(Close Window)
Topic: Childrens Show Repertoire - Advice Needed
Message: Posted by: BScott8870 (Jan 12, 2009 08:39PM)
I have done several Children's Shows now and have gotten great feedback. My shows usually last about 45-60 minutes.

Wanted some advice on a handful of funny illusions I could add or sub-out in my routine. Listed below is what I already have. Always perform in a living room or home for B-Day parties, so some illusions like Bowl-a-rama might not work due to angles. Any advice is appreciated.

1. Silver Sceptre and Axtell Off The Meter(opening)
2. Die Box Routine
3. Roag Toad
4. PB&J
5. ABC Gumball Recombulator by Wolf Magic
6. D'Lite and Thumb Tip Vanishes
7. Change Bag Routine with Silks
8. Color Changing Records and Color Booking
9. Eggs from Mouth and Eggs from Axtell Puppet (Turtle)
10. Water Vanish and Comedy Funnel then Water Reappear with Squirting Elephant
11. Heinze or Coke Bottle Vanish
12. Axtell Drawing Board
13. Coin Magic - Hopping Halves and Bite Thru 50 Cent Piece
14. Zig Zag Rocky
15. Dove Pan Production of Bubba Bull Frog from Axtell
16. Finale - Large Square Circle

I just purchased a Twin Di Box to upgrade my Die Box routine and Ghost Rings to add linking rings to the show. Still looking for Blow Yur Stack from Wolf Magic and also just purchased Axtell Elephant Puppet with Water Squirter to enhance water vanish routine and Axtell Crocodile Puppet and Turtle Puppets.

Are there some home run effects or routines for 3-12 year olds I am missing?


Bart Scott
Message: Posted by: thescienceworks (Jan 12, 2009 08:59PM)
Cut and Restored Rope, using the pre-cut two pieces of rope. If you use quality rock-climbing rope you can burn up the ends and use them over and over. You can have the kids cut it with plastic, wood, or invisible scissors. I perform it for mostly ages 5-6 and up, it's a bit long for 3-4 year olds.

Message: Posted by: jimhlou (Jan 12, 2009 09:43PM)
Bowl-a-rama??? Where would you drop the ball?

looks like a fantastic line-up. Pick up a copy of Silly Billy's book "Seriously Silly" to really learn how to put it all together.

Also, I've been told not to do eggs from mouth for kids. Someone might emulate you and end up choking, etc. In addition, no fire, knives, etc. Hard to believe we used to watch cartoons where people (animal characters) got blown up every day!

Message: Posted by: BScott8870 (Jan 12, 2009 10:35PM)
Perhaps I would drop it on my foot? Or at least close enough to do some sort of comic routine with it.. :)

Thanks for the referral to Silly Billy. Just ordered his book and DVD combo.

Any suggestions on good books with jokes for kids???
Message: Posted by: Billy Bo (Jan 13, 2009 04:50AM)
3 Minutes an effect? Maybe you should scale down and concentrate on good routines for these instead of adding to them.

Message: Posted by: montymagi (Jan 13, 2009 08:17AM)
I'm with Billy Bo on this one. If you do all of those each show. You might have too much magic and not enough by play and bits of business so to speak. You have some really great magic in your list. The "home run" you are looking for is not another magic effect but a routine for one you already have. My coloring book used to be a 30 second warm up type effect. I got togeter with another magi and it is now a 5 min routine with a Bongo hat, costume change, break away wand and a lot of laughs. I would pick one trick that needs "punching up" find someone to brainstorm with and don't stop tweaking it until it can go say 4 or 5 min. That is just an idea.
Message: Posted by: jackturk (Jan 13, 2009 09:56AM)
Ditto with Billy and Spacecop.

To get through all these effects you have to practically
race through the routines.

I do a cut-n-restored birthday kid bit using rope-and-tapes
and a pair of Groucho glasses. It runs about 7 minutes. And the
kids and family love it and it makes a great kodak moment.

Which is a great point to consider when designing your kid show,
especially for birthday parties... how many really fun, cool
visual moments can you create with the birthday child front
and center?

I honestly believe, no one really cares that much about the
tricks at a kid show -- they want to see their family members
having a great time and getting lots of snapshots to capture
those special moments forever.

Looking at your list makes my knees hurt. I'm getting to
the point where I want to lug LESS stuff around to my shows.

Message: Posted by: MagicB1S (Jan 13, 2009 03:17PM)
I have to say I agree..... You will find out when you read Silly Billys Book what a Kids show is all about, There is definitely way too many effects in your show. My Disappearing silk gets me 5 min. my coloring book routine another 5 mins. and without trying I can get 6 mins out of my cut and restore rope routine, that's 16 mins of my show and I only have done 3 routines. My average show lasts 40 mins and I only do 7 routines. I would suggest Reading David Kayes Book "Seriously Silly" and when your done You will have the Answer your looking for.
Message: Posted by: Stevethomas (Jan 13, 2009 03:30PM)
I'd like to see a 3-minute ABC Gumball Recombobulator routine!

Message: Posted by: Mumblemore (Jan 13, 2009 04:01PM)
Everyone's comments are true and it seems that 6-9 routines is the magic number. That said, I have found the following tricks fantastic, either because they just screamed out routines that project my character, they pack flat and play big, or are just colorful/silly/funny which is consistent with my character and appeal to kids:

Blow Yur Stack - Wolf's Magic
Passing Water - Kovari I believe
The Funhouse - Wolf's Magic
a good 20th Century Silk (try Richard Sanders; he has great silks at reasonable price)
Barry Mitchell's Mother of All Diamonds
Tim Sonnefelt silk tricks like Tortoise and Hare (new generation) and Cinderella and Ugly Duckling
a good blendo like Paint My Flower by Duane Laflin or Frankie the Snowman by P and A silks
a good sucker Run Rabbit Run trick (but the Rabbits are overdone - I'd try Derek Rutt's Haunted House which is outstanding)
a puppet - try Axtell "feature" puppet or David Ginn/Practical Magic Dog Arm Puppet
Miser's Dream - best routine I know is Chris Capehart's
Ridiculous Ravioli or some other sucker "cans upside down" trick (two sucker tricks per show, but for me, they have to backfire on me for maximal effect)
A bunch of wand gags

Indeed, Silly Billy may have the best book/DVD on kid shows, but I also like Magic Dave, Dan Harlan, and David Ginn for kids
Message: Posted by: Alan Munro (Jan 13, 2009 04:13PM)
Many of the routines, that I perform for kids, aren't thought of as kidshow routines. I still get a great response from them anyway.

Slydini Silks
Fiber Optics
Chop Cup
Egg Bag
McCombical Deck
Linking Rings
Message: Posted by: Mumblemore (Jan 13, 2009 04:13PM)
While it may be dangerous to venture "formulas," I'm settling on one after a couple of years of trial and error:

1) opening gag/informal trick with kids like Miser's Dream among the audience and intro of a puppet who tells kids rules of etiquette for show

2) spectacular opener to get their attention and show them paying attention will be worth it (currently I use Barry Mitchell's excellent "Trash to Treasure" square circle) - and pull out items to use in subsequent tricks

3) colorful silk trick #1 (blendo with comedy like Paint My Flower) with audience helper

4) sucker trick #1 (Ridiculous Ravioli)with audience member who gets it right

5) dramatic trick with comedy (card to impossible location/Pro Viper 2) with audience helper

6) "story" trick with nursery tale or morality play (Mother of All Diamonds teaches patience)

7) silk trick #2 - 20th Century silks, Duke's Die Version or another silk transposition, etc. with audience helper

8) another sucker trick or a rope trick or egg bag (working on Kandu's Knot Funny . . . haven't gotten it down yet -0 need to learn egg bag) with audience helper

9) finale rabbit appearance (if you appear rabbit too early, you distract kids from what you're doing as they just watch rabbit)

Running gags usually involve pulling out the puppet three or four times, gag wands, and several references and efforts to produce a rabbit, teasing the kids when I pull out possum puppet, spring skunk, stuffed rabbit, etc. before finally producing Mocha the Dutch in finale and letting kids pet her back side as they leave the performance area

Dennis Michael has a great sticky post on routining at top of thread; also, David Ginn presents this extremely well in Crash Course on Kids Shows.
Message: Posted by: Mumblemore (Jan 13, 2009 04:18PM)
For little kids (under 6), I skip 7 and 8 and end within about 35-40 min. For older kids, I run 45-55 min.

Message: Posted by: BScott8870 (Jan 13, 2009 05:00PM)
Thanks Everyone for the advice.

I ordered Silly Billy book and DVD last night and also a book from Ken Scott.

My wife corrected me and pointed out that she has never seen me do a show that lasts only 45 minutes! She told me they are normally at least 1 hr. and 15 minutes. I never have paid attention to the time. I don't rush through the tricks, but is 75 minutes too long? The kids seem to be fine with it, but in the past I have not charged for performances either.

I think adding humor and more patter and then subtracting illusions is sound advice.

Also appreciate the feedback on effects. Can't wait to get Blow Yur Stack.

I would love to have The Outhouse as well, but this is out of production and I have not found one (been searching for over a year).

I also agree the cut and restored rope routine is something I need to develop and incorporate as well.

Not as familiar with the other illusions such as passing water.

I also have never tried Blendo routines, although I do own Metamorphosis by Tim Sonnefeldt. Also never considered Miser's Dream. Is there particular Miser's Dream pail I should look to purchase?

Regardless of which additional effects I add, I am going to hold off making any more major magic purchases until I read through Silly Billy book.

Thanks Again.

Message: Posted by: Donald Dunphy (Jan 13, 2009 05:26PM)
Hi Bart -

In my opinion, if designing a core "fun" show, a performer should start by making a very strong 30 minute show. Track audience reaction, etc., and replace the weak parts of the show.

Later, you can expand that up to a 45 minute show by adding more strong material.

But start with a 30 minute show. Always leave them wanting more.

- Donald
Message: Posted by: TrickyRicky (Jan 13, 2009 06:10PM)
On 2009-01-13 18:26, Donald Dunphy wrote:
Hi Bart -

In my opinion, if designing a core "fun" show, a performer should start by making a very strong 30 minute show. Track audience reaction, etc., and replace the weak parts of the show.

Later, you can expand that up to a 45 minute show by adding more strong material.

But start with a 30 minute show. Always leave them wanting more.

Sound advice from Donald.
You will be so taken up with your performance, you won't remember most of what went on.
Tape your performance and look a it over and over,you will learn a lot
Even a audio tape will give you quite a feed back on how the performance went.Some of the lines I use comes from parents and the children.
Message: Posted by: Donald Dunphy (Jan 13, 2009 06:22PM)
On 2009-01-13 19:10, TrickyRicky wrote:
Some of the lines I use comes from parents and the children.

And some come from the pets, but they can't be scripted in again. :)

I had a really funny moment happen in a birthday party show this past Sunday, that made me laugh out loud, and the audience roared (parents and kids).

I asked a girl volunteer to say a magic word, and she paused with her mouth open before saying her word.

At that exact moment, the family's dog in another room barked. Everyone laughed.

I quipped, "Those are great magic words. Woof, Woof!" Which got another laugh.

I didn't know they had a dog until that moment, because I hadn't heard it earlier.

- Donald :)
Message: Posted by: japanmagic (Jan 31, 2009 02:56AM)
You can transform a sucker trick and try to make them educational and meaningful. A child should never be fooled by a sucker trick but entertained to learning a new concept. Here is a video that promotes individual colors of the traffic lights and build to a finale:

Message: Posted by: Rock_Slatestone (Jan 31, 2009 05:35AM)
I perform a 30 minute magic show with 15 minutes of creating balloon animals (for birthday parties). For non-birthday shows I do a 45 minute show.

One simple routine I enjoy doing in the middle of my show (this especially if funny to the 5 and under crowd) is to to make one white and one black silk change into a bl/wh striped silk (use your favorite method).

I have a child help me out by putting the silks into my ch*** bag and it changes to the striped silk which I pull out. Making "magician in trouble" facial expressions I cry out "you changed it into a zebra silk." That usually gets a big laugh. Then I pretend I'm wiping my brow and face and say, "Thanks, I need this. It is getting hot up here." Oddly, that is when the parents chuckle or laugh.

Have a great weekend everybody,

Message: Posted by: WizzBang (Mar 3, 2009 06:29AM)
"normally at least 1 hr. and 15 minutes"
30 minutes, 45 minutes ...

Guys, I think you're being a little bit too prescriptive

I have three fundamental rules:
1. Always start at the agreed time.
2. Always finish at the agreed time unless you have permission to continue.
3. End with a bang.

time is whatever you agreed with the client. BUT if the kids are having a great time and the client is happy with you continuing then why stop? There are so many opportunities that come from a good magic show. I have a strong 30 minutes of magic that I perform for the most boring and quiet audience. This can expand so easily to over an hour as things happen out of your control, the jokes, the interruptions, the volunteers, the stories, you may pull out more tricks. This is why I perform magic for kids, they are the magic, and when the adults stop talking and start watching you have another 15 minutes of fooling the adults also. If Bart Scott can perform for over an hour then good on you I say, his list of tricks could go for three hours with the right audience.
Those who have attended a Ken Dodd performance know exactly what I mean. True entertainment is where you forget the time and lose yourself in the moment people will always forgive you if they enjoyed themselves.
Message: Posted by: wbzwolinski (Mar 3, 2009 01:04PM)
You have got some great props Bart. Do you perform all of those effects in one show? If so, my suggestion would be to divide your show up. You can get 2 or 3 great shows, all different, that can be used for repeat business. For instance if there are one or two siblings in the family that also want you to perform for their birtday. You will now have two completely different shows that you can perform for the same family (or friends that happened to see you at little Jimmy's party). For me, an hour is way too long for any kids show. My shows are approximately 35 minutes long and are very interactive. They may go longer depending on how interactive the group of kids are. Sometimes you get a group of really shy kids and the show may end up shorter. I always have extra props, magic and comic, to add in if need be. Sometimes the kids are really reactive and the show may go a little longer. I sometimes have to remove effects so the show does not go to long. Parents who are party savvy usually have a schedule of events to take place at their party. I don't want to throw their schedule off by going too long.

I always add some magic classics in my act as well. The ones that a magician is usually identified with...linking rings, cut and restored rope, misers dream, etc.

I agree with Donald. Develop a good 30 minute core show, which you have the potential of about three of already in your current show.

Message: Posted by: Mumblemore (Mar 3, 2009 02:49PM)
Donald and Wolly are no doubt offering good advice. Needless to say, I didn't take it. Rather, I dove into prepping a bigger show, spent outrageous amounts on props, and have been "growing into them" ever since. It was a lot of fun, but if I had it to do over, I would have exercised a little more self-discipline. On the other hand, I am 43 and had been out of magic since about 18 (and I had no money back then), so another way of looking at it is that I have been "catching up" for the last couple of years. At any rate, my repertoire is stabilizing, I have been booking shows and gaining experience, I have a great idea of what's out there, and I feel confident, having dived into this full force. But Donald and Wolly still probably have a better approach.
Message: Posted by: MoonRazor (Aug 27, 2009 07:48PM)
Wow it would take me about 4 hrs. to do all that stuff.
Did you rob a Magic Shop? :)
Message: Posted by: JimbosMagic (Aug 28, 2009 04:33AM)
Hi Bart
I have just tried to PM you but its coming up your full.
don't know what that means unless you only have limited space for messages. If you can delete some I can send you the PM

Message: Posted by: TonyB2009 (Aug 28, 2009 05:48AM)
Hi Bart. If your show is running well over an hour as it is, and you have all those effects, the last thing you need to do is add more to it. What you need to do is to start pruning. Drop five effects and expand your presentation on the others - you will still be doing an hour.
My kids show contains six routines and a puppet. That runs to an hour with no difficulty. It can run longer if the client requests it.
Not having seen your act I am only speculating. How close is your patter to the traditional patter that is suggested for each trick? If it is very close perhaps you need to rethink your patter entirely and move away from what others are doing. Then you will find your performing personality and your magic will improve dramatically.
Message: Posted by: harris (Aug 28, 2009 09:57AM)
Yes, when I started "working", I provided a 30 minute show.

Only one time was I asked by a consumer, "how many magic tricks will you do?"
I answered her with a number. I did not get a call back. Don't know if it was my fee or the #.

My wife suggested next time I am asked that question ..follow it up with..How many do you want me to include?

For me it is not the number, but the connection, emotions (from tears to laughter)and flow of the show.

still 2 old to know everything.
Message: Posted by: Thom Bliss (Apr 2, 2011 03:35AM)
Yes, “Did you rob a Magic Shop?” Or are you doing a dealer show? While I suppose that all of those are fine effects (I’m actually not familiar with most of them), I do wonder if they can all be presented in the same program from a consistent character. Ask yourself whether you are doing magic or are merely demonstrating some weird or interesting machinery.

Classic tricks with simple props - cut and restored rope and miser’s dream have already been mentioned - will cost you a lot less, allow your character some room to develop, and allow you look like you are doing real magic instead of just demonstrating what some fancy box or whatever can do.

A great artist should have good tools, but nobody becomes a great artist by buying expensive tools.

I’d suggest, instead of buying more props, that you sell some of them, or at least shelve them. Then buy some books. Or go to a public library and check some out. And learn at least a little sleight of hand.

Message: Posted by: Al Angello (Apr 2, 2011 10:14AM)
IMHO your show is a magic shop owners dream come true. If I were you I would invest in some magic books, and come up with routines that you can call your own. It has also been my experience that when my show runs over it throws everything else off schedule, mom's like a 45 minute party to last 45 minutes, and I feel that a 30 minute pary just isn't enouh time to do all of my best stuff.
Message: Posted by: Leland (Apr 3, 2011 02:53PM)
Sounds like you have a few shows with that line up, not a bad thing.
Message: Posted by: jimhlou (Apr 3, 2011 05:21PM)
I don't know how you guys do one hour shows. Most of my kid shows are 45 minutes, and at the 40 minute mark the kids seem to be getting antsy. I think for the 5-8 year old crowd 40 minutes is plenty - I'm trimming 5 minutes off mine and giving it a go next time.

Don't ever tell a client how many "tricks" you do - tell them you do magical routines which most often involve audience interaction.

Message: Posted by: TheAmbitiousCard (Apr 3, 2011 09:46PM)
You've got some great tricks under your belt.

It is now time to STOP looking for "the perfect tricks" and start to perfect and explore each one and make them your own.
Make them different than anyone else does them. This will take a long time. Create jokes, gags, visual gags, callbacks, running gags,

This will take many years but your show will blossom doing this.
Continuing to come here wondering whether you should add something or wondering whether you're missing any "blockbusters" and adjusting your act based on the opinions of Café participants is a fool's errand.

I'm guessing that way too many of us continue to change tricks looking for the holy grail and their act never blossoms. It stays a barely entertaining display of trick after trick with nothing to tie it all together.

Trust what you do and enjoy the upcoming multi-year journey.

The only purchase you need to make that I can tell is a notebook to record your thoughts, ideas and your progress.
Message: Posted by: Sock Puppet Monkey (Apr 4, 2011 12:14AM)
Good advice from the previous guy and he sells magic! I'd think about finding the stuff that's you and then sticking with these effects. This would involve a whole lot of soul searching and way less time here at the Café. Most magicians are as Eugene Burger so aptly puts it "...drowning in magic."

Message: Posted by: rklew64 (Apr 4, 2011 01:02AM)
I too would like to echo the consensus of mostly everyone and that is create more moments and connections with the kids and to not short change the experiences.
The best decision so far you made is holding off on adding more magic until you read and view Silly Billy's work.
Message: Posted by: MaxfieldsMagic (Apr 4, 2011 05:08PM)
Watch some cartoons and kids shows when you have time, especially in the company of some youngsters, if you can. They can be a good source of ideas/inspiration for bits that other magicians aren't doing, or at least they'll give you an idea of the humor that kids are consuming these days. You may notice that the humor in today's shows is often more sophisticated than what was offered to us (I'm 44) when we were kids.