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Andy Wonder
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Auckland, New Zealand
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I remember making the mistake of saying to children they had to sit so quietly I could hear a mouse squeek. They then all burst out into their squeeking noises all trying to be the loudest and out squeek each other. Smile

I really like the pin dropping idea much better.
Andy Wonder, Auckland, New Zealand
Emazdad
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Plymouth UK
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Hi Ronald, it's just a shame that unlike us some people don't bother teaching their kids values or manners, and take the easy way out when the kid's throwing a trantrum by letting them have what they want. These are the really spoiled ones that shout during the show, "WHEN AM I GOING TO MAGIC MY PRESENT, MUMMY SAY'S I WAS GOING TO MAGIC A PRESENT". I've had a few of those.

Like most of us I explain the rules in my intro, and they then know that the best behaved kids will get to help, and the best of all will win the large bribery and corruption balloon model. But even this doesn't stop 100% of the kids, every now and again (not very often I'm glad to say) there is the brat who can't keep still, wants to push and shove the others around him, or just run around. Sometimes he has a hyperactive disorder, sometimes he's just a brat. There's no sure way of dealing with him, you just have to try all the nice gentle ways first and then if you've done your best but they've all failed and he's starting to spoil the show for the other kids then it's best to stop the show and get the parents to remove him. Luckily I've only had to do it 3-4 times in the 8 years I've been doing this.

On the other hand I've done shows where a special needs kid is present and wanders in and out of the performance area during the show. As long as he's not touching anything or getting in my way I just carry on and if neccesary I just say hello and steer them gently away. It's not his fault and you find their parents are trying their best to keep them out of the way as well, but it's not easy for them as the kids are determined to wander and slip the net.
Yours Funfully
Clive "Emazdad" Hemsley
www.emazdad.com

"Magic is a secret, without the secret there is no magic"

Remember there are only 3 types of people in the world, those that can count and those that can't.
magic 12376
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Wilkes-Barre Pa
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Andy, I'm glad you like the "Pin Drop." I have used this for some time and have found that telling the kids to be quiet, then following up with dropping the pin with a thud, reinforces the idea that it is important to be quiet but not so quiet as not to have fun. Also as emmazdad suggests the bribery plot goes a long way whether it be a balloon sculpture or other small prize.
I do however believe that if you give the disruptive child something to behave it is very much like rewarding his bad behavior.

If you do this I would wait until the end of the show and then announce since everyone has been so well behaved they all receive a balloon sculpture or whatever present you are going to give the disruptive child. In this way you have "Bribed" the child into behaving without giving him anything special for acting the way he should in the first place.

Ronald R. Romiski Smile
ChrisZampese
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Hamilton, NZ
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If I find the kids getting out of hand a bit I often just say "now, who's sitting up straight? [kids will all sit up] With their arms folded? [kids will fold their arms] Touching their nose? [a few giggles, but kids all touch their noses] With their tongues poked out? [kids poke out their tongues]". This often works well as the sitting up straight with arms folded is something that the kids get at school, and they understand instantly what is expected of them, and that I am likely not to continue until they are sitting as requested! The finger on nose, poked tongue turns it into something funny instead of being too 'teacherish'.

I have found that this works for kids from age 4 upwards, but the older the better (to a point).
The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are
harris
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Harris Deutsch
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Hmm.

Should children be "obscene and not heard"?

Sorry about that bad pun.

Just when I think I have heard or seen it all something new occurs during a Nearly Normal program.

Although I have not had that happen in a "kid" show, during a "Purim Party" (Jewish Holiday) at an Assisted Living Center a woman began to talk in an unknown language. Although a lot of people were from Europe I did not believe it was a "true" language. Nigel tried to communicate with her and she seemed to calm down a while. There was an alert staff member that sat with her.

After the program we made it a point to visit with her and others. She came up and touched the different puppets but was not able to communicate verbally with us.

You might try a Nearly Normal zen technique of looking at a youngster who is saying things throughout the show. Pause and say something off the wall such as..."hmm I have 3 tee shirts...", then go on.

As a Nearly Normal counselor and laughologist, who has worked with emotionally disturbed, psychotic, and newly sober substance abusers you never know the response you will get.

Yesterday I had a great time at an inner city alternative school. The puppets, blues harp and Nearly Normal magic were a great bridge.

Keep growing glowing and learning.

Harris
Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
drlaugh4u@gmail.com
music, magic and marvelous toys
http://magician.org/member/drlaugh4u
Frank Tougas
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Besides doing children's magic for years now (I'm also 53) I am a psychologist who works with kids. As a performer I do not wear my psychologist's hat although I will use magic in my practice. The average kid show performer is not there to diagnose so Tourette's or not is not the issue, audience management is.

I include in my original performance agreement a tips sheet to make the show go better. It includes everything from keeping the room cooler than usual to parental (or big people) monitoring.

It is true over the years I have had children wander in and out of the performance area, an overly exhuberent child wanting to come up and help and then burst into tears because everyone was looking at them, etc. But it is ultimately a joy and when things don't go well I take the time to analyze it and make the necessary changes. Most kids don't want to mes up your show, they are just so excited they can't contain themselves, and others have never had proper manners for a live performance modeled.

Look at old television shows with a studio audience and you will see many people dressed in dresses, suits and ties. Look at today's audiences and what do you see? Kids are into interactive video games, they don't always know a show is not necessarily interactive. Look at the teachers at their schools, do they dress professionally as teachers or do they look a lot like the kids they teach or at best like the college crowd?

Just do it because you love them and love them because you do it— sometimes the fall can be hard, but that's because the rewards are a great natural high.

Frank
Frank Tougas The Twin Cities Most "Kid Experienced" Children's Performer :"Creating Positive Memories...One Smile at a Time"
japanjazzy
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Crestview, Florida
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I am not sure anyone else does this or not but when I book the show I inform the parent that I will need assistance in crowd control. I can handle most of it but since many of the times I work as a clown it would be hard to stay in character and keep the kids in line. I am very polite to the parents and just remind them that I am there to entertain their children and if they could help me out if any of the children get out of hand.
Michael
Pandora
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Parents often want to leave their children watching the magician while they go off and take a break or prepare the cake. Smile

Try and encourage parents to stay and watch the show. They will have just as much fun and the kids although still excited tend to be better behaved. It also takes the onus off your shoulders. You are not the baby sitter but the entertainer.

Love Pandora
Emazdad
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Parents often sit and watch the show, and really enjoy it, but it always amazes me the number of parents that sit at the back, watch their kid be totally disruptive and not do a thing about it. They think it's funny that 2-year old Sam is playing with the magician's stuff, not noticing the magician is getting pretty annoyed. The number of times I've had to stop the show and ask the parents to remove their child and they've sat their looking at me like I'm an alien.

I occassionally make an announcement before the show that the safest place for the toddlers during the show is on mum/dad's lap, and ask the parents not to let them run around— most times it's ignored. It's one of the things that really tests my patience to the limit.
Yours Funfully
Clive "Emazdad" Hemsley
www.emazdad.com

"Magic is a secret, without the secret there is no magic"

Remember there are only 3 types of people in the world, those that can count and those that can't.
Andy Wonder
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Pandora has a good point. Parents often will get whatever they expect with a magic show. If they picked you out of the Yellow Pages because you were cheaper without really knowing much about what to expect, then I guess you're likelier to get that alien look Emazdad talks about. They might not even bother to watch your show themselves. If they have heard good things about you and paid a high fee expecting everyone to be entertained they will be less likely to allow their guests to behave impolitely.

I am only just realising now how important building up your client's expectations is to the magic birthday party business. The higher you can build their expectations the better. Obviously higher expectations allow you to justify higher fees but that is only one area. I started to notice recently that every repeat booking I went to I was getting the red carpet treatment. People that had seen me before would do all the right things like— have all the adult guests seated properly, hang off my every word, laugh at every joke, keep unruly children disciplined, all the other wonderful things perfect clients do.
Andy Wonder, Auckland, New Zealand
Emazdad
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One thing Andy, I don't go out cheap and I do give my bookers a high expectation of what to expect. It's not the quality of the show that's the problem. They get a very detailed sales pitch and a party timetable and tips page sent out with the contract. Most of my work is recommends and re-bookings.

At a birthday party the guests are the birthday child's friends, the other mum's and toddlers are extras. The toddlers aren't catered for in the numbers and I've often seen frantic birthday mum's trying to find extra plates to feed these extra mouths. They're just staying because their kid may be shy, or they can't be bothered to go home and come back.

Some people are just not interested in their kids, and just want something to keep them out of their hair for a while. The Alien look is due to them being rude and thinking that I'm there to keep the kids quiet while they chat and their loose toddler who is not an invited guest is not their problem. These are the ones that smoke and swear in front of the kids.

If I'm working at a social club or holiday camp etc. the background noise from the adults at the bar is an occupational hazard which I put up with, but at a birthday party the kids enjoyment is my number one priority, and to be honest the parents should feel the same and show the kids some respect and try not to disturb their enjoyment.

Most adults are OK, but if you're doing a 7-year old party and 2-3 parents stay with a couple of toddler siblings in tow you know there is going to be a noisy mum and tots group at the back of the room. If it's a babe in arms it's even worse. It only takes 2 adults to chat loudly especially in an echoey hall and they're sat right behind the kids to disrupt a show. You can only turn your PA up so far before it's too loud for the kids and there is a definite link between how fidgety the kids are and the background noise. Also let one toddler loose especially if the toddler goes running into the kids looking for big brother or sister and start fighting with them and you've got another problem.

The one thing you won't find in my show is magic or jokes aimed at the adults. There are a couple of subtle parent observations in the show, and a couple of times where the adults get to join in with the kids but when it comes down to it I'm paid to entertain the children and that's what I do. I've heard plenty of complaints from people who've been upset because they hired a kids' entertainer and he spent so much time entertaining the adults the kids got bored.

My diary says I'm good at what I do, by the end of this month I will have done 403 shows since the first of May last year and most adults love to watch the show. The childen are the stars. Unfortunately as in life it only take a minority to spoil things for the majority.

Sometimes you'll find that you've got a kid up helping and it's their mum that's not watching, can you believe a parent who is not interested in what their child is doing? Whenever my kids do something I'm there watching.
Yours Funfully
Clive "Emazdad" Hemsley
www.emazdad.com

"Magic is a secret, without the secret there is no magic"

Remember there are only 3 types of people in the world, those that can count and those that can't.
Mikael Eriksson
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None of your business
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Quote:
On 2003-04-21 03:11, Emazdad wrote:
Parents often sit and watch the show...parents that sit at the back watch their kid be totally disruptive and not do a thing about it...not noticing the magician is getting pretty annoyed...ask the parents to remove their child and they've sat there looking at me like I'm an alien...ask the parents not to let them run around, most times it's ignored.

I'm so glad you wrote that, I thought only Swedish parents were like that.

Mikael
japanjazzy
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One trick I have used that has helped me out in the past with a lot of little kids is I put out a length of rope on the floor and tell everyone that if you cross the rope without being asked up I will have to pause the show until they go back. The other kids really help out and get the troublesome kids back and away from my props. If they cross over the line I will stop what I am doing and the other kids will tell them to get back. Of course if you have a show that the kids don't care about then this won't work.
Emazdad
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The kids do stay behind the magic line, unfortunately 2-year old toddlers don't understand the principle and curiosity gets the better of them if they're not kept on mum's lap.
Yours Funfully
Clive "Emazdad" Hemsley
www.emazdad.com

"Magic is a secret, without the secret there is no magic"

Remember there are only 3 types of people in the world, those that can count and those that can't.
Andy Wonder
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Auckland, New Zealand
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I have now added a new paragraph into the letter I send out confirming a birthday show booking. I only just wrote this today. I am sure it will help me. Since I have increased my fees I get much less of these sorts of problems but I still get more troublesome children that I really deserve.

"If there are any children under the age of 3 present please ensure they have a parent who can contain them in case they decide the props used during the show are toys for them. Children this young don’t understand the concept of a show and often want to grab at things they are not really supposed to. Also if there are going to be any children present who have a tendency to be particularly bad mannered or use obscenities, please try to arrange a parent that can be nearby who is able to discipline them if required. In the rare event that I am forced to take on a disciplinarian role during my performance it makes the show less entertaining for everyone."

That is it. Any Café members feel free to use that text in your own after-sales letters. Let me know if it helps. Smile
Andy Wonder, Auckland, New Zealand
Emazdad
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A good paragragh. It's very hard to come up with wording that will not offend the booker and put them off. I have the following at the top of my party timetable and tips page:

---------------------------------------------
Adults and Toddlers

Adults are welcome to watch the show. They are sure enjoy it, however in my experience there are a few problems that can occur if the adults do stay at a birthday party.

1. A shy child may not join in the party if Mum or Dad are there, They’ll stay firmly locked onto Mum or Dad's leg. If the parents leave the child normally joins in with the other children.

2. Some parents forget about the children’s enjoyment of the show and will sit in the party room and chat. This is extremely discounting and is worse than someone talking behind you at the cinema. The children are the stars of the show and you’ll want to hear every word they say. It’s not fair to the children and Emazdad will tell the parents off if he feels they are spoiling the show. If the parents do have to stay and they would rather talk than enjoy the fun, ask them to move to another room.

3. They might have in tow younger siblings who are too young to fully appreciate and join in the fun. Toddlers and babies can get hurt as they are totally invisible to the very excited children playing the games, and if they’re allowed to play or run about during the magic show they will cause a big distraction and the show will have to be stopped whilst they are bought under control, especially if they wander into the performance area. Emazdad’s public liability insurance does not cover under 3’s, who, if they have to be there, should be kept safely and quietly on Mum or Dad’s lap for the duration of the party.

--------------------------------------------
OK the bit about the insurance is a tiny fib, but it does work for about 8 out of 10 parties. I still get the occasional one where the booker either hasn't read it, or is afraid to tell the mum of the wayward toddler to contain their child in case she takes offence.
Yours Funfully
Clive "Emazdad" Hemsley
www.emazdad.com

"Magic is a secret, without the secret there is no magic"

Remember there are only 3 types of people in the world, those that can count and those that can't.
Cheshire Cat
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I know that Andy won't be offended if I say I've always thought the title of this thread, "obscene", a bit heavy, but of course we all know exactly what Andy means. Earlier on I (partly in jest) mentioned Private School children, and of course Emazdad replied —in my opinion honestly and bluntly.

It was certainly not our intention to offend anyone, but here in the UK I am certain that almost any entertainer cannot fail to observe, shall we say, the "alternative" behaviour patterns of many Independant School children. It has recently been highlighted on the news that Private Schools fail children more than State or State/Religious run Schools— the awful fact is that 1 in 7 is actually harming a child's education and development.

Now we have been doing this for a quarter of a Century - all through the Thatcher Conservative years when freedom of choice in education meant parents paying silly money to send their kids to leaky wooden huts with ill or only partly qualified staff, just to be part of the private sector— honestly believing they were getting something 'better'.Most of these both physically and educationally quite pathetic establishments have now either gone out of business or tried to amalgamate with others.

In our location there is a disproportionate number of Private Schools and I have to say that in the recession of the early 1990s our business felt an awful whiplash from these people cutting back on expenditure, i.e. big parties. We even recall parents phoning us and saying, "sorry, we'll have to cancel as school fees have gone up again" —as though paying for private education were some sort of 'illness' or genuine social depravity!

Once again, now, under higher taxes, both local and national in the UK, and school fees (private) rising about 8%, we now notice these people putting the stoppers on spending. Fortunately we now trade about 90% within parents who educate their children within the State sector and will not be caught out again.

So to sum up, I can only observe from 25 years trading, that SOME Private School children can not only have behavioural problems, but also relying too much on their parents for bookings can be injurious to your business.

Tony.
magicsoup
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Hey Harris! I play blues harp too! I believe in private schools. I'm not sure about "free thinking" ones though. I like discipline.

At the start of my show I go over the rules. I use humour to explain that rules are a good thing. Eg. "If there was no such thing as rules so and so could tie you to the bumper of their car and smash into things! But there are rules against that sort of thing. If they tried that they'd...get a ticket or something." If my rules are broken the offender leaves the room for a few minutes to calm down.

I once did a show where one kid would not stop interrupting. I had the mother take him out of the room for the rest of the show. About ten minutes later she brought him back (to my surprise) and he was a changed child! Sat perfectly.

When a child isn't deliberately trying to be a pain and just wants to talk to you I try to take advantage of the situation and get into some physical humour. Our exchange goes something like this—
"Mr. Magician did you know that I have a..."
"AAARRGGHHH!" [as if I just got stabbed with a pen]
"Mr. Magician I wanted..."
"AAARRRGGHH!"
"I was just..."
"AAARRRGGHH"
"Mr.—"
"AAARRRGGHH!"
"But I..."
"I DON'T WANT TO TALK TO YOU!!!!! I'M IN THE MIDDLE OF SOMETHING!"

By this time all the kids join in and it's a crazy scene with kids all asking questions and me screaming and banging my head on something or pulling at my hair like a crazy person! The kids have a blast! Before it gets too out of control I do my quiet signal (which I go over at the start of the show with the rules) and quickly answer their question with a why didn't you say that in the first place? And get on with the show.

Just a note— I am very aggressive with kids. It works for my character but maybe not yours.
WVMAGIC
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I was a public school teacher. One of the first rules at the beginning of the semester is that you start strict and then ease up as you go through the year. I start my shows a little reserved. I can ease up later and the kids and parents don't remember that I was ever mildly strict. You can always ease up, but it is almost impossible to crack down during the middle of the show.

Also try playing a game like Simon Says. This teaches the kids that you are the leader and they should follow what you say. The more you work with kids, the more you will find your own way.
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