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JAEIII
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Hey everyone I need some advice. After a two year long hiatus I started performing magic full time again at the beginning of this year. I'm starting from the beginning and booking a ton of birthday parties. My birthday party show is excellent; I'd say for any kids under 10 years old. Today I booked a show for a 12 year old's birthday party. I talked with the Mom a little about her age, questioning whether she really wanted a magician or not. Well, she says her daughter does want a magician. However, I found out tonight that there will be 30 - 40 kids there, most of whom are between 12 and 15 years old. The show I've been performing for the younger kids isn't going to fly with this age group. In fact the mother just sent me an email making sure I don't do anything to embarrass her daughter and not play it kiddish.

This is the first time I will have performed for this age group (which is usually considered an age where kids do not like magicians)! I have performed hundreds of corporate shows in the past. Do you think it is ok to mix in some of the corporate tricks (like some of the funnier card tricks) into this show? My corporate shows are all clean, but will a card trick (like a card to pocket routine) go over well with this age group?

Any advice would be highly appreciated!

Jon
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Futureal
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Yes. When I do shows for that age I basically do my adult show.
Daniel Ulzen
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Hi Jon,

Kids at that age really like strong visual magic. So if you have cool effects show them these effects.

They also like comedy. So for example the Invisible deck and the paper balls flying over the head are also great tricks for that age group.

Maybe show them the paper to bill trick at the beginning of your show. Then tell them at the the end of the show they will all get this trick from you and they can learn this trick. This would bring them on your side right from the start. PM me if you need help with this trick.

To make balloon animals/hats/... is also a good idea.

So relax - show them good magic - be friendly - and you all will have a very nice time I am shure.

Best wishes

Daniel
TheAmbitiousCard
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Do your corporate show for goodness sake.
The older kids will appreciate being respected. The little ones will enjoy a fun show not matter what it is.

Bring an extra trick such as a change bag type thing and use one of the little kids for that. Using a visual trick with a little one, with silly wands, especially when the child is the focus of the trick (not some whiz-bang prop) can be hilarious to adults and they will applaud the child and take photos. Even the pre-teens will understand that this moment is where you show that you care and have not forgotten the little ones. You'll look like a total pro.


Don't start substituting in tricks you think will "work better" if you don't do them regularly. Do your best act.
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stijnhommes
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I'd agree with the others. Do your regular corporate show, but make sure the patter is something they can relate to. No gambling demonstrations and patter about the wife.
Red Shadow
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Take the mick out of celebrities, sport people and teachers. They like to hear insults and jokes so the more of them you can insert into the show, the better you will be perceived. Try to memorise the lines as well.

Try not to go over 30 minutes for the show. 45 minutes max.

As a emergency plan, have some spinning plates with you and set it up as a competition. Children love to feel superior to others, so competition activities can play well. Some children will also be diablo, yo-yo or juggling experts. If you have the toys, take them as they can occupy 5 minutes of the show for them to show off. Not a best tactic for the client, but it does keep the kids in control and can often stop your audience from running off, which is the main goal if your magic doesn't seem to be working.

Steve
Ronald72
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Hello Jon,

You really got yourself in my opinion the most difficult age to perform. I found out that the show for the young ones would not fit but also the show for adults would not fit. A 12 year old can not tell there are 52 cards in a deck or remember there card.

They will try to figure out how everything work. Go for the onlogic and for authority (and with this a mean dress for succes, as a magician and work with a mic and soundsystem so you don't have to overshout them). The onlogic is for example newspaper tear, cut and restored rope and silk to egg.

I wish you fun and magic to.

my best,
Ronald
Danny Hustle
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I work for this age group all the time and agree with the guys who say do your adult show. Keep your humor to stuff they can relate to as Macgyver magic says that is REALLY important.

DO NOT try to fool them, ENTERTAIN them. If you put entertainment first they will be fooled, if you try to burn them with every trick they will eat you alive.

One big difference between kids this age and adults is they do not have a fully functioning social filter set. Meaning, if they think you are talking down to them or patronizing them they will have NO PROBLEM letting you know.

Think about how you were at that age and remember the adults you loved and the ones you couldn't stand.

Also, 12 year olds have NO problem remembering cards I do card tricks for them all the time.

If you can, give them credit for making the magic happen. Have them say magic words, do stuff that happens in their hands (egg bag, sponge bunnies/balls,etc) and when it works out make them look good! Praise them, get a high five or a knuckle bump.

Use their lingo but sparingly. I am a white haired, pot-bellied, bow-tied, and bespectacled, old man to them. When I bring up a boy and knuckle bump him with a ,"What up playa'?" the kids HOWL. Not because I'm trying to be cool, but because I am making fun of the fact that I am not. That is really important. Letting them know that I do not think I am cool or hip while maintaining mutual respect by letting them know I think they are cool and hip, lets them laugh at what I am doing and relieves the whole "I KNOW HOW YOU DID THAT!" we are just out to have some fun, I'm not trying to impress them.

Also don't be afraid to mess with them a little bit. I have started my bar/bat mitzvah shows by pulling out a pom pom pole and in the most patronizing talking to a group of two year olds voice I can muster saying, "Hi kiddies! We are going to have FUN! FUN! FUN! Let me show you my magical, mysterical, happy-dappy, pom poms!" I then wait for a complete look of horror to go across their faces and I chuck it in my case and say, "I was just messing with ya'!" I'll then point at a kid in the audience and say, "He was about to completely freak out!" I then get a high five from that kid and get him to pick a card and sign it.

12 year old's LOVE good card tricks with humor.

Finally, jerk kids. Interestingly if you are doing a show for ALL 12 year olds you probably won't have an issue. They are all peers and there is not USUALLY a whole lot of posturing. BUT if you throw a 10 or 11 year old into the mix, usually a boy but not necessarily, THAT kid might be a problem. Two or three younger kids can be even worse. These kids are going to try and impress the older kids by acting like total jerks thinking they are impressing the older group with how cool they are.

Fortunately the older kids will usually tell the kid to shut up and he will. Sometimes that just makes them act worse. I have tried all kinds of methods to reign these kids in some working better than others but the one I have found works the best for me and never results in a complaint is if a kid is going wild, just stop the show and look at the adults in the audience with a slightly bemused look on your face. Then look at the kid, then look at the adults, then look at the kid. This will usually embarrass the kid into stopping pretty quickly.

The worst thing you can do is to appear to get ticked off. If the kid has just set you on fire you must not look ticked off. The INSTANT you look ticked off you will have lost them and open yourself up for a complaint.

The thing we need to remember as entertainers is WHY this ticks us off when a kid starts going nuts. It ticks us off because it is throwing us off our game if we ignore the kid or worse engage the kid during this kind of bad behavior it is only going to throw our game/show further off. Just stop, bemused, and wait for the kid to stop. if the kid stops, start again, if the kid starts again, stop again, bemused.

Keep in mind the kid is probably just ramped up on sugar and trying to be cool. If the kid is truly an evil and belligerent little brat the apple does not usually fall far from the tree and you will be dealing with the parent this kid learned the behavior from if you try in any way to correct it or engage with the kid. Just something to keep in mind, it RARELY happens but when it does it can be horribly disconcerting if you do not have a game plan. I had a show not to long ago where this happened and I got a $100 tip from the dad who said, "Johnny's a fire cracker but you got him to settle down, I can't get him to settle down like that!" During the course of the show the old man grabbed the kid by the arm at one point so hard I thought the kid's shoulder was going to dislocate. It gave me great insight as to why a kid this young could be so rough.

This works for me other guys have other methods so YMMV. Don't be freaked out by it as it RARELY happens, just have a game plan. If you keep cool it will keep the show from going off the rails all together.

Bottom line is, if you have the kids will have fun.

Best,

Dan-
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JAEIII
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Thank you everyone for the amazing advice. It will be an interesting show, but you all have calmed my nerves a little.
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TonyB2009
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You'll have no problem. Once you get them on side this is a great age to perform to. You have got some great advice here, and I will echo it; do your adult set.
The only thing I can add is this; when I perform for a group this age I always hit them hard in the beginning with something quick and impossible. I pick a kid who looks too cool to be there, and do something quick and snappy which establishes that I can fool even the coolest of them. Once I have their respect as a magician I relax and play it for laughs.
That's the key; they will laugh, and you will enjoy it.
Zendor
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Agreed - do your adult show. I would keep an eye on the daughter and not pick her until she appears ready to help. I suspect once she sees all her friends liking and enjoying the show she will join in.
Potty the Pirate
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Though I love to have teenagers in my audiences, I don't accept bookings for teenage birthday parties. The main reason is that many teenagers are very anti-magic; when I've accepted gigs like this, perhaps a few kids are really keen to see the show - but others refuse to give you a chance. At least this is my experience. At one 13 year-old's birthday I was booked for 30 mins close-up magic, followed by a cabaret. The venue was a night-club, and I set my show up on the main floor, but was required to perform the close-up in another room. The close-up magic went well, but only a few kids wanted to see any tricks, they mostly wanted to wrestle, scream, do gymnastics, and charge around the venue.
When I came to perform my show, the reaction from the kids was dreadful, totally condescending....and they seemed to be guessing far too many tricks. Then I went for a prop, and discovered it had been played with, and I couldn't perform it, as it was no longer set up. The kids had been through my entire table whilst I was in the other room. There had been a DJ in the room throughout, and he'd stood there and WATCHED these kids rummage through my show.
Of course, as it was an adult show, there were fewer props than for a kidshow, but even so, I had to abandon most of my planned routines, and perform (what I consider to be) much lamer routines, with ropes, cards, etc.
It was probably my worst gig ever!
For me, it was just a lesson that I personally prefer to avoid this age group. These days I much prefer family shows, with all ages present, I've never had any problems with this demographic.
Potty Smile
John C
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Adult show but leave out the late night "adult" humor ...

j
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stijnhommes
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Quote:
On 2010-01-19 14:37, Potty the Pirate wrote:
Though I love to have teenagers in my audiences, I don't accept bookings for teenage birthday parties. The main reason is that many teenagers are very anti-magic; when I've accepted gigs like this, perhaps a few kids are really keen to see the show - but others refuse to give you a chance. At least this is my experience. At one 13 year-old's birthday I was booked for 30 mins close-up magic, followed by a cabaret. The venue was a night-club, and I set my show up on the main floor, but was required to perform the close-up in another room. The close-up magic went well, but only a few kids wanted to see any tricks, they mostly wanted to wrestle, scream, do gymnastics, and charge around the venue.
When I came to perform my show, the reaction from the kids was dreadful, totally condescending....and they seemed to be guessing far too many tricks. Then I went for a prop, and discovered it had been played with, and I couldn't perform it, as it was no longer set up. The kids had been through my entire table whilst I was in the other room. There had been a DJ in the room throughout, and he'd stood there and WATCHED these kids rummage through my show.
Of course, as it was an adult show, there were fewer props than for a kidshow, but even so, I had to abandon most of my planned routines, and perform (what I consider to be) much lamer routines, with ropes, cards, etc.
It was probably my worst gig ever!
For me, it was just a lesson that I personally prefer to avoid this age group. These days I much prefer family shows, with all ages present, I've never had any problems with this demographic.
Potty Smile
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TonyB2009
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Quote:
On 2010-01-19 14:37, Potty the Pirate wrote:
Though I love to have teenagers in my audiences, I don't accept bookings for teenage birthday parties. The main reason is that many teenagers are very anti-magic; when I've accepted gigs like this, perhaps a few kids are really keen to see the show - but others refuse to give you a chance.

My experience is the exact opposite; I find they love magic. They like to appear cool, but once you break through that they are a great audience - and they react very strongly, which is gratifying.
TheAmbitiousCard
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I find it to be the same as Tony. They are not anti-magic at all. They are anti-kiddie-magic. I love that age-group. After an all adult show, it would be my second choice. They have lots of energy which helps move the show along. As long as you don't rub their noses in it, they appreciate being fooled. Once you've blown them away they turn to putty and are in awe for the rest of the show.
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Ruppenthal
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Danny Hustle:
Your post had great advice (see above ^)! As the father of a 15 and 10 year old, you nailed that 12-13 age group right on the proverbial head. Everyone should re-read his post above for great insight. Thanks for sharing!
John
harris
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Students at the high school and middle school seem to love magic.

Of course with any population/age there is some that don't care for it or as above haven't seen it done well.

A line I use with the students..think of me as Chris Angel.(pause)..without the hair.

Another line..would you like to see a cute bunny trick or something that will cause critical bodily harm. (you guess which one is picked) A few years later, had a student tell me they had nightmares about the routine. Don't know if they were sewious or not.




Harris
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davidbreth
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Hi Jon,

If you are unsure about your entertainment for a teen audience you may strongly consider calling on several local magicians you know and trust who already have a teen show until you get your teen show together (tight) or yes, if you have a solid corporate show - - DO IT!!!

===================================

“Performing Magic For Teenagers”
(Part One)
By David Breth
©2010 MAGICTAINMENT

“If you ask me to describe teenagers - one definition which
comes into my mind is Confused in motion”. –David Breth

Fact is many magicians have an un-said “fear” of performing for teenagers.

Why?

The reasons can occupy pages of notes, but I will give a few - I often observe.

You see most magicians, especially male magicians are ego driven… which means we allow our ego to dictate how we perform vs. allowing our passion for the art of magic to guide us. Yes, it starts for some as early as kindergarten or elementary school where we “feel” we have to “impress” a girl by getting in a fight and “acting” tough.

Only to learn later in life the girl you were trying to impress was simply thinking to herself “What an idiot he is”. Well, for many this ego which drives some … carries over into adulthood and can actually hinder those from achieving their true passion… in this case becoming the best performer you can be.

I realize some have a desire to perform for children, some pre-teens, some teenagers, some early adult, some adult and others senior adult… but to become the best entertainer (a master magician) one must learn to discipline their ego so they too can be equipped to truly entertain for all ages.

Note: I will say this ego thing can also have a dramatic impact on self-esteem too (How you view yourself. Comparing yourself to others or mentally not able to become the performer you desire to be because you are so “worried” about how others view you as a person).

So let us get right into it.

“Performing Magic For Teenagers”

One of the first elements to equip your-self with when setting a goal to become a better magician with teenagers is this FACT…

“Enter into their world and they will enter yours”

You see one of the major draw backs many magicians have when performing for teenagers is they are so disconnected with “reality” they are usually speaking down to or way out in another universe and the teenagers are simply looking at them and thinking “What is wrong with this person… they have no clue”.

Lets cover a few.

1. “Kick’n Wit Tha Cool Lingo Baby”

I have personally observed many (well meaning) magicians try to hard to “speak the teenage language”… look unless you are a teenager or this is really you… STOP trying to talk like they talk. You should NOT try to use any lingo which does not sound organic coming from your lips and this goes for actions too!

Example:
I witnessed a magician performing a close-up card trick for teenagers and one of the first things this magician did was go into a high-five swing and at the same time saying “Whazzz uuuuup”.

Come on get real!!!

First of all the high-five swing with the phrase “Whazzz uuuuup” went out of “style” in 1999 and if you are going to do this in a “cool” manner it has to be at the right time in your set. If your opening is going into a high-five swing and at the same time saying “Whazzz uuuuup” I know this is going to be a terrible magic performance… oh, sure the magician may know how to do all the “moves” to make the trick work, but the reality is this is ONLY HALF THE BATTLE when performing for teenagers.

Note: DO NOT try to act "hip" or “down wit it”. Simply be yourself and HAVE FUN (Teenagers are not looking for someone “trying” to act cool, they are looking for someone who is real - - just themselves and to a teenager this IS cool)!!!

2. This Is A Cool Trick (says you)

Another major fault I see magicians bring to the table when performing for teenagers is they pre-determine a trick is ‘cool’ because they like it or they saw a hip young magician performing it. If you want to “win” your teenage audience (whether it is one or fifty of them) you better prepare by carefully selecting the “right” trick / routine and be sure the trick also matches your personality. What you view as cool is nothing more than a puzzle to try and figure out to the teenager.

Again, almost nothing kills performing a magic trick for teenagers like presenting what you consider to be a cool trick and for the teenager it is nothing more than a puzzle to try and catch what you are doing.

Note: When I perform for teenagers I perform things you may consider ‘so-so’ tricks, but it is the fact I take the trick and make it a fun, mind-boggling experience for the teenager (more on this later).

3. I Have Lots Of “Important” Things To Say So Hear Me Loud And Clear

Warning. Warning. Warning. Magicians when you are preparing to perform for teenagers stop and record (film or audio) what you are about to say “to” them.

When performing for teenagers unless you have rehearsed your “patter” over and again you BETTER REALLY, REALLY and I REALLY mean really go extremely light on talking and extremely heavy on surprising “I am here to mess with your head” magic!!!!

This is one of the elements many magicians miss when preparing and actually performing for teenagers. They think they are going to “impart” their great words of wisdom into the teenagers - - like “OK Kids Do Not Smoke, Drink And Do Drugs”. Arrrrg, Hack!!! Well like I said earlier: “Enter into their world and they will enter yours”.

The cold-blooded truth is your opening effect should be a direct, in your face, and as solid, visually stunning and little if any talking as possible!!!!

In order to “Enter into their world and they will enter yours” you MUST, MUST, MUST win them over FAST and FURIOUS.

Let them know straight out of the gate…

“I am a REALLY, REALLY, REALLY good prestidigitator. Look I am one “bad” magician; you think you have what it takes to “catch” me doing the “tricky” part? Well you have met your match… you may have seen other magicians who did little magic tricks for the kiddies, but right here and right now I am going to perform some magic which will mess with your mind. IF you can …I DARE YOU TO “TRY” and catch me - - I bet you can not… you will only catch what I want you to see – period!”

Yes, most of the time (99.9% of the time)… I do the strong magic right away but MOST importantly I verbally say exactly what I have above (verbatim)… for teenagers when they hear someone say something to them like:

“I am a REALLY, REALLY, REALLY good prestidigitator. Look I am one “bad” magician; you think you have what it takes to “catch” me doing the “tricky” part? Well you have met your match… you may have seen other magicians who did little magic tricks for the kiddies, but right here and right now I am going to perform some magic which will mess with your mind. IF you can …I DARE YOU TO “TRY” and catch me - - I bet you can not… you will only catch what I want you to see – period!”

Believe me a strong statement like this (“If you can”) gets even the most cynical teenager on their feet… they are now ready for you (so they think)… you see one piece of the psychology here is now they WILL overlook the small things because I have “dared them to catch me and I will only allow them to see what I want them to see”.

Yes, I realize you may say being this direct is not my persona… I fully understand this may be the case… but in your own words and actions you WANT to let them get this message … in whatever manner you present it. The fact is now you have laid the bait of catch me IF you can … not only does this light a fuse under them but this gets them so on edge you can now go for the “kill” with less effort.

Example:

I will perform something like the card into orange which for many teenagers is nothing more than “OK”… with their comment at the end of you slipped the card in there when we were not looking or you put the card in before the show.

So in this case…

You make sure they are on their toes by stating how powerful the effect they are about to witness is. This trick is so powerful; I will take the secret to my grave with me- - so do not even try and figure out how I do what you are about to see.

I usually perform John Kaplan’s “Mind-Reading Orange” routine (Available from http://www.DennyMagic.com – tell him David Breth said hello).

The “jokes” are so “bad”… but since I “act” as though they are funny by starting to laugh… then as I look around the room noticing they are moaning because the “jokes” are so “terrible” … I then make a straight face go back into the ‘trick” but throughout the routine throwing in the “jokes” which of course makes them want to boo me off the stage but because I “challenged” them at the beginning of the trick that this was amazing they are intrigued because after all they are “going to figure out what I did to make the trick work” (not realizing they have “fallen” for the showmanship and are now not really focused on “catching” me).

Now in John Kaplan’s routine he has a “secret” method of making the card vanish before the audiences very eyes. When I do this “secret” move I make SURE they see me do it slow and I make it “appear” I do not know they just saw what I did to make the pieces vanish… I then begin to clap like I have just performed some feat of magic so strong everyone should be on their feet applauding… of course because this “secret” method was exposed they are not impressed in the least bit… and in the middle of my personal applause I slowly slow my clapping down which started as a fast hand clap from clap, clap, clap, clap … to clap –clap-clap to clap---clap---clap--- and as I do so I am scanning the audience with a half smile… because after all I “now” realize they know the “secret” move that I used to make the pieces disappear.

Little do the teenagers know I have just used some of the most powerful psychology ‘on’ them and have set them up for a strong, mind-boggling finish.

To sum this example up as I am cutting the orange I act as if this has nothing to do with this trick… and unknown to me there is something inside… as I have a teenager take the card out of the orange I state:

“(THEIR Name), Please remove the object from inside the middle of the orange you just cut (I actually cut it, but this verbiage is important for them later when they are recapping everything that transpired in front of them) and tore (It was cut, but again this verbiage sets up the stage for them later as they are attempting to know my “secret” methods) with your bare hands.

Now I do not want to touch it, so will you please slowly open it (as they are opening the card I ask the teenager in the audience what card they “freely” chose earlier in the routine without my influence in any way – again, important the way I am saying this). What card did you extract from the fresh, store bought orange you were holding throughout the whole show?”

They name the card.

I then make a strong point “I do not want to touch the card, I want you to prove to yourselves what you just witnessed is real” and I then ask the other teenager who is holding the piece to “make sure the piece in their hand is not just a piece but the exact match - - does it match verbatim?” I ask loudly.

4. Here Let Me Patronize All Of You With My Dialogue and Performance.

One of the fastest ways to “connect” with a teenage audience is to treat them as your equal!!!! One of the fastest ways to “disconnect” with a teenage audience is to treat them as lesser than you!!!!

Now I am not in any way suggesting you stop being the authority during or after the show… but let them know without hesitation you respect them for who they are.

Notice to the unwise magician: Teenagers can spot a fake quickly. Teenagers have this “special” radar which warns them of someone ‘trying” to be who they are not. If you become the Frankenstein in the room, they will quickly light their torches and you are finished… unless you become genuine - - fast!

I have seen adults say to a teenagers face “I like your green hair” then turn around and say “What a disgrace, if they were my child….”

Unknown to you, though the teenager may have not heard you verbally say this they can sense this in you like a blood-hound on a piece of juicy steak.

If you do not like their choice of hair color… there are ways to let them know you do not personally like it, without making them feel like you see them as inferior to you. Just remember teenagers can spot a fake quickly.

Performing for teenagers can be a lot of fun and rewarding. It does not matter what personality type you are ANYONE can perform for teenagers, but, but, but you must let them know you are there to have lots of fun and they are going to have fun… “Enter Into Their World they Will Enter Yours”.


Next time in part two…

“The Dynamic “Verbal” Hook I Use Which Is PROVEN
To Get Teens To Drop Their Cool Shield Quickly”
David Breth
davidbreth
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PS
Danny Hustle is RIGHT on (above)!!!

..."DO NOT try to fool them, ENTERTAIN them. If you put entertainment first they will be fooled, if you try to burn them with every trick they will eat you alive."

Remember you are (or should be) an entertainer first, magician second!
David Breth
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