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Topic: Stopping a Show
Message: Posted by: kid iowa (May 12, 2003 01:03PM)
Read on another board about a magician that had to stop a birthday show because of the kids acting out. From what he wrote, there was only 1 other adult besides him and about 20 kids (ages 8-11), and the chaperone did nothing to stop the kids from shooting silly string at the magician, grabbing props, yelling over his patter etc. Has anyone else had horror stories like this that made it so bad that you had to close up shop?
Message: Posted by: Jon Gallagher (May 12, 2003 02:01PM)
Well, there was that time when I was performing outside on a stage for a town festival and the civil defense sirens went off telling us that a tornado warning had just been posted for our area..... that show stopped rather abruptly.

We had pleaded with the organizers to either move the festivities inside the high school (which was just blocks away), but they insisted that since it wasn't even raining, we'd be fine. If we refused to perform, we wouldn't be paid.

When the sirens went off, all 20 people in the audience headed for their cars. I think I beat them to mine.
Message: Posted by: Jewls (May 12, 2003 02:50PM)
Crowd control is part of our job. Let them know right from the start what you expect of them. There are several posts here on this subject.
Message: Posted by: Cheshire Cat (May 12, 2003 03:12PM)
I think we need to analyse here whether the show being performed was suitable, and not too young for this age group— how many were boys— did the magician have voice amplification etc.?

Have many times felt like shutting up in 25 years, but never have. In this age group have had an 11-year old boy go through a plate glass door whilst dancing, had a group of kids pull a radiator off a wall and start a flood! Thankfully "England's green and pleasant land" does not have tornados!!

But at the end of the day I must agree with Jewls really!
Message: Posted by: Emazdad (May 12, 2003 11:26PM)
Jewls hits it on the head, you shouldn't expect the parents to control the kids, it's part of our job. Unless it's just the one kid playing up and despite all your attempts to control him he's still a problem I would expect his mum if she's there to have words. But only if he doesn't respond to all the usual tried and trusted methods, and I've got a big bag of different methods before I get to that stage.

I've got one on Thursday for 15-20 kids mainly boys all 8, so I expect to work hard there to keep them in check. Girls are so much easier at parties, they just want to have fun.
Message: Posted by: NJJ (May 13, 2003 12:38AM)
I try and get as few distractions as possible with my kids' show. No food or silly string or blowers or any of that stuff during the performance.

I hate when kids get up and wander around during the show as if you are a TV show.
Message: Posted by: DanTheMagicMan (May 15, 2003 09:59PM)
I had to stop a show for a different reason: a boy in the audience started choking on something he ate. His mother did the Hiemlich maneuver, which worked. The kid was fine, but after all the emotion and excitement and after the kids received an impromptu tour of a real ambulance at the party, it just did not seem appropriate to finish the show.

I usually put a tape line down on the ground to show kids the boundary of my "stage". When picking assistants, I always say I am looking for someone sitting in their seat and raising their hand. I am sure there are other crowd control ideas.
Message: Posted by: popsy magic (May 24, 2005 03:16PM)
Stopping a show has only happened once for me and believe me this kid was NASTY !
I was performing for 37 kids at a carnival. Needless to say you always get one vilain or show off. I was half way performing Stratosphere, passing the balls to the crowd when a kid of 8 yrs decided to viciously throw the red ball at my face, laughing at the same time. I immediately turned to the supervisor and asked for the kid to be removed from the premises or the show will halt and eventually end. The kid was escorted away with a lot of verbal from him. There is always someone be it parent, youth leader, supervisor who should be in charge of the kids behaviour. Please make sure you find out their name before you start the show. Just to be safe
Message: Posted by: macmagic (May 24, 2005 03:37PM)
I have only had to stop 1 show as well and there was only 1 more routine left, I was performingat an alternative school(in case you don't know this is a school for children with socila behavior problems or violence problems) any way show was going great then all of a sudden 2 kids started fighting.........im not talking about pushing and shoving I'm talking about hitting each other with chairs biting etc.
now I know that everyone says you should know how to control your audience which I do think is true but there are always going to be a few times when it is just out of your hands!
Message: Posted by: Daniel Faith (May 24, 2005 05:08PM)
I give the children the magic show rules during the warm up.
I have never had any show that out of control but if I did I
would stop the show.
Message: Posted by: Brian Lehr (May 24, 2005 07:21PM)
I stopped a show today, but not because of the kids -- it was because of the daycare teacher!

During my routine with my rabbit in the hat puppet (Benny the Bunny), the kids got so excited (about 20 3-5 year olds) that they literally stood to their feet and were jumping up and down, screaming things like, "The carrot's in the hat; I saw him take it; now it's in his hands; look Mr. Magician, look! It's back in the hat again!"

I was loving every second of it. Talk about crowd enthusiasm! I had planned to have them sit down again during a slow point in the routine, but I certainly wasn't about to curb their excitement at such a key point.

But one of the teachers thought otherwise. She thought the kids were yelling too much, and should all be sitting down (even though all the kids were staying on their side of the magic line). So she stands up directly in front of them, with her back to me, blocking my view of the kids. The kids are trying to look around her to see Benny, and I'm trying to maneuver around her so the kids can see. I tried telling her that it's ok; in fact, the other three teachers that were all sitting down were trying to tell her it was all ok, but nope, she had to have them sitting. So I had to stop the show for a moment until she finally succeeded.

Lesson learned: not all the show stoppers are the kids.

Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (May 24, 2005 07:39PM)
I think it is also important that you let the adults or the teachers know up front what to expect from your show as well as what you expect from them and how you can help each other out to make for the best show experience possible. This way their are not as many unexpected surprises and you tend to get the help you need by simply ASKING upfront.

Message: Posted by: MarkTripp (May 24, 2005 08:25PM)
Yesterday, one of the little angels in a middle school shot my eye with a laser pointer.

That really hurt, messed my vision up for about an hour, and made life rough for me.

I said EXACTLY what happened, and said if the brave person with the laser would stand up, I'd like to put it up his rear end.

I finished the show....

...school called my office today and wants a refund because "I reacted in an inappropiate manner".

NOTHING about their nice little kids, whom they wouldn't search for the laser because "that would be offensive to too many students".

Beat that.....

Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (May 25, 2005 06:30AM)

I can understand about being upset as all magicians find themsleves in situations that they wish they were not in. We also may act out in a manner we wish we did not. It sometimes is hard to maintain our composure when situations arise.

Yes, the teachers should have checked for these things, Yes, they should have taken the child out when it happened etc. However, as an entertainer, we just can not allow ourselves to stoop to that level to say things directed at a child even though you are 100% right in doing so.

We are not there to discipline the kids. We are there to entertain them. With this in mind, the school should get a refund and an apology letter from you. I know it sounds wrong cause you were upset and angry with what happened. I would be to. But we are professionals and we get paid to act that way. As a professional who knows the importance of reputation and word of mouth, you simply can not afford to have your name take a bad rap. You may just have to bite your bottom lip on this one and give in a bit.

I am not saying you do not have a right to be angry. Hell, I would have been too. But, You can not jeaporidize a show or professionalism by stopping a show and saying what you said infront of the other kids. Regardless of how mad or angry you were, this is not the way to handle it. Yes, I personally would have been really really upset. But there are better ways to handle the situation without lashing out.

In my school performances or summer camp shows, I make it a point that their MUST be at least 2-3 adult supervisors at the show who will meet with me before the show and go over things with me. They will be my spotters and it is part of the contract agreement that they are there to help if a kid needs to go to the bathroom or if anyone gets unrully. They are there to help me to be able to continue to entertain. There is no reason why the magician should have to do this alone. By simply asking my clients, I usually do not have a problem with it.

Just my humble opinion is all. Once again I would have been mad to.

Message: Posted by: todsky (May 25, 2005 10:28AM)
Mark, I'd have to agree with Kyle's comments on your bad experience. The worst thing an entertainer can do is to "lose it". I would have just stated what had occured, as you did; this would have gotten the rest of the audience on your side. (Your retort line would have worked well at an adult show, though.)
When I am faced with unruly kid(s), if they don't desist I just put my arms up in the air as if I can't go on because of the disruption, and just stand there doing nothing. Sometimes I'll say "I guess we'll just have to wait until so-and-so is finished." It's only a few seconds before all the rest of the kids in the crowd start 'shh-ing" and berating the bad kid(s) for interrupting the show. Then I continue. So I find the audience themselves to be the most effective 'police'.
Message: Posted by: RideorDie99 (May 25, 2005 11:05AM)
I had a doosey last weekend... I was performing for a 9 year old birthday party and the most of the kids were acting out. Especially the girls. I think it's all about setting the rules in the beginning which I didn't do nor did I do the bribery thing such as, "If everyone sits down throughout the show and behaves. One of you will receive a magic trick" I will do that next time. But since I did not do that in the beginning.. I got hit with paper, with my own magic wand, I had rocks put in my jacket, water squirted down my pocket and had the props taken from my hands. I got practically MAULED by these kids. I basically just finished my show put a smile on my face. Did some close up for the adults who appreciated the magic, took my money and left I even sent a thank you email to the father who booked me. it's all about being professional till the very end.Well that's the life of a magician. I'll do a great show next time.
Message: Posted by: Brian Lehr (May 25, 2005 12:29PM)
On 2005-05-25 12:05, RideorDie99 wrote:

I got hit with paper, with my own magic wand, I had rocks put in my jacket, water squirted down my pocket and had the props taken from my hands. I got practically MAULED by these kids.

Maybe have magician's insurance isn't always for the sake of the kids. Is there such a thing as "audience insurance"? :)

Message: Posted by: rossmacrae (May 25, 2005 04:34PM)
Mark - I agree with others that your future with school shows depends very much on your ability not to lose it (at least verbally).

On the other hand, it's done now, and not only would I not refund one single cent, I'd advise them that they may very well be hearing from your insurance company and/or their attorneys and/or your attorney. Don't let them sleep easy - ordinarily I hate people who horribilize their modest injuries for profit, but the wimp principal is horribilizing the injury to his little darlings (for heaven's sake, just a tongue-lashing, and WELL WITHIN THE PREDICTABLE CONSEQUENCES of shooting a laser in someone's eye) so go ahead and join him in his escalation. He's blown the "offense" out of all proportion, so two can play that game - don't lie down for this sort of ridiculous over-response or there'll be no end to it. Meet him where he's coming from (demonstrate that as awful as he believes your words to have been, your injury was equally or more grave) and you may forestall some or all of any "bad rep" from this.

I am not suggesting that you actually sue, but I think you ought to get on the record the gravity of your injuury (potential or actual) - if you'd gone into the hospital, I guarantee that your insurance company would have been seeking recompense from the school's insurance company whether you agreed or not, and they'd likely win the fight.
Message: Posted by: Rimeister (May 25, 2005 05:00PM)
I see where the above comment is coming from, but from my understanding principals talk with other school principals, and if word was spread that an entertainer was potentially considering suing a school over something that happened during his show, it might be hard to get work in the school system again, the schools may fear the consequences of what would happen if a student from their school pulled a similar stunt. It really is a brutal situation to be in.

But then again, perhaps I'm wrong.
Message: Posted by: rossmacrae (May 25, 2005 09:25PM)
Principals do indeed talk with other school principals - and there may be no "win" to the situation, because they're gonna say SOMETHING. Which would you rather have? "This magician cussed out the children, he doesn't behave at all properly that nasty man" or "this magician got hurt by one of the children and we almost got sued."

If school shows are a big part of your income, you may just have to live with "walking on eggs". But I don't care to do them anymore, after a similar incident (except I had less provocation) - a couple of goofuses were talking louder and louder and I did a few general "let's be quiets" which didn't work, and then "I'm sorry you guys couldn't follow what was going on because a couple of morons couldn't let you hear." Didn't point out WHICH morons, but later I heard that the schhol felt compelled to send a letter of apology home with everyone because that nasty magician called all the kids morons. Was I wrong? Maybe, I dunno.

They're through with me - I'm through with them - and besides, with diminished funds and the demands of "No Child Left Behind", there's not a school system around here that has either the time or the money to spend on a magic show (doesn't contribute as directly as - oh, say, a historical re-enactor or a free 'Ronald McDonald Says Nutrition is Fun' show - to the learning process, you know.)
Message: Posted by: Creative Coach (May 26, 2005 06:44AM)
Both parties are at fault. Them for lasering you and you for losing control. You are a school show veteran. You know you used an incorrect responce. You WILL pay for it in bad comments at the next principals meeting. I can't beleive you said it. But you did and the damage is done!

I'm sorry but I WOULD NOT follow Ross' advice as this will further escalate the problem. As a fulltime speaker in schools that type of action will lead to unemployment! It will also lead to other acts not being allowed even though they had nothing to do with it. In the future curb your tongue. That's not appropriate words from a school presenter no matter what the cause!

I personally was shocked at your comments! Sorry for the laser but don't stoop to their level. You're not 12 yrs old!
Message: Posted by: rossmacrae (May 26, 2005 03:46PM)
I could be entirely wrong - and only you can try (and you can only really guess) to anticipate what the reaction would be in either case.

I'm just suggesting that if you "roll over" for this kind of hysteria, you'll still get a bad rep plus you tacitly agree that you were the offender rather than the victim. If you show a strong response, you at least go on record as having been gravely insulted, even assaulted, which puts your response in a very different light.
Message: Posted by: Bob Johnston (May 26, 2005 06:55PM)
Second guessing is so easy.
However; I would have stopped the show, explained to the kids and teacher why I was stopping the show and then gone directly to the principals office.

That would have taken care of my anger and given me some protection from repercussions for failing to finish the show.

This way, you would have [i]probably[/i] left with an apology from the principal and protected future jobs there.

Threatening to do a rectal exam on a child, negated all of that.

Message: Posted by: daffydoug (May 26, 2005 07:55PM)
Well, if you are going to stop the show and go directly to the principal's office, it might be a good idea to pack up yur show and take it with you, or put it in your vehicle first, because any kid who has no compunction about shooting a laser in the magicians eye would most certainly have no qualms at all with DESTROYING unguarded. unattended props....
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (May 26, 2005 09:53PM)
If you are going to stop the show and go to the principles office directly, then you mind as well pack up your entire show and store it in your house and leave it there. I can tell you word of mouth travels fast and you will not be working very much anytime soon. That is just not the way to handle a situation like that.

As John stated above, you are a professional and you should conduct yourself like one at all times. Regardless of how much confrontation and how much anger you may have, you just never, ever stoop to their level, lose your temper during a show. You are not a 12 year old.

You must also keep in mind that the other kids behaving should not be punished because one child decides that this day was his day to be a pain. You are a professional and the show goes on and gets done no matter what it takes from you to do it. That is what being a professional is all about.

After the show is done, then you can take various courses of action you feel neccesaruy in a professional manner. Stopping the show right then and there is not an option if you want to be working long.

Message: Posted by: Bob Johnston (May 27, 2005 12:45AM)

I reread your post and see nothing about any action taken by the teacher. With that in mind, I still see nothing “unprofessional” about stopping a show that is PUTTING YOU IN HARMS WAY.

And, I never suggested that you leave your equipment there in the room.

Every principal I have ever worked with would have wanted you to do just that and would have wanted to make things right for you. I think what you ended up doing was very wrong, but I also think that continuing to try to perform in pain, caused by an unsupervised student, is preposterous.

In fact, if I were you, I would still go to speak to the principal, for the very reason that others have told you “that principals talk to each other.” The deed (both yours and the kids) is done, you can not redo the mistake you made.

Why would you want to leave it with just the teacher’s description of what happened.

Message: Posted by: BIlly James (May 27, 2005 03:22AM)
I'd have given that kid a breakaway wand to hold! That would have taught him a lesson!

Message: Posted by: Al Angello (May 27, 2005 09:22AM)
I would never let the adults leave the room, so I would stop the show before I started to inform the adults that I AM NOT YOUR BABYSITTER. I will handle the entertainment, and YOU must handle dicipline, or my fee will double.
though love
Message: Posted by: fccfp (May 27, 2005 09:53AM)
It is difficult to know exactly how one would react in a given situation till it happens to you. I have been in situations that I believe are beyond normal misbehavior. I had a ten year girl at a her communion party threaten me repeatedly with bodily harm. After dogging her twice I asked an uncle standing close by to help out. Fortunately the kid reacted well to the uncle. It could have easily gone the other way with the kid throwing a tantrum. I think I handled it well under the circumstances, but...

I have been doing all types of kids shows for a very long time. I lay out guidelines (rules) during my warm up/ opening. It is usually sufficient.

Unfortunately today parents do not spend a lot of time with their kids to begin with, let alone watching a whole group. They are often ill equipped or simply don't know when or how to step in.

It sounds like Mark was experiencing a real threat of physical damage. Those little laser pointers are dangerous to the retina of the eye. It is a felony to point them at aircraft. We as human beings are particularly sensitive to danger to our eyes. I believe that magicians, as with other "visually oriented" people are particularly sensitive to these threats. I think the only way to prepare for these type of events is to try to think thru what one would do in advance. Unfortunately, occasionally we are sometimes thrust into situations that one could not have anticipated. How we handle them is a measure of our own maturity and preparation.

Was Mark outrageously provoked? Yes. Should he have handled it differently? Well it's easy to sit back after the fact and say yes to that as well. Right now all that can be done is to try to control the damage as best as can be done. This includes a thorough ophthalmological exam. I think it also should include a phone call and letter to the principle as well as whoever hired you in the first place. Usually, in my experience, it's a PTA mother that has little or no experience in working with entertainers and there needs. Children are not allowed to carry weapons to school for a reason, this may now include laser pointers.

When we hold ourselves out as professionals, we must be prepared to act professional regardless of the circumstances. There have been occasions where I have had to bite down on my lower lip to keep the first thing that came to my head from coming out my mouth. Sometimes I have to hold back the 2nd third or fourth as well. It has gotten easier over the years, but it can still be a trial. I keep reminding myself on these occasions that I chose to be there.
Message: Posted by: Hobie the Magical Hobo Clown (May 27, 2005 10:03AM)
So far I have never stopped a show but there were times when I wanted to.

I also lay down the rules at the beginning and I feel that helps out a lot.

Show the kids respect and they will also respect you.
Message: Posted by: rdwat92284 (May 27, 2005 10:34AM)
Honestly, there is a part in many of us that has always wanted to respond by lashing out. But many of us try not to because of the repercussions. When we read about someone who does we secretly cheer and then suddenly feel sorry for the guy having to mop up the mess.

Perhaps it is all a matter of expectations on the part of the performer and on the part of the school -- both explicit and implicit. The school is expected to provide a safe environment that will keep the performer from physical harm, this is implied but never written out in any agreement. And the school is supposed to provide a safe environment to keep the students from verbal thrashing, especially from a guest on their campus.

As magicians we often seek to control as many aspects of our performing environment as we can to prevent exposure of an effect and to ensure an effective presentation. This includes arranging for a staff member to brief the audience on proper etiquette or doing it ourselves. But who would have ever thought that in addition to encouraging people to turn phones and pagers to vibrate we would also have to tell them to put away their laser pointers?
Message: Posted by: fccfp (May 28, 2005 07:53AM)
Has anyone ever jumped right to the finally, abreviating the show, so you can finish before it gets completly away from you?
Message: Posted by: todsky (May 28, 2005 11:22AM)
Fccfp, on several occasions I have shortened a show by jumping to the finale, because the audience was acting up too much.
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (May 28, 2005 11:44AM)
Once I had to skip the middle of my show and go right into the big finish after being told by the guest of honor "You are not my teacher, and I don't have to listen to you".
Message: Posted by: rossmacrae (May 28, 2005 09:42PM)
Him: "You are not my teacher, and I don't have to listen to you".

"Okay, you don't have to, but you're going to miss out on a lot of the fun. He doesn't want to ... anybody out there who wants to have some fun? Well then, come up here and hold this wand while Jimmy sits down."
Message: Posted by: Bob Johnston (May 28, 2005 10:59PM)
On 2005-05-28 22:42, rossmacrae wrote:
Him: "You are not my teacher, and I don't have to listen to you".

"Okay, you don't have to, but you're going to miss out on a lot of the fun. He doesn't want to ... anybody out there who wants to have some fun? Well then, come up here and hold this wand while Jimmy sits down."
This is the proper way to handle a problem. It will seldom fail and will often "inspire" a teacher to step in.

Message: Posted by: Al Angello (May 29, 2005 07:19AM)
Dear Bob Johnston
I would never disagree with a distinguished gentlemen like you, and if this ever happens again I will remember your words. Thank you very much.
one of your fans
Al Angello
Message: Posted by: todd75 (May 29, 2005 03:15PM)
Kids are always going to get excited at magic shows....it's what they are suppose to do. However, I have recently created TIP SHEET which I send to the person in charge which covers the following.....

1. Crowd Control
2. Making sure cats and dogs are put up
3. I must start ON TIME
4. No food or drink during the show
5. Keeping the room free of children before and after the show
6. Not telling the kids what is going to happen in the show

I have learned after years of experience that some kids are just naturally rude (especially those over the age of 8) and that you have to do the best you can do and then move on to the next show. In other words- don't dwell on it!

I cover the talking rules before the show starts. I do this in a fun way! However, if the kids do start talking, I will simply say- "I need you guys to be really quite when I am talking." This usually works. However, if it doesn't- then I will go on to say, "I will wait until you all decide to stop talking before I can finish."
Message: Posted by: NJJ (May 29, 2005 05:23PM)
On 2005-05-29 16:15, todd75 wrote:

3. I must start ON TIME


I've noticed that for the past two weeks EVERY show I have been ready to go at the starting time and EVERY show the parents have been running late by 5-10 minutes. Do you run over time a little if you can or do you stop at the agreed time?

I've been splitting the difference!
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (May 29, 2005 08:40PM)
I have had this problem Nicholas on many an occassion and it really depends a lot upon how late they are running and when your next show is that day if you have another one. If I have another show that day and I simply must start at a certain time, I make that clear to the parent ahead of time and in my conformation call. If they are running late, I simply have to shorten up the show a bit but still give them a fun-filled show as promised.

If they are running a tad bit late and I do not have another gig that day, I will usually work with the parent and agree to wait a bit to go on. I will then do my full time for them. If I am a "solutions provider", then I try to solve their problems best I can and I think my clients appreciate me going the extra mile for them.

Message: Posted by: AKMan (Aug 24, 2014 09:51PM)
For birthday parties, if the parents want me to start at 2:30 I tell them to tell everyone the show up at 2:00 and then I start the show at 2:30 as planned. By then, *almost* everyone has arrived. I use the dead time to set up, chat with the kids, and go over what is expected of the parents (the parents can be more unruly than kids sometimes).
Message: Posted by: Howie Diddot (Aug 26, 2014 06:14PM)
AK, talking about starting late, your nine years late, the last post in this thread was in 2005

But to answer the question; I have the same problem in almost every show, it's never a problem; it's the kids birthday party and I want every guest of the child arriving a little late to enjoy the show, so I start whenever the parents say so; it gets me a better tip every time
Message: Posted by: The Great Zucchini (Aug 26, 2014 06:26PM)
Yep, coming over empty handed(no blowers, no snacks, no toys, nothing) is going to get anyone ahead of the game.