(Close Window)
Topic: Party on a school night: and other things I am blaming on the parents
Message: Posted by: toomuchmagic (Jan 9, 2008 11:34PM)
(Sorry in advance about the novel length post.)

So I have had myself a nice long streak of birthday parties going without a hitch ...until last night.

Let me first say that I have been doing this for quite a few years and last night was the first Birthday show on a week night. I would like to label it a mild disaster, and I only can blame myself for about 50% of it.

Prologue: Mom was a stickler. Asked for references...called them....liked them...but still tried to haggle price. had to have the party ON the date of sonny boy's birthday.

I arrived early as I always do, allowing time to set up my show. I was scheduled to start at 6:30, arrived at about 6:05. This was a PACKED house. Mom shows me the room where she wants me...which is tiny and FULL of people...primarily small children. I decide it is best to 'assemble' my show on their large porch while the children are eating their pizza and running around.

6:15 Mom says..."are you going to start soon," to which I reply that I was shooting to start at 6:30 as planned.

"It isn't 6:30 yet? Gee I just thought it was, there are so many kids in here I don't know what to do." So I tell her I will hurry and start asap.

I bring my table into the room, leaving still several of my props outside, when grandma yells "Ok the magician is starting everyone watch!" I say no wait, I still have to get a few more things. Probably 3 more trips. I return after trip 1, and she goes, "ok hurray he is back everyone watch he is going to make stuff disappear."

No, I say. Not yet. My next trip outside, I see my stuff has been moved by the crowd of smoking parents who made their way outside. I grab what I see and get inside to try and start the show to appease the mob.

Little "Johnny" is 5. I swear they told me 7. I know they told me 7. All 30 of the kids are 4 and 5 years old and jam packed in to this little tiny sitting room along with several of their parents. I am backed against a wall (literally), and I can;t even get the kids back far enough so they aren't breathing on my ankles.

I start the show finally, at about 6:28. Goes very well until I can't find two of my props. I realize they must be outside. of course, They were. I come back get on with the show.

One kid gets up and starts pulling on my "tablecloth." I sit him down, make a joke...you know the usual. 1 second later he is up there again trying to knock the table over. I got him to sit back down about 6 more times. He was resilient. Destined to pull that table down. I gave him something to play with and got him away. I really wish mom or someone had stepped in on this one.

My show is choreographed to music and several tricks rely on the sound to be 'as effective" as possible. (i.e. vanishing bandana, I use axtrax, I have several other sound effects and climax moments synched up on a cd.) For some reason the wall sockets in the house were not designed properly to hold plugs. My speaker system kept falling out in the middle of the performance. The plug would just not stay in the wall.

So I go on ad libbing, doing my best. show must go on. I finish with my big closer which is normally pantomime, but I made it up as I go along. Kids are having a ball. But I can see the crooked looks of mom, dad, grandma, and other parents in the back. I really can't figure out why. I know this isn't my A #1 performance, but the kids are having a ball nonetheless.

I am booked for am hour and a half...after the magic show portion, I am making balloons for all the kids. But it's now 7:15 on a school/work night. I am not a parent, but I am pretty sure this is past...or darn near close to bed time for 4-5 year olds. Parents want out, and kids want to stay because they want a balloon. They are looking at me like this is my fault. The kids get in a nice orderly line...and of course dad #2 says " hey do my kid first we gotta go." Then all the parents are following suit, getting PO'd cuz they want out of there. I am sure it is going to be hard enough to get them to sleep after all the cake, candy, and sugary drinks.

Meanwhile, that kid from before brings my table crashing to the floor (spilling a cup of liquid on some of my stuff including my iphone. yes I said liquid on my iphone.)

I finish up, and want out just as bad. I get my stuff cleaned up, but can;t even get near the door cuz there are still a bunch of people crowding. I leave about a half hour later than I wanted.

#1 How many shows do you folks do for bdays on school nights. I think it was late on a school night too. I am at way more kids bday parties than the average person, so I would assume this is an oddity, but maybe not. I think this kinda ruined the vibe....for some of the kids and ESPECIALLY the parents.

#2 what the heck do you do when you don't have enough room to do your show comfortably. In my experience, there are an average of 10-12 kids at a party like this. Sure, I have done birthday shows for 25-30 kids, but in a room large enough to hold them. I have done school shows for 150-350 kids, but in a gym or an auditorium, you know.

#3 Hundreds of shows and this was honestly the first time I have dealt with people so pushy and unappreciative. I know some of you may be used to this, but I guess I have just been lucky. I thought was doing something right to attain this. I didn't know how to deal with them and they just seemed unpleased. Usually the parents are MORE THAN thanksful and appreciative. The response I got after everyone left was..you aren't used to this many kids are you. I was slightly insulted and all I could reply was..."NO, not in such a small room". I have never had a control problem before...or at least not in a long long time.

#4 I know I should be able to do my show without the music...so I don't want to hear about that really unless you are offering sympathy.

Let me hear it.
Message: Posted by: Stevethomas (Jan 9, 2008 11:48PM)
Wow. First, AN HOUR AND A HALF for a party? Me? I do my balloons prior to leaving home. That alleviates the problems you ran into. Planning in advance by phone calls to the parents would help some of that, too, although it sounds like those parents wouldn't have had a clue anyway. Contracts, specifying the amount of space needed, and parental supervision would've helped, too.

As far as the music/sfx...if the birthday party isn't being held AT LEAST in a venue as large as a church fellowship hall or something similar..I wouldn't do anything requiring sound. AND..I use a SMALL sound system...an iCue2 with an Anchor "Explorer Pro" speaker/amp (usually to sit on a chair in that situation) with built-in wireless mic. In a home, I wouldn't use that.

As to keeping up and setting up your stuff...for something in a home of that size, nothing more than a Lefler table and maybe one case (for a specific prop..either a Wolf's Magic "Wacky Weasel" a Khyber Kobra or a Jumbo Sidekick), and maybe a small Dr. bag (containing my Professor Cheer's Comedy Rope Trick), but nothing more than one trip into the home. Don't even leave 1 item sitting alone in a room full of kids.

The one Mr. Destructo kid...that all comes with experience in handling "that one kid" who has NO home training or knowledge about how to act.

Sorry about your bad show, but the next will definitely be better!

Steve
Message: Posted by: MagicSanta (Jan 9, 2008 11:55PM)
Life isn't perfect. I've done midweek but usually they are last minute cuz relatives are in town or something like that. Things don't go right all the time so roll on and learn from it.
Message: Posted by: robertwong (Jan 10, 2008 12:03AM)
Sorry to hear about your experience but as the saying goes, "What doesn’t kill you will make you stronger."

I always tell the parent that I need room for my props and such. The next time you are faced with this situation when you don't have a lot of room, insists on changing the room. I would also like to mention when I am setting up my show, no one is aloud in the room. This bit of information is shared with the parent on the phone when I am taking the booking and when I arrive.

I second Steve's recommendation in regards to using a Lefler Table. I use this table an ATA case to hold and move all my props.

As far as music/sfx is concerned, I use a MP3-Tech and a Pyle Pro PWMA120, which is battery powered PA system. Whether I perform at a birthday party or large corporate event. I always bring music and a PA system with me. Believe it or not, I can carry all my gear in one trip. As far as my corporate show is concerned, that's another story.

Cheers,

Robert.
Message: Posted by: toomuchmagic (Jan 10, 2008 12:47AM)
Though it is detail-less. I appreciate what santa has to say. That is kinda what I was looking for. I was hoping this was just one of those nightmarish experiences that I can learn from, but is atypical.

Clarifications:

I use a bose wave radio for the sound. It works on a remote, fantastic sound quality , is very small/portable, and I have used it to provide sound for small to rather large rooms (even a few gymnasiums due to the fantastic acoustics.) Movies have music, tv shows have music, theater shows have music, and so does my magic show. I think this MAKES my show. I think this one factor makes me stand way out above the certain competition, and I will never let that portion of it go.

That said, I can not get myself to use a microphone at a birthday party. I don't really have a loud voice or anything, but I have never had a problem being heard and I think it is going overboard if you amplify what can already be heard.

I just cant rationalize the showtech price, though I would love to have/use one.

I carry with me a truck and a table. Don't have a lefler, but have considered it in the past...all in all, I am pretty sure I will be carrying the same amount of stuff.
everything in the show fits into a trunk (bose radio included) which when empty I use as a small table behind my main table to hold the various props, radio, etc. which I will use throughout the show. I have my main table which is just a metal stand on wheels that I put a piece of wood on top of, and cover with a cloth.

I like making the balloons for the kids...while I am there. They enjoy it more that way. It is part of the entertainment experience I think. Big and bad stuff, maybe I'll make at home. But I am having these people pay top dollar, I am going to provide a service. Anything to make the party go more smooth for mom and dad...and yeah that includes being there a while.

Good advice so far, keep em coming.
Message: Posted by: Payne (Jan 10, 2008 12:47AM)
I make my home B-Day show as bulletproof as possible. No Sound System, No Backdrop, no secondary table. It's just a valise and a chair with a clip on table. Everything comes out of the valise, gets performed and then goes right back in. The show takes 5 seconds to set up and 5 seconds to break down and only one trip to and from the car. It can be performed in the smallest of rooms to the largest of back yards.
I used to do a big show with big props and fancy tables but I got tired of hauling all that crap around so eventually I pitched all of it in favour for the single case show I've got today.
Message: Posted by: kimmo (Jan 10, 2008 05:06AM)
I do after school parties all the time (I have one tonight) and they are usually great. We all have bad shows from time to time so don't worry about it.

It just sounds like your show is not ideally suited to this venue - add to that the fact that you had a difficult crowd and pushy parents and it's a recipe for disaster. Like Payne, I keep things simple for house parties - one small trunk, no sound system and virtually no set-up time.

If you intend doing many more of this kind of show, you might want to consider simplifying your set up.

Hope your i-phone is ok!!
Message: Posted by: Potty the Pirate (Jan 10, 2008 07:42AM)
Your main problem was too many kids. I do lots of after school parties, like Kimmo, and I never have a problem. BUT, when a client intends to hold the party at home, regardless of whether it's a weekday or weekend, I always recommend a maximum of 15 kids. My line is something like: "Even if you live in a mansion, many more kids than this can seem overwhelming. Remember, it's your home, not a playground. More than 20 kids at home is nearly always a bad plan. I recommend you hire a hall if you want to invite so many children."
I've done parties at huge houses, and they've insisted they have space for 30 kids. But in reality, 30 kids in a huge house, just want to run around all over the house. Fine, if the host is happy for you to do just that, the kids can and will have a ball. You can play "stations", "Pirate Ship", and all kinds of interactive games where the kids get to run amok. But if they want all the kids to sit attentively in one room for the whole party, 30 kids at home is asking for trouble.
The other issues you raised, parents blocking the exit, etc, happen regularly, and there's not much you can do about it. I don't see the question of weekdays or weekends is relevant. Mostly, the only real change I make during the week is to have the tea a bit sooner, as the kids are always hungry after getting back from school.
Message: Posted by: AshleyW (Jan 10, 2008 08:11AM)
Well, I do have to say (1)
And next time try following (12).
If you would consider moving, then you could (71)
But don't take my word for it, wait for Kyle's 76
And finally, (9)



http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/uploads/334_20080107134207_Little_Darling_Short_Hand_v2.pdf
Message: Posted by: magicgeorge (Jan 10, 2008 08:54AM)
I do notice the difference on school nights. Especially on Fridays when they have been in school all week and are on the verge of detonation. You just need to be aware they'll be a little more lively. A lot of people I know actively sell school nights as weekends will fill up anyhow.

As Payne and Kimmo pointed out the more stuff you rely on the more stuff can go wrong. After all (2). I've ordered a new microphone system because mine has been flucking up recently. On the occasions it has started playing up I take it off at the first sign of trouble and forget about it. Reoccuring technical difficulties look a lot worse than one.

Have some back up routines and do a check before you start. I wouldn't leave the room after I started the show. Even if my favourite prop was missing I'd still do something else.

Sounds like space was going to be an issue whatever you did but children don't usually fill a space very efficiently. A bit of organisation and gap filling before you start will often give you a bit more room.

Balloons are often an issue (29) there are some good solutions. I personally sell balloon twisting as something that can happen during the meal. In the summer, I sometimes do the show inside and the balloons in the garden. I sympathise with your point about pre-made balloons you get a lot more money for your time when you do the balloons there rather than premaking them,too.

When a kid starts playing with my table or edging towards my amp, pointing out the dangers (flat/frazzled kid) will often make the parents take a bit more notice.

Don't worry too much about it, everyone has hard or below par shows (and if they tell you otherwise they're probably lieing or as Tony would say "can't see past the floats"). You came out alive and got paid. Learn what you can from it and move on.

All the best,

george
Message: Posted by: alexa (Jan 10, 2008 10:05AM)
I agree with a lot that has been said here. I know with pushy, stickler parents booking it can be hard to get all of the information you need but in the future that's where I would try to solve many of the problems--I always get there before the party starts and tell them to start the first entertainment half an hour from the invite time. This way you can set up before the kids are there and once they are you can start. Also, if kids are late you still start on time.

Good luck with your I-Phone.

Alexa
Message: Posted by: Stevethomas (Jan 10, 2008 10:07AM)
Toomuchmagic,

If you have the cojones to take any BOSE product into a situation with kids, you're a very brave person. I could just see that thing having some kid set a glass of drink on it, and another kid run into it. WOW!

Steve
Message: Posted by: alexa (Jan 10, 2008 10:11AM)
I agree with a lot that has been said here. I know with pushy, stickler parents booking it can be hard to get all of the information you need but in the future that's where I would try to solve many of the problems--I always get there before the party starts and tell them to start the first entertainment half an hour from the invite time. This way you can set up before the kids are there and once they are you can start. Also, if kids are late you still start on time.

Good luck with your I-Phone.

Alexa
Message: Posted by: rossmacrae (Jan 10, 2008 10:42AM)
I can handle out-of-line kids a lot better than I can handle out-of-line parents. Some of my biggest nightmares started that way.

Everything I wanted to offer as a suggestion boils down to this:

(1) my show is a lot more portable, no setup at all, and that has helped in many such situations

(2) seems like you know this show started going wrong waaaaaay back in the 'initial phone call' stage - gotta really nail down those details (and impress your client with the serious need to do so) right from the start.

(3) sometimes you just have to say your lines, take your check and go home.
Message: Posted by: toomuchmagic (Jan 10, 2008 11:46AM)
[quote]
On 2008-01-10 09:11, AshleyW wrote:
Well, I do have to say (1)
And next time try following (12).
If you would consider moving, then you could (71)
But don't take my word for it, wait for Kyle's 76
And finally, (9)



http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/uploads/334_20080107134207_Little_Darling_Short_Hand_v2.pdf
[/quote]

you people are really doing this. Shame on me, I actually went and looked up what these are, and they still made no sense
Message: Posted by: MagicSanta (Jan 10, 2008 12:13PM)
I said it before and I'll say it again. The worse mother I ever dealt with on the phone, to the point where I almost cancelled because I was tired of answering her questions and accusations, turned out to be a lovely and delightful woman face to face.
Message: Posted by: Red Shadow (Jan 10, 2008 12:28PM)
A few hints. Any client who asks for references, I tell them to look at the website. I never, ever give them somebody else's number. A past client doesn't like being bothered and the person asking for the number will only create problems wit them. (Badgering them with questions).
You know from this situation that people who want references are more trouble than there worth, not only that but they damage the chances of you getting repeat bookings from those people you gave out personal contact details for.

If they want reference, make some up and put them on a website, pretending they came from a client. But don't hand out other peoples details and if you have enough work, then these are the client that I usually turn down.
You know that you'll never make them happy, no matter how good you are.


Get a portable waist PA. Its a speaker system that you wear around your waist and is battery powered. Very useful for these engagements.


If you ever need to get rid of the kids, or parents. Ask the children if any of them need the toilet. Half will always put up their hands. You can then get rid of half the kids, and the parents who usually end up escorting them. Leaving you with fewer kids and less disruptive children / adults for the show!
And there is nothing the parents can do, since they can't blame you for children needing the restroom!
Its not something I do often, but when there is a major problem, its my secret weapon.

For a child tugging at your equipment. Tell them that you have hidden a twenty-seven pound note somewhere in the room. If they can find, it they can keep it.
This note doesn't exist! - But that kid will spend the next half-hour searching the room for the money! If a parent asks what he is doing, and he says I'm looking for a £27 note, they laugh, because that value of note doesn't exist. So I get brownie points there. It gets rid of the annoying kids.
I do this one often; especially when I need to set-up, and have to get rid of the children for five minutes. They all go off searching!

Steve

P.S: Never start early. If you agreed on a start time, then that is when it will happen. You might have to be strict on this, but starting early only leads to problems at the end of the party, as the parent still expects you to perform up to the specified finishing time.
It also has many other problems, and they can all be easily avoided by agreeing to the times that the CLIENT originally asked for.
Message: Posted by: John C (Jan 10, 2008 03:57PM)
Welcome! You've made it!

John
Message: Posted by: KC Cameron (Jan 10, 2008 07:49PM)
It sounds pretty funny (as long as it wasn’t me). I get a party like this occasionally, but not often. If you sense the parent is a pain on the phone, it is almost a guarantee they will be so in person. Unless You are in desperate need of cash, do what I do. I say, "Hey their is this magician called Skip, and he will be able to help you. His number is . . . ." *L* --Nah, I wouldn't do that to ya Skip!

Seriously, 4 trips to the car? I think that is great, but have a minimalist show too in case you need the room/time. You also might want to buy some toy traffic cones to create a barrier. They don't work for the worst situations, but for many they will be fine. I NEVER give out previous clients phone numbers unless the party is going to be at least $900. Then I as the clients right before if it is ok. The client may be enthusiastic at first, but as their phone keeps ringing, their enthusiasm will generally start waning. they may not invite you back to avoid referral calls. This is why I have video referrals. I get them right after the show, so they are still flush with excitement.
Message: Posted by: alexa (Jan 10, 2008 08:48PM)
These are really great points about the enthusiasm waning. How do you do video referrals? Parties are usually pretty busy for the clients.

Thanks,
Alexa
Message: Posted by: toomuchmagic (Jan 10, 2008 10:00PM)
After every show, I mail out a thank you note along with a performance evaluation, on which I ask if I may have permission to use them as a reference in the future. Even still, I called them to tell them someone wanted a reference and if I may have permission to give out their info. While the video thing may work for you I am not a fan of the idea. I try to run my business and treat my clients like the way I would like to be treated. If I hired someone to come to my house and perform and they shoved a camera in my face right after looking for compliments, I would not be pleased. I prefer to have honest feedback about my show so I know if and what I have to change. Putting people on the spot may not produce genuine responses.

I have yet to put up any clients quotes on my website or promo material either. I never believe these things when I read them, and I don't expect others to believe mine. Who is to say they aren't misquoted or completely fabricated. John Doe nobody saying, "Joe Schmoe is the best magician I ever saw" does not mean Joe Schmoe is a good magician, or right for your event. It takes more than that for me.

I don't see a problem with the reference process. This is common practice in many businesses, plus any other job you try to get will ask for references too. I still don't understand why magicians think they can make up their own business practices.

I don't know where the 4 trips to the car came from. I have 1 from the car. The reason it took four trips is because, like I said, I set my stuff up outside and had to move it inside. I have things set up on top of my table and on top of the trunk, which had to be carried separately so I didn't drop them.

I have never had a problem with children encroaching on my space...in this situation the kids were not encroaching on my space...there was no my space. traffic cones would not help.

again... I would never get rid of the sound in the show (it is not a complication except for this situation where they had faulty plugs) , I don't need a microphone (and those waist ones are kinda tacky and poor sounding no? Almost like that contraption where you wear the handheld mic around your neck...), and I really don't mind lugging around the props. (the things I left outside were silks for 20th century silks, and something else small.)

(I appreciate all the advice even though a lot of it does not address my problems at all :) )
Message: Posted by: Louis LaLaurie (Jan 10, 2008 11:48PM)
You ought to be ashamed of what you just said in your last line, sir!
It only shows why you failed miserably at your event!
You DO have a right to be paid before the show, and many much, much greater than you do this every day!
Irrelevant? You did not listen! Follow your instincts! If the parents are getting anxious, you don't have to deal with this. You are also allowed to ask the parents to mind their children better!
I think Delores was trying to tell you that you should be flexible and aware of the flow of the room while perhaps being more rigid? on certain issues so you have smooth show.
Louis
Message: Posted by: John Bowlin (Jan 11, 2008 03:19AM)
Don't sweat it toomuchmagic, you did the best you could do at the time. Just learn from it and move on. You already answered most of your own dilemnas concerning that evening. As for Louis..."typical American" comment....well heck...he's French...more than enough said. Next time a Frenchie insults you just do a google search on "Ted Nugent and French journalist" for a great laugh. Nothing beats real life comedy.
Message: Posted by: AshleyW (Jan 11, 2008 07:29AM)
(42)
Message: Posted by: John Bowlin (Jan 11, 2008 08:17AM)
(44)(60)...ahh..the immortal Rodney King...give credit where it's due. Who says kindness can't be legislated...Louis sounds much nicer now.:) As for your story toomuchmagic, I'm envious. When I have a story like that to tell I will consider myself "experienced". I'm curious how you feel or felt going into your next show(s). Is there a relief of anxiety knowing you can survive the trenches or is there more anxiety having recently wallowed in the trench?
Message: Posted by: Tony James (Jan 11, 2008 08:59AM)
Look at the number of helpful replies. Don't we all just love other people's nightmares?

Keep it simple and make it earlier. 4 year old children at 7 o'clock at night are tired and fractious.

In fact I always prefer young children in the morning and certainly before lunch. They are fresh and enjoy themselves and it leaves all afternoon for the parents to do what they want to do.

And it leaves all afternoon for you to do other parties.
Message: Posted by: Louis LaLaurie (Jan 11, 2008 09:57AM)
Toomuchmagic,
You deserved my comments for your hostility towards a woman.
Also, if you have done so many parties, they why did you post this? Yes, the obvious, and no, I do not do many birthday parties during the week. People here do not like intrusion during the evening hours as many eat late here, and children go to bed early. Of course, Friday is much different as no school the next day, it is the same there?
I have yet to find my "typical American" comment.
And as far as the "he's French", yes, I am. However, I have no attitude that denotes your assumption that because of my own nationality I am "above you" with my comments.
I think that if you have done so many birthdays, you would have more control and would know to take the money before you perform, but that is ok if not. It's your show.
So you simply wanted sympathy?
Awww, too bad, I will cry for you, baby-man! Your birthday smelt of elder-berries and the children behaved like hamsters....is this the stupid stereotype you think I am?

I have had enough of the anti-French comments and am happy to go to my shows today knowing that I don't have to deal with the same culture you do....
Message: Posted by: KC Cameron (Jan 11, 2008 10:58AM)
[quote]I prefer to have honest feedback about my show so I know if and what I have to change. [/quote] Besides insinuating my clients (& myself) are not honest, you seem to have no idea what you are talking about. References are NOT to find out what you can improve, they are for getting business. Getting feedback to improve your show is something different. It is important, but it is different then asking for a reference. Sometimes the two are combined, and sometimes feedback can be used as a reference, but the two are NOT the same.

Example of feedback: The kids lost interest when you were doing that thing with the silk, but they really enjoyed the drawing that moved and talked and when you made money come out of their ears. Example of a reference: Joe Blow did a good job at my son's birthday party, and I think he was worth every penny. I plan to use him again.

Since you are a "phone reference only" kind of guy, do you really want your past clients going into detail what you could improve in your show - as a reference? No, you want general thoughts. Giving potential clients "feedback" about your show doesn't get back to you anyway (or is a rather poor method), so how can you use it to improve your show?

[quote]"Joe Schmoe is the best magician I ever saw" does not mean Joe Schmoe is a good magician, or right for your event.[/quote] True, most clients generally do not know what is best for an event, or even how to judge a magician. It generally means "Joe" was the magician (possibly ONLY magician) in recent memory they liked. If you toss out this because they are not a "magician expert" why have ANY references from anyone (live or written) who IS NOT a “magician expert”???

Also, I don't understand how a client who claims you are "the best magician in the world" in printed form is any more valid than them saying it on the phone. Who is an "expert"? Hey, they were happy, and they ARE an expert on what makes them happy.

When it comes to references over the phone, how does a client know you are just not giving them your aunties number? I have four or five friends and relatives I could ask to be references, and not to mention we are friends or relatives. That is done too.


As for printed references, I agree, they are often fabricated which is why I went video. Still, many clients do believe the printed references (an many of them ARE true), and having them is MUCH better than none at all. Excitement wanes with time, so there is less chance clients will say the same thing two months down the road. Two months later they may say instead "He was good" which is not as impressive as "the best in the world." Even though it is not true, and people will know it is not true, I would rather have a client say "He is the best magician in the world!" than "He was good.".

As for live references, there are a number of reasons I don't use them except for "big" jobs. First, my goal is to do an average of 6 birthday parties a weekend. That means six people calling references. If they each called 3 people, that is 18 calls. Can I rotate the references around? Yes, but it is a pain, and I ALWAYS ask the reference before I give their number out - each time. In reality, I would be giving out 3-4 numbers for that week. That means each reference will get 4-6 calls, plus my call asking if I can use them as a reference. That is WAY, WAY too many calls interrupting dinner for my clients. After the 2nd or 3rd interruption, they will probably not be as "glowing" as after the first call. Maybe they just got into a marital spat when the call comes - that reference may not be glowing then either. Maybe the husband was not there, but he answers the phone - what type of response can you realistically get? What if the party was for their 4 y/o and their 12 y/o answers and his parents are not around? “Well, it was pretty boring, but Janey seemed to like it ok.”

Now not everyone asks for references, and in my experience, those that do (after viewing my references online)for something small like a birthday party tend to be a problem. I don't like problems, so I pass on them like you should have with this one. (Hey Skip . . . *G*)

[quote] If I hired someone to come to my house and perform and they shoved a camera in my face right after looking for compliments, I would not be pleased. I prefer to have honest feedback about my show so I know if and what I have to change. Putting people on the spot may not produce genuine responses.[/quote]

You ask for advice, then criticize it & twist it. Who said I was ambushing people, and "shoved a camera in my face right after looking for compliments" - Toomuch, you are too much! First, like every competent magician, I need not look for complements - they come naturally all the time. Your response tells a lot about yourself and perhaps your show. All I said was: [quote]This is why I have video referrals. I get them right after the show, so they are still flush with excitement.[/quote] Did your "trash talk" about this statement make you feel better??? Do you feel like a better magician after twisting and trashing what I said? What if a client totally misrepresents you because they had a bad day - like you just did to my comment?

Face it you really messed up on that gig, from the phone conversation on. We have all made mistakes, so stop being defensive and learn from a lot of excellent advice.

Alexa, as for the video, I have it on my website, and new customers love it. They know about it BEFORE they book me (it is prominent on my web site), it is never a surprise. Yesterday I booked a bi-monthly gig on those alone, sight unseen. Now I am sure if I don’t produce, I won't keep the gig, but I will. That alone is almost half my house payment.

Here is how I do it (a tad different than TooMuch surmised). After my portion of the party is over, a parent will come over and tell me how wonderful it was. (Occasionally it doesn't happen because they are tied up with the cake and food. If so, I ask if everything was fine. I do this to find out if there is anything I could improve – and I ask that too) After they tell me what a wonderful time everyone had, I ask them if they remember the video testimonials on my web site. They do, and I ask them, IF they are not camera shy (giving them an out), would they like to provide one too. I ask them to say anything they want, as if they were talking to another parent. The video is over within 30 seconds, so it does not take up any real time. For me, it is a pain posting them, and I have a ton waiting to be posted on my site. I do not do this for every party. I often forget about it, and often it would be too intrusive or I don't have the time. Also, many women are camera shy (so many of the references are Dads). It WILL get you parties.

Some people are less expressive than others, especially on camera. This is to be expected. This does not mean they didn't love the show, it just means they are not as expressive on camera. Eventually I will weed these out.

Another nice thing about video references is your potential clients can get an idea of who your clients usually are, socially, economically & ethnically. Since I do a lot of parties for Asian & Middle Eastern, I want to show that in my references. That demonstrates I am aware and considerate of their culture. I also like to post wealthier clients because they pay better and they are not looking for "the magician to the red necks". While I would not turn down a "red neck" party, that is not my target audience, I will eventually not post those references. (For those that object to my "red neck" comment, I was raised in rural Alaska, about as "red neck" as it comes. I have nothing against them, they just usually do not have the money necessary to feed my family).
Message: Posted by: toomuchmagic (Jan 11, 2008 11:27AM)
Captain,
I apologize for being a Dolores. How horrible of me.

Put simply, I completely understand the differnce between an evaluation and a reference.If you reread my post and the posts by others before it you will understand what I mean. I did not say you are wrong about the video thing. I stated why I don't do it (which you kind of echoed in your response), and what I do instead.

I did not mean to insinuate you or your clients are dishonest....but most people are nice enough to find something nice to say, r at least not completely dog you to your face while on camera.

To me, a phone referral is better than a quote, because it exists entirely in the context it belongs in. It is living and breathing, if that makes sense to you. I am not there, and it can go in any direction it needs to. It is 'honest' in that respect. I am confident in my service, so I don't need to have them call up my mom...though she may have more ***ing things to say about me anyways.

[quote]
On 2008-01-11 10:57, Louis LaLaurie wrote:
Toomuchmagic,
You deserved my comments for your hostility towards a woman.
Also, if you have done so many parties, they why did you post this? Yes, the obvious, and no, I do not do many birthday parties during the week. People here do not like intrusion during the evening hours as many eat late here, and children go to bed early. Of course, Friday is much different as no school the next day, it is the same there?
I have yet to find my "typical American" comment.
And as far as the "he's French", yes, I am. However, I have no attitude that denotes your assumption that because of my own nationality I am "above you" with my comments.
I think that if you have done so many birthdays, you would have more control and would know to take the money before you perform, but that is ok if not. It's your show.
So you simply wanted sympathy?
Awww, too bad, I will cry for you, baby-man! Your birthday smelt of elder-berries and the children behaved like hamsters....is this the stupid stereotype you think I am?

I have had enough of the anti-French comments and am happy to go to my shows today knowing that I don't have to deal with the same culture you do....
[/quote]

Possibly somewhere along the communication barrier, you mistook my insignificant sarcastic remark as a vicious attack on a defenseless female. Why did you not also stick up for shrimp cocktail. What made you so sure it was her I was referring to. And why did you not respond to my evidence proving crotchety-ism. :)

If you would remove your head from your nether regions and stop defending those who cast the first stone without being provoked, you would notice that I was simply making an attempt to promote a discussion after sharing an anecdote (how silly of me to do such a thing on a discussion board.). There is a vast difference in the way things go down in different regions of my own country as well as in other countries. I stated that of the many shows I have done...none are on a weekday. I was wondering if any one else has a contrasting experience's and hoped they would share. I attributed some (not all) of the problems I faced to this specific detail.

Your typical american comment is there in black and white (well, white and green). It was uncalled for, made no sense, and showed irrational hostility in an ignorant stereo typical manner. How you can fire the first shot, but be offended when others return the favor I will never understand.

[quote]
I have no attitude that denotes your assumption that because of my own nationality I am "above you" with my comments.
[/quote]

How about:

[quote]
am happy to go to my shows today knowing that I don't have to deal with the same culture you do....
[/quote]

[quote]
On 2008-01-11 09:17, John Bowlin wrote:
(44)(60)...ahh..the immortal Rodney King...give credit where it's due. Who says kindness can't be legislated...Louis sounds much nicer now.:) As for your story toomuchmagic, I'm envious. When I have a story like that to tell I will consider myself "experienced". I'm curious how you feel or felt going into your next show(s). Is there a relief of anxiety knowing you can survive the trenches or is there more anxiety having recently wallowed in the trench?
[/quote]

Seriously, can we not use these ridiculous numbers. It is giving me a headache. I refuse to look them up, and it just looks dumb.

Regarding the rest of what you wrote...I think that is why I shared my experience. I wasn't sure what to think. I wanted to be able to correlate the fact that I had a bad experience with the unusualness of the weeknight party.
I will have to go into my next show with confidence as I always try to. Though it will be in the back of my mind. I think it will only make me be more aware of certain things, although I think that may be wasted energy.
Message: Posted by: toomuchmagic (Jan 11, 2008 12:05PM)
Louis you must forgive me. You can not find your bigot remark because it has been removed (by you) along with the phrase I quoted about respect for wisdom. DO you think I made it up...or that the other guy who commented on it imagined it.

Good thing I made a copy of it before was so conveniently edited.

[quote]
Louis LaLaurie

New user
Paris
27 Posts Posted: Jan 11, 2008 12:48am Reply with quote Send a Private Message View Profile of Louis LaLaurie Report this post to forum moderator
You ought to be ashamed of what you just said in your last line, sir!
It only shows why you failed miserably at your event!
You DO have a right to be paid before the show, and many much, much greater than you do this every day!
Irrelevant? You did not listen! Typical American! No respect for elders, no respect for wisdom!
Follow your instincts! If the parents are getting anxious, you don't have to deal with this. You are also allowed to ask the parents to mind their children better!
I think Delores was trying to tell you that you should be flexible and aware of the flow of the room while perhaps being more rigid? on certain issues so you have smooth show.
Louis
[/quote]
Message: Posted by: MAKMagic (Jan 11, 2008 12:45PM)
[quote]
On 2008-01-11 13:05, toomuchmagic wrote:
Louis you must forgive me. You can not find your bigot remark because it has been removed (by you) along with the phrase I quoted about respect for wisdom. DO you think I made it up...or that the other guy who commented on it imagined it.

Good thing I made a copy of it before was so conveniently edited.

[quote]
Louis LaLaurie

New user
Paris
27 Posts Posted: Jan 11, 2008 12:48am Reply with quote Send a Private Message View Profile of Louis LaLaurie Report this post to forum moderator
You ought to be ashamed of what you just said in your last line, sir!
It only shows why you failed miserably at your event!
You DO have a right to be paid before the show, and many much, much greater than you do this every day!
Irrelevant? You did not listen! Typical American! No respect for elders, no respect for wisdom!
Follow your instincts! If the parents are getting anxious, you don't have to deal with this. You are also allowed to ask the parents to mind their children better!
I think Delores was trying to tell you that you should be flexible and aware of the flow of the room while perhaps being more rigid? on certain issues so you have smooth show.
Louis
[/quote]
[/quote]

Louis - How about some ice for that BURN!

Honestly here guys TMM asked for some helpful advice - not tear downs.

I agree with Mrs. Attitude regarding being to PC and blahblahblah...but the issue here is that there was no reason for your attacks on his experience or person. Speaking your mind is good - when it is meant to accomplish something. Yours wasn't.

There has been only a few real attempts at helpful critisism. 1. Maybe to many items to setup 2. Clarify space needed\per # of children ahead of time 3. Time of show discussion to parent before booking. 4. The use of references.

The rest was just bashing. I can personally vouch for TMM, he's been in the buisness 15 years and has done as many childrens shows (amongst others) as Mrs. Riddle is old x3 - which is quite a bit.

One thing to remember about his show to - this was not an afterschool show. It was at 6:30pm. After school is 2:30 or 3:30 for those of you without kids.

Aside from that you will note that he took partial responsibility for what happened.
Message: Posted by: KC Cameron (Jan 11, 2008 03:29PM)
Too Much, No I do not think it was because it was a week night, although the age and the time should now set off bells & whistles for you. Some clients are just like that. Try to avoid them.

As for the bashing - well here in the Café we do have some world contenders. I believe one of the reasons we ALL became magicians is we want attention. Nothing wrong with that. Some like to get it in a negative fashion - lots wrong with that. Others seem to like inflicting pain and chaos. We are an interesting group for children professionals. I imagine a psychologist could have a field day here.
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Jan 11, 2008 03:36PM)
It would make for one really weird reality TV show. That is for sure. =)

Kyle
Message: Posted by: benlewis2004 (Jan 11, 2008 06:03PM)
So often you can tell when you will get these sorts of parties just talking to the client, if I don't like what I hear, I'm busy.
Message: Posted by: AshleyW (Jan 11, 2008 09:26PM)
Good job Ben.
A hard lesson learned for many is knowing when to say "no".
And the goal of less work; more money is very achievable.
Message: Posted by: Louis LaLaurie (Jan 11, 2008 11:02PM)
TMM<
I forgot I had casually made the remark, but I tell you I DID NOT remove it..perhaps a moderator? However, I must have forgotten it. the other comments I meant for you fully, as the one taken away. You see, I do not mince words or get into pointless arguments, I simply say what I mean and move on...I only saw "remove your head from your netheregions" and laughed out loud. Crass and the product of a poor upbringing, but funny, yes?
My head is not hidden there where you seem to be familiar, it's on my work. I don't have time take anything here personally, it's simply a place to have fun.
You are nothing to me...simply someone who in 15 years shouls know his business and is complaining and looking for sympathy.
I think we will have to call this to an end.
Message: Posted by: John Bowlin (Jan 12, 2008 02:00AM)
Ba dum da dum...g'nite sweetheart...it's time to go...(insert clueless banned one here)>
Message: Posted by: toomuchmagic (Jan 12, 2008 02:50AM)
I am shocked that the one who made the ignorant prejudiced remarks...who got caught in a lie...still stands to defend himself...and attempts to knock me down.

with that, I bid you all adieu....to read your silly posts and remarks....and to keep my own to myself....because after 15 years, I should have seen and know it all.

until we meet again.

adieu.