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Brian Lehr
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Edmonton, Canada
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Over the past 20 years, I've done a few birthday parties for friends and neighbors, several family reunions, as well as isolated, spontaneous shows.

However, I would now like to focus more on doing birthday parties (4-10 year-olds), and am working to set up a show that I can promote to potential clients.

The following is what I've been mulling over recently. For the most part, these are effects that I've done at previous parties. I'd like to outline it here, and would appreciate any thoughts on any restructuring or replacing that might be needed:

WHAT'S NEXT
I've just purchased this one, and have not even practiced with it yet. However, from what I've read from others, it makes for a good warm-up, and gets all the kids involved from the start.

MAGIC TRAP DOOR
This is simply where I go out among the children, and show them the magic trap door hidden inside my palm. When I push the vein on the back of my hand, the trap door opens, and I can then make little silks and coins disappear and reappear whenever I want (ala TT). I tried this little routine for the first time last week at a family reunion, and I felt it was very intimate. It showed the 12 kids and 60 adults that this magician didn't just play around with big gimmicked boxes and such, but he actually knew how to do magic!

PROFESSOR'S NIGHTMARE
I have a volunteer join me for this one, not so much because they're "needed," but because it provides one more chance to get a child involved. I just have him hold the ropes, and try to stretch them, etc. Then I do the effect to the story of the 3 bears (and what happened to them after Goldilocks returned home).

ROPES THROUGH BODY
I've never done this one before, but again, I've read many good things about it. I feel this effect would accomplish at least two things: be a continuation of using ropes (I could have the child place the three ropes in the Change Bag, and have them transform into two really long ropes), plus I get to have more children involved.

COLORING BOOK ROUTINE
This is my Central Effect. I've used this at all the shows I've done for kids, with great results. I use two volunteers, some comedy dialogue, slush powder, breakaway wand, broken paint brush, vanishing crayons, etc. I wonder though, at what age does this effect become too "childish"? Another option I have for a Central Effect, perhaps for the older children (7-10) is an effect called 20th Century Socks. This is an effect by Steven the Amazing, where your pet flea keeps switching the silks in the "Velvet Mansion" (Change Bag) with the socks on your feet. At one point, you show your bare foot, and in the next moment, the sock is back on, etc. I've only performed this once, but it went over very well (except when the volunteer birthday girl was afraid to come near the change bag because she didn't like fleas! Smile)

To wrap things up, I talk about how I love parties because of all the food available. I then ask if anyone would like some jelly beans. This leads into the next little effect.

SNAKE CAN

After some playing around (and trying to recover the snakes), I end up getting the birthday child to help me magically make some candy.

MAKING CANDY
I start this by asking who wants to be a magician when they grow up? After a little byplay, I end up choosing the birthday child to be made into an honorary magician. I place a cape around her, put a crown on her head, give her a wand, put some weird and funny-looking glasses on her, and teach her the magic words. (Alternately, I thought about dressing the person up in a chef's outfit). Then we get out the cooking pan (chick pan) and make some candy (no fire is used). I end the show by handing out candy to everyone.

Well, there you have it. For younger children, I've also previously performed a fun little Egg Vase routine (where I'm frustrated because I keep losing track of the egg, as it keeps disappearing and reappearing). However, it might be good to fit it in as part of the "Making Candy" routine, kind of a sidebar effect, under the pretense of needing an egg as part of the recipe (much like using the Vanishing Crayons with the Coloring Book).

Any thoughts about re-structuring, re-arranging, etc., would be greatly appreciated.

Brian

The silence is deafening!

I'm assuming that there are no responses for one of three reasons:

1. People are too busy working on, and performing, their own shows.

2. The outline I've given just plain stinks, and people don't want to say anything to hurt another performer's feelings.

3. The outline I've given is absolutely perfect, in need of no changes whatsoever, and people are now busy scrapping their previously awesome routines in order to add all my chosen effects to their own show. In which case I thank you, and request a 20% royalty on all your new income! Smile

Brian
magic4u02
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Brian:
Let me try and go through your show and just give you some of my comments and suggestions. Hope they may be of help to you. I specialize in performing kid and family style magic.

Whats Next - Great effect and goes over well. Also good way to get kids involved.

magic trap door - could be fun and entertaning if done with a good story line or patter and get the kids invloved in using their imaginations.

Professor's Nightmeare is always very good. I would get 3 kids up with you, dress them up and have them help you tell the story. have them act it out as you go through it. This makes it more interactive and fun for the kids.

Rope thru Body - Personally i would not perform this effect. Kids seeing it may try to mimic the magician whenthey get home. If they do, they may end up hurting themselves and you certainly do not want that as your trying to build a good reputation in your area.

Coloring book - alos a great effect if done with a good routine and use of comedy wands and crayons and agood story line.

Snake can - i do not feel strong about this. most have seen this prop before and it really does not work as a stand along effect in itself. this is much better used as part of a bigger routine.

Candy making is a great idea and it is nice to be able to make the b-day child a star for the day by using them in this manner. bring a polaroid camera with you and take a pic of the child dressed up. this makes a great souvenir. Of course your name and number should be on the pic as well before you habd it to them.

Overall, you have a nice start. Just remember that kids love to laugh and have fun and they love stories. make your routines fun, use good stories and patter and dress the kids up with comedy glasses etc. when it is appropriate. Most of all, have fun.

Hope this helps you.
Kyle Peron

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Payne
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Brian,
It looks to be a good start and since you are looking for advice I'll throw my two cents in

WHAT'S NEXT

I've never used it as an opener myself but I don't see why this couldn't work if properly presented.

MAGIC TRAP DOOR

I wouldn't go out into the audience to do this effect as it will result in a loss of focus to your show. By going into the audience you are moving the focal point from the stage area to the house thereby weakening not only the staging of your performance but also your control of the show.
If you do this trick bring up a couple of kids from the audience to help you onstage that way you are still perceived as being in control of the show.

PROFESSOR'S NIGHTMARE

You might think about trading this with ropes through the body. Also if you can cut one of the ropes from ropes through the body into your Professors Nightmare this would reduce the use of the change bag, an effect you are going to use in a later routine.

ROPES THROUGH BODY

Always a fun trick and an easy way to make your show look bigger. Trading it with the Professors nightmare will also put a buffer in between two larger audience participatory effects and keep your show from looking like a change of innings by have one set of volunteers more or less trade places with another set.

COLORING BOOK ROUTINE

This too sounds like a good routine

SNAKE CAN

Looking for the candy that's suppose to be in the snake can is a clever way to lead into your final effect.

MAKING CANDY

There has been some discussion on this forum as to whether or not, in this PC world of ours if it is still acceptable to give out candy to ones audience.
I myself have no problems with this but with the rise of food allergies and strange dietary habits you should double check to make sure that it's OK with the parents before handing out sweets.
"America's Foremost Satirical Magician" -- Jeff McBride.
p.b.jones
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HI,
I think that you should go with the routines that you feel will work well for you. I could (and will if you like)(oh hell I did) give some of my opinions but they are based on my own likes ,dislikes and experinces they would be much different than many others as I strive to use routines which would suit my taste and personality.

for example I certainly would not use a 3 bears patter for a child over 4 (actually I would not use it at all)

Whats next is not a bad trick but not good for repeat shows (though you may not keep the same show as I do)

Your trap door trick is hard to comment on though I do not have Paynes reservations about going off stage for birthday parties. I feel that in this type of envioroment particularly at parties with low numbers this can be a good thing my preference is for Misers Dream pulling coins from behined ears in hats< specticals ect finaly getting the birthday child up and regaining stage focus plucking coins from him and all the usual stuff.

I would also like to see an effect early on which involves the kids doing a little controlled shouting I always find this tends to make them laugh, get involved amd no that it's not going to be just a boring sit and watch show.
Phillip
Brian Lehr
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Gentlemen,

Your comments are muchly appreciated.

Quote:
Whats Next - Great effect and goes over well. Also good way to get kids involved.


I hope so. I've heard and read different reviews of it. So I bought it based upon that. I guess the proof is in the pudding, as the saying goes. I'll try it out a few times, see what kind of reactions I get, and then determine whether or not I'll continue with it (at least as an opener).

The opener I usually use, since most of my work has been with the younger children, has been a gag I call my "World Famous Color Changing Flowers." I simply have three dusters, one in my hand and two tucked in my belt in back. After talking about how rare these flowers are, and how I had to travel far away to get them, I place the flower behind my back, and bring it out as a different color.

The kid's are not sure what to think, and I do it again. It's then they go totally nuts screaming "Turn around, turn around!" I do the usual bit with the flower turning around, etc. This plays out until I finally turn myself all the way around to show there is nothing on the floor behind me. When they finally keep screaming that it's in my pants, I act shocked and surprised, much to their amusement.

Knowing this wouldn't go well with the older children, I thought I'd try "What's Next." Not sure of the reactions I'll get.

Quote:
Professor's Nightmare is always very good. I would get 3 kids up with you, dress them up and have them help you tell the story. have them act it out as you go through it. This makes it more interactive and fun for the kids.


I like that. Get's more people involved.

Quote:
I certainly would not use a 3 bears patter for a child over 4 (actually I would not use it at all)


I've got several story lines I've been looking over. I just finished reading one by Silly Billy regarding the story of the three worms. I may give that one a shot. Sounds like fun, and the smallest worm becomes the hero!

Quote:
Coloring book - also a great effect if done with a good routine and use of comedy wands and crayons and agood story line.


I've loved doing this effect, and seeing the reactions of the kids. I wonder though, is there an age limit on this? I'm not sure if 8-10 year olds would enjoy it as much. I've had no problems so far, but have just re-evaluating it for that age group.

I try to make this my big participatory effect, usually with two people on stage with me. I use the breakaway wand, breakaway paint brush, I grab a can of paint brushes off the table, but there's a bottom in the can, and the brushes all fall out (which I don't notice until I offer the can to the girl to take a brush); I also use slush powder to make paint, which later disappears on the boy's head. I plan on getting the Vanishing Crayons as well.

I'm always looking for new ways to enhance this effect. A few days ago, I saw an ad for a six-way coloring book. I thought that would be a nice change for those who've already seen the usual coloring book (gives them a little surprise).

Regarding the "Making Candy" effect ...

Quote:
There has been some discussion on this forum as to whether or not, in this PC world of ours if it is still acceptable to give out candy to ones audience.


That can be a problem. I've thought about adding a rabbit production as a closer, but the same thing applies ... many people are allergic to animals (including my wife, which is why I don't have one yet).

With the problems with kids imitating certain dangerous effects, allergies to certain foods and candies, and allergies to animals such as rabbits, it can certainly be frustrating trying to put together an exciting and visually appealing children's show.

Again, thanks for the tips. Any future ones are welcome too.

Brian

PS. I noticed on another thread that someone said they saw dozens of names (if not more; can't recall exactly) of children's entertainers in their Yellow Pages. For my city of Edmonton and surrounding area (population just under a million), there is just three children's entertainers listed, with only "one" listing for a children's magician (one was a clown, and one a storyteller). I know there are a couple of others, but they don't seem to be doing much advertising. Good market to work in, me thinks!
Mike Robbins
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Quote:
On 2003-08-19 22:34, blehr wrote:
For my city of Edmonton and surrounding area (population just under a million), there is just three children's entertainers listed, with only "one" listing for a children's magician (one was a clown, and one a storyteller). I know there are a couple of others, but they don't seem to be doing much advertising. Good market to work in, me thinks!




Not to rain on your parade, but don't count on it and don't just advertise in the yellow pages. I do but only so someone who remembers my name and misplaces my card can look me up. Invariably the calls I get from the yellow pages are those who are calling all of the magicians in the yellow pages looking for the cheapest one - and that ain't me.

Good Luck!

Mike
The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.
Shakespeare
Brian Lehr
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This is true.

I find it interesting though, after being here for five years, I've not seen ads for any magicians anywhere, yet I know there are quite a few in the city. Some do corporate events and trade shows, some do restaurants, and I know a couple who do kid's parties.

So no, I'm not that deluded. It was nice dreaming about it though. Smile

Brian
flourish dude
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I think this is a good start. I would ask that you think about the arrangment a little bit. You want the show to build.

1. Intro
talk about who you are and what you going to do
This would be a great spot for your trap door routine. Your right about getting intimate with them. They don't know who you are and fits very nice with a intro. I would say a button on the back of the hand and not a vein. IMO. If you could have some soft light hearted music playing during this it would be great.

2. Warm up.
World Famous Color Changing Flowers

3. Intro the Birthday child
This routine you introduce the Bday child and the magic words. "Happy Birthday!" I use a change bag and a Happy Birthday silk.

4. Skill Trick
Show them your worth watching.
your Pro Nightmare would work here.

5. Comedy routine
your COLORING BOOK ROUTINE could go here


6. Engery builder
What's next would work


7. More than 1 helper routine
Your Rope thru body would work. Use an adult as the rope thru person and two kids to pull the ropes. OH DOn't forget the magic words "Happy Birthday!"
ROPES THROUGH BODY

8. Build up to end
SNAKE CAN

9.Special routine for bday child--make him the star
MAKING CANDY
you could also try to bake a sponge cake then hand out some candy.
Nothing of the same will bring any change, take action today!
Just taking a step, is a step in the right direction because when you stop working, your dream dies.
www.magicalmemories.us
Brian Lehr
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Quote:
On 2003-08-20 10:04, flourish dude wrote:

9.Special routine for bday child--make him the star MAKING CANDY; you could also try to bake a sponge cake then hand out some candy.


Thanks for the suggestions, Dude. In regards to the sponge cake, I'm not sure if it would have the same oomph as making candy. Maybe it would, but I've never tried it yet.

On the other hand, I wasn't too pleased with the only little sponge cakes I've seen in the shop. Because I have a chick pan, the cakes are small, with only one candle. When I first saw it done, and the limp little candle slowly came to life, it reminded me of a candle on viagra! Smile

I just didn't want to provide an opportunity for any of the adults in the audience to start snickering at what's supposed to be a highlight for the kids.

My favorite routine I've done with the Chick Pan was at a birthday party three years ago. It was the girl's seventh birthday. With the girl assisting me, we placed a colorful picture of a Siamese Fighting Fish in the pan, did the magic, and actually produced a live, practically identical, fish (including the water). Of course I had the parent's permission to do this.

It was my only use of livestock in my show so far, but, as you can imagine, it was the highlight of the show. Nothing could have topped it. I had also bought the girl a little fish bowl, and a few small supplies to get her started.

She called the fish Magic. When it died a few months later, her mother found it first and disposed of it. She then explained to her daughter that since it was a magic fish, it had once again disappeared. The girl was fine with that, and to this day, every person who was a part of that party still talks about that effect.

Come to think of it, maybe I should do more of this. It's certainly different than what the "usual" magician does. And, it wouldn't necessarily have to be a gift to the child (although I would have no problem with this, with the parent's permission). What do you think? My goal is to make this show fun AND a real magical experience.

Brian
flourish dude
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Quote:
On 2003-08-20 11:31, blehr wrote:
Quote:
On 2003-08-20 10:04, flourish dude wrote:

9.Special routine for bday child--make him the star MAKING CANDY; you could also try to bake a sponge cake then hand out some candy.


Thanks for the suggestions, Dude. In regards to the sponge cake, I'm not sure if it would have the same oomph as making candy. Maybe it would, but I've never tried it yet.



Yeah, I am not sure. I myself use a live rabbit and everyone loves it. Whatever you do make sure the Birthday child helps and make it bigger than anything else in the show. IMO making candy appear and handing it out is just not BIG enough, but it may work for you. Just remember the show is about the birthday child, not you, not the other kids watching but the child on their specail day!Please don't read this wrong. You must enjoy what your doing and the kids watching must also enjoy and feel apart of the show but the bottom line is make the birthday child the star because today they have all the "Birthday magic"

The end routine should say "it's the end" the reason I suggested the cake is some what along the lines of the "cake bake" routine the child does the magic and makes the cake. The same with my Rabbit. I don't produce him the child does and it's the end.
The only thing I don't like about the sponge cake is that it does not "give anything" to the child. If I was to make a cake I would give it to them. You could use a little Debbie cake and give it only to the Bday child.
Of course the birthday child does not get to keep my rabbit but I have a picture of the rabbit to give him.
Nothing of the same will bring any change, take action today!
Just taking a step, is a step in the right direction because when you stop working, your dream dies.
www.magicalmemories.us
Brian Lehr
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Quote:
On 2003-08-20 13:07, flourish dude wrote:

Just remember the show is about the birthday child, not you, not the other kids watching, but the child on their special day!


This is very true. However, I've read others who say that for the final effect, they want the stage to themselves, so they can take the final bow alone.

Probably depends on personality, but I like the idea of ending the show with the birthday child on the stage with me, and giving her/him the credit for making the magic happen.

Here's another idea I'd like bounce off you. In one show I did last year, I tried out something new for that party. I took an idea from Ballantine, where he always messed up. I called it "The World Famous Rabbit from the Hat Trick."

It was a running gag, about how I've been trying for a long time to make a rabbit come out of a hat. I try to do it several times throughout the show, without success. (As I'm thinking here, I could also set it up to bring out rocky raccoon wearing rabbit ears, or have my spring snakes pop out at me, etc., each time I go into the hat).

At the end of the show, I place my arm through the bottomless hat, down into the box as far as my arm will go. Kids are laughing. I pull up my arm to ask what they're laughing at, but I leave the hat attached to the upper part of my arm and shoulder. "Oh, no, they caught me." I go back down into the box, pretend I found my rabbit, and pull it out with glee. The kid's scream, "It's not a rabbit, it's a chicken!" When I notice the chicken, I scream out in fright. "Oh no, the chicken ate my rabbit!"

At that point, I ended it. But, I have friends who have rabbits. I thought about borrowing one for this effect. Instead of making the rubber chicken the end of the routine, I would continue to do one more regular effect afterwards, then have the birthday child join me to help me to try "one last time" to get this trick to work. Of course, with the birthday child working her magic, the rabbit finally appears!

Do you think this would end the show with a bang? Sounds more fun than producing a goldfish in my chick pan! Smile

Brian
flourish dude
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Honestly,
I don't like the idea of you saying your going to produce the rabbit and then not. I think they will give you a hard time about it. This would work great for adults but not for kids. They loves Rabbits and to tell them that you are then doing the gags (which is great BTW) and the final still no rabbit. You would leave them unfullfilled.

Quote:
On 2003-08-20 13:37, blehr wrote:
Quote:
On 2003-08-20 13:07, flourish dude wrote:

Just remember the show is about the birthday child, not you, not the other kids watching, but the child on their special day!


This is very true. However, I've read others who say that for the final effect, they want the stage to themselves, so they can take the final bow alone.



maybe for a family show but not for a birthday show. Look at the format I gave above and it has a place for a skill trick. Bby the end of the show you have proved yourself to be a magican.
Also kids at the end always ask "how did you do that bunny trick" I say I could only have done it with Micheals help (bday child) and we are not telling.
Nothing of the same will bring any change, take action today!
Just taking a step, is a step in the right direction because when you stop working, your dream dies.
www.magicalmemories.us
Brian Lehr
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Quote:
On 2003-08-20 14:07, flourish dude wrote:
Honestly,
I don't like the idea of you saying your going to produce the rabbit and then not. I think they will give you a hard time about it. This would work great for adults but not for kids. They loves Rabbits and to tell them that you are then doing the gags (which is great BTW) and the final still no rabbit. You would leave them unfullfilled.


But if I do produce the rabbit at the end, with the help of the birthday child, would this not bring a sense of fulfilment to the kids: "Look at the silly magician! He tries to get a rabbit, but only gets snakes, raccoons, and chickens! Good thing he finally got the birthday child to help with this trick."

I could use each "gag" animal to my advantage. The snakes would frighten me, and I would really need the encouragement of the kids before going near that scary hat again; I would try my darndest to convince them that the raccoon with ears is really a rabbit ("I'll never shop at that pet store again!"; I would freak out when I discovered that the rubber chicken ate the rabbit (I thought of placing a furball in his mouth, but think I'll skip that part Smile ; finally the problem is resolved with the birthay child causing the rabbit to appear.

The elements I see in this are the following:

1. Surprise (especially at the beginning and at the end).
2. Fun and silly bits of business
3. Tension ("Will he get the rabbit this time?")
4. Fulfillment(at rabbit being produced).

Sorry if I'm sounding stubborn, I'm just playing this out in my mind, trying to picture whether or not this might work.

Brian
Mike Robbins
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Quote:
On 2003-08-20 11:31, blehr wrote:
When I first saw it done, and the limp little candle slowly came to life, it reminded me of a candle on viagra! Smile



I get the same impression with a lot of Zombie routines I've seen.
Smile
The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.
Shakespeare
flourish dude
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If you did produce the rabbit it would be a great routine. If you don't then I feel you would not fullfill.
Nothing of the same will bring any change, take action today!
Just taking a step, is a step in the right direction because when you stop working, your dream dies.
www.magicalmemories.us
Payne
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Quote:
On 2003-08-20 15:03, flourish dude wrote:
If you did produce the rabbit it would be a great routine. If you don't then I feel you would not fullfill.



You could compromise and end your routine by producing a big plate of tastey hasenfeffer and pass that out to the kids. Smile
"America's Foremost Satirical Magician" -- Jeff McBride.
Brian Lehr
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What's hasenfeffer?

Brian
Payne
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Hasenfeffer

Yield: 3 to 4 servings

1 rabbit, cut up

1 pint vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/~ teaspoon pepper

11/2 teaspoon whole cloves

1/2 small onion, sliced

1/3 cup flour

1/2 cup butter or shortening



Skin, clean, and wash rabbit. Place in casserole. Add vinegar, salt, pepper, cloves, and onion.

Cover; chill overnight.

Drain; reserve ½ cup marinade. Dry rabbit; dredge in flour. Melt shortening in skillet. Brown rabbit about 20 minutes. Add reserved marinade; cover and simmer.

Cook until tender. Gravy may be made from juices in pan.
"America's Foremost Satirical Magician" -- Jeff McBride.
Brian Lehr
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I suspected as much!

Just as bad as the discussion going on the Secret Sessions on the Torn and Restored Hamster

But we digress ...

Brian

After reading the responses I've received thus far, I've assembled my effects as follows (with special thanks to Dude for the outline):


1. INTRODUCTION (MAGIC TRAP DOOR)
Introductory fun bits; gets them making a little controled noise; lays down the show guidelines; and shows them some up-close magic (silk and coins vanish and appear via TT).

2. WARM UP (WHAT’S NEXT?/COLOR CHANGING FLOWERS)
Use What's Next for older children, and Color Changing Flowers (gag) for younger ones).

3. INTRODUCTION OF BIRTHDAY CHILD
Introduce the Birthday child and the magic words, "Happy Birthday!" Use a Change Bag and a Happy Birthday silk.

4. SKILL TRICK (PROFESSOR'S NIGHTMARE)
Three helpers – one boy, one girl, and one smaller person; do the story of the three worms going across the river to grandma’s house. Momma's and Poppa’s magic words don’t work, but baby worm’s does! Lots of byplay and comedy bits.

5. COMEDY ROUTINE (COLORING BOOK ROUTINE)
Two volunteers; dress them up; uses Vanishing Crayons, Slush powder (paint), variety of wands (breakaway, etc.), breakaway paint brush, paintbrushes in bottomless can; lots of comedy.

6. MULTIPLE HELPER ROUTINE (ROPES THROUGH BODY)
Use an adult as the rope thru person and two kids to pull the ropes.

7. SPECIAL ROUTINE WITH BIRTHDAY CHILD (MAKING CANDY)
Use Snake Can (Jelly Bean can) as lead-in. Use Birthday Child; Dress her up in cape, crown, and wand.
Me wear “safety goggles” (buggy eyes glasses); use Egg Vase routine (need egg for candy recipe). Bring a Polaroid camera to get picture of Birthday Child.

That's it so far. Any other thoughts, suggestions, or addtions are welcome.

Brian
p.b.jones
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4. SKILL TRICK (PROFESSOR'S NIGHTMARE)
Three helpers – one boy, one girl, and one smaller person; do the story of the three worms going across the river to grandma’s house. Momma's and Poppa’s magic words don’t work, but baby worm’s does! Lots of byplay and comedy bits

HI,
Just one comment why do a skill trick then kill it with patter like that!
(just my view)
Phillip
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