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Adam V
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Hiya,

I've noticed on another thread somebody posted a message requesting people submit their top tips for performing. It got a great response so I thought I'd do the same here.

If I asked you for your best tip on performing for children, marketing kids shows, whatever... what would it be?
Adam V - 9 out of 10 dentists recommend him.
Dennis Michael
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Southern, NJ
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For a kid show to succeed, you must love doing it, know what (anticipate/expect) the kids will say before they say it, be interactive with the kids, lots of participation, add lots of comedy to bring out the laughs, be silly if necessary, play jokes on yourself (Mess-up intentionally, and magically get out of it), never embarras any kid, and most importantly have fun doing it.

To succeed at this watch, The BJ Hickman's 1 Magic Show VHS tape and you will see a pro at work.
Dennis Michael
RiffClown
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Yorktown, Virginia (Previously Germany)
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For children I use three personal rules.

1. Stay at their level.
Asking a toddler to pick a card is asking for trouble. Silks, balls, and bright colors work best for me. Smile

2. Never do something that if emulated could cause harm.
I pull coins from behind the ear and leave the quarter biting to Blane. I also use a pump for balloons because balloons do not belong in the mouths of children whether they are inflated or not. Smile

3. Don't hesitate to get the adults involved with your show as well.
The look of amazement on the adult's face is contagious, plus it keeps them from sitting in the corner talking throughout your show. Smile

Great Topic!
Rob "Riff, the Magical Clown" Eubank aka RiffClown
<BR>http://www.riffclown.com
<BR>Magic is not the method, but the presentation.
Mike Robbins
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You must truly like the children and not talk or perform down to them.

Mike
The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.
Shakespeare
Payne
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You do not neccessarily have to "like" children, but you do have to respect them. Treat them like the little people they are not the infantile imbeciles that some performers think the are. Above all play is all important. The higher the intellect the more the need for play. This is after all participatroy theatre, not television. Interact with your audience. Talk to them, not at them. And most importantly have FUN. If your enjoying yourself most likely your audience will too.
"America's Foremost Satirical Magician" -- Jeff McBride.
harris
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Harris Deutsch
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I love kids show.

Here are a few Nearly Normal Ideas.

Be sure to ask the age range of the audience.
Although I love doing "play" shows for the 3 to 5 range, I have found that a good many great kid show magicians can not keep this groups attention.

Play on two levels for the kids and the adults. (sort of a bullwinkle thing.)

Do short routines rather than 20 minute wonders.

Mix it up with other talents such as guitar sing alongs, puppets, juggling.....

Use bright colors and music. (check for royalty or use R/F stuff.

Don't let em see you sweat.
Occassionally your sure fire laugh or
bit will not fly. Keep going.

Look around the room and see what you could use or do a line about. Make sure if you use something, that is not breakable and ask ahead of time to make sure it is ok.

And finally take the job seriously not yourself.

Harris Smile
Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
drlaugh4u@gmail.com
music, magic and marvelous toys
http://magician.org/member/drlaugh4u
flourish dude
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know your magic routines so well that you can focus on the kids! this goes for any show type
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
WR
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A bit long but here is my two cents worth;First of all let me say I am not the end all be all of kids shows. Nor am I attempting to sound like I know everything there is about performing. I am just stating a few things I have learned in doing kids shows for the last 2 years; I was just reading about a magi in AK, who did a school show and the Pricipal got after the kids for being noisy. I have done kids shows for a few years now and I feel A few points I have learned the hard way might help those who are also doing them 1- Always make sure the parent or authority figue in charge knows you are there to entertain and not to be the one who keeps the kids in line.

2- Always make sure they know what your show is like. I Tell them the kids will be excited and will make some noise but that is all part of the show. I encourage that they get involved and sit back and enjoy the show.

3-Always tell tell them to schedule you 30 min after they want the show to start. This makes it good for any late people to get in before the show.

4- Always ask the person who is hiring you to PLEASE wait till after your show to do cake or presents. Trust me on this one, it cuts down on distractions.

5- Always "draw a line" not to be crossed. I have noticed that kids get closer and closer until they are around you feet. "please move back". I use a roll od masking tape and tape a long line in front of me about 3 feet out. I tell the kids they need to stay on that side of the line...If they ask why I tell then I have a man eating frog named ralph who will eat them..Oh and he is invisable.

6-Remember kids need to be entertained. Silly Bob will go over better than Serious sam. I suggest getting Books by kid performers. One of my favs. it David Ginn. USe brightly colored silks, Animal, live or Props (Rocky is great as well as a rabbit in the hat).

7- Always remember that you are there to entertain the kids. Forget the adults are there. Have fun.

8- Never do a sucker trick that makes the kids look foolish. The MAgician in trouble is great. Make you the sucker. Some tricks are fine IF they come out with the kids as the hero.

9- NEver do a dangerous trick. Kids love to imitate. Do a rope through the body not the neck. PLEASE no needles through the arms or tounge. No FIRE is a rule to remember.

10- Have a couple of shows at least ready. In the beginning I had kids who would go to a show for someone who had been to my show already. I had one show and would hear "Oh I have seen this...Are you going to do the same show as last time..." I have 4 different show ready.

11- K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple and Short.... Over half of my show is "Prop" magic...Dove pans, Change bag, Die box etc... You don't half to have a giant production to entertain kids. Be silly have fun. Also don't have hour long shows. Kids are active I suggest for 5-8 = 20-25 Min. 9-11 = 30-35 min.

12- If you are doing balloons save them for last. Nothing is worse than "POP" or "My doggie came untied" durring the show. Also have a wide range of animal, swords etc... Just in case. I tie the ones I think the kids will like. Dogs and Dinosaurs are great and alot of kids like Mouse too. You will probable need to rety some but its still fun.

13- Get you money before the show. Do this away from the kids. I have had "TightWads" say "oh, I only have x Dollars will that be ok.....I did not feel the show was worth X dollars"...Etc....

14- DO charity Shows! When not performing for Money charity shows get you seen, most of my shows come from word of mouth, the alow you to try new stuff to see how they work on audiences too.

15-Lastly, Don't make a mess. I clean up after my self. Some use confetti or long Streamers and leave a mess. MOM hates to clean so I keep it clean.


When performing for kids I like to put a long piece of masking tape in front of me and announce that one of the rules is too please say behind it. This stops the kids from ending up at my feet.

Always fit the show to the kids. I have diff. shows for boys diff. for girls. I have a show for younger kids as well as older. I have a show for church parties and one for hospitals.

For kids shows use colorful props and make sure they are logical. If you make something vanish, make it come back. Kids are not dumb they know what is going on.

I don't suggest using fire, knives or anything that might cause damage. I pesonally don't like using the finger or arm chopper things. Kids love to imitate. How many of us played superfriends or house.

I suggest having animals either real or fake in your act. How many stuffed animals do your kids have. I don't have live animals in my act but I do have ; a rubber chicken, Roxie, Fur mice, A card duck, pokeman and some birds. I find that if you keep hem moving amd give them a personality they are great. But, be prepared for the kids to want to pet them after.

Avoid sucker effects. A break away fan or wand in good fun but an effect where the kid is made to look stupid or foolish is not.

Avoid tricks that are over the kids heads. One of the main ones are card tricks. Often kids don't remeber the card or it is above them. I do use cards for three effects, the card duck, an effect with furball the mouse, and a shoot the deck trick. But at the end of each I hand out the used card as a momento for my helper.

Use as many helpers as possible. I have one effect where I use 5 kids. Alway have the audience clap and cheer for the helper at the end of the effect.

Use magic words so the audience can help with the magic "On the count of three lets say now. One, two, three..." Use the b-day childs name as a magic word for certin effects.

Avoid crude effects. The baffling bra or such are not good.

Pass out activity sheets with your name on it at the end of the show. Also I suggest having a coupon for a certain amont off your next show. People love to save even if it is for $5.00.

Well thats just some of my thoughts and things that have worked for me.

Most magically yours,
WR

Smile Smile Smile
"Tell Em WR sent Ya."
johnpert
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Lots has been suggested but here are a couple of my thoughts which expand on those presented already...

1. lots of audience participation... individual or groups

2. i keep a list of effects used for each show to avoid repeat effects.

3. When kids get really excited and start to move forward, I let it go for "fun" is important. Eventually, I ask them to move back by saying, I need everyone to scootch back 3 bums.

just my thoughts,

john
Steven Steele
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Most of the comments suggested so far are great. I have just a couple of comments on the comments.

1) I never forget the parents. I am there to entertain the children, but my magic will fool the adults as well. Make sure your magic is strong. I get many "adult" shows because I'm viewed as a magician and not a "childrens'" magician. Take Michael Ammar's approach to your magic and 'take no prisoners'.

2) I keep a list of effects performed, but I also repeat some effects. Young children love repitition. When I break out an effect some of the children have seen, I almost always get an 'Oh, boy! He's going to do this! I love that trick!" The older children are sometimes cranky about it, but it's easy to get them on your side with a simple comment.

Let's see...how many times did I watch Mary Poppins with my daughter?

Steven Smile
harris
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Harris Deutsch
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One more thought, Check out the series by Steve Taylor,including Making your birthday biz go ballistic and doing Educational Magic and Vent Programs.

Loads of useable stuff for the REAL world.

Harris Smile
Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
drlaugh4u@gmail.com
music, magic and marvelous toys
http://magician.org/member/drlaugh4u
p.b.jones
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Hi,
A lot has been covered above, I would like to add what I consider a bit of PR and preventative medicine.
When i send confirmation of booking I include a free "How to Have a Successful party" Guide. I have pasted the version from my website below.
Phillip


PHILLIP'S TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL CHILDS PARTY

TIME AND DATE.

The best time and date for a childrens party for the over five's is usualy the day of the childs birthday, but for children under five a show after school or late in the day may make them far to exited, tired and niggily so in my experience a morning show is far more successful, even if it means having the party at the nearest weekend to the childs birthday. Likewise with five and six year olds having the party at 12am rather than 2 or 3pm helps to keep the birthday child from getting over exited and alows them time to calm down before bed time.

VENUE.

Where you have the party depends on the size of your home and how many children you are planning to invite, However, I certanly would not want twenty, eight year olds running around my house chasing my cats, so considering the small cost involved it is best to consider hiring a village hall or comunity centre which often cost much less than you might think.

PARTY STRUCTURE.

I would recommend that your party last for two hours for the over fives and one and a half hours for under fives

Example five and over - games or entertainment 45 minutes - food and happy birthday 30 minutes - games or entertainment 45 minutes.
Example under five - games or entertainment 30 minutes - food and happy birthday 30 miutes - games or entertainment 30 minutes.
Remember it is better for the party to be short and leaving them wanting more than to have a long party and have a lot of bored children to deal with!

CHECKLIST.

AT LEAST FOUR WEEKS AHEAD.

Make lists and send out invites
Book your entertainer
Book your venue
Decide on types of food
Decide on party structure
See if any of your friends can help on the day

ONE WEEK AHEAD.

Contact any parents who have not replied
Confirm venue

THE DAY BEFORE.

Prepare the food as much as possible
Put the birthday child to bed nice and early

PARTY DAY.

Put balloons on venue door
Bring toilet paper as many vilage halls lack this!
Arrive at the venue early and setup before any guests arrive
Block off access to any stages they can jump off or any piano's that they can tinkle with
If the party is in your home move breakables to another room
Put pets safely out of the way
Make as much space as possible

DURING THE PARTY.

Try and keep the children occupied from the moment they arrive this is the key to keeping control
Be firm with them and stamp out any noncence as soon as it starts. it is easier to keep control from the begining than it is to regain it!
Stop any climbing on tables or furniture at the first instance, once one does it they all will.
Do not give the children party blowers or balloons until it is time to go home.
Providing you follow tips 1 -4 you should have a great party which is a pleasure rather than a chore

FINALY

Please plan your party well and it will be enjoyed by all. I hope that you find this guide usefull and that I may have the pleasure of entertaining you at some time soon.

Phillip Jones

YOU ARE FREE TO PRINT OF A COPY OF THIS GUIDE FOR YOUR OWN USE. BUT RE - DISTRIBUTION, SALES OR PUBLICATION BY ANY MEANS KNOWN OR UNKNOWN IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED WITHOUT WRITTEN CONCENT.
MagicRyan
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kids love magic words... give them a new one... they all know hocus pocus and abra-cadabra.... come up with a funny one... don't know where I got the idea and I know i am not the first one to use it but the kids in my show use prestidigitation... it's funny to say, hard to say and the parents run to the dictionary to look it up... they parents also get a kick out of their five year old trying to say it.... you would be amazed at how well kids can say it!!! This had to be one of the simplest yet most effective things I have added to my show in the past 5 years!!!

Trust me .. find a funny magic word!!
The Simply Magic Ryan Mahoney
www.simplymagic.net
Ryan@simplymagic.net
Mikael Eriksson
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Only one that I can think of: Don´t let them have their bags of candies, toys, balloons etc. with them when they sit to watch you.

Mikael
Dennis Michael
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Silly Billy publishes three Lecture Notes related to the How to and Best Tips ever when dealing with children. The below three booklets are reviewed in the The good, the bad, and the garbage section of the Magic Café


  • KID SHOW KLIFF NOTES
    The Psychology of Performing Magic for Children

  • How to Perform the Perfect Kid Show Trick

    and

  • How to Solve the Top 10 Problems of Performing for Children


They are worth the cost of $15.00 each and can be obtained at: Denny and Lees [email]dennymagic@aol.com[/email]
Dennis Michael
Dynamike
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A good kids tape is called "Tap Into The Real Money In Magic: Kids' Parties" by Mark Leveridge. It's a 2 1/2 hour tape. You can order it from L & L Publishing. Web: LLPUB.com Phone no. 1-800-626-6572 The cost is $29.95.

Abracadabra,

Dynamike
Peter Marucci
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One tip that will always stand you in good stead:

You will get (or SHOULD get) reactions from the kids.

Never, ever laugh at what they may say or do; it's serious and important to them and to ridicule them for the sake of a quick laugh from the adults on hand hurts them terribly.

All the posts above provide good and important information on kids' shows.

If any magician follows what's spelled out here, he or she will do just fine.
Shaun
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I like what Peter says. I perform a Hip-Hop Rabbit type effect (with dogs) and try and get a kid to stand up to show me how to turn the dogs around. Then to 'sweeten' the blow I call the child up and reward him/her with a balloon sculpture for being brave enough to come up and do what the others were thinking.

Shaun
joseph
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WR
Your #5 could also be what I do.
Set up my table 3 feet forward, let kids sit down(They will sit right under front of table, of course), and when they are seated, move the table back 3 feet. I had good luck with this. Smile
"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler." (Einstein)...
Vilago
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Regarding audience management, I think simply placing a line of masking tape on the floor behind which you want the kids to sit works wonders. The line is psychological and most kids won't cross it, or they'll correct those who do.
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