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Topic: Hi, I need a little advice
Message: Posted by: Mr Phil (Jun 20, 2002 06:53PM)
Hello Everyone,
I started my summer library shows this week, and I do not seem to be clicking with my audience. They ohh and ahh and most importantly laugh at the right moments. I just don't feel as connected. I figure it may be lots of new material or the fact I am working with out an assistiant. I have only done 2 so far but would like all you Kid Workers to tell me if this has happened to you? If it did what was the cure? Thanks for letting me whine and vent a little.

All The Best

Mr Phil
Message: Posted by: Stuart Hooper (Jun 20, 2002 11:00PM)
I can't answer your question for sure, but I have an idea. I'm a younger person myself, and I read all kinds of books constantly. However, as kids get older, the pre-teens that hang out in the library during the summer might not be the best audience for magic. I say this because I had friends among them for some time. This may be a genral stereotype, but they tend to have A.)bled in magic before, B.)are very intelligent and can see through acts, or C.) are somewhat cynical and bitter as kids especially these kids can be. Now maybe I'm wrong, and don't get me wrong, the kids in the library are probably better off than others, just a hard audience for magic.

Message: Posted by: ecno (Jun 21, 2002 09:34AM)
I never do magic shows. Magic is just a hobby for me. I ain't good, I'm still learning but I sometimes do my tricks for kids and they love it.
I think that's because
- I do close-up magic and I really try to involve them into my tricks. I ask them to go get something in the kitchen, or I ask them for a shoe-lace or just to pick a card and sign it. Or a handkerchief. Or I tell them to ask their mom for some money cause I'm about to do a trick with a coin or a bill.
- I do those tricks when I'm at their home and they ain't got something better to do!!
This might be 'the' problem in a library.
Look at restaurant magic, when does the magician do his magic?
Not when they are eating!!
Think about it.

Also, what magic do you do?
I remember when I was a kid, we went to see a magic show, it was stage magic. I was bored to death. And oh yeah, I watched him do all of his tricks but what was I supposed to do? I was sitting there on a chair and I couldn't do anything else.
Even today, I never watch stage magic when it's on T.V., unless it's Copperfield. All the other stage magic shows just ain't worth watching in my opinion and that's because it's just not real enough and you need special equipment. And they show us stuff we've already seen about a million times.
So what do I do .... I skip it!

It's hard to keep kids focussed on what you're doing. Your routine has to be smooth and good.
I have to admit mine ain't smooth or good because I don't even have a routine (still working on it though) but the reason why it seems to work is because I ask them to go to the kitchen to find a towel or whatever, this buys me time to set up or think about a new trick.

I also like to tease them in a funny way like saying my next trick involves some orange juice. So they go get some orange juice for me and they are watching and watching ... and all I do is drink it.
And then I'm like ... what ? don't you guys like this trick ? :-)
They hate me for it but they seem to love it.
They even want me to come back.

Another problem you might have in a library is that a) your audience is too big. Especially with kids, this will make it extremely hard to keep them focussed.
You need to bring a kitchen into the library ;-)
Use the books!
Throw your deck of cards against those books and ask them if they were allowed to pick only one book in what book would the card be?
Harry Potter !!!!!!!!!
You can even make some of those books move.
Or put some money in it or confetti or blow up some balloons with Helium, attach a card to it and do a card trick ;-)

And when people start losing their attention you have to do something unusual. It's like when you go to a bar, it sometimes happens they just shut down the music. Or use the fire alarm. Things like this wakes them up, it creates a 'buzz'
Maybe you could turn the lights out?

The only problem I have with kids is that they want me to teach them how to do magic. And guess what.. that's exactly what I do!
And they love it. I teach them the jumping rubber band trick and I show them how to throw cards! (use cheap or old cards) If this is allowed in the library, try it. It's fun! Make sure they have a target they love to throw cards at ;-)
Message: Posted by: Mike Robbins (Jun 21, 2002 10:41AM)
I've had this happen in the past and not just with kid shows. I've found it happens when I'm breaking in new material or working in a venue I've not been in before. I've often found that it's just my perception and not the audience's.

Try this: Have someone you trust come to your next library show and ask them what they think. Make sure it's someone who won't just shine you on and will be truthful even if it's not good.

My wife is good at that. I'll sometimes feel a show didn't go well, maybe I didn't hear as much laughter, etc and she'll be out in the audience and can tell me later that they did laugh and smile and pay rapt attention. She'll also tell me without fail if something didn't work with the audience.

I think that's the best way to put your finger on it.


Message: Posted by: Stuart Hooper (Jun 21, 2002 11:00PM)
When performing, everyone always gets better eactions than they think they do, if they're not total gits. If you want kids attention, use fire, more fire, levitation,and more visual magic before doing card tricks or anyhting complex like that.
Message: Posted by: David Freeman (Jun 24, 2002 12:01PM)
Hey Mr. Phil!

Do you have any type of warm-up routine before you start the show? My shows were Ok, but it took the kids a while to see that they were there to have fun and participate, not just sit quietly and watch. Now that I incorporate a silly non-magical warm-up routine (1-2 minutes), I get a much better reaction throughout my show.

Try it if don't do one already.

Good Luck!

Message: Posted by: WindsorWizard (Jun 24, 2002 10:04PM)
Mr. Phil... We find that if we tell them up front what we expect during the show, during the warmups, like "If you see or hear something funny, don't forget to laugh... don't wait til you go to bed to start laughing though... otherwise someone in your house might think that you've gone funny!"

Show them some funny ways to clap and tell them when you expect them to clap... at the end of the trick.

GET THEM INVOLVED AS A GROUP by saying the magic words with you... "I LOVE TO READ" for example, have them all wiggle their fingers to help make the magic happen... the whole idea is to have FUN with your magic, get them to participate and your audience WILL get involved with you and enjoy your show.

Sometimes they think it would be out of line to verbalize, but if you can use some controlled paticipation throughout your show I'm sure everyone will go away feeling that they were part of it... and they were... because you involved them all, RIGHT?

Also, we find that children sitting with their parents tend to get less involved... so I usually, if at all possible, get them to get up and move in closer (away from parental control) so they are free to express themselves without thinking that Mom may not approve of any outward involvement.

Finally, sometimes it doesn't matter what you do, they just don't seem to want to co-operate... and it is possible they do not understand just what you are doing and are thus bored, it can happen, or maybe they have been waiting quite some time and are just plain tired.

We do our thing to the best of our ability, have fun the whole time and hope they go home telling everyone how much fun they had helping us... of course, we make sure they know they will receive a valuable magical surprise to take home at the end of the show too!

We provide coloring pages, mystery dollars, magical fun folders etc. at the end of all shows, but tell them a bit about it, at different times during the show, without really revealing what it is until near the end of the show, keeps them attentive too.

Your shameless self-promotion/contact info must be on the souvenirs you use... without fail!
Message: Posted by: Mr Phil (Jun 24, 2002 10:21PM)
Hello All,

Thanks for the Replys, I think is was a case of nerves with lots of new material. I did look over the show from top to bottom and nipped and tucked and I fell better about it. I always learn so much from the folks on this board

Mr Phil