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Daniel J. Ferrara Jr.
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Long Island, New York
182 Posts

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O.K. I did a childrens show in a catering hall today for a group of about 15 children aged from 4 to 9. For me that is the perfect age group and the shows usually go great.

Today, however, it was one of my worst shows. The adults were talking throughout the show and the kids were out of control. It seemed like the longest hour of my life. I really thought the show was terrible.

To my suprise, after the show all the adults came up to me to ask for my business card and to compliment me on the show.

I actually booked two more shows today from people who were at this party. How could I have felt so bad about a show that the audience obviously thought was great?

Has this ever happened to any of you?
Emazdad
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Plymouth UK
1954 Posts

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We've covered most of this in other posts, and the answer is yes.
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.
Mago Mai
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Venezuela
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The reason they asked for your card might be that they need you at another party, so they can talk while you take care of their kids.Smile

Please don't get disapointed if this happens to you. You will find some advice in another thread just like Emazdad mentioned.

Mago Mai
I invite all of you to share some of my magic on videos.Please, CLICK HERE
Cheshire Cat
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Wilmslow, UK
941 Posts

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All the while, it's part of the business. Except I don't necessarily think that shows like this are a failure on my part. Get it into your head that you are obviously a good entertainer Daniel, and just because things don't fall into a certain pattern it does not mean otherwise.

Tony.
Andy Wonder
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Auckland, New Zealand
744 Posts

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Yes it has happened to me before as well...
Andy Wonder, Auckland, New Zealand
Frank Tougas
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Minneapolis, MN
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These types of "shows from hell" are an occupational hazard. They will happen from time to time and there is nothing you did to create it. It all boils down to the intention of those who hired you. It seems you were there to be a diversion for the children while the adults took a break from being in charge.

My worst such experience happened years ago when I was quite new to magic. I was given the plum booking of a halloween show at an evening school party. I brought all my best stuff. What did the committee have in mind? They cleared out a small area at the center of the gymnasium and the party raged on all around me. I couldn't get done and out of there fast enough. This by the way was long before people routinely did what we call walk-around.

Just know that there is a lesson there for you to learn from and by pondering it over the next few weeks you will come up with many different, exciting new ideas for your future performances. It's not the successes we learn from. Those only serve to swell our head. It is the less than stellar stuff from which we glean the most valuable experience.

Oh and by the way, the fact I gave you an example from my distant past is not to imply such things have not occurred since, just that that one, to this day remains the worst. I do have a number two and three spot but they do not pertain to the audience— one is my own carelessness and the other was due to a startling introduction. All seem funny now ... but at the time...
Frank Tougas The Twin Cities Most "Kid Experienced" Children's Performer :"Creating Positive Memories...One Smile at a Time"
Ron Reid
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Phoenix, Arizona
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Hi Daniel:

Yes, this has happened to me too. However, I've picked up some valuable advice from one of the Silly Billy booklets. In the book 10 Most Often Asked Questions he talks about being proactive, and reducing the odds of things like this happening so you can do a perfect show. He gives some very good advice. There is a whole section on preventing adults from talking during your act, and what to do if it happens.

There is a David Ginn/Steve Taylor/Sammy Smith audio series where they talk about this too. David talks about making sure there is adult supervision so that he can be an entertainer, and not a disciplinarian.

I recommend both the Silly Book and the Ginn/Taylor/Smith series. I've gotten a lot of useful advice from both. I've really learned that I can control (for the most part) the conditions of the show.

I think the next thing I'm going to do is take Ken Scott's advice and invest in a PA system, even using them at birthday parties as he recommends. I think this is an excellent way to help combat noise, whether it's from the kids themselves or the adults in the back.

Ron Reid
Cheshire Cat
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Wilmslow, UK
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You don't need a PA System in the true sense of the word Ron, i.e. two separated speakers and a separate amp. We've always gone to the music shop and used various keyboard, guitar combo amps. A make like Peavey, Marshall, Laney will last for years. It's just essential to make sure they have two separate independant inputs— so you can use one for mike and the other for tape/CD deck etc., and of course to position the combo to one side to avoid feedback.

We have various sizes (about 6!!) from 15W for tiny birthdays to 75W which just about fills anywhere (120 kids at a Catholic Club last Friday). To keep to Daniel's thread this does not prevent background noise, but sure makes life a lot easier. We cannot imagine doing ANY party without voice amplification!
Emazdad
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Plymouth UK
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A PA is a must, then at least if the adults do want to chat and don't respond to your hints to shut up, the kids can still hear you.

I've had two good shows this weekend, where the adults sat and watched and laughed with the kids. The kids all sat down and were well behaved and joined in with gusto. At each party I got booked for other shows, but both shows were spoiled by one solitary toddler at the parties who was too young to understand what was going on.

At both parties the story was the same; the toddler wandered into my performing area getting under my feet. The first time I make a bit of a joke about it, and say "Hello, now go and sit on mum's lap like a good boy/girl", this is pushed a bit more the second time. Each time the mum came over and and removed them, each time I asked politly that they keep the toddler on their lap. The mum's responded by taking them back to their seats, sitting down and instead of keeping them on their laps they let them go again, then waiting until they were in my way before retrieving them.

At each party I also had to stop twice and lead the toddler by the hand back to mum, once again I asked politely that they keep the toddler on their lap. As before they let them go. They didn't make any attempt to stop their toddler before he got in the way, they waited until he was in the performing area before they moved. I'd say at it was at least 8-9 times at each party the show was stopped by the toddler, twice as I said while I returned him to mum. I even politely said "Your going to have to keep hold of him, he may get hurt if I don't see him, and he's spoiling the show" or words to that effect, which the mums ignored.

If they don't respond to your polite requests, and can't realise that their child is spoiling things for the others, how do we stop them? I'd have been so embarrassed if the performer had bought back one of my kids, I would have held on to her for grim death.

The toddlers weren't even invited guests, they were only there because older sister was at the party and as older sister was shy mum stayed as well.

Afterwards other parents at the party commented on the ignorance of the mums, and said I must have the patience of the gods. Now that's good acting on my part! Because inside I wanted to throttle the toddlers and their mums.
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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Wilmslow, UK
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Clive has been "toddlerised" again!!

Strangely enough not a great problem for us now, but it used to be. Perhaps it's because we both use two boxes each, of coloured lights and a ropelight— and parents see a clearly defined danger. A mere mention of danger of electrocution works wonders!! (Someone's going to suggest an electric fence now!)

I had a party yesterday that my wife had done before. We call them the "Monosodium Glutamate Family"— hyperactive beyond words! My head was in such a spin that when I tried to set off I'd forgot I'd put the transfer box on my 4x4 into neutral as an anti-theft device, and thought the clutch had packed up!
Emazdad
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Plymouth UK
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During the games when my lights are on it's the flashing lights they aim for, like bees to honey. Even the verbal warning I give to the party kids about the dangers of the hot lights and heavy boxes seems to go over the toddlers mums' heads.

Tiny Toddlers should not be allowed at birthday parties— if I had my way they'd be chained to a post outside with the dog. Smile

Sometimes I try and pre-empt a predicted problem and go up to the parents of a tiny toddler and explain that it's safer for them to keep hold of the kid during the party as they may get knocked over by the older kids during the games, and that during the magic show they will have to keep him/her on their laps and not let him/her wander about as if they wander into the performing area I may not see them and trip over them. 7 times out of 10 it's ignored.

The big problem it causes is it puts me off my stroke, The distraction causes me to forget where I am and miss things out. Obviously the only one who knows this is me, the audience is unaware as I go into adlib mode. But once the show's been knocked off track it takes a while to fully recover. Especially as for the rest of the show half my attention is on the toddler as he approaches again and again.
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.
Chrystal
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Canada/France
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I'm shaking my head over the mere suggestion even in jest that a toddler should be chained outside along with the dog. Wonder what your clients would think if they read your post?

Daniel, seems like you handled the situation well at your show. The spectators that did watch you were impressed. Yes, no doubt it's tough to perform if people talk but those that did stop to listen were obviously impressed with you.
Emazdad
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Plymouth UK
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Quote:
On 2003-05-04 16:24, Chrystal wrote:
I'm shaking my head over the mere suggestion even in jest that a toddler should be chained outside along with the dog. Wonder what your clients would think if they read your post?
It's OK Chrystal, I'm not really that heartless, I would leave them a bowl of water and a couple of chocolate biscuits. (Cookies to all the members from over the pond.) Smile
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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Wilmslow, UK
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Ah yes, sharing the same language does not always mean sharing the same sense of humour, (humor), humor, (humour)! — and Americans and British will always poke fun at each other and criticise as long as the world goes around (it's what friendship is all about).

A lot of British children's entertainer inside humour comes from the hit 1980s TV comedy "Hi-De-Hi", about the staff of a 1960s Holiday Camp (a few thousand apartments at the seaside with all their own leisure amenities and entertainments staff for the uninitiated). The hilarious "Mr Partridge" (Leslie Dwyer) was the kids entertainer who hated kids and was a drunk! On one occasion he was so drunk he performed his Punch and Judy Show (puppets in a booth, operator out of sight), whilst actually forgetting to place the puppets on his hands— thus an audience of children were entertained by a drunken old man sat giving gesticulating 'V' signs to them! The riding instructor gave lessons on animals rescued from the local abbatoir, the ballroom dancing instructors were dancing stars who had fallen on hard times (in their view), and the manager was a stiff-upper-lip Graduate who was unable to communicate with the customers. It all has to be seen really— no doubt our Canadian and NZ friends have seen these.

Nice to hear of other people doing a proper show though with lighting effects and PA. Joking apart, I knew of a Holiday Centre manager and kids entertainer years ago in the 70s who used to turn metal chairs upside down and make a row of them, legs pointing at the children to keep them away! More like 'D' Day than a magic show!!
Dynamike
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Eternal Order
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The same has happen to me several times. But look at the glass as half full instead of empty. The adults were pleased you kept the kids under control by being a performer babysitter as they did their chit chat. It took a lot off the adults' shoulders as you relieve them from watching their child during the gossip hour. They would want you to do the same thing at other parties. So think positive, the adults feel they got their money's worth.
Emazdad
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Plymouth UK
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Quote:
The adults were pleased you kept the kids under control by being a performer babysitter as they did their chit chat.
One important point, I for one am at the party to entertain the children, not babysit.

There's a direct link between how fidgety the kids are and the background noise from the adults. If the adults shut up the kids forget they are there and sit still. You'll notice the kids near the back closer to the adults start first, because they are hearing two conversations, mine and the parents. You'll often see them keep looking behind. As their fidgeting creates a bit more noise, the fidgeting gradually moves forward.

Also if the adults talk you occasionally get a kid running back and forth to mum. Once one goes you can get a domino effect. Plus as the kids are the stars of the show it's not fair on the helpers parent if they can't hear their kid speak because other adults are talking next to them.

At a child's birthday party it's that kid's special day. The entertainment is laid on especially for the kids and the booker has paid a lot of money for an entertainer. If the adults want to talk they should go into another room. At a wedding, christening, or event where you are just a part of the entertainment then the background noise is then something you have to put up with.

As I've said before the majority of adults at a birthday party are often uninvited mums who are only there because for various reasons they can't leave their kid at the party and come back later. My Favourite Toddlers also are uninvited guests, extra numbers who unless she's really heartless the Birthday Mum ends up catering for at food time.
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.
p.b.jones
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Milford Haven. Pembrokeshire wales U.K.
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Quote:
one important point, I for one am at the party to entertain the children, not babysit
Hi,
I know that this is how we view ourselves ... but it is not always how our booker views us. Like it or not many people book entertainers basically as a high paid baby sitter. Bob Markwood has quite a bit to say about this in his book Poof You're a Frog.
Phillip
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