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Tom Riddle
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I have been in the business of entertaining children all my life. It is my belief that children up to the age of 9 are the same now as they were 40 years ago. Why do I say this? The world is very different now to what it was 40 years ago, but children are the same. I actually think that children are the same now as they were 1000 years ago. I often hear people say that the children of today are very different to those of yesteryear. I disagree. A child is a child is a child. They react intuitively to a magic show in the way they have reacted for centuries to magicians. They are not told how to react............they just react. Many on here are constantly seeking out the latest and greatest dealer's prop. This is nonsense. The first time a child sees Run Rabbit Run, they will react the same way that they have always reacted. Why do so many on here spend so much time seeking out something new? To a child, it is all new............and they will laugh and clap and be entertained like they always have. The only criterion is that the performer presents the effect in such a way that he or she gives permission for the audience to laugh and clap and be amazed. It is all about good entertainment. It is not about the latest and greatest dealer's prop. Do you agree?
"Yes, Virginia, there really are people named Riddle...isn't that AMAZING! And to think of all the royalties I'm missing out on! SCANDALOUS!"

Thomas Williamson Riddle III
Chelsea, UK
Wanlu
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In my country (Philippines) where magicians perform almost every weekend in parties...using the same stuff (basically from the same supplier) over and over again, it is an advantage to have a few different tricks to show Smile
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lou2
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I have been in the business of entertaining children all my life. It is my belief that children up to the age of 9 are the same now as they were 40 years ago. Why do I say this? The world is very different now to what it was 40 years ago, but children are the same. I actually think that children are the same now as they were 1000 years ago. I often hear people say that the children of today are very different to those of yesteryear. I disagree. A child is a child is a child. They react intuitively to a magic show in the way they have reacted for centuries to magicians. They are not told how to react............they just react. Many on here are constantly seeking out the latest and greatest dealer's prop. This is nonsense. The first time a child sees Run Rabbit Run, they will react the same way that they have always reacted. Why do so many on here spend so much time seeking out something new? To a child, it is all new............and they will laugh and clap and be entertained like they always have. The only criterion is that the performer presents the effect in such a way that he or she gives permission for the audience to laugh and clap and be amazed. It is all about good entertainment. It is not about the latest and greatest dealer's prop. Do you agree?

Hi,
I do think that kids are much the same yes,
I think though that they where treated differently years ago,
they where more dominated by aduts ,made to do what was deemed proper and generaly less free to be them selves than now.
where as years ago a nine year old would sit and watch RRR becuase they where expected to, now they would realise it was beneath them and tell you so!
so maybe that's a good reason for new tricks or at least the more carefull choosing of different EXISTING tricks that are more suitable than what where considered staple effects many moons ago
lou
The Great Smartini
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Thomas,

Your perception of children may remain the same but children do not. The family structure with extended families have been replaced with single parent families, second marriages, gay parents as well as parents at work and children in daycare. The village has been replaced by a series of insular units. Given that families are different and with this so are our children. They've also been exposed to so much more and at a much earlier age. While they all may love good magic they are also easily distracted by a society which places much value on instant gratification. The attention span that today's video games and television/movies with jump cuts every few seconds normalizes makes it difficult for the children of today to concentrate on tasks for any extended periods of time.

What does this mean in terms of magic? Everyone seems to be looking for that next amazing trick...why? Because its easier than putting the hard work into developing an original routine. Instead we want a quick fix and as a result we ends up as Eugene Burger puts it: "...literally drowning in magic."

Another way one might look at it that perhaps we are looking for magic pieces which speak to us and that we can make our own. To do this we need to sample what's out there and see what fits. Another aspect of this is the attempt (as Wanlu notes) to make our programs look different than everyone else. I do this as a way of improving my overall act and making it stand out. This isn't the only thing that one needs to do. I also put this same thinking into my sound system, backdrop, tables, routines. As well as this I have developed an "expertise" in my market. As an educator/magician my shows have the educational component that comes from my professional teacher training as well my graduate degree in language and literacy instruction.

I also seek different because there is so much bad magic out there. I like that my pieces look and sound different from those around me.
Tony James
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Most interesting. I am afraid my experience does not bear out these oft held beliefs that things have changed very much. Exactly the same children's effects used 40 years ago are equally as successful today as they were then.

Tom is perfectly correct. At least with regard to the children here in the UK and I would say they are as exposed to social change as much as any others. I entertain across Europe and they are no different there either. You are surely not saying that American children are peculiar?

Tom said up to 9 years and that is exactly the age I would highlight. Above that age and I agree - the journeyman children's entertainer is no longer required for birthday parties.

And there is a change at the other end of the spectrum. Children of 3 and 4 years now enjoy effects which were once only used for 5 years and above. There is a whole industry for entertaining 3 and 4 years old children. I have been servicing that market for 40 years so I have seen the educational changes. Children are quicker and brighter and more eloquent.

This isn't new. They were quicker and brighter 40 years ago but only really in the richer, better areas. The poorer areas rarely had entertainment at that age because most of the children would sit and say nothing and just stare. Thank goodness today they all join in regardless of where they live though it should be said that in the poorer areas they are certainly not quite so fluent with language and vocabulary and can't always express themselves adequately. I'm afraid that's the same the world over.

But exactly the same effects are still being used. Why? Because often they are classic pieces of children's entertainment and they always work. That's why they are classics.

I get the impression that many people here are besotted with the King's new clothes. 'Must Have' products which are newer, bigger, flashier and loaded with mechanical and electrical do-it-all-for-you novelties.

Well, I suppose they are a great help to those who really haven't achieved the essential performing skills necessary for successful children's entertainment. I think many of you would be in for a great surprise if you could only eavesdrop on the standards of a good British children's entertainer. Not for nothing are we regarded as in the vanguard of top children's entertaining.

When it comes down to the wire it's perfectly straightforward and not a bit complicated. Performing skills. Get your performing skills sorted out and then you should be able to obtain buckets of fun from the most unpromising of material.

It's all down to the old adage:

It's not what you do, it's the way that you do it.
Tony James

Still A Child At Heart
Clownboy
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Well Said Jeff!
I just don't understand why older magicians feel this way. Wasn't these Older tricks "Cutting Edge" when they bought them years ago? Didn't they want tricks that slanted with their personalities? Didn't they want tricks that were unique and collectible?
Don't they feel disappointed when a child says "I've already seen this one"
What is really wrong with using the available products to excite kids who are in a different society these day's.

I have a theory why this is so troubling to older Magicians. I believe its the difficulty of change. This is something that is happening in many Church's today.
The younger adults want a more understandable music that they can relate to, While the older adults want to continue using their Hymnals. The Older crowd ask the same question.. "It worked for us 50 years ago so why not now". But this generation has a much different style of music. What is this music that has no emotional chord with them and filled with "Thee" and "Thou's"?

The bottom line is that its Change. Older folks like to see things handed down from generation to generation. When we reject their way of doing things it appears to be a insult to them. When in fact, we are only trying to relate to the same 'emotions' they touched on but in a different and more contemporary way.

I will further ad that this isn't all Older Magicians. There are many on here who grasp that and embrace it. Change is inevitable and necessary.
Who knows, in 30 more years I might be arguing the other side as well!
"Why on earth do we need these 'Razor Blaster' tricks? What's wrong with a Wolf Funhouse?"
Just my humble opinion.


Brad
As the Frogs say "Times Fun when you're having Flies" Smile
Wanlu
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I don't mind using old tricks...I have lots of those and I use them all the time... Smile

Its just that we are entertainers and the people hiring us for some entertainment demand new stuff once in a while...and having a few new tricks can get you the gig over other magicians in your area doing the same stuff Smile

Unless you have celebrity status already Smile

Take Jay Marshall for example...same stuff over and over again...but he got hired over and over again Smile

But then again, look at Jeff Dunham who has so many materials and keeps on making new ones Smile

Maybe its case to case Smile
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magicgeorge
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A version of the magic colouring book is detailed in "The discoverie of Witchcraft"

I have several books on children's entertainment over 50 years old and in a couple of them they also mention how the children of the day are more sophisticated than those of previous years. I think it's Francis Marshall who says the 5 year olds of his day are like the 9 year olds of yesteryear. So by now your average 5 year old should be showing up to a show with a cigar in one hand, a glass of brandy in the other and discussing politics.

Of course, times change. In "Open Sesame" there is a routine where you dress a child as a chinese druglord and he fools the police in his opium den!! So I adapted it for present day and dress the child up as Pete Doherty, the rest as the drug squad and flippstick a syringe. No I didn't.

Times change, children don't. In context with the changing world they are still reacting the same way as they always have. Things like a naughty rabbit, a vanishing die, a cheeky puppet are timeless. The same principles that have entertained children and adults for time and memorial are the same principles that work today. Sure you can include modern references and use up-to-date language but that's nothing to do with children changing that's the world changing. You won't find many principles of childrens entertainment in Silly Billy's latest book that haven't been around (and printed) 50 years ago.

As far as the children seeing the same tricks again. I think being immersed in this world we don't realise how little they have actually seen. There's also often a case for what's old is new again.

George
Beowulf
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How about Disney for a source? Nothing wrong with Rockin' Rollercoaster, Tower of Terror, or Test Track.

But check out the lines for Jungle Cruise, Haunted Mansion, and Dumbo. Entertaining is entertaining. And there's a great deal of pleasure in re-experiencing that which brought one joy and in introducing others to what you loved as a child.

Sure: some customs are more honored in the breach than in the observance, but there's a lot to be said for old wine in new bottles. And topical is swell, but entertaining is the point.
James Munton
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Quote:
The family structure with extended families have been replaced with single parent families, second marriages, gay parents as well as parents at work and children in daycare.

Great Smartini,

I thought I was the only one who saw the recent study by sociologists at Georgetown University!

It found that kids from single parent families preferred Axtell's newer puppets to his old ones. And kids with gay parents preferred Chance Wolf products to older ones made by Supreme. The results about kids from second marriages were inconclusive, however.

The most shocking find was that kids in daycare actually preferred an old beat up Run Rabbit Run, whereas those with stay-at-home moms chose a newer version manufactured in India. I'm sure that surprised you, Smartini, as much as it did me!
Tony James
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I know what you mean by 'not wanting something new' But that's not really correct. We all look at new stuff. It just that our judgements are made on experience and knowledge.

If all these present day wonders really were new maybe they would hold some interest but often they aren't. They are a revamp of an old effect and when you look closer, frequently they offer some extra novelty at the expense of practicality. It may be the design, the shape, the weight, the vulnerability to damage in transit or the practicality of slotting it into the show.

Of course there are new things, or sometimes a practical improvement to an existing prop and we all take these things seriously.

But people posting on this site appear to be so preoccupied with flashy props that do everything for you. Just stand there and operate it is the mood of the day. It's these props I suspect you will find bringing up the phrase 'Seen it!' and not the old, now abandoned classics.

So instead of thinking 'What's new which everybody wants' and looking for the complex and vulnerable electro-mechanical wonder of the week, try instead thinking 'What's old and unwanted' and try looking for those instead.

Be careful though. Nothing at all is really new and there were sometimes very good reasons why some of those old props quickly became unwanted. Think practically but don't be fearful that old props are unsuitable for todays audience.

They will love them and take to them as of old.

And be prepared for those oldies to be so old they are new again.
Tony James

Still A Child At Heart
Wanlu
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Quote:
On 2008-03-06 11:12, Tony James wrote:


...So instead of thinking 'What's new which everybody wants' and looking for the complex and vulnerable electro-mechanical wonder of the week, try instead thinking 'What's old and unwanted' and try looking for those instead...

...And be prepared for those oldies to be so old they are new again.


Very good point! Smile Thanks!!! Smile
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Wizzo the wizard
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Regarding using old props, or should I say old classics. I feel it's this. The look of it can seems so out of date and it looks run down. Take RRR. There are many versions out there. But some look far better than other and look really up to date.

Now you might have a rough looking RRR but still get a great reaction. That's fine. However if you have ,let's say Chance RWR. This is the same trick but it's bang up to date. And it looks professional to! and it makes you look good & professional in front of the client as well!

As for children. have they changed? In some ways yes. However they still laugh at the same things. For example how many times have you had a parent say Oh they are really clever 5 yrs. old so can you do something a little bit more older tricks for them. Yes I reply and then still do my show for that age as I would normally. And they sit and laugh at the same things regardless of how bright they are.

For me I want to use things which look good and do the job wether it's an old trick looking new. Or something totally new!
Just my opinon
Louis
James Munton
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I think it is not the tricks but the performers that need to update.

Kids don't change much, but fashions do. Brown nylon bell-bottoms are no longer acceptable in most decent homes today.

Also, tired old stock lines such as "not that hand, the clean one..." should be retired so they can live out their old age with a bit of dignity.

Some tricks do become out-of-date. I actually saw a kids magician do color-changing records a while back. The kids had no idea what he was talking about.
Tony James
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Some props do date, or their artwork certainly does. And much depends on how worn and aged the prop is.

If it's been used by a pro and bagged it can look as good as new. Last year I picked up a 1947 Humpty Dumpty that looked like new and was beautifully made. The detailing in the woodwork and the artwork - like something out of an old children's book.

Three and four year old children love it. I've two more versions of Humpty Dumpty and they all score. And they're all similar but different.

When did you last do Baking the Cake?

I know, it's a pain to set up and clean up and pack up but it scores every time. Doesn't matter if they are four years old or nine, boy or girl. They just love it.

And it's as old as the hills.
Tony James

Still A Child At Heart
The Great Smartini
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Like it or not we all change. This is the one constant in life. To say that children haven't changed is to ignore the reality around us. Kids are now bombarded with so much that they can't help to be different. As an educator I spend all day at work with children of all ages and they've changed. It's not just the old bell bottoms but what's going on inside as well.

I have nothing against classic magic tricks but one needs to acknowledge that they may need to be upgraded or dare I say...made even better. I for one don't want to look or present "..as old as the hills." One could also argue that one who relies on past tricks and past presentations as boring, dull and uncreative. As a whole many magicians are thieves who steal routines and lines from one another. This is why when we hear an old joke and the magician performing who says it adds "You'll use it!"

I recently heard a story where magician Kirk Charles was sitting in the audience of a magic show and when a second presentation of the classic substitution trunk was performed on the same bill a 9 year old child sitting next to him was was heard to say: "Do we really have to see it all over again." So I say to Thomas and those who pine for the good old days...do we really have to see it all over again?
Ken Northridge
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As someone who's act is a large part the classics of magic (mis-made flag, linking rings, hippity hop rabbits, rabbit out of hat), I tend to agree with Tom here. These tricks have passed the test of time and they work! Now as to why I introduce new routines into my act, Its mainly for ME! To challenge myself and to keep from getting bored. Many times though, I have worked for months on a new routine only to come to the conclusion the old routine was better!
"Love is the real magic." -Doug Henning
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Wizzo the wizard
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I did a magic show in Windsor England where the Queen lives. Sadly she wasn't at the party. But one of the adults said to me after my show. That is was nice to see new tricks which were bright with colors and not what you normally see at a kids party. The classics are good but I feel to many magicins do the same as everyone else. Now, I'm not saying that you can't do a good show with the old classics. But I really feel that the public, by that I mean the parents want to see things which they didn't see when they were kids at a party. As for the children they would like the show with the old tricks. But the parents are the ones who pay! In a way I'm clad that so many kids entertaines are still doing the same tricks as this makes my show stand out even more!
The Great Smartini
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Quote:
On 2008-03-06 11:03, James Munton wrote:
Quote:
The family structure with extended families have been replaced with single parent families, second marriages, gay parents as well as parents at work and children in daycare.

Great Smartini,

I thought I was the only one who saw the recent study by sociologists at Georgetown University!

It found that kids from single parent families preferred Axtell's newer puppets to his old ones. And kids with gay parents preferred Chance Wolf products to older ones made by Supreme. The results about kids from second marriages were inconclusive, however.

The most shocking find was that kids in daycare actually preferred an old beat up Run Rabbit Run, whereas those with stay-at-home moms chose a newer version manufactured in India. I'm sure that surprised you, Smartini, as much as it did me!


James,

I always find it interesting how discussions of this type seem to draw this kind of reaction...not sure why people feel like it's okay to use sarcasm and thinly veiled passive aggressive comments when they find that they don't agree with the observations of another. If you don't agree with me then that's totally fine and I'm comfortable with that. What I'm not really comfortable with is comments that detract from the original discussion and turn things into something else. I guess things have changed because when we hide behind our computers we're able to say whatever we want without regard for anyone's feelings. I guess in that way one would have to acknowledge that things have changed because I can say pretty confidently that you wouldn't say that to me in person. In person you'd probably be a little bit more respectful. My observations of children come from being a father, a full-time educator (who observes children for a living) as well as being a children's magician for the past 30 years. Given all of this I'm not sure why you wouldn't want to consider my opinions on children just a little bit further.

jeff
Tom Riddle
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Lighten up a bit, Smartini! I found James Munton's comments to be hilarious....and they made an excellent point.
"Yes, Virginia, there really are people named Riddle...isn't that AMAZING! And to think of all the royalties I'm missing out on! SCANDALOUS!"

Thomas Williamson Riddle III
Chelsea, UK
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