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Topic: The Worst Gig Ever!
Message: Posted by: michaelmystic2003 (Aug 21, 2007 11:59PM)
Needless to say, I am no longer doing kid shows.

Kid's show, of course! Doing my thing, outside and a young kid jumps up next to me and starts touching my props! I get him to sit down, and he pops right back up again! Kids were shouting out things they saw, and one kid shouted out "This is ridiculous! Let's go have fun!" The kids all followed, leaving me with two, count 'em, TWO, children watching the rest of my show. This little girl kept opping up and screaming the "methods" of the routines I performed... ande their parents just sat their and laughed!!!! All of a sudden I felt like I was working a comedy club full of drunks. I continued and heard a voice behind me say, " I can do magic too! Watch my trick!"

I turned around and the little bu**er had my Rope To Silk Gimmick! I took it from him after some persuasion and heavy discusssion... it must have dropped out of my pocket previously... and I packed my things. He followed me all the way to the car asking "Can I have MY magic rope back? I lost it than found it and then YOU took it!" I finally hopped into the car and locked the doors... soon enough the kid gave up. He then went up to my client and told him about what just happened, so I had to explain things to him as well. Luckily he understood. Needless to say, I got out of there FAST.

Anyone else experience this? Any horror stories you wish to share?
Message: Posted by: DanielSteep (Aug 22, 2007 11:17AM)
Well I have one but doesn't concern kids show...

I was to do a show for the ontario cattlemen assosiation... I show up to see its at a farm in the middle of nowhere! show was to begin at 7:30 and didn't start till 9... no matter how loud my mic would go no one would listen... my stage was on a dirt field and everything was coverd in a thick layer of dust. I stepped in cow **** twice and had a migrane before I left. of cours I left one window in the car down and we had a fly exhibit inside the car before we left!

last time I do that client ;)!
Message: Posted by: jay leslie (Aug 22, 2007 12:22PM)
Any performer that has been at this for a while will have stories... many of us can write a book.

I know of a clown who was pushed into a backyard pool - or maybe he just jumped in, to escape the kids.

Refering to animal stories

I did a show at a summer camp in the animal pen. The turkeys kept assulting me & one of the sheep tried to butt me and a horse ate the fringe off my table while I wasn't looking.

I asked the owner why the animals were so aggressive. He said "well, they wouldnt be if the kids didn't poke them with sticks"! ! ! ! My resopmse - - - "Why do you let the kids poke the animals with sticks?" his answer.....

"Well......... I can't be everywhere at once!"

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Appearantly all the performers did their shows in the pen. There was a stage made from rotting plywood laying in the dirt and logs piled up the kids sat on.. They also served the purpose of a place for me to run behind when the animals attacked.

Your turn.
Message: Posted by: gelbepfeife (Aug 23, 2007 02:10PM)
@michael: wow what a nightmare, I'm really sorry. I hope you will start doing kid shows again one time
Message: Posted by: DanielSteep (Aug 24, 2007 12:23PM)
Mike I too did a kids show that was like that.. A birthday party(i don't do many of them.. and now I have a reason to only do it for friends of the family)... they sat there and yelled during the whole show. gave me no time to set up, the kids would get up and grab stuff off of my table and start playing with it in the middle of the show! and to top it all off while onstage I make the birthday child a monkey climbing up a banana tree(out of balloons)... when he was walking back he set it on the ground and JUMP.. POP.. you get the picture...

ive only done ONE bday since and it was my cousins:P
Message: Posted by: DanielSteep (Aug 29, 2007 10:51PM)
Today I was doing a gig, the hydro went out half way thru.. so I sang ! and for my closer (snow) we went to the parking lot and played the music from the car.
Message: Posted by: michaelmystic2003 (Sep 3, 2007 01:52AM)
On 2007-08-23 15:10, gelbepfeife wrote:
@michael: wow what a nightmare, I'm really sorry. I hope you will start doing kid shows again one time

Thanks for the sympathy. Actually, the entire ordeal and a long time of thought has broguth me to the final decision that I am now going to be a mentalist (magician too!)

Don't you HATE the stereotype other adults give us, that we are all "Something fun for the kids"??? GRRRRR... All I've heard about is past clients for nightmare shows recommending me and spreading the word for "Kaylie's 5th Birthday Party" or "Our Preschool Fundraiser"

OK, the buck stops here... next time someone asks for a kids show, I'll say "Sure! You DO know that my going rate is $500 right? But you sound like a good person, so I'll drop it to $450 just for you"
Message: Posted by: VasMagic (Sep 5, 2007 07:51PM)
My first gig man I made up a hole diffrent routin I forgot half of the stuf I was going to do and I was nervouse
Message: Posted by: BAH1313 (Sep 6, 2007 05:46PM)
I don't do kids shows because people are idiots and have stopped teaching their children respect and manners. When children act up during my street shows I just plainly tell them to shut up, ad to behave. If they speak or act out of turn again, I stop my show and make fun of the parents for being bad parents ad also make it a point to point out that the children acting like this is not the childs fault, but the result of bad parenting. Plain and simple.

Now I understand that a lot of you are going to chime in here with how you cant do that because of it being a source of income, but I ask you. Why do you do this? So you can make extra money doin something you love or as a means of making a living without having to work in a crappy 9-5 job? Well, then you should decided where and what type of enviroment you want to work in. Then you tell the parents this in the beginning before you are booked, and make them understand that you will accept payment BEFORE the show and if your show is repeatedly interrupted by little ****** then you will stop the show and leave with the check/money in your pocket. Put it in your contract. Seal it with a kiss wahtever but don't tolerate crap from people's children. It's not worth it in the long run, because if you tolerate it in the beginning then you or some other poor magi will have too again in the future from the same people. Sometimes you just have to make yourself understood. A good way to do this is by telling them a portion of a horror story about unruly kids and bad parents. Trust me, they don't want to be lumped in with THOSE PEOPLE!

Just my two cents.


PS Sttun guns work too:)
Message: Posted by: Brent McLeod (Sep 8, 2007 08:27PM)

I respect Childrens Performers so much!!

You have to be so experienced in handling children & setting ground rules for them & their parents
prior to shows otherwise you get the dramas from above posts

Many younger Café members are not parents & have trouble at shows which can be a surprise as your props are being passed around by the kids etc.....

Look at people like David Ginn etc , Sammy Smith who do thousands of childrens shows
to learn & read there books etc-yet they still have the odd problem as we all do

Experience is the key &making sure everyone knows whats expected at your perfomance-especially the parents!

I havent done a childrens show & I did hundreds in my younger years- for over 25 years now-reason-I
just don't like kids!!-period-to perform for

My market for years has been theatres, Cabaret & corporate work-

As mentioned above posts-too many people think magicians are for under 7 yr birthday parties etc-Always for the kids!!!

The amount of shows & functions I do in top Hotels & conferences etc & the feedback is -what wonderful entertainment-I never knew Magic could be presented that way-I always thought it was for the kids etc ...........!!! Drives me mad!! when I hear this but it is so common

You have to understand Kid Psychology--Hail to all the experienced Kids entertainers-
Its a tough Market!!! they are in


Message: Posted by: Father Photius (Sep 8, 2007 10:41PM)
Learning to control the audience is the first rule of doing children's magic. I never do pitch tricks at a children's show, there are generally a good number of kids who own them and know how they are done. If I do a trick that might be in a kids magic set such as cups and balls, I do such a complex routine that they can't possibly know how it is done, since it it doesn't follow a pattern they are familiar with. Even with good audience control and parental supervision they can sometimes turn into nightmares. The key is to have ways of getting the kids attention and holding it other than the magic. I to this day prefer not to do kids shows, so I can appreciate what you went through Michael. Yet there are magicians who are top pros at kids shows, takes a special talent and a lot of work. Trixie Bond, Merlina, and Trevor Lewis are both masters at the kid show, as are many others and do great adult work too. Kind of like acting I guess, they say those who can do comedy can do serious acting as well, but serious actors can't always do comedy. Top kid show magicians seem to do very well with adult audiences, but I've seen top adult audience magicians who bomb with kids. You're doing the right thing Michael, work where your talent lies. Nice thing about magic, lots of places to work.
Message: Posted by: GWSchott (Oct 28, 2007 10:17PM)
The weird thing about kids' shows is that you can do the same exact performance for two different groups, and one group will go bonkers and the other will just stare at you like you have six heads. It's maddening at times. But then again, adult shows aren't always much better. I just got back from doing a show and this old bat in the front row literally scowled at me the entire time. I was about to ask her if I'd run over her dog or something in a previous life but thought better of it. I'm finding the key is NOT to let it get to you. When I have a tough show I just pack up my gear and move on to the next one.
Message: Posted by: magicjy (Nov 1, 2007 01:38PM)
WOW! I have been performing for 12 years and have never had an experience like that. My best advice is if you charge a lot of $$$, have a professional contract, and act like a professional then you will be TREATED as one. Do not do free show for friends who will treat you with RESPECT. If not then, do not book it. Just my 2 cents worth!

Joseph Young
Message: Posted by: BAH1313 (Nov 1, 2007 03:58PM)
Stun gun.
Message: Posted by: FrankBenning (Mar 19, 2008 09:39AM)
I'd never do kids shows...way too many "horror stories" like the one here!

IF I ever did...I'd be ready!!

they get wild...it'd "Needle Through Arm"..with lots of blood!!

And some others that would out-gross the worst ones there!!

And in case of any drunken/jerk "adults"...remember you always keep a can of "long range wasp nest spray" handy in the case. Maybe one in the car too.

Hey!! Does make 50 posts!!?? ;)
Message: Posted by: KurtK (Mar 23, 2008 01:47AM)
LOL You guys are freaking me out over here... making me scared to perform for kids. EEK!
Message: Posted by: pepka (Mar 25, 2008 05:45AM)
VERY early in my performing career I decided that kid's shows are not for me. I love kids, and love to perform for one or two at a table, but 15-20, you couldn't pay me enough. Here's why. I was contracted to perform a birthday party show at a professional soccer event. Barely getting paid, (I didn't know better.) I was part of a package, along with the team mascot, t-shirt for the birthdy brat, cake etc. I was to do a 15-20 minutes show, but doing 4-5 one right after the other. My 2nd week, the 2nd show of the day, I'm telling a story along with a dove pan to produce Hershey's kisses. (We're in Hershey after all and I'm giving them the secret recipe for chocolate.) The birthday boy (8) starts screaming how much I suck and I should get the F on with it. 8 years old, dropped the F bomb in front of friends family and the organizer. I walked off. If I hadn't, I would have strangled him and wound up in the hooskow. I can take it from an adult, because I can throw it right back. But when he did that, and the parents just let it slide, that was my last kid's show. That was about 11 years ago. My therapist says I'm making great strides in my recovery.
Message: Posted by: DanielMooncalf (Apr 24, 2008 08:44PM)
Either kids in Kansas City are angels, or you people SERIOUSLY need to get your acts together...

I've gotten to the point that I'll slap my wand down (a practice drumstick, so you can hit stuff hard) onto my table (a wood and aluminum footlocker with plywood tabletop). It's louder than anything around... It gets the attention. Depending on how I feel the situation is, can be as stern as a parent about to woop some ass.

Kids might not have ADD, but if you aren't in a controlled environment (and you aren't, >90% of the time, you're going to have to grab attention, keep attention, and be somewhat authoritative.

If I get... "I know how you did that." I respond with a range from "So do I." to "Yea, I don't care, kid." to "Alright, shut up kid, get your own show." This, of course, depends on how wound up the kid is and the situation.

OP, if you're an actor, you can act like someone about to flip and and slap a kid, without making the motion or saying it...

Maybe my ability to control would explain why I have no problem doing a magic show for a college town party full of drunk college kids... One time some jockish drunk dude snatched my hat from behind, ran down the street, and turned to look at me. He was just trying to have fun, and I turned around, threw up a sign (actually, an I love you sign) did a brief "WOO!" turned back and finished my show. I was able to quash my first instinct to chase or to whine about it.

Don't sweat it, stay calm, pretend like you don't give a **** something went wrong, and as far as I've seen, everything will turn out better than if you get flustered.

An example of how I would act, if I was doing that dove pan, since he stepped over the line, after noticing the parents didn't freak, I would've thrown it right back... "Really? Does this trick fµcking suck that bad?? Well, hell, let me do something better..."

...then I'd have something better...
Message: Posted by: Ian Davis12 (May 10, 2008 04:56PM)
I am a young magician that does shows for any age group and I don't have a horror story about doing magic for kids but I did a show once for a few kids and the show went all right. Then at the end when I was talking to somebody, I noticed some kids around my table with my props on it. I didn't think they would do anything but later that night when I loaded up my props I noticed that a wand, a few spongeballs,and a silk was missing. Luckliy nothing to important was stolen but I learned my lesson to never leave props out on the table when you do magic for kids.
Message: Posted by: REV BILL (May 13, 2008 03:27PM)
When I was just starting out many years ago, I did a BD party for a co-workers grandson. She had an outdoor summer party for 5-6 year olds. Being very new at this I didn't consider the beastly heat and humidity. I was soaked. Then a real soaker. A summer down pour came out of nowhere. Kids scattered. I started packing the trunk as it was the next to the last trick. Then it happened. I locked my keys in the trunk. Rain stopped. Kids came out and wanted to know why I couldn't use magic to get the trunk open. I told them the secret was in my magic book and it was in the trunk. For added humiliation, everytime the grandmother saw me at work she told the story.
Message: Posted by: Donal Chayce (May 13, 2008 06:31PM)
Although it wasn't a kids show, this was by far the worst gig I've ever had.

Many, many years ago I was booked to open for a Cheap Trick concert at a nightclub in Tempe, Arizona, which is a big college (ASU) town. Problem was, there was no mention of an opening act in any of the advertising or PR materials for the concert, not even on the club marquee, so as far as the audience knew the band would be the only performers.

Comes show time, the lights dim, my pre-recorded music track begins and the crowd begins to whistle and cheer. As I make my entrance, a live, offstage announcer introduces me and, as if on cue (come to think of it, it was a cue of sorts), the audience abruptly stops cheering. A beat or two later a low, angry buzz begins to ripple through the crowd, and I knew that I was in BIG trouble. As I finished my my opening routine (some silk and lit candle manipulation), there was a smattering of applause, but then the catcalls started.

My hunch is that a large number of audience members had ingested recreational substances and, having timed the intake of those substances to be in sync with when they thought the band would begin performing, they were disappointed, angry and even a bit panicked. In any case, it was painfully clear that the crowd did not come to see a magician, even a "hippie magician" (which, ala Doug Henning, I was in those days). Their hostility was palpable, and fearing for my safety (I'm only somewhat joking here), I cut the 20 minutes for which I'd been booked to barely 6 minutes by immediately going into my closer (the Zombie) and got off stage pronto.

The booking manager rushed up to me backstage and began to rebuke me for not performing for the full 20 minutes as we had agreed. I was furious that the audience hadn't been prepped for an opening act, and I was angry with myself for letting the hecklers get to me the way that they did, and so I cut him off by snapping back, "DON'T talk to me!", raising and pointing my finger (my forefinger) inches from his face for emphasis. I suspect that I looked and sounded like a crazy man, because he stopped his admonishment mid-sentence (his mouth was literally hanging open) then turned and walked away without saying another word.

I figured I had blown my fee and, truthfully, I was so rattled that I didn't care. As it turned out, I was not only paid my fee in full, but the next day I also got a call from an executive for the band's recording label (I can't remember his name, but I recall that he was with Epic records), in which which he apologized for the publicity snafu and offered to make amends by giving me a slew of albums (LPs--this was the 70s, after all) of my choice from their extensive catalog. I took him up on his offer, and I still have most of those albums.

For the record, the guys in the band--and Rick Nielsen especially--were great to me both before the show and after the sudden end of my performance. To their credit they didn't add insult to injury by joking about my predicament during their performance.

Very soon after my Cheap Trick fiasco, I canceled a booking I already had to open for another (local) band, even though my opening spot had been included in the advertising for that show. I recommended a friend as a replacement, they booked him and he gave a great performance. But for me, that experience turned me off of performing "rock magic" for the rest of my life.
Message: Posted by: Faizimran (Apr 25, 2016 08:20PM)
I have seen a lot of magicians to shows for kids and the kids just start screaming methods out and I feel bad for the magician because they do the trick flawlessly but the kids have seen it revealed on YouTube so they ruin it or everyone and embarrass the magician.
Message: Posted by: malaki (Oct 24, 2017 11:02AM)
Crowd management is the solution.

I too have had issues with doing kid's shows, but like anything else, you learn from your experiences. When booking the show, make sure that the parents know that you are an entertainer, not a baby sitter (in other words, they are still responsible for their kids). Try to look at it from the kid's point of view. If I see that the kid's are going to try to Google everything that I do, you have to redirect their attention. I ask them to put their phones down, because if they are surfing the net, they might miss something. If they start trying to yell out the method, I tell them that what they are about to see is a presentation of illusions, some of which have secrets that are thousands of years old. If you know the secret, great - but let's not spoil the fun for everyone else. After all, their parents might not know how it is done, and they might like to enjoy the show. Keep things on a positive note and above all, as Douglas Adams points out in big, friendly letters, DON'T PANIC.

Another way to deal with a single kid who seems to want to heckle is to present him with a puzzle (I say him, for it is quite rare for the girls to give much trouble). I keep a collection of ring and string puzzles in my bag for just such an occasion. I will show the puzzle, then I will work it, behind my hand in front of them without tipping the secret. Then I hand the puzzle to the problem child and ask him to solve it. Check back from time to time to see his progress. Most of the time he will get distracted from the puzzle by watching the show. If he starts up again, I ask him for a progress report. This is rare.

Above all, try not to get aggravated with the kids. We are professionals. Do not allow the kids to drag you down to their level.
It is very much like dealing with a group of people who have drunk too much. Like the kids, they become rude and unruly, so you must deal with the problem child while retaining your professionalism. Nothing else that you could do will make you look good in the eyes of the audience, or those who hired you.

Do not leave your apparatus where the kids can get to it. That is why I work out of a bag. I can open it to get the next item and close it again to keep prying eyes/fingers where they belong. Find someone trying to get into the bag? Tell them to be careful, for there are items in the bag that may turn them into a newt, and you did not bring the antidote with you.

During a show that I was doing At the Medieval Fair, I was performing the linking rings. I am always careful of to whom I hand out the examinable rings, but sometimes they get passed around. I happened to catch, out of the corner of my eye, a guy who had gotten hold of the three rings and was in the process of putting his foot into one of my 10 inch rings to apply more pressure. I instantly stopped, and with a raised finger, I loudly stated "Hold!" The entire audience focussed their attention on me and this guy who was about to act up. I then said "Let's not do that. Could you please hand those rings to me?" I defused the situation and recovered my rings before any damage was done, continuing the show. It cut about three minutes off of the routine, but it kept me from spending money on a new set of rings. The Guy, BTW, was one of the adults in the audience.

You are the magician. You are the master/director of the show. You take the audience where you want them to go. If some stray, you have to lead them back. AND you have to do so with a professional attitude.

Believe me, when I was first learning how to deal with an audience, I had shows that literally made me contemplate giving up magic. It is similar to getting POed at your computer - you have to get over the frustration, anger and feeling of helplessness and ask yourself "What did I do wrong? What is the proper command/solution? How could I have handled that better?" Read books on behavior and child psychology - it works on adults too.
Message: Posted by: vincentmusician (Sep 15, 2021 04:04PM)
We have all had bad experiences if you have done this long enough. There are things that I do when things get tough. I will change part of the show or ignore the troublemaker. . However, you are not a punching bag. If the situation gets out of control then I will stop the show and ask for help. If that does not work, then I will leave.
There is a line, physical attacks I will not put up with or constant verbal abuse either. I have also noticed kids behaviour is getting worst these days. So I have greatly increased my fees. The strange thing is I keep getting booked.
Message: Posted by: Russo (Sep 16, 2021 01:30PM)
Reminds me of the time - when doing a Show and a kid was shouting &%&% about my Wife -when she was assisting me - so I stopped the Show and told the kid to leave. Couple days later got a letter from the person who hired us, it was his Son, and he wouldn't hire us again . Well - who cares , we got booked by others in the group. RR