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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The little darlings » » Do this one thing to avoid hecklers (2 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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The Great Zucchini
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Hey Guys, thought I'd share something that I always do, and it works like a charm in avoiding the one kid that might want to take away from the show. The audiences that come to my public or private shows are usually preschool-to 1st grade kids, so I don't have a problem with my immediate audience.

I also don't have a problem with the older kids(siblings)or friends of siblings either. This is why: One of the things I do when I'm setting up, is I scan the kids, and get a feel for who's in the room. Then I might just call the 3 or 4 kids over that the show isn't really geared for. I squash anything from the beginning by just saying, "hey fellas, good to see you guys, glad you're here. Listen, my show is targeted for the younger guys, so I need you to be good sports, and not ruin in for them, etc.

You've immediately gotten them on yourside. You've given them the respect to say, "hey, I know you'll know a couple of my tricks(even if they don't, they usually don't, right), but keep it on the down low'. All they want if they are in the heckling mindset is for you to think they are smart, and have figured you out.

Nip it early, by saying, yes, you got me, before the show starts, you won't get a problem, ever. The other thing I do is talk pop culture with them. "you guys into Justin Beiber", the guys will boo, whatever, but you're entering friend zone with them. Ask them about what sports teams they are into and who wants to make their friend look bad(you are now their boy)


Also, I tested this out at the start of a show many times before. For instance at my public shows, where a couple hundred people come out, I know I will have a variety of ages. This works beautifully, "Great to see everyone, and you older guys, remember, some things will be geared for the little ones also, and I need you all to be a good sport". They are.

I was doing a show the other day, and this is rare, but it was a 5 year old, 9 year old combo bday party. I've done many 4 and 6 year old, or 3 and 5 year old combos, but never this type. The 9 year olds were awesome. I just started out, by squashing any desire for them to ruin anything for the younger ones by nipping it early. Try just talking to them, and being human.
charliecheckers
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Great tips - thanks for sharing.
jay leslie
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I do the opposite. I tell the older kids, the teenagers and the adults that the show is not just for the little kids but it's for them too. I challenge them to watch it.
I've never have a problem with any particular age as long as I make eye contact and keep the quips related to direct observational humor.

I worked at a major amusement park for a number of years, in the morning we had mommies with strollers, in the afternoons it was families and retired people and at night it was teenagers - The tricks in the show were always the same but I addressed each audience based on the dynamics of the group.

Some people rely on tricks to make a show and others rely on personality. If you always work for little kids then you only need "little kid" type tricks. Whatever makes you happy, makes me happy, as long as you sell the show honestly.
Bluesman
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Thanks, this is great.
The White Wizard
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All sound advice - thank you it is much appreciated. Smile
The Great Zucchini
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Actually Jay, I'm pretty much all personality in the show, meaning that little kids tricks don't work on their own, you can have all the self working kid prop tricks in the world, but you have to connect with their personality first. Your point, and a valid one of course, is that you rely on just the show itself to hit the different age groups. I hear ya, and respect that of course.

However, my point is that most bday parties that you go to, will have 20 5 year olds there, if the bday child is 5, with a handful of older kids. If you aim your tricks to entertain the few teenagers there, most likely you'll will lose the interest of your target audience. This is a fact that 5 and 6 year olds have a different sense of humor than older kids, and 3 and 4 year olds of course do also.

Most of your show should be targeted at this point, and staring at the older kids, and checking out the dynamics, can be just as well done, by chilling with them before you start.

I'm not sure how much experience you have with young children, but "little kids' tricks won't entertain them, if that's all you rely on. I've done shows in front of hundreds at a time, and can tell you that personality is what sells you. Certain things can be nipped early is all I'm saying, because if you are entertaining 4 year olds, you will lose them if you start gearing the same material for the teenagers, etc.
jay leslie
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There are so many differences in what I do and what you do that I want to wish you well, and leave it at that.
JamesinLA
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I'm with Jay. So many of my routines work for all ages from 3 to 103. They hit everyone at different levels. I have occassionally had the snot who needs to say I know how you did that. I handle that with an arsenil of lines that get me a laugh and shut the kid up in a funny way.

Jim
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TonyB2009
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I am with Zucchini. It is about personality not tricks. I have never seen a trick that can play equally well to 3 and 103 - unless the 103 year old is senile and has entered a second childhood.

When I see a few older kids among several younger I say at the beginning that the show is aimed at the younger (assuming it is!) but there will be stuff in there that they will enjoy too. I then open with something aimed at the older kids, so that they can see that immediately. I find that eliminates most problems for me. We all must find our own approach.

But I find it difficult to believe that one show suits all.
The Great Zucchini
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Lol, Jay. I've heard great things about ya Jay, and I know you're a terrific entertainer, I'm not sure we will ever know the differences between us, without ever attending the others show. I don't believe anyone gets a sense from youtube clips. I think attending is the only way to know.

No disrepect to you, James in La, but I've always believed that people that say they entertain 3-103, is not really being accurate. I bet you have great routines, please don't get me wrong, but trust me, 3 year olds are not laughing at the same things that 12 year olds are. They aren't geared that way.

Tony, I find older kids laughing as well, but this is the personality part coming out, and I'm sure you get the laughs as well from adults too.

My public shows are packed, with older kids mixed in, it just gets them in to the, "Im going to enjoy with my little sister, and not try to figure stuff out, mindset". Do older kids laugh? Absolutely. However, I believe strongly that it's easier for an older kid to come down to a younger kid's level and enjoy the show with them, much easier than a 4 year old trying to hang on while you decide it's time to throw a joke their way. It's harder for a 4 year old to go the other way.

If you are entering a bday party Jamies n La, and they are 4, the adults will have a ball watching their kids react, that's fun for them, start gearing tricks for 4-100, and you'll lose some of those preschoolers.
magicgeorge
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My show works well for a crowd of 4 year olds and also for a crowd of 10 year olds. The problem with having a few 10 year olds at a show for a bunch of 4 year olds is that they won't want to be seen to be laughing at the same things a bunch of little kids are laughing at. So I believe that what GZ does definitley helps,it gets rid of that particular problem and leaves the older children to enjoy the show too without them looking uncool.
TonyB2009
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I was at a Paul Daniels show recently. The guy is a legend and has done it all, at the top level. He did a very simple linking rings routine, using my daughter. When he had a young girl on the stage he played it for the kids. But he wasn't condescending in any way.And all the adults loved it. They loved watching my daughter's bewildered reactions - and some of her cheek.

Older kids and adults will get into the spirit and enjoy stuff aimed at younger kids if it is not too childish, and if you make some effort to give them permission to drop their cool pose for a few minutes. It is the same as how we all enter into the spirit of Santa at Christmas. By acknowledging them at the start of the show you go a long way towards winning them over.
seadog93
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Quote:
On 2012-07-11 08:16, TonyB2009 wrote:
Older kids and adults will get into the spirit and enjoy stuff aimed at younger kids if it is not too childish, and if you make some effort to give them permission to drop their cool pose for a few minutes.

That's exactly how I think of it too.
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drosenbe0813
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Since we're talking about hecklers, I might as well chime in with something I've done on 2 separate shows just recently.

I was just starting my opening spiel for my birthday show for a group of 7 year olds. The Birthday boy seemed really into it, but there was a boy sitting in the front row, who was determined to have a 'conversation' with the performer (me). He was chattering before the show, and it appeared as if he was used to having attention paid. It was obvious to me that he wasn't asking questions, but just commenting on everything around and wasn't about to stop. Well, a few years ago I might have engaged him, but since I had a microphone...I just did my spiel right over his continuous comments. The rest of the kids were practicing the magic words and enjoying some jokes...and after a few minutes of not being paid any attention to....he just stopped talking...and was a great audience member the rest of the show (yes, he did get to come up and participate in one of the routines..I didn't ignore him)

I did this again at a party a few weeks later, and I achieved the same result...I maintained control and ALL of the kids had a great time.

It works for me!
charliecheckers
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The need to manage hecklers due to the variation in ages does depend on the construct of your act. For example, Sesame Street live is geared specifically toward preschool age and older kids would not enjoy it nearly as well. Beauty and the Beast live has something for everyone 4 to 100. This does not make one better or worse, just different in the construct of the show. GZ seems to have huge success in constructing a show specifically at the younger audience and works with the older kids to make sure they enjoy it. Jay seems to have a show that is more general in appeal and works across ages more easily. Both types of shows can be successful, while being different in the way they are constructed. The way one manages hecklers would depend on which way they constructed their show. I found GZ's advice to be helpful, although my show is constructed to have a more general appeal than his.
JamesinLA
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Zucchini,
They are laughing at many of the same things but perhaps for different reasons and other parts of the same routine are aimed for one or the other of them. The point is it works for them all. Street performers call this a non level headed audience. You should study "Sponge Bob" to understand how this is completely possible and effective. And I don't "lose" anyone in my shows.
Jim
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charliecheckers
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Zucchini has no need to study Sponge Bob any more than Oswald (Pop Goes The Octopus)does. He is very successful in constructing a show that that deeply reaches a target audience in a way that no general show can. I know this because he is performing in a highly competitive market and has a schedule full of customers paying a lot of money for HIS show. Personality is only part of the formula. The construct of your show sets the stage for just who the ideal audience is. Someone hiring a performer for 3 and 4 year olds would probably rather have Zucchini than Copperfield, mainly due to the way his show is constructed. That does not mean that if you took a 4 year old to see Copperfield they would not have a good time.
TheAmbitiousCard
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THE best way to prevent heckling at a kids show (where you might have kids of all ages 2-22, is to have a strong character, to be an excellent sleight-of-hand artist and to have a great act.

We're not talking about drunks at a comedy club, ladies and gentlemen. We're talking about kids and families and parents.

When you have a strong act, there just isn't room for heckling. There just isn't.

If you're not finding this to be the case, I suspect you're still "doing tricks" and you don't really have an strong act.
Nothing promotes a good heckling environment better than some guy showing off all the kewl tricks he knows in front of a bunch of kids. LOL.
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charliecheckers
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The OP performs for and has designed his act for the very young as his target audience - he stated up front the age range of preschool to first grade. The most skilled performer who has a show designed for such a young age group is a bit vulnerable to hecklers who are too old for the act, yet not mature enough to appreciate it for what it is. I believe Zucchini recognizes this and gave sound advice in how to best manage this if you, like him, have a show designed for the very young. I agree with Frank, with respect to those of us who have a show that is broader in age appeal, that we should not be heckled if we present a strong act.
JamesinLA
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Charlie,
I've rarely seen an audience comprised of 4 year olds alone. My experience is they don't take themselves to shows or anywhere else on their own. At least their parents or teachers are there. You may refer to Silly Billy's works to see the commerical and entertainment value of entertaining the adults as well as the children. And everyone can learn from watching Sponge Bob.

Jim
Oh, my friend we're older but no wiser, for in our hearts the dreams are still the same...
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