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David French
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I see that you do Kids shows. Just curious what you use as a table/case? I have struggled for years for that perfect solution. Tripods, briefcases, suitcase tables. I am currently down to a small case that sits on a tripod.

Also, I too agree that you can do close up for kids. Not just as in a strolling envrironment but an actual close up show for kids. I would love your thoughts on this, unless you need to keep it quiet until your lecture on the subject.


Craig Petty
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Hey David, thanks for the question. 

I love kids shows, I really do. When I started performing at kids shows I had a background in close up and found it very hard to make the transition. The first gig I ever did I couldn't sleep the night before I was so nervous. This was a very strange experience for me because I have never been nervous performing close up. The first trick I did in my show was birthday banner and I remember opening the banner at the end of the routine the wrong way round. The kids couldn't see where it said happy birthday but could see all the little pieces stuck together!!!  The reason I went into kids shows was mainly because I am a big believer in stepping outside your comfort zones and kids shows at the time scared me to death. 

Luckily I got better and now I co-run one of the largest Kids Entertainment Agencies in the UK.  Kids magic in many ways can be more fun than close up and it baffles me why more close up guys don't go into this Market. 

Regarding tables, I have two. My main table is a roll on type which is exclusive to Practical Magic in the UK. It's great because it's easy to carry and set up and stores all my props. The other table I have is a case on a tripod. I use this for smaller shows that take place in a house or a garden as it takes but a lot less room. My main criteria for a table is something that looks good; is easy to set up and is large enough to carry everything I need. 

I also have several shows. My main table holds three shows, my small table holds another show and I have a really large show where I have to take things like a vanishing radio etc. 

Regarding close up magic for kids I think that a lot of entertainers are missing out on a HUGE income stream by not offering this service. There are so many places where you can get close up bookings just for children. Like you said it is easy to do a close up show for children but there are loads of other areas as well. The best part is that most close up workers wouldn't touch kids work with a bargepole so as a general rule it's largely uptapped work. 

One of the problems I think is that a lot of childrens entertainers are unwilling to learn sleight of hand and the common perception is that you need to be an accomplished sleight of hand expert to perform close up. The fact of the matter is that for kids this is simply not true. You can do a full close up set without needing any skill at sleight of hand at all. You will need an ability to entertain kids but this is something all kids entertainers have in Spades. This is one of the areas I hope to address in my lecture. 

Having said this I really feel by adding some sleight of hand you can take a kids show to a whole other level. A level where you are entertaining the kids and the adults with magic your competition will not be able to compete with. For example over my shows I have effects such as 3 Fly, Billard Ball Manipulation, Jumbo Coin Manipulation, Long Salt Pour, Misers Dream, Arthur Traces Spoon Fly, Fibre Optics and others. I also have more classic kids routines in my set but these effects help parents remember MY act long after that of my competition. At the end of the day creating memorable magic is one of the most important things we can do. 

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Curtis Kam
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Craig, I find this very interesting. Like most magicians around here, I started out doing kid shows, and only do the occasional one here or there. However, Hawaii is a very family-oriented place, and every restaurant table seems to have kids atached to it. It is, indeed a valuable service to be able to do close up for kids.

On the subject of formal kid shows--what's your thinking about sucker tricks? Do you use them? Do they create the right or the wrong dynamic for the kids to interact with you?
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Having all the time an image of a Corporate Close up magician is very hard to me imagine yo in a kid show setting.
You mention classic routines in your show. Can you name a few?
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Craig Petty
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Hi Curtis.

Great to hear from you. I got into Kids magic after I had established myself as a close up performer. I did it mainly as the thought of performing for kids terrified me and I wanted to make sure that I could perform for children if I had to. It got to a point where I looked forward to performing for children sometimes more than adults. I really think that close up for kids is an income stream that a lot of magicians are missing out on and its a shame.

Regrading sucker tricks I do not use them at all for younger children. I don't like to have the kids feel like they are being fooled. When I perform for children I treat them as adults and although there is some sillyness and bits of business in my show I really focus on making them part of the show. I would rather have them feel they have done the magic instead of making them feel stupid. For older kids I do perform a version of the half dyed silk which has a sucker element to it but I do not overplay the sucker eliment.

Hansel, I perform a number of classic routines in my kids shows. For example:

Cups and Balls
Linking Rings
Tarbel Rope Routine
Misers Dream
Vanishing Radio
Chop Cup

Plus many others

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