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danfreed
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West Chester PA
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I agree with Potty's last post....oy! Carrey is great, one of my faves, I'd love to see Jim Carrey do a magic act for kids.
With kids, it's better to overact than underact (though some balance and variety is usually best), especially with young kids. I try to mix up my approach in each show - some over the top, some very subtle stuff. If they are paying attention, which they will do if you are good, they will notice and react to the subtle stuff as much or more than the crazy stuff. So I say mix it up for variety - too much of 1 thing is bad, like if you were to watch a movie with nothing but car chases. No how well done the car chases you'd get bored with it and things would get stale and not move along, you'd drain the audience, etc.

So for a little example, when I do the nesting wands - each time the kid pulls out one of the 4 inner wands I try to react differently. It wouldn't be good to just scream "oh no!" and pull the same face each time. You can plan in advance to escalate up, down, or have an arc in the middle, OR go with the flow of kids reactions which is what I tend to do. To go with the flow, you pay attention to them as you go - do I need to be more animated this time or would a more subtle thing like a pause and eye roll and maybe a little lip quiver be best this time. Then next wand, decide based on how they react, thinking ahead to how you'd like to end it.
In general for each show, for some crowds you may need to go bigger to get the best laughs, for some crowds it works better to be more subtle, and a balance seems best. Sometimes you can get the biggest laughs just by doing very simple stuff like staring straight at the audience and blinking, like Oliver Hardy did when he looked right at the camera for several seconds to show his frustration. I can't stand watching an entertainer do the same thing over and over during the whole show, even though that works well for some guys, doing that usually just shows a lack of acting skill.
Potty the Pirate
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Quote:
On 2013-10-02 17:28, Quentin wrote:
Potty, thank you for questioning my mentioning "Overacting". Let me clarify that.

Hamming it up is par for the course and an art in itself.

Dan hit the nail on the head when he said, " It wouldn't be good to just scream "oh no!" and pull the same face each time."
Then he mentions using different reactions each time. Sometimes a silent facial reaction, and sometimes a more physical or verbal one.
This builds anticipation and hooks in the audience and is the difference to looking silly or being funny. The real art is to ham
it up but know when not to overdo it. It is the overdoing it that I meant by Overacting.

Sometimes I know exactly what I mean but don't explain it clearly.


I think the point is, Quentin, that overacting is a skill, just as much as straight acting. Both acting, and overacting, done badly, is excruciating to watch. Done well, it's a delight.

There are rules, and of course, it's important to learn them. Once you have them under your belt, you can discover how to break them.

Do you really want to spend your performing life unaware of all that fundamental knowledge, garnered from thousands of entertainers, with millions of years of stage performing?

Every good actor understands ham acting, and every good ham actor understands straight acting.

Some folks are drawn to comedy, others to drama. I enjoy both, but I'm a natural ham. Kid's entertainment is what I always wanted to do, and it's what I'm good at.
Jolly Roger
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I bet I am a bigger ham than you are Potty!!! Smile JR
John Breeds
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Quote:
On 2013-10-01 20:24, Quentin wrote:
As I see it the three biggest mistakes made by children's entertainers are:
1) the lack of structure and texture in the show. No balance and too much of the same type of trick.
2) Overacting.
3) No understanding of the use and power of pausing.


HEAR HEAR!

Quentin, you got it in three.

John
Potty the Pirate
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Quote:
On 2013-10-02 18:12, Jolly Roger wrote:
I bet I am a bigger ham than you are Potty!!! Smile JR


I have no doubt, JR, that if we were to meet, we'd do our very best to out-ham each other.

;)
writer25
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The original question was "how do I get better?"
The trouble is that you can get too much advice some of it better than others. And one piece of advice may contradict another. So you have a monumental task sorting out the wheat from the chaff. And regrettably much of the chaff is posted on magic forums although of course there might be some wheat there too.
You have to be very careful here. If you follow the wrong advice you may go on quite a disastrous path. And some of the advice may be excellent for the person giving it but not so good for the person taking it. That is because we are all different and what suits one may not suit another.

There are successful entertainers who are very structured and organised and yet there are equally successful entertainers who are not organised at all and everything is chaotic around them yet it all works well.

This is how I would go about things. It can be summed up as STUDY and TRIAL AND ERROR.

First -STUDY. This is very important. Study everything you can get hold of but don't necessarily believe everything you read. There is the basic text of the opening chapter of OPEN SESAME by Tyler and Lewis. I would say this is essential reading because it teaches you how to UNDERSTAND children and this is the REAL to being a good kids entertainer. But there are other texts such as the Silly Billy book, the Danny Orleans DVD course, The David Ginn books plus many, many more. A good entertainer studies everything.

Now comes the hard part. In fact the very hard part. Sorting out the wheat from the chaff. Here are some guidelines. First, study the track record of the person giving the advice. It still may not be the right advice for you even it is good advice, but at least if the person you study has been a successful professional then the advice may be more likely to be valid.

Next you have to study yourself and see how you fit the advice offered. Are you the sort of personality that prefers to have a rigid structure to your work or are you a person who likes things a bit more fluid? Are you an expert ad libber or do you feel you have to have a script? Are there aspects of your work that could be improved by advice given?

You have to figure yourself out before you can figure the advice out. Instinctively you will know if what someone says resonates with you. But certainly beware a lot of the advice on magic forums which are often motivated by ego and are proffered by amateurs. You really have to think carefully what is right and what is wrong. I would say only take the advice of people you respect and whose performing style most closely resembles yours.

Some of the stuff you will read on magic forums will be offered by experienced professionals and it should be taken notice of but remember it still may not be the right advice for YOU.

And now TRIAL AND ERROR. Think carefully, put a set act together and improve on it as you go along. Make changes slowly. There is nothing worse than chopping and changing your act in a frenetic attempt to find the right formula. Make haste slowly. If something works keep it in the show, if it doesn't work after a couple of attempts then dump it. And I am referring not just to tricks. Keep gags, patter and bits of business if they work and dump them if they don't.

Again be very careful with the advice of magicians. The trouble with magicians is that they think their opinions matter and very often they don't. Read everything but sort the wheat from the chaff very carefully. Sometimes something sounds good but it doesn't fit you.

I have read some dreadful advice on the magic Café at times and that is why I am advising caution in what you read. I have seen some entertainers advise insulting the children and getting angry with them. I have even read idiotic posts about storming out of the house if things get out of hand. Quite frankly if things get out of hand it is usually the fault of the entertainer.

But I don't want to go off on a tangent. To sum things up study everything, sort the wheat from the chaff as it applies to you, then go out and try it. If things work -great. If they don't then discard them and carry on.

None of this is easy but it is the best way.
Jolly Roger
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Quote:
On 2013-10-02 19:25, writer25 wrote:
The original question was "how do I get better?"
The trouble is that you can get too much advice some of it better than others. And one piece of advice may contradict another. So you have a monumental task sorting out the wheat from the chaff. And regrettably much of the chaff is posted on magic forums although of course there might be some wheat there too.
You have to be very careful here. If you follow the wrong advice you may go on quite a disastrous path. And some of the advice may be excellent for the person giving it but not so good for the person taking it. That is because we are all different and what suits one may not suit another.

There are successful entertainers who are very structured and organised and yet there are equally successful entertainers who are not organised at all and everything is chaotic around them yet it all works well.

This is how I would go about things. It can be summed up as STUDY and TRIAL AND ERROR.

First -STUDY. This is very important. Study everything you can get hold of but don't necessarily believe everything you read. There is the basic text of the opening chapter of OPEN SESAME by Tyler and Lewis. I would say this is essential reading because it teaches you how to UNDERSTAND children and this is the REAL to being a good kids entertainer. But there are other texts such as the Silly Billy book, the Danny Orleans DVD course, The David Ginn books plus many, many more. A good entertainer studies everything.

Now comes the hard part. In fact the very hard part. Sorting out the wheat from the chaff. Here are some guidelines. First, study the track record of the person giving the advice. It still may not be the right advice for you even it is good advice, but at least if the person you study has been a successful professional then the advice may be more likely to be valid.

Next you have to study yourself and see how you fit the advice offered. Are you the sort of personality that prefers to have a rigid structure to your work or are you a person who likes things a bit more fluid? Are you an expert ad libber or do you feel you have to have a script? Are there aspects of your work that could be improved by advice given?

You have to figure yourself out before you can figure the advice out. Instinctively you will know if what someone says resonates with you. But certainly beware a lot of the advice on magic forums which are often motivated by ego and are proffered by amateurs. You really have to think carefully what is right and what is wrong. I would say only take the advice of people you respect and whose performing style most closely resembles yours.

Some of the stuff you will read on magic forums will be offered by experienced professionals and it should be taken notice of but remember it still may not be the right advice for YOU.

And now TRIAL AND ERROR. Think carefully, put a set act together and improve on it as you go along. Make changes slowly. There is nothing worse than chopping and changing your act in a frenetic attempt to find the right formula. Make haste slowly. If something works keep it in the show, if it doesn't work after a couple of attempts then dump it. And I am referring not just to tricks. Keep gags, patter and bits of business if they work and dump them if they don't.

Again be very careful with the advice of magicians. The trouble with magicians is that they think their opinions matter and very often they don't. Read everything but sort the wheat from the chaff very carefully. Sometimes something sounds good but it doesn't fit you.

I have read some dreadful advice on the magic Café at times and that is why I am advising caution in what you read. I have seen some entertainers advise insulting the children and getting angry with them. I have even read idiotic posts about storming out of the house if things get out of hand. Quite frankly if things get out of hand it is usually the fault of the entertainer.

But I don't want to go off on a tangent. To sum things up study everything, sort the wheat from the chaff as it applies to you, then go out and try it. If things work -great. If they don't then discard them and carry on.

None of this is easy but it is the best way.


Excellent advice writer 25!!! You seem extremely wise and coherent for someone who I gather does not even do children's shows!! JR
writer25
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Yes Roger. It is true that I do not do children's shows. However, I was channeling the advice from my spirit guide who was a brilliant children's entertainer before he passed away. He was known as the Great McLeod. I know you understand spiritual matters such as this.
Potty the Pirate
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Advice about taking advice - is "meta-advice". Here is a nice piece of meta-advice from a lady called Megan, which I found:
"Dear people who like to give advice -

I've been on the receiving end of a lot of advice lately and it's got me to thinking about when advice is useful - and when it isn't. I can't claim a perfect record in this area, so this post is as much about the mistakes I've made as it is about what annoys me.

So here's my advice on how to give advice - be humble and be compassionate.

Why humble? It's easy to think that you understand everything important about someone's situation. You probably don't. If you're humble in the way you suggest things, then it leaves the advisee free to tell the advisor that the advice is inappropriate for some reason. Even better, instead of telling someone what to do, explain your reasons for making a particular choice so the advisee can better understand if a similar choice applies.

A second good reason to be humble is that everyone works a little bit differently. What might be a perfectly reasonable solution to you might not make sense for someone else.

Why compassionate? Yes, sometimes people do dumb things. But sometimes what looks like someone doing something dumb from the outside is actually someone making the best of a situation where they don't have any good choices.

Phrasing things as a question often helps in accomplishing both objectives. For instance, you could ask someone who complains about wearing glasses, "Is LASIK an option for you?" That leaves them free to tell you why it's not an option, or why they're not comfortable with it, or to make a non-committal answer if they don't feel like giving you an explanation at."
magic4u02
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Let me elaborate. I have a saying that I have learned the hard way and it really is true. It goes like this.

"Failure is NOT failure. If you learn even one thing from failure it is a stepping stone to success."

Think about it. You are never going to be perfect and certainly not in new routines or new shows. There will be failures along the way. It happens and that is life. The problem is how we DEAL with failure.

If you take a step back from something that is not working and you learn from it, then it is not failure at all. It is part of the learning experience. Heck Edison himself failed over 900 times before finding a filament to create the light bulb. Not once did he ever say he failed. He just stated that he found 900 ways NOT to do it. Very wise thinking and it makes sense.

I am not saying anyone goes out to deliberately fail. That would be foolish. However, the nature of growth in what we do is trying new things. When we try new things there will be failures along the way. there will be things that did not work or not the way we intended them to.

We could at that point choose to quit and drop the trick, routine or show or we could stop for a second and look at why it failed and grow from that. Every single show I do I aim to learn from it. Every single one of them. A show is never 100% perfect and you can always learn something form each one you do if you are conscious of it. by doing so makes you a better performer and a more gifted one.

Leonardo DaVinci was one of the great minds of the Italian Renaissance period. he was a painter, scientist, botnist, architect, geologist, inventor and more. He strived to learn all the time and had a fascination for bettering himself.

But he failed many times and he stated so. He also stated that through failure came understanding and he is right.

Kyle
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Jolly Roger
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What an interesting thread this is, and I feel it is worthy of a revival!!! Smile JR
danfreed
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Yeah Kyle, good post. Though Eddison had a team of people working for him, and he was brilliant. I'm sleightly less smartly than Eddison and don't have a team.
vincentmusician
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How do you get better? You get better by doing.
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