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mslj
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Bradford, England
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It's been a hot day in Bradford, England. I've had a varied day: a six year old birthday party, an evening adult show and a nine year old party.

The nine year old party provided me with a first, bringing the show to an end within 20 minutes. The disaster vultures were flying in circles from the moment I took the booking. A phone call just 5 days ago "We have a bouncy castle but need something in case it rains!"

Now I've been in similar situations before and have been able to work with such a lack of enthisiasm. However, the second statement was more interesting "We weren't going to have a magician this year after things went wrong last year." What had gone wrong I found out today was that the kids last year had terrorized the magician.

I had my usual discussion about bouncy castles and my expectations of the party, and the usual boundaries about adults being present ("We usually just let the magicians get on with it while we have a drink."). Some discussion about the approriatness of this and the booking was taken.

I arrived there today, big and I mean big money, lots of kids being allowed to run wild and the biggest bouncy castle I've seen, inside area, outside area with platforms for jousting - a 8 and 9 year old's delight. The castle has only been set up 10 minutes before I got there, and no one came to greet me. I was ignored by several adults until I found the owner.

The show strated about 15 minutes late, despite informing the booker of my need to leave at a certain time the kids were not enticed off the bouncy castle in time. The kids got there, rude to each other, ignorant to me, no adults in the room at times, children leaving and being shouted at by mum to go back "We've paid for the entertainer, you go watch him".

I have several responsibility rules, one is that I will not demand a child stays in the room with me, if they want to leave. They can do, hence the need for responsible adults to stay in the room.

It was clear that firstly the last thing that these kids wanted was to watch a magician, hot day and the pull of a bouncy castle being too much and secondly in the this case wealth was equated with inappropriate ( in my view ) parenting.

So 20 minuts in and I'd had enough, probably did 10 minutes more that was warranted. It was a shame as there were some kids who wanted to watch but the 'thugs' were preventing that. So it came to an end! The booker - mum - in the case then informed me that the children had really abused the magician last year. It would have been nice to know! Then she attempted to barter down the fee as the full 45 minutes had not been reached, but needless to say I got my full fee!

Moral of the story? There isn't one really. It was nice to have this sandwiched between a really nice six year old show and a good adult party. It was also a learning experience for me in closing a show due to poor behaviour of the children.

Just wanted to let off steam, thank you and goodnight, and could some one pass the gin.
Emazdad
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Plymouth UK
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My Contract states that there has to be at least one other adult in the room with me at all times, and if I get to a birthday party where there is also a bouncy castle, soft play stuff etc, I insist that it is turned off or the toys put away before I start. If you don't no matter how good your show the kids will watch, go bounce,play watch go bounce/play etc as they try and do 2 things at once. This also applies to loose balloons on the floor.

Your show was a nightmare as it was for people who have lots of money and no parenting skills. The kids sound like right spoiled brats, and the actual kid's birthday was lost in the adults attempt to make it a party for themselves as well. I don't envy you at all; I'd be telling all my magic mates about it, they'd make a note of the bookers details and she'd struggle to get a decent entertainer next year as they wouldn't want the hassle either.
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.
Peter Marucci
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There's not a whole lot you can do about it (as you've already said) but Clive makes a good point: Spread the word and spare others from a similar fate.
These things happen; just look on them as part of doing business. After all, you said you had two other shows at the time that went well!
Ron Reid
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Phoenix, Arizona
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Hi mslj:

The whole "bouncy castle" situation must be a U.K. thing. I live in the southwest U.S. (Phoenix) and have done probably done about 1000 parties - have seen the "bouncy castle" maybe a dozen times. Just curious if anyone else in the states sees it a lot.

In any case, I'm glad it's something I don't have to deal with; sounds like you're a real pro - glad to see you handled it so well and got your well-deserved full fee.

Ron Reid
R2
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It's too hot in the Metro Phoenix area for "Jumping Ballons". There are only a few companies doing this in that particular area..

El Paso,Tx. must be the "Jumping Balloon" capital of the world....there are 300 or so registered owners of companies who rent out these entertainment devices.

I too, always ask for the host to shut them down after one particular incident where the breaker to the blower tripped on the electrical panel, the balloon started to deflate and parents left the magic show area and scrambled to save their children from suffocation.

We restarted the show from point the breaker tripped but, I had lost all of the air and mystery of the starting manipulation sequence because of the mad scramble.

Persevere and be ever resilient.~rr
keeblem
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Essex, UK
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Interesting story. Last weekend I had two parties and both had a bouncy castle. The first one went well, even though I was getting a little annoyed because the mum kept asking when the kids could go back on the castle! However, I ended up getting a £20 tip and really nice email from the booker.
The 2nd party (same day) was a disaster. It was a similar story to the above - spoilt kids and too much else going on. But everything seemed to be conspiring against me.
What do others do about outside parties? Last weekend there was only a gentle breeze but it started playing havoc. I think in future I will have to insist the magic part of the show is done inside, but games and balloons can be done in the garden.
Mark
magic4u02
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Philadelphia, PA
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First I would like to say this: Always Use Contracts". This helps the person booking you know you are professional and you mean business. It also helps to save yourself from possible headaches should something go wrong and money becomes an issue.

The other thing I would like to point out is, YOU are in control. It is your show and your business and you must let people know that you run your business with the upmost in professionalism. That if they want the best show possible, they need to meet your needs for performance issues. That is the only way for them to get the best from your show and get their money's worth.

You also must not be afriad to turn down a show if you need to. It is sad to do this, but I have done it in the past. You are NOT a glorified babysitter.

If you get a call like that and you sense the person is saying the wrong things or that the other magician got ripped last time, then you must stop there and make sure that person realizes a few important things about you.

You must learn to educate your consumers as often times they have the wrong idea or impression about magicians. Show them you care by informing them you are not like other magicians. Let them know how you conduct your business and your shows.

If they are still not convinced, or if they are still giving you bad vibes, then do not feel afriad to simply turn down the performance.

It is not right for you to have to babysit children who are not interested in being entertained.

Also, insist on other distractions to be turned off or put away during your performance. This is not too much to ask for since the belief is that the magic show is for the children any ways. If this is the case, then there is no reason why the kids can not be 100% focused on the fun. If this is mentioned upfront, then it usually is not a problem.

My last thought is that if you do indeed happen to book a nitemare show. And even if the kids are not watching you, you MUST give them the full time that you have committed to. It is not ok in my book to cut down the show. If you promised 30 mins then you should give the best 30 mins that you can regardless of the situation. That is what it means to be a professional

In this way you are not stooping down to their level. You give them what you said you would, you kept your word and will keep your reputation intact.

Hope these suggestions are helpful to all.
Kyle Peron

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Emazdad
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Plymouth UK
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<<<<<<<What do others do about outside parties? Last weekend there was only a gentle breeze but it started playing havoc. I think in future I will have to insist the magic part of the show is done inside, but games and balloons can be done in the garden. >>>>>>

When the booker phones I tell them that I can do the party outside but only if the weather permits. If it looks like there's even a remote chance it may rain or if it's too windy we have to do it indoors. I have the final say on what happens. If you explain it in a nice way they understand.
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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HI,
I work the same way as Emazdad for outside gigs.

quote:
The other thing I would like to point out is, YOU are in control. It is your show and your business and you must let people know that you run your business with the upmost in professionalism.

Hi,
This is true to a point, However, how we judge professionalism is not always how others judge it. Go to far with restrictions and you might think you are professional but the bookers might say " oh yes he was ok but ............" finding the right balance is a fine line that comes through experience.
Phillip
magic4u02
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Philadelphia, PA
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PB. You are right. What I mean is that it is your show and you must sometimes not be afraid to educate your client in regards to what has worked and what does not.

In most cases the cleint does not have the experience of handling shows as you do. You perform so often that you really indeed become the "Professional" and can often times shine some light on what may help them have the best show they can have.

Of course you must be corgial to the person on the phone and conduct yourself well. But often times, if you provide some help to them, they will accept it and thank you for it in the long run.

I often also know that I can spot a troublesome show on the phone just from the questions the person asks me and also the tone of their voice. This is why I always ask the right questions that will help me to provide them with the best show they can have.

If I feel the person is just not willing to cooperate or I feel they really only want a babysitter, I do not hesitate to turn down the gig. Of course I do this in the best manner that I can and I am never rude to anyone.

I just feel strongly that you should not feel like you have to accept every single job that comes your way. Escpecially if you know the person will not be working with you to make it fun for the kids.
Kyle Peron

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Andy Wonder
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Auckland, New Zealand
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I have not really had that problem with bouncy castles before. I remember a show that went really well. All the children sat inside the bouncy castle to watch my show. There is a photo of it here.

I think if the bouncy castle has been there for the whole party & your show is toward the end you shouldn’t have any problem with it. Most kids will tire of the castle quickly. As long as they get a chance to get it out of their system before Showtime you should be okay. A big part of your problem was that the castle was set up just 10 minutes before your show.

I always make it clear to the booker that the fewer distractions around, the smother their show is going to run. If they are going to have many activities it is usually better to have one at a time. All toys & food must be out of site/reach of the children during the show. Sometimes it only takes 1 child to grab some food or a toy & everyone wants to follow. Children can be like sheep. Have you ever had one child make a fuss about declaring he needs to go to the toilet only to have all the children suddenly need to follow & go at once? That is one reason why I try to pick which are the more dominant children 1st & get them onside at the start.
Andy Wonder, Auckland, New Zealand
japanjazzy
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Crestview, Florida
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I have had the balloon jumping problem many times. I live in Okinawa and they seem to be at most parties I go to. I haven't had much trouble with getting the parents to turn them off but what seems to happen is one of the older brother or sisters always likes to slip out and start it up. Next thing you know there goes more kids. I have also had the troubles with the show being outside. I have now got to the point I will not do them outside. It is up to 95 degrees outside and for the guests wearing shorts that is a nice thing. But I dress a little more professional than that and it gets down right hot. I also do clowing at some of the shows and I just can't take the heat.
drosenbe0813
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Long Island, NY
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I have done a few shows with a bounce...and I always insist that the bounce is deflated during my show. First, the noise factor (the fan to keep the thing up is really loud) and the distractions. I also insist that any music or TVs go off. I am the show!! At the same time (to myself), I wonder just how much entertainment these kids really need during a party. But as long as I am paid at the end, let the parents spend their dollars.
Emazdad
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Plymouth UK
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What I like is when it's raining and I get these frantic phone calls for last minute birthday parties, they've booked a bouncy castle for in the garden and due to the rain they're having to have the party indoors and they have nothing to entertain the children. Very rarely can I help them at that short notice. That will teach them to fork out for proper entertainment next 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.
Neale Bacon
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I agree that the castle should be off during the show.

I have done similar shows where there was too much happening at once (and none of it under control) that it was a disaster all around.

If I know in advance there are things like a bouncy castle, I put it in my contract under special provisions that it must be off during the show or the performer will not be able to perform.

As for rude children and parents, that's part of the joys of show business Smile
Neale Bacon and his Crazy Critters
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Wolfgang
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TEXAS
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The real problem is those bouncy castles are sooooo darn cool. I would have killed to have one at my party when I was a kid.

A magician can have no stiffer competition than that glorious inflated bundle of fun.
"Sure, I do Scotch and Soda in every show. What? You mean there's a trick by that name?"
NJJ
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Quote:
On 2003-07-28 22:20, Wolfgang wrote:
The real problem is those bouncy castles are sooooo darn cool. I would have killed to have one at my party when I was a kid.

A magician can have no stiffer competition than that glorious inflated bundle of fun.


I am glad you said because I was thinking it!

It's not that they are BETTER then a magician, it's just that they provide fun without needing focus or attention. A jumping castle doesn't need to work for its money and no one feels sorry for it if no one has fun with it.

In short, they are just easier!
magic4u02
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Hmm maybe we need to just create a magic kid show all themed around bouncy castles? If you can't beat them, join them. =)
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Wolfgang
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Quote:
On 2003-07-28 23:38, magic4u02 wrote:
Hmm maybe we need to just create a magic kid show all themed around bouncy castle's? If you can't beat them, join them. =)


I know you said that partly in jest, but that is a brilliant idea!

A magician with his own bouncy castle would be invincible!
"Sure, I do Scotch and Soda in every show. What? You mean there's a trick by that name?"
magic4u02
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Philadelphia, PA
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Yes, I did mean it in jest, but heck, some of the best ideas come from the most bizarre places and at the strangest of times.

Instead of driving yourself nuts figuring out why you have to compete with other things kids like, figure out how you could incorporate them into your show offering.

If anyone does come up with a bouncy castle kids show offering, please at least send us all a pic. I know I personally would love to see it. =)
Kyle Peron

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