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Decomposed
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I did a birthday party for a five year old yesterday. They had about 11-12 children from toddler to teens. It was in a community type hall. At first I didn't even consider a mic but later had to bring out my handheld.

The parents were sitting at tables on the sides and talked throughout the performance. It was more of a family gathering and it appears they had not seen each other in a long time. The kids sitting in front on the floor were great, some older teens needed to be cool and sat at the back.

Has anyone delt with adults talking throughout the show and if so, any solutions?
It was defintely difficult without the microphone even though it wasn't that big of place.
holmes
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This is a very common problem for kids entertainers and is easily handled. This is what I do.

First before any show you should send out a little sheet with "hints, tips and suggestions"

On this sheet you will detail things that you want to happen. You tell them you only perform indoors for example, you tell them you don't want a video camera on you (personally I don't give a toss!), you tell them not to have the kids open presents during the shows or play with toys, you tell them not to serve the kids food when they are watching the show.

And most important you tell them that you want the parents to shut the hell up! You had better word this request a little more nicely.

At a birthday party this works great. At other shows a little less so but it still works. The booker will tend to shush the guests because you have sent this requirement in advance.

However there are going to be times that whatever you send out you are going to have this problem. Never get angry with the parents and show your annoyance. Under no circumstances do what a rather stupid Punch and Judy man did once and get Mr Punch to tell the mother off for distributing ice cream during the show!

This is what you do. Say "Boys and girls, the grown ups are very noisy aren't they?
The kids will yell "yes" You now say "you can't hear me and enjoy the show, can you?" The kids will yell "yes" again. Don't worry about the parents getting offended by this. The ones who are actually trying to hear you will agree and the ones who are yapping won't hear you anyway. You now say "I'll tell you what we'll do. Everybody put their finger to their lips like this" Demonstrate, putting your finger to your lips in "shush" position.

Now say " When I say 3 turn around and say shhhhh..... as loud as you can!"

The kids do and the adults will always shut up. In about 10 minutes they may start up again. Simply repeat the formula.

Do it with a smile and a twinkle in the eye and nobody will get offended. And if they do hard luck. They shouldn't be yapping in the first place.

There. All you need to know. Anything else?
rossmacrae
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I am not afraid to be "offensive" - "Kids, I want everybody to stand up, and when I say 1-2-3 we're all going to look right at the parents and go 'sssssh!'"

Failing that, sometimes you just have to say the lines, take your check and go home.

I don't believe it - Holmes posted the EXACT SAME SUGGESTION as I was composing my reply above!

Nice to know I'm not alone!
RJE
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Hey Candini,

Any performer who does these types of shows knows of what you speak.

This is a real common problem I find when doing company Christmas shows. Without a sound system, it can be near impossible (which is why we always bring ours along).

The adults often see you as the hired help/baby-sitter/obligatory-time-filler. The kids are plopped down in front of the performing area and the adults socialize. It doesn't matter how good you are (and some will no doubt want to chime in here and say "I'm so good, I never have this problem...." Ya, whatever!!!). It doesn't matter how much you charge ("if you make them pay for a professional show, they will respect you......" Hahaha ya, sure, hey, I gotta bridge to sell ya!). There simply is no getting away from this situation at times.

Given a proper format, stage, theatre etc... this should not be a problem. However, working in a company's Caféteria or a car dealership's showroom, etc... you are not in a normal performing environment. You can set up your "stage" area and do the best you can to try and mitigate perceived problems, but they will can still occur anyway. After all, this is THEIR party and you are only one piece of it.

So, even though you have put together a great show and after you have done everything possible based on your experience and professionalism to avoid it, sometimes you just have to turn up the volume and blast over the inconsiderets (is that a word???) at the back of the room and entertain those who chose to pay attention.

Know that you are not alone.

Rob
Joseph_Then
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I used a number of method but now I understand my character in my show I tend to be direct.

I stop the show (at least finishing a trick) and get the attention of parent and say, "Parents, SHH! The children are watching the show!" And I signal an OK sign.

It usually works for me.

If it don't, I'll just BLAST my sound system to a level that it is impossible for them to talk. If the client request to lower the volume, I'll do so only when the parents are not talking.
-----



Joseph Then

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holmes
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Bruce Posgate used to bang props very loudly.
Edwin used to get the kids to say "Parents be quiet!"

Sometimes you can get the kids to make so much noise that they outshout the adults. I will often use this technique. No adults can out talk a bunch of noisy kids shouting in unison.

One thing you can do is to get one of the adults up to help. I don't use this technique myself but I can see why it would work.

Sometimes the best and most professional thing you can do is to accept that this is the way things are, smile with gritted teeth and remind yourself during the show "this is only for another half hour or so-it'll be over soon". Then get the cheque and get the hell out of there!

Then look at the cheque and say "people work far more hours than me to get this kind of money" and you won't feel so bad about it.
magicgeorge
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I thinks Holmes has a lot of good points and ideas in his posts but....

" Under no circumstances do what a rather stupid Punch and Judy man did once and get Mr Punch to tell the mother off for distributing ice cream during the show! "

What's wrong with that? Getting a puppet to tell off the parents is much the same as getting kids to tell them off, it turns it into part of the fun but also gets your point across.
I was using my monkey puppet when some of the parents started chatting last Sunday. He started listening in to their conversation, I asked them politely to stop as they where distracting Geoffrey. From then on if they started up again a good hard stare from the monkey shut them up.
I'd like to know why you think this is such a bad idea that you feel it's necassery to call the performer "stupid".

Cheers
George
Wilf Birchall
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You've just about summed up everything I would have wanted to say Holmes (no, that does NOT mean that Holmes is me, ok, - cos' he's not!).

I'd just second the advice that losing your temper is not on the menu. I always liked parents to stay behind myself, as it's a perfect sales pitch. Same goes for toddlers, - be polite and just explain calmly and politely the dangers that may arise (to the parents! not the toddlers - LOL). One day these toddlers will be Birthday boys and girls.

Microphone at all times I suggest. Why not just have a little 15w. combo amp. (musicians' practice amp ideal) for tiny parties and a bigger, 50/60 watt combo (keyboard amp. ideal) for bigger things. You've simply got to raise your vocal presence beyond that which even the loudest of adults can manage.

Are you talking about THE Edwin? Holmes. If so I think we are from the same generation and have the same experience.

Wilf.
magic4u02
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What I do is to use the children to my advantage. If I want the adults to shut up.. I simply get the kids so worked up and so into my next routine that they are shouting loud and getting into it in a very loud and positive way. There is NO way that any adult could possibly not notice the kids screaming and such.

Usually effects of this sort are the standard "Kids see.. but magician does not see" Effects. I tell the kids that if they see the rabbir (run rabbit run) I need them to yell loudly to let me know they found him cause I need to gethim back. I have a practice session to see if they can do that well. I also tell them if anything funny happens to laugh really loud. I have them try laughing loud as well.

Just from the nature fo doing this style of routine, the kids will get so involved ion the routine and be laughing and shouting that the parents could not possibly talk over them. In some cases thius actually gets the adults attention so much that they find themselves shutting up and getting involved in the show with me.

It works fairly well for me in the past. If that does not work, then it is so nice to know that my Fendor Passport 150 can outblast any adult. hehe

Kyle
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Tyler_Magician
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I don't know if this has been said yet, but even in the kids shows, you should include the parents and adults. Don't leave them sitting on the side to watch, make jokes that only adults would understand and have them come up and do a trick or 2 with you.
-Tyler
magic4u02
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Tyler:
Good point, You certainly can and should include the parents in your shows. I always try to make every show I do what I call "family-friendly". Even at my birthday parties, even though the magic is gared towards the children, there is something there for the adults to enjoy just as much. Thanks for bringing that up Tyler.

Kyle
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holmes
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George. You didn't hear what the stupid Punch and Judy man said to the mother. It gave offence. I know. She told me.

It was nothing like the scenario you described with your puppet. Your presentation sounded quite innoffensive and funny. Even charming.

It was nothing like nasty Mr. Punch telling the woman off in her own home. People forget that he or this case she who pays the piper calls the tune.

I remember the same performer got Mr Punch to snarl at a hostess's husband who was videoing the show. He apparently didn't like videotaping and didn't have the sense to make this clear when the show was booked. The woman said to me when she booked me the following year " I would never have him back after his rudeness to my husband. He (her husband) hasn't the slightest intention of changing his career to doing Punch and Judy parties"

I tried not to laugh at this since the place was a virtual mansion. One of the most luxurious houses I had ever seen with several expensive cars parked in the driveway. The thought of the owner hawking Punch and Judy shows to kid birthday parties struck me as hilarious.

Incidentally I am interested to see that Kyle uses the same technique that I mentioned of getting the kids to outshout the adults. You do have to use some care with this technique though in case it gets out of hand. It does work though.
magic4u02
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Holmes:

Yes I use the same type of technique. I guess my reasoning is that I try not to be confrontational with the adults unless I absolutely need to be. I do this for several reasons: 1) They are the ones that booked me and 2) if I am confrontattional too much, it takes me directly out of character and it really hurts the flow of my performance.

This is not to say that noisey parents is right. It certainly is not right and is very rude. Also, you should not have to perform or try to perform under those conditions. I just like to try this idea first before going to other means. It usually works cause the kids get noisy and involved in the fun of the efffect that I am doing.

The kids can certainly make more noise then any adults can. This gets the attention of the adults and draws the adults into the show. They become more intersted in the show. If I can get their attention, I usually can keep it there with the show instead of talking with each other.

If that fails, then I can always out blast them by powering up the volume on my sound system. There are also other ways to combat the problem. I just prefer to try this first.

Kyle
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Decomposed
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ALl great suggestions, thanks. I only had a few children present and different ages so they didn't make a lot of noise. If there were the usual amount of children, they would have easily drowned out those silly adults:)

I will always have my wireless handheld (at minimum) for any venue just in case.
magicgeorge
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Holmes, thanks for clearing that up. It makes a lot more sense now I hear the whole story.

We've forgotten one: volunteers. The adults always quieten down a little for volunteer tricks, (usually the mother of the kid on stage will shush adults if she's there, too). If they don't I use a simple guilt trip "can we all quieten down so we can hear what Billy is saying".

Tyler has a good point but be careful, too many jokes for the adults takes away from the kids enjoyment . If I have any remarks the adults appreciate I usually make them on the off-beat when the kids are laughing at something else. There are a few things that are funny to kids and adults. The raccoon is a good example everyone from 3-103 laughs at the animal.

George
Jonty the Magician
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Be cruel to be kind - get the noisy parent up and HUMILIATE them!! (Just kidding of course!)

Jon
Curmudgeon
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I am still trying to get the nerve to get my start in kids shows so thank everyone for their advice and comments in this post but I have a question and I only add it here in this post because several people have said to include the parents in the show as well as the children. I have read a lot of David Ginn's material and was wondering if you had some parents in a group and they continued to talk even after all the above advice, you singled out one or even two of the parents and did Ginn's Comedy Card on Back routine...would that work and make the parents maybe pay a little more attention to your show?
I know every show is different but it was just a thought and I wanted to see what people thought.
Thanks
Wade
RJE
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Hey Wade,

Doing kid's shows is not as scary as this thread may make it seem. Having said that, you will , if you do enough of them in enough different environments, run into adults that will be absolutely uncontrollable.

There is no magic bullet. There is no one routine that will work every time you run into this situation. If there was, we'd all be doing it.

You try what has worked for you in the past. You try something that you might have picked up here at the Café. You try to do the best show you can given the circumstances. But if every thing you try fails, take HOLMES' advice, finish the time, take the money and run.

Rob
Eric Leclerc
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Very good suggestions in here. I am suprised no one mentioned what I am about to suggest. How about a trick for the adults?? When I see I don't have the parents attention I say in a loud voice "you guys want to see an adult trick!?!?" they always yell yes obviously. "Now an adult trick dosent mean I will start taking off my clothes and swearring, it means its the adults favorite tricks when I perform for your parents at their home for their guests" (they automatically shut up and listen cause of the swearring comment, and they realize I am available to perform for them and their guests at future events).

Do I do a card trick or mentalism? NO!!! Even though some magicians are oblivious to this FACT, kids wont even get that, AT ALL... I do a bill switch or a torn and restored bill, to get the adults so amazed they will want to see the other half of the show. I personally always include this for the adults, I want everyone to come out of my show with something to think of.. works really well.. try it!
Curmudgeon
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Quote:
On 2005-02-08 12:23, RJE wrote:
Hey Wade,

Doing kid's shows is not as scary as this thread may make it seem. Having said that, you will , if you do enough of them in enough different environments, run into adults that will be absolutely uncontrollable.

There is no magic bullet. There is no one routine that will work every time you run into this situation. If there was, we'd all be doing it.

You try what has worked for you in the past. You try something that you might have picked up here at the Café. You try to do the best show you can given the circumstances. But if every thing you try fails, take HOLMES' advice, finish the time, take the money and run.

Rob



Thank you Rob. I have 2 kids myself and always have a house full of kids running around, my only problem with startig is being lazy. I just need to get the first performance under my hat and I think that will break the ice for me. Thank you for the advice and I could imagine that not every show has the same hurdles for it and sometimes you just have to run.
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