say, "let's see, who is sitting up nice and quite and has their listening ears on today?" This sends a message to them that in order to be in the show they have to be sitting quite and paying attention otherwise they are not in the show.

Try this and see how it works. These are just a few of the many things I have learned in doing this for 21 years. I cannot tell anyone that I never have a loud group of children because sometimes I do. However, I never break my character but the kids always know that in order to be in the show, they must have respect.

Let me know what you think....
Message: Posted by: randirain (May 4, 2007 04:25PM)
Cool Todd... I like it.

Those are very good suggestions.
I will try to work those into my style of show.

And for everyone else reading...
I do know Todd and he is a professional kid show magician.

Message: Posted by: TomBoleware (May 4, 2007 04:56PM)
Very good suggestions from Todd.

Also a finger on the mouth giving the hush sound and saying remember our rules works sometimes. Or a whisper so as everyone can hear, "do you want me to tell your teacher/parent" works well.

Message: Posted by: Rupert Bair (May 4, 2007 05:55PM)
Randi...Try it once more...could just be an off batch ;)

Message: Posted by: todd75 (May 4, 2007 10:24PM)
Oh, I also forgot to mention a little something about the $25.00 tip that you got. I find it so interesting that people always seem to give you a big tip when the show (audience) was just awful. I am convinced that the parent knew that the kids gave you a hard time and it is there way of saying "thanks for putting up with my rude kids and all of their rude friends." It seems to be this way after just about every show where the audience was tough. Yet, when the audience is great and the show went as perfect as perfect can be, they give you nothing. Amazing!

Again, don't let this one little show get to you. Just move on and whatever you, don't dwell on it. Kids are kids!
Message: Posted by: jakeg (May 5, 2007 06:30AM)
Todd: I do just the opposite. I tell the kids that when we say the magic work I want it so loud that we hear it all the way to Brooklyn. I constantly use the "I can't hear you" bit I and work breaks in where all of the kids can participate and blow off steam. It's a 41 year work in progress. If I have a quiet show, I figure that the show bombed. I want that entire audience to feel that they participated in the show even if they haven't been called up to the 'stage'. They all get a goodie that is 'reserved for those people who help me during the show', and I let them know that they got it for just that, helping me. It's the occasional pain in the you know what kid who tries to screw up the magician that I'm concerned about, and I think that Grandpa Magic gave me the answer to that.
Message: Posted by: wol (May 5, 2007 07:31AM)
Did a kids party yesterday at one of the biggest house si have ever been in, This used to be a hotel (in the 60's) before that a private residence and now again a private house, for a family of four!! It was huge, they hadn't yet moved in so said we had the run of the place! We chose the main lounge as it was the same size as anaverage village hall and we got 46 kids in there (9yr olds!) all jummping around, some of the worst behaved children we have had in a long time! We try not to be the souty listen to me entertainers, but we don't allow a few to spoil it for the many, but it was hard to control some of these, the parents watched amused at there funny children! After the first 20 minutes (our longest time to date to get all the children in the same groove) we knew it was gonna be tricky but after an hour of subtle (and not so subtle) comments they all came round! It was made harder coz the mum had gotten a hundre helium balloms on ribbon that she wanted as decoration, we advised they not be in the same room as the party as they could hazardous (little kids,tangled in ribbon!!) so they were moved in to one of the hundred other rooms, but the kids knew they were there and they kepy coming back! Which parents found hilarious! It was an uphill struggle all the way but at the dad pops out the wallet (with a thud) and dishes out our fee with a £25 tip! Well he gave my partner the cash, she said we got a fiver tip, he then caught me and says, I think I gave you guys the wrong money, I call kate over she says oh I'm sorry, he says no worries here's the rest, I wanted to give you guys £25 extra! And they want us back for his 40th when they are all moved in! Bizarre gig, and Potty I think the financial status has a lot less to do with the bahaviour of the kids, these guys were loaded and had little sh!ts, where as we have done parties where you know they had saved all year to pay us and the kids hwre that much better behaved coz they knew it was a rare treat, neither is for sure, its down to the family not the families money! One thing tough, the birthday child at this particular party was lovely, its was sad it was over shadowed by some really nasty kids!
Message: Posted by: todd75 (May 5, 2007 08:48AM)

If it works for you, by all means keep doing what you are doing. I just feel that if you invite the children to be loud that you are also inviting them to get out of control. Remember that at birthday parties the kids are already pumped full of energy and most of the time sugar as well before you even arrive. I personally want the kids to be quite (except of course when they are laughing or clapping) so that they don't miss anything and also so that everyone can hear.

FYI- I also use a small sound system for all birthday party shows where there are more than 5 children. Why? loud adults that stand at the back of the room, kids that just have to talk, etc. etc. etc. It has made my b-day shows 10 times better! If I am louder than everyone else I obtain the control.
Message: Posted by: AaronTheMagician (May 6, 2007 02:26AM)
This reads kinda long... sorry.

Hey Randi,

Been missin' ya at the shop lately.
If it wasn't for you I wouldn't have ever bought a PK ring...

Anyway, I've got an odd gig where I'm doing 2-3 kid shows a day here in town. The place is like a rival to Chuck E. Cheese's, but no animatronics or giant rats running around the place. Luckily, ONLY once in a great while do I get some really unruly kids...

The worst I've had happen so far is a couple of boys started throwing bits of pizza because they thought it was funny and then coaxed their friends into doing it as well. The parents, predictably, just sat and watched... talking and chatting, totally oblivious to the fact that their kids were morally corrupt and proud of it...
Anyway, I walked to the boy who started the mess and grabbed his chair and dragged him to my performing spot. "Look at alllllll that yummy pizza. I've already had all I can handle... I suppose YOU get to eat all of it! No? Well guess who gets to clean it up?!" (Which made the adults, who were surprisingly aware, laugh). All the kids stopped, and I continued the show.

Other "worst shows" include getting mobbed by a group of 6-year-olds who all wanted to pet Rocky Raccoon... he lost an eye in that skirmish...

Or the time when the kids thought it would be cool to sneak around behind me (which, given the venue, is not hard to do) and hide my case...
...which the parents said I should just make "appear," instead of tell their children to return...

...or when some young 'un got the smart idea to reach in Mr. Magic's pockets and pull out two red sponge balls... and proceeded to say to an audience of mostly church-going people...well, the phrase you'd expect someone to say when they pull two small red spongeballs out of your pants.

Randi, everyone on here has offered some great advice.
The best I can tell you has already been said...
"It all comes out in the wash."

When kids get bad, I think of the money instead of their bright and shiny faces. It's a sad incentive to press onward.
Message: Posted by: todd75 (May 6, 2007 09:21AM)
Well said Aaron...
Message: Posted by: randirain (May 6, 2007 10:19AM)
So we all have horror stories...

I did another show this weekend for kids.
I didn't want to and was dreading it the whole time.

This one was outside at an apartment complex.
Some monthly block party for the kids.
A friend of mine usually does it, but he couldn't. So he asked me.

It actually went pretty good.
But I didn't hardly do anything.
I didn't even take my table, as it was only 30 minutes.

I even stuck around and did some fork bending for the older kids.
They loved it, wanted me to give them all my forks.
When I ran out, at least that's what I told them, they started to try to dig through my bag.
Little farts!!
Any way... that was the worst.

So some of my faith in kids are restored.
And these were minorities, outside, a lot of them.
The other show was middle class white kids.
Goes to show that money or race has nothing to do with anything when it comes to horrible children.


ps.. Aaron, I don't miss the shop. But nice to hear from you.
Message: Posted by: GWSchott (May 20, 2007 10:10PM)
Randi, I wish I knew what to tell you. I know where you're coming from and it's very, very frustrating at times. I believe that crowd control is the parents' responsibility, not the performer's, and when that line of defense breaks down there's not much you can do to defend yourself. Although I haven't had to do it (yet), if push came to shove I'd stop the show and ask to speak with one of the adults privately, then explain that unless they bring the crowd under control I'm outie. That might sound harsh, but I'm getting paid to be a magician, not a bouncer...that costs extra :)
Message: Posted by: randirain (May 20, 2007 11:45PM)
Since then... I have had some success with a new aproach I came up with.

What I do now is teach the kids on how to watch a show.
Because that's really the problem.
This has worked pretty good so far.
It seems to give them a job to do.
They sit, watch, interact, and applaud.
I teach them when to do all this.
If that makes any sense.

Message: Posted by: vincentmusician (Feb 24, 2021 06:54PM)
What to do about bad kids? A book could be written about this. Every situation is different. Also there are many ways to handle it.
You are at some time or other going to get a bad audience. That is the nature of being a Birthday Party Magician. Not every solution will work. So the First thing I do is ignore it. Usually it is not the whole audience, just one or two kids. If it is a lot, I change my show and try to figure out what the reason is for their behaviour. If nothing works, I speak to the parents. If that does not work, I stop the Show. Your there to do a Magic Show, not to fight as a Soldier in World War Three.
Message: Posted by: MeetMagicMike (Feb 27, 2021 07:56PM)
Fourteen years ago Randi gave a great answer to this "problem". Instead of deciding kids are brats, figure out what YOU can do better,

[quote]Since then... I have had some success with a new aproach I came up with.

What I do now is teach the kids on how to watch a show.
Because that's really the problem.
This has worked pretty good so far.
It seems to give them a job to do.
They sit, watch, interact, and applaud.
I teach them when to do all this.
If that makes any sense.


My approach is to get to know the audience while I set up. The kids learn that I am not scary, I'm a nice guy and I'm funny. I let the older kids know my show has some tricks for the little kids but the show will also be fun for older kids and adults and some ot the tricks might even fool them.