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Topic: First time at a kid restaurant
Message: Posted by: magicsantana (Apr 1, 2008 08:18PM)
O.K., it went down like this. The woman at the McDonald's told me that they had a family on Tue., and that they wanted me to perform for 2hr. I don't do kids shows that often, but times being what they are I figured, "What the hay?" The thing is that I figured that I would be rotating the kids like every 20min., give or take. That they would come and go. That was not the case, so I found myself with the same kids for the whole time in the corner of the restaurant. Once I realized this, I slowed things down for the first hour, then went to my car and got the balloons for the second hour. Is this normal?
Message: Posted by: derrick (Apr 1, 2008 11:02PM)
This is normal if you allow it. I find this type of performance to be a total cluster; I mean very disorganized.

In most cases, I absolutely insist that the guests/kids must be at their table for me to perform for them. If they stand over me while I am at another family's table, I will not visit their table. Sometimes this threat is the only way to get the little ones to sit down and eat instead of standing there watching you the entire time they are at the restaurant.

Good luck.

Message: Posted by: Skip Way (Apr 1, 2008 11:29PM)
I'm with Derrick, Santa. I filled in for a friend at a Golden Corral Kids' Night. The restaurant had him stuck in a corner in a stationary spot and the kids would come to him. I had basically the same kids hogging my time the entire two hours. I've never gone back.

I will only accept jobs that allow me to roam among the guests & tables, and the kids are expected to remain at their tables. This serves two purposes: First, you control your environment and, second, the parents (the ones who do the hiring for private & commercial events) see first hand what you can do.
Message: Posted by: abc (Apr 2, 2008 12:19AM)
On 2008-04-02 00:29, Skip Way wrote:
I'm with Derrick, Santa.
LOL. I also thought this is magicsanta but it isn't. It is magicsantana.
As for the original question, it is normal if you consider that the people that hire you formulate in their heads what they think should happen, and you should correct any misperceptions at the start of the hiring process. The kids may think it is exciting for them, but for many kids 2 hours is way too long to concentrate. And they may be very excited about getting the balloon after waiting for an hour, but it is not the optimal situation. In that kind of set up, you have to move around. I have worked at restaurants (not McD's) where they specialize in kids birthday parties on weekends, and I never did more than 30 minutes per group. The kids have to eat, open presents, play with friends, etc. There were many times when I had to make sure I had 100 balloons blown up and ready to go or I would run out of time. That is a much better situation. Get there, do the magic, make some animals, and move on.
Message: Posted by: magicsantana (Apr 2, 2008 08:40AM)
Thanks for all the great ideas. It's given me something to think about.
Message: Posted by: Stevethomas (Apr 2, 2008 04:21PM)
While working family restaurants, I never balloon or entertain children who aren't sitting down, AT THEIR TABLE, with their parents. NEVER work for children without the parents there. Too much liability. Suppose you make a nice balloon for one child, move on to the next one, but kid number 1 likes what kid number 2 has better, pops his to get another, and you tell him that it's only 1 per customer. He gets mad and tells dad/mom/supervising adult that you were rude to him or made suggestive remarks just to get back at you. Never work for or have a conversation with a child while alone...unless it's your kid.

Message: Posted by: SoCalPro (Apr 2, 2008 05:17PM)
2 hours for a kids show? Sounds to me like they were just looking for a babysitter. I do 45 minutes MAX for my stand up show and will only do an hour plus if it's a strolling situation.
Message: Posted by: twistedace (Apr 2, 2008 06:05PM)
I'm with SoCalPro. I do many country clubs, birthday parties, and private events. If they are a birthday party at a restaurant, I make sure that I have a closed off and private section, then I offer a 45 minute stand up family show. I also offer additional magic, such as walkaround for older children/adults afterwards, if interested. When I work country clubs, I usually begin with an hour of walkaround and finish with the 45 minute family fun show.

You really MUST, MUST, MUST know exactly what you are walking into before you arrive to perform! Remember, you are the one that knows how a magic show should be set up because you are the professional magician and this is your job! If you make suggestions as to how a show should be set up in order to maximize entertainment while keeping the customer's needs first, you will be viewed and appreciated as a professional, not a jerk.
Message: Posted by: Skip Way (Apr 2, 2008 08:43PM)
Jim & Ace, keep in mind that some of us appear as regular performers at restaurants. I do a two-hour table-hopping magic & balloon stint at all of my menu restaurants. I refuse to set up in one spot.

The buffet-style joints like Golden Corral, Sweet Tomatoes, and certain Caféterias prefer to have the performer stationary, as there is no lag time between being seated and eating. Most of the folks I know who do these buffet-style places work solely as balloon artists and face painters, though. I can't imagine performing magic in this manner for two straight hours, week after week. Suicide!

Even then, you run into kids who ask for a 2nd, 3rd & 4th balloon...and when you say no, it's a tearful run to mama and a blustery parent who can't believe you said no to her precious, unspoiled brat...and let's the manager know about it. I have a couple of friends who both lost jobs over just such an incident.
Message: Posted by: nums (Apr 2, 2008 09:22PM)
On 2008-04-02 17:21, Stevethomas wrote:
Suppose you make a nice balloon for one child, move on to the next one, but kid number 1 likes what kid number 2 has better, pops his to get another, and you tell him that it's only 1 per customer.


Steve, I will give kid number 1 another balloon, but I only remake what he got originally. This keeps kids from upgrading and encourages them to ask mom & dad to come back next week to get the other creation. I also go table to table so I get to meet the parents and the child, who may have an allergy to latex and wont tell you, does not have any reactions. I also carry tattoos for those who are too young or allergic.

Message: Posted by: SoCalPro (Apr 2, 2008 11:26PM)
True, I do 2 hours at each of my 5 restaurants but would never consider doing 2 hours at a kids party unless they had over 50 guests and wanted me to do strolling. :)
Message: Posted by: Skip Way (Apr 3, 2008 09:47AM)
On 2008-04-03 00:26, SoCalPro wrote:
True, I do 2 hours at each of my 5 restaurants but would never consider doing 2 hours at a kids party unless they had over 50 guests and wanted me to do strolling. :)

Yep...with ya there!
Message: Posted by: Bad to the Balloon (Apr 3, 2008 10:02AM)
Golden Corral ..... WHAT A GIG!!!

When I did it, they wanted a stand up comedy magic show once per hour. Guess what? People would sit there for the whole 2 hours!!! This sucked. Couple of months, I burned through everything I had. Not the way to perform at all.

Also, I got the gig after someone asked me to fill in .... I called my friend and told them about it. They said go for it. Why? Because they burn through performers like crazy. I had a sub one night, and guess what?? Yep, I wasn't doing it the next week.

Nothing like watching rednecks giving themselves coronary disease....
Message: Posted by: Skip Way (Apr 3, 2008 11:42AM)
On 2008-04-03 11:02, Bad to the Balloon wrote:
Golden Corral ..... WHAT A GIG!!!
Nothing like watching rednecks giving themselves coronary disease....

Ahhhhhh....you've been there! :)

If your idea of a romantic night out with the missus includes a candle and Italian Buffet night at Golden Corral - You MIGHT be a redneck!

They pay very well here. I got my full restaurant fee without a question, but I worked harder there than I have at any of my regular restaurants - and I was emotionally stressed as well. It just wasn't worth it.
Message: Posted by: magicsantana (Apr 4, 2008 04:08PM)
Wow, I guess it's a live and learn kind of thing. I guess it takes different people skills when the people only come up to your knee.
Babysitting is right on the money, though. The parents get the food and the coffee, and I get the kids. Man, it's good to talk to some guy that gets it. I go back this week, but with a new outlook.
Message: Posted by: twistedace (Apr 5, 2008 08:17AM)
Skip, I am also a restaurant worker and once again agree with SoCalPro. I stroll and do not set up in one spot. But if a restaurant expects me to set up in one spot for a kids show, I have to know in advance and it has to be sectioned off.
Message: Posted by: mmreed (Apr 6, 2008 08:40PM)
When performing in a situation like this, control is important.

There is a book called Kid Control that covers this subject very in-depth - written for entertainers, it helps you manage children in an immediate response method.

I offer it on my website, as I am sure other retailers do as well.