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Topic: Performing for Bar Mitzvahs
Message: Posted by: jlibby (Sep 18, 2004 09:08PM)
I've had inquiry about performing for a Bar Mitzvah in January. Honestly, I've never performed for one, nor have I even been to one. So, hopefully I can get some feedback from some others here. What works, what doesn't? What would be a ballpark range for pricing this kind of event. I don't do illusions, except for Sawing In Half, which I think would make a great upsell.

Any input is appreciated.

See ya!
Joe L.
Message: Posted by: Cheshire Cat (Sep 19, 2004 05:04AM)
Joe, First of all we don't do these as the children are out of our age range, however, although we are not Jewish ourselves we have a vast experience of entertaining within Jewish communities. If your show goes down well believe me, you'll have struck a goldmine of recommendations and future work. If it does not then be prepared for some very direct comments indeed! Also be prepared for the natural very unreserved 'upfront' nature of Jewish children. This is something not all entertainers can cope with, I always greatly enjoyed myself working with Jewish children and the only reason I stopped was travel logistics across a major city (back in early 1990s). This is a VERY important event in any Jewish boy's life, and also that of the family. Now onto your act, what to do, and I'll leave that to others to advise you . . .
Message: Posted by: Rupert Bair (Sep 19, 2004 05:15AM)
My friend does a lot of shows for Jewish kids and like Tony says its a goldmine! if yor good you will get tipped!
Matt
Message: Posted by: RoyHolidayMagic (Sep 19, 2004 10:45AM)
I am Jewish, and do perform for Bar Mitzvahs, and agree with most of what Ace says.

However, the most common type of magic at Bar Mitzvahs (at least in my heavily Jewish area of Long Island, NY) is walk-around. You would stroll around during the Cocktail Hour showing magic to both adults and children. Mostly CHILDREN during the Cocktail hour...the adults are kept busy gossiping and talking while many children are often bored during the cocktail hour.

After the cocktail hour, there is a large party. You can entertain the children for about the first 15 minutes of the party, but you will then have to stop. There will be a candlelighting ceremony at which the children will ASK you to show them magic, but it is disrespectful to do so. The candlelighting ceremony is an important, sentimental part of the event. After the candlelighting ceremony, there will most likely be a Hora (traditional Jewish dance). You may begin performing again AFTER the Hora. You should now go from adult table to adult table (there will either be one large table with all the children, or the room will be divided between adult tables and children's tables). After the hora, I recommend you try to work the adult tables, doing a short set at each table much like you would at a restaurant.

After working the adult tables, you should return to the children for the duration of your paid stay. This is good because (a) you are hired mostly to entertain the children and(b) it is more likely that THEY will remember your name than the adults.

The amount of time I recommend Depends on the amount of children/adults there will be at the party. Next week, I'm working a Bar Mitzvah with approximately 100 children and 100 adults. I recommended that they hire me for my 2.5 hours package. 1 hour at the cocktail hour. I then wait for the candlelighting and hora to end, and and go on for about 1.5 hours. I will probably go longer....always tell a Bar Mitzvah client less than you will actually do. I am Jewish...and us Jews get this awesome rush when we feel like we're getting more than we paid for (or like we're getting a better deal. Many Jews WILL try to negotiate. If they do, simply tell them you will stay longer, it will probably suffice. They will feel like they got a "deal."

Onto the tricks...
Do not do a kidshow. These are NOT children. Preteens are sharp. Treat them as you would adults. Do tricks you would do to adults. In fact, they have to be BETTER than the tricks you would do to adults. Cards, coins, bills, etc. work really well.

I believe this is the single longest post I've ever posted on the Café. Hope this helps!

-Roy
Message: Posted by: magicgeorge (Sep 20, 2004 07:35PM)
Good solid advice there, Roy. Very helpful for anyone who doesn't know the ins and outs of the ceremony.
Cheers, thanks a lot,
George
Message: Posted by: jlibby (Sep 20, 2004 08:02PM)
I want to thank you all for the feedback... it's greatly appreciated.

I'll let you know if I land the gig.

See ya!
Joe L.
Message: Posted by: garcia (Sep 21, 2004 08:05AM)
Gee. thanks Roy. Thanks for helping to propagate the stereotype. You've got a lot of soul, brother. Grrrrr....
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Sep 21, 2004 09:58AM)
Great post, Roy!

I have worked many Bar Mitzvahs and Bat Mitzvahs here in the South and your thoughts hit the bull's eye of most every one I've ever worked.

BTW - If there is an active Jewish Community Center in your area, consider this... I have instructed a specialty "Magic Camp" for a 5 day week each Summer for the past 7 or 8 years... simple sleight of hand and easy do-it-yourself magic.

I have the kids for 3 hours each day (they swim and play the rest of the day). The camp has been a sell-out every year and last year we opted to do two camps. One in the morning (9:00am - 12:00 noon), one in the afternoon (12:30pm - 3:30 pm). It allows me to separate the younger kids from the older ones, for teaching efficiency. Both camps have still sold out, effectively doubling my income for that week, which nets me a few thousand for 5 days (not bad).

Here's the point... The first year these kids are too old to register for the camp is the year they have their Bar or Bat Mitzvahs. Magic seems to be a theme at many of these here.