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Topic: Interruptions
Message: Posted by: Daryl -the other brother (Dec 18, 2003 04:50AM)
I did a show for a mixed group of adults & kids, the children all sat up front with the adults in the back. Everything was fine until the kids figured it was OK to ask questions during the show. They would raise their hand and leave it there until I called on them, and their question would be something like "Can you make me disappear?" Of course the parents thought this was cute, but I found it very annoying as it threw the timing of the show off.
Message: Posted by: drosenbe0813 (Dec 18, 2003 08:44AM)
I usually answer one 'question' that a child might have, but after that, I usually just ignore hand raisers. My show is so full and fast paced that they soon realize that they are missing stuff by attempting get my attention. By the middle of the show, I have everyone's full attention. This is not to say that the kids are not encouraged to yell and scream at the appropriate points, but I am in control. Using a sound system is great because I can always be heard over any of the kids who want to take over my show.
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Dec 18, 2003 09:56AM)
I never like to ignore the kids. This usually only causes more problems down the road and gets the kids hyper and talkative because they will attempt to get your attention in other means.

The best way I handle the situation is by addressing them in a friendly manner. I answer their question and in a comical manner and let them know that there will be time for all the kids answers and autographs and more fun after the performance. But right now we need to sit down, and have a big smile so we can enjoy the magic and not miss any of the fun and excitement.

This usually works fine and the kids are ok with it. It also acts as a reminder to the adults to also keep it down and watch their own kids as well.

I find that if you address the children and you pay closer attention to them and their needs, you really can alleviate a lot of potential problems.

Message: Posted by: Andy Wonder (Dec 18, 2003 02:11PM)
On 2003-12-18 05:50, Daryl -the other brother wrote:
... the kids figured it was OK to ask questions during the show. ...
It is not okay to ask questions in my show. Whoever is asking the questions is in control and I am always firmly in control of my show. I sometimes get all sorts of funny questions, but the minute you pay any attention to them, you hand control over to the children and they will try and steer the course of the show with all types of outrageous questions designed to shift the attention onto them.

If I have an innocent child persistently with a hand up I will usually give them a quick nod and say something like, “We'll talk about it later'.” 9 times out of 10 times, they forget what they were going to ask. If they do come up after the show to ask I am quite happy to talk to them at that time.

Sometimes at a school show a child will put up their hand to ask permission to go to the toilet. You must ignore this because it is a question they must only ask their teacher.

I remember many years ago I made the mistake of allowing a child in a school show to ask an irrelevant question. A girl asked if she could go to the toilet. I said it was okay and continued with my show. Then another child asked to go, then another, then another, then another. Pretty soon every child all desperately needed to go to the toilet.
Message: Posted by: wizardofsorts (Dec 18, 2003 02:44PM)
I think the answer to this could be found by searching for "warm ups" and "introductions." The way you prepare the group is important and can minimize interruptions. Maybe the other guys can help me remember where these discussions have been held.
Message: Posted by: Leo B. Domapias (Dec 18, 2003 05:29PM)
So far the only question I get asked in a show is "How did you do that?"

I answer this with the stock wisecrack, "Very well," and then move on.

There are parts in the show that I'd like the children to react verbally, as in a sucker routine. I even pretend to hear comments when the kids are slow to react. But for the most part, I don't hand over the control of the show to the children by engaging them in a question-and-answer portion. I watch carefully for funny lines that kids unwittingly drop, in which case I pause and react to that laugh line.

I find that if the program's pacing is fast, the magic colorful and engaging as opposed to a routine with very little magical effect (children know when a magician is trying to kill time), the children will watched mesmerized and for the most part won't interrupt the program.

Ben Benjay
Manila, Philippines
Message: Posted by: Donald Dunphy (Dec 19, 2003 12:05AM)
Set your boundaries so you are in control, as Andy Walker said (he's a brilliant man!)

I also agree with Edd, this is something that you need to deal with in the warm-up. I think it was Steve Taylor who talked about his handling of this in one of his books, or on the Komedy Kidshow Kassettes, or on his Fantastic Friends Show video. So my ideas are an adaptation of his. Here goes...

Tell the audience "Who wants to have FUN today? Great. There are three things to remember, so that you can have fun during the show today. Here's the first one..."

1) "Don't run up here and try to give me money or a hug during the show" (said in a joking manner.) :) "Remember to sit all the way down, so others around you can see the show, and so can you. If you stand up, you will make it so others around you can't see the show." Ask them to touch the floor with their hands, if necessary, so you know they are listening.

2) "Everyone hold your hand to your ear. This will remind us to listen. If you talk to a friend beside you, or interrupt me, you will miss part of the show. And I really want you to see the whole show, and not make it so I have to leave something out."

3) "When you see something which you like during the show today, remember to clap. Let's try that now. If you see something that you REALLY like, clap and say 'yea!'"

This teaches them how you expect them to react to your show. Set your boundaries before you start, and you will reduce problems during the show to zero (in fact, parents will step in during the show and help you deal with difficult children, as they heard your expectations, too.)

The Gr8 DonaldD.
Message: Posted by: Mark Strivings (Dec 19, 2003 01:33AM)
There have been some great ideas on this thread. Personally I never directly address interruptions (except in extreme circumstances, of course.) I barely give the kids a chance to breath, much less interrupt. There is always something going on, always something to laugh at, and they don't have much time to think about any questions or comments that they may have.

Which begs to point out the obvious, don't ask them questions or make comments that MIGHT be open to individual answers. Ask yes or no questions or things they can answer easily just by raising their hands. This will help immensely. Frequently, the problem of interruptions during a show have been brought on by the performer himself, either by way too slow of a pace, age inappropriate material (which immediately becomes boring to older kids, thereby opening the floodgates), or by the performer unwittingly digging himself a hole by accident.

Anytime this happens to you, do a post show critique (which you always should anyway) and try to figure out why it happened. And don't let that happen again.

And one more thing, accept that fact that kids will be kids no matter what ground rules (or boundaries) you may lay out in your show. These things will happen no matter what you do, and when they do happen, get by them as quickly as you can, regain control of your show (because this definitely is a control issue) and move along. And be a bit wiser in your next show.

And yet more thing (since I'm on a low soapbox), I almost never blame a kid or group of kids for a problem in my show (notice I say ALMOST NEVER, there have been a small handful of times, WAY less than 1/2 of 1% of my shows, you perform enough shows and eventually you will run into a bad group...). The control of the room is primarily MY responsibility during my show. If that means I get a teacher or other adult involved (assuming they haven't already involved themselves...), then fine. BUT, I am the ONE person in the room who has the best seat to see what the kids are doing and how they are behaving and I am in the best position to either prevent it from the start and/or to take care of it during the program. Don't fall into the trap of blaming your audience if there is a problem. Always look at the performer first. I do. And so do several others in this thread. It shows!

Mark Strivings
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Dec 19, 2003 08:50AM)
I also agree with Andy's approach and what Donald has stated above. I think it is very important to set the ground rules before the start of the show. This allows the children to know what to expect and what is expected of them. It really helps to alleviate problems and allows the grownups there to understand what you expect from their children. by stating these rules upfront, there is more of a chance that the adults will take the hint from you and offer to help establish these rules later on if needed.

I think, however, that it is also important on how to state these rules to the children. I think you do not want to jump so far out of character that you tend to scare the kids and become this mean adult figure. This would only get the kids to shun away from you rather then draw them in towards you allowing them and you to have a lot of fun.

As Donald and others have mentioned, there are ways to get the rules across in a comical manner that they understand.

I use something like this:

"Hi boys and girls. is everyone having a great time at Billy's birthday party? Wait a second. I know you guys can make more noise then that. Let's make everyone on the block jealous that they are not here having all the fun like we are. One more time. Are you guys having fun? Wow that was fantastic!"

"You see boys and girls, this is what we call an interactive magic show. All that means is that it is ok to clap when you see something you like and it is ok to laugh when you see something you think is funny or silly. Lets try a nice clap right now as warm up. Perfect you guys are all ready for a great show."

"Now during our show today, Kelly and I are going to need some special helpers to help us work our magic. In order to be a helper you must follow 3 simple rules. 1) you must be seated down on the floor with your legs crossed Indian style. 2) You must have your hand raised so we can see that you want to help out and 3) you must have a really big smile on your face. If you can follow those 3 simple rules, you may be the person we select to help us work our magic today."

"Is everyone ready to have a lot of fun??? Well ok, let's get the magic started."

This really is simple but has worked great for me. I state the rules and do a nice warm up as well. It gets the kids knowing they are there to have fun, it is ok to clap and laugh and get involved and they know what is expected of them cause I set up the rules in a nice friendly manner to them.

Hope this gives others some ideas.

Message: Posted by: Donald Dunphy (Dec 20, 2003 12:22PM)
On 2003-12-19 09:50, magic4u02 wrote:
1) you must be seated down on the floor with your legs crossed Indian style.[/quote]
Kyle -

In this age of political correctness and people being easily offended, I would use a different word to describe what you expect of them. I tell them I want them to be sitting down, on their bottoms, with their legs crossed "criss cross applesauce" style. Children at preschool and daycare groups often know this saying.

Just another perspective.

The Gr8 DonaldD.
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Dec 20, 2003 07:04PM)
Aww, thanks Donald. That is so true and I never thought about it like that. I like your wording much better and will start using that tomorrow. It essentially gets the same message across, but will not offend anyone in the process.

Thanks you so much my friend for sharing that with me. That does seem better. I learn something new every day. Thanks again.

Message: Posted by: Donald Dunphy (Dec 20, 2003 10:04PM)
No problem, Kyle, my friend. We are here to make one another’s lives richer.

The Gr8 DonaldD.
Message: Posted by: Billy Whizz (Dec 21, 2003 02:06AM)
Something I've never done is to 'educate' the children on how to applause or laugh. If your show is funny they will laugh naturally, and I always get them to give the helper the applause after the routine is finished. I've never known anyone (until now) to have to teach children how to laugh.
Message: Posted by: Emazdad (Dec 21, 2003 02:19AM)
I'm not one of those magicians who comes out and expects the kids to just sit and watch me as I go through my carefully rehearsed and timed to the second act. My manner promotes interaction with the kids, I've usually been chatting and joking with them while I set up, so to suddenly switch to this remote performer would alienate them. So I don't ignore them. Some of my best gags, etc., have come from situations the kids have initiated. If they're asking a question, I answer them if the part of the show allows for it, and there’s chance of a bit of ad-libbing fun. If it's not the right time, I just say, "Ok, we'll talk about it later" and carry on. If they're one of the really young persistent ones who wants to tell you their life story, you know the one, usually about 3-4 years old and sits there constantly saying, "Mr. magician, Mr. Magician, I've got a dog a home" etc., I go over to them and crouch down and say, "Have you! So have I” and explain nice and firmly that, “I'm a bit busy, and can't talk at the moment, but if they come and see me after the show I'll have time for a chat about it, meanwhile it's best for you to sit quietly and watch the fun".

Sometimes just putting my finger to my mouth in the shhhh! gesture is all I need to do if they've all start talking at once and I need to get on.
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Dec 21, 2003 05:03PM)

My purpose of having them laugh at the beginning is not to teach them how to do it. Making them clap and letting them laugh is done to show them that it is OK for them to do that during the show. It also gets them to interact with me early on and learn that the show is all about fun and interaction and their responses. It really is a psychological thing that helps me to break down the invisible barrier that always exists between the performer and the audience.

As Clive also states, it helps to show them through my actions that the show is very interactive in nature. I also strongly agree with how Clive interacts with the children when he gets to the show. He does not just set up by himself and alienate himself from the others.

This is so important because it requires you to work that much harder when your show starts. If you can talk with the kids, let them see you and interact with them before the show, then it makes the show run that much smoother. The children realize who you are, that you’re not a scary grown-up and that it is ok to have fun.

What I also find works quite well is to just start talking quietly after I do the shhh sign. By lowering the volume of my voice, the children tend to automatically become quieter with me in order to hear. It works pretty good.

Message: Posted by: Rob Johnston (Dec 22, 2003 01:40PM)
It is especially bad when the alcohol kicks in!
Message: Posted by: p.b.jones (Dec 22, 2003 04:38PM)
[quote]I've never known anyone (until now) to have to teach children how to laugh.[/quote]
I got to say, I use opening:

"During the show if you see anything that you like that makes you want to clap your hands please go right ahead and clap. ... In fact let me hear you clapping now. … Great now just the same, if you see anything that makes you want to laugh go right ahead and laugh any time you like. … Let me hear you all laughing. ... One last thing, if you see any thing you don't like go right ahead and clap and laugh too. Come on, let me hear you clapping and laughing."

Works well for me.
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Dec 22, 2003 05:09PM)
I do an identical type of thing. It is not so much that you have to teach them HOW to do it. It is more a matter of letting them know it is OK for them to do that. It gets audience interaction during the performance of the show.