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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Dvd, Video tape, Audio tape & Compact discs. » » The Great Zucchini's new performance DVD (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

noland
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The Great Zucchini’s latest DVD, called “The Great Zucchini Live,” is a performance video of GZ’s live performance before a group of pre-schooler’s in a daycare. The footage is not edited, although GZ breaks up the performance footage with short commentary segments in which he gives his take on what you’ve just seen. The show runs about 40 minutes, but the DVD is about an hour long. Some of GZ’s performance conventions have been widely discussed and debated on this and other blogs, such as his dress choice—which is extremely casual—and minimalist inclusion of magic in his show. Also widely discussed, often incredulously by those who don’t compete in the greater Washington DC market, is that GZ dominates the Washington DC market for young children, performing over 500 shows a year for this age group.

At last magicians can actually view a complete performance and judge for themselves whether GZ has something of value for them and deserves the plaudits he has received. Here’s what I get out of GZ’s DVD. First, he does take a different approach from many performers to the magic in his show: he includes less of it than many do, and his magic routines tend to be short and to-the-point. GZ calls these “quick hitters.” This approach is deliberate on GZ’s part and is part of his answer to the challenge of holding the attention of younger children, many of whom have short attention spans for straight-up magic.

On the other hand, a GZ performance is replete with a barrage of non-stop gags, both verbal and physical. I’ve heard some criticize GZ saying he should bill himself as a clown, not as a magician. All I can say is if you have ever struggled to hold the attention of a group of very young children, especially ages 2-5, you should take a serious look at GZ’s techniques, which were honed for this age group. GZ unfailingly not only holds the attention of his young audience, but he gets belly-laughs from them pretty-much non-stop. This is not say that GZ’s formula doesn’t work for slightly older kids as well, the 6-7 age group. It does. As one who also lives and performs in greater Washington DC, I’ve seen GZ get the same response from this group as he does from the young ones in his live shows I’ve attended. And GZ’s show is a gold mine for gags. Many are original, like when he keeps picking up odd objects—objects as varied as a chair, trash can and shoe--which he has seemingly mistaken for a phone, holds them to his ear and yells “hello” into an imaginary receiver. Or one of his verbal gags, where he confides in a stage whisper to a kid that he (GZ) dressed up like Cinderilla for Halloween. Or the bit where he tells a young helper that he’s going to race him across the room and each time the kid takes off at full speed, GZ says to wait, he wasn’t ready. GZ then repeats this several more times. Or one of my favorites, where GZ instructs a helper to not press too hard on the button of a remote control he gives the child to hold, because it will make GZ start dancing. The child, of course, presses the button too hard and GZ breaks out into a seemingly uncontrollable, ridiculous dance. GZ admonishes the child, tells him not to do that again and of course the child hits the button with glee and the whole sequence is repeated. And then repeated again, to ever more hysterical laughter from the young audience. You will also find some classics, as reinterpreted by GZ, such as the “ghost gag,” having a child repeatedly switch places from one side to the other of the performer, miscalling kids’ names, nonsense with balloons and a running gag in which GZ repeatedly falls asleep during his own performance.

Another aspect of a GZ performance is the way he gets the kids physically active at periodic intervals during the show. This acts like a pressure-valve to eliminate any restlessness which young children are prone to. One method he uses, is his invocation to them to “not do” something, which they immediately proceed to do. He always gives them a series of “not do” instructions, starting with something silly (“whatever you do, don’t start singing ‘twinkle twinkle little star’”), followed by something physical (and still silly) that gets them up off their feet and physically moving (“whatever you do, don’t jump up and start dancing”). After several more such instructions, and after the kids have worked off some steam, he’ll bring the kids back under control by saying “and whatever you do, don’t sit down legs criss-crossed applesauce” at which juncture all the kids immediately sit down. Unlike adding games to a magic show in the tradition of British magicians, however, this physical play is an integral part of a GZ performance, with the play, gags and magic seamlessly blended together.

Ultimately, what has sold me about a GZ performance, after you get past his unconventional dress and minimalist inclusion of magic, is that his young audience members laugh their heads off throughout his show, they appear to be totally entertained and yet he maintains amazing control over his audience throughout. I, for one, strongly recommend this DVD for entertainers of young children as a source for new material, and as providing some fresh ideas in structuring a show and managing a young audience. (For the record, and in the interest of full disclosure, I am a friend and friendly competitor of The Great Zucchini, and I received an early copy of this DVD for review.)
Mr. Pitts
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Great review, thanks, I'm even more excited to get a copy!
David Pitts
The Astonishing Mr. Pitts
Comedy Magician and Ventriloquist
http://www.mrpitts.com
charliecheckers
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Great review.
L.E.Gerdemain
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Thanks Noland. Love the review. I have to agree with you when you say there is much to be learned from GZ. I have his Rockstar DVD and it has become my "bible" when it comes to performing for the younger children. Everything he teaches in that DVD WORKS like a charm. I can't wait for this DVD.
Thanks again
Robin4Kids
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Any updates on when this DVD will be available?
noland
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"The Great Zucchini Live!" DVD, GZ's live performance DVD that I reviewed earlier in this thread, has just been released, and is now available for sale, $35 postpaid, at: http://www.kidshowrockstar.com.
Robin4Kids
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That link doesn't seem to work. Try http://www.thegreatzucchini.com/store
noland
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Quote:
On 2013-10-21 16:56, Robin4Kids wrote:
That link doesn't seem to work. Try http://www.thegreatzucchini.com/store


My apologies for the wrong link. Thanks for providing the correct one!
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