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Profile of RideorDie99
I thought I'd share with you these comments that I received from a parent after a show I did this weekend. It's kinda dissapointing since I put effort into my magic to try to create a great show. When do you stop thanking people for the negative feedback and start saying "What you talking about WILLIS??" "You don't know what you're talking about!" My show went okay. I screwed up one trick which makes me think I need to take out the Finale of the trick and change it up a bit or take it out completely and replace it with another. But here's the feed back.

Thanks for being part of XXXXXX's party. The kids all enjoyed your
show, balloons and booklets you passed out. HOWEVER, there were some
comments from the adults that I thought I'd share with you to help make your
next event more successful:

1) Your hands were shaking like crazy. It really showed how nervous
you were, which made the adults question your experience.


2) Some of your tricks did not fall through. You will need to
practice more to prevent huge mistakes that cause good tricks to flop.


3) Some of your tricks were not very well executed or were pretty
obvious, not magical at all, nothing new....the general consensus was that you
needed to update your show for bigger tricks -something the kids would enjoy
that a regular Joe can't buy from a magic shop.

(I had tested tricks. People think that I just bought tricks from a show and just brought it to the show!!!)

We really appreciated your time and effort and thank you for being a
part of XXXXX's party. However when I told everyone how much I paid you, they
all thought it was a little too much. For the amount of experience you
have, we suggest lowering your cost.

(I'm already lower than the competition in my area. I think it's culture to because the family may just wanted DAVID Copperfield style illusions for a KID'S SHOW!)

Thanks, hope you don't mind the honesty.
Now these are the comments from the ADULTS and not the kids because the children
enjoyed the party. Since the show is FOR the children show I not really care what the adults think? Because overall I think the children enjoyed the show.

Do some of you guys get this some times? Any advice is appreciated
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Eternal Order
Philadelphia, PA
15111 Posts

Profile of magic4u02
Well to be dead honest I have never ever had this happen to me or had any parent state this. This is even when I fully send out evelautaion forms in my thank you kit after every performance that I do.

Yes, I can sometimes have an off performance, but I always make sure I am on my game and that I have my show rehearsed and tested long before I take a paying gig.

When I first strated out, I decided that the best thing for me was experience. I also realized that I can not charge a fee if I have not even gotten my feet wet with my show or new show etc. This means I did a TON of free shows. I did every chairty show I could get my hands on. Sure I flubbed up a few times, but that is what I was doing.. learning and using a free show to do my learning from.

I learned more from my free shows then anything else I did. I also video taped every free show performance and I really watched myself. I realized that what I thought was good really wasn't. I learned to see my mistake and correct them. I learned to be honest with myself as well.

My advice to you is that I hope you did not just jump into doing these types of performances without first testing your show out by doing free shows first. Charging a customer money for a show you have not even done yet for an audience, is just not right in my book. This sounds like what could have happened to you. I am not certain, but it sounds like perhaps you could have used more rehearsal and showe practice in front of a live audience in a non-paying situation.

You MUST take the comments from the adults seriously. If they watched the show, and it looks like they did, they obviosuly are commenting on things that to me seem valid and to which yourself admitted to. Anyone's advice to you should be taken seriously no matter who it comes from. This is how we learn and grwo in magic.

Secondly, it is the adults and parents that are paying you. It is them that you have to sell your show through your shows features as well as how your show will benefit them. You are in the entertainment business. First you must entertain, but you also muct have good business sense. The business side of it means you must also really care what your cleint thinks of your performance.

When you get a comment and feedback like this you need to 1) evaluate your show honestly and say to yourself that maybe some of these points are valid and maybe I need to look into them. 2) You need to take a step back and see if there was anything that happened at then event that could have thrown you off, and 3) you must be professional and business minded enough to send them a letter back.

A true professional will send a letter back stating that you appreciate their time and honesty in writing to you. That you appreciate and know how hard it is for someone to be as honest as they have been. You go on to state that you apologize for some of the mishaps that day, but that their comments mean a lot to you cause it is your way of always evaluating your show to deliver on your promises.

This is professional and shows your client that you care and that you will make efforts to fix the problems.

Hope this helps.

Kyle Peron

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Deke Rivers
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Profile of Deke Rivers
You should be pleased that the customer took the time to be honest with you. Take their advice. Stop charging for shows until your are practiced and well rehearsed.
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Profile of rossmacrae
Everything everyone said above is valid. You need to be able to do the show in your sleep, drunk, for an audience that doesn't speak English, in a moving bus. Practice, practice, practice!

That said, perhaps a change of paradigm (look, Ma, I used a big word!) is in order. Effects should be chosen for ENTERTAINMENT VALUE and (okay, I get to coin a word) FOOLPROOFNESS. What trick was so gosh-darned important to include that it was POSSIBLE to mess up that badly?

I'm gonna be blunt here: it looks like you were so nervous that you drew the host's attention to "can this guy do the show or not?". Elsewise he wouldn't have been discussing your pay with the other parents. You need to be so confident that, even if you mess up, people might just say "was that planned?"

The opposite of any great truth is usually another great truth, so here's the other side: Yes, pay attention to feedback. AND be able to shake off the occasional complaint (we all get them from time to time, deserved and undeserved). Here (among oither things) is what I warn parents in my pre-show confirmation letter: DOES YOUR MAGIC REALLY FOOL PEOPLE? Of course, anyone of reasonable intelligence can make pretty good guesses as to how tricks are done. If you decide to play "catch the magician" you'll win, but you'll miss all the real fun.

That was originally written in response to a letter complaining that "I figured out how all your tricks were done." It came from a parent who (despite being asked to move) insisted on spending most of the show BEHIND ME! (You saw the show from "backstage" and figured out the tricks? Well, DUH!) ... some clients are not only oblivious, they're just not capable of being clued in.

So listen to the feedback, do what you know you have to do, get some confidence, get rid of the tricks that are susceptible to such disasters, AND THEN ALSO don't lose a lot of sleep over it, realize that mistakes happen, and do better next time.
Brian Lehr
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Profile of Brian Lehr
On 2005-03-07 20:11, RideorDie99 wrote:

1) Your hands were shaking like crazy. It really showed how nervous
you were, which made the adults question your experience.

Shipmate to Captain: "Sir, how do you know which way to turn the ship in order to avoid all the submerged rocks?"

Captain: "Experience, son, experience."

Shipmate: "And how did you get this experience?"

Captain: "Simple. I've hit all the rocks!"

Only two kinds of ways to get experience: learning from your own mistakes, and learning from the mistakes of others. It's better to learn from the mistakes of others (less personal shipwrecks), but in magic, it's through personal experience that we will be enabled to develop an highly-polished, exciting show for the kids.

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Profile of Joseph_Then
I have the feeling that you cannot take on paid shows. The fact that you have trembling hands showed a novice entertainer.

You have a great customer who are willing to provide honest feedback. It's a rare thing now. Smile

Though the show is for the kids, but take note that it's the parents who are PAYING. Think of it from parent's point of view, if I'm a parent and it's your show, I would think "Fine, he entertained the kids but he looks unstable. I think that should be the last time I hire him".

If you entertain both adults and kids, I would think "Wow, that's money well-spent! Even my adult guests enjoy the show! I must hire him again!"

Joseph Then

Singapore Ventriloquist
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Profile of Chrystal

I couldn't help but be impressed by the constructive criticism from the person whom took the time to let you know how to improve. The criticism wasn't mean spirited, nor badly worded. In fact, it came across as someone genuinely wanting to help you become better. Like Joseph mentioned in his post - tis a rare thing. They took the time and gave you feedback, what you quoted and I'm not sure if this was repeated by you from a letter you recieved or verbal. Constructive criticism is different from the other kind as you praise the persons good points first as did this person. You then point our areas that need improvement. This person did that as well. Someone not considering your own best interest would just say something like "you were lousy and not worth the money". See the difference? The second one would offend you and immediately put you in defensive mode.

I would take Magic4U's advice and thank this person for taking the time to help you. I'm sure they will pass along this info to their friends and in the long run will give you the reputation that you seek.

Yes, you are performing for the children but as others have stated the parents are the ones that foot the bill. Sometimes it hard to admit we've made a mistake but as the ole antage goes "you do learn from your mistakes" and may in the end result be a better performer in the long run as a result.

Thanks for your honesty in writing this post as I'm sure it was a difficult thing to do. As for your comment in "Whatcha talking about Willis", there are circumstances when you may need to think that comment in your head (not say it outloud) as you'll be confident in your abilities. I once had an ole timer call me aside at my ring meeting and tell should do should do that. I nodded politely and thanked him and then went out to whoop him in a competition and placed first. Only reason I felt confident in that situation is I knew what suited my persona and the methods his suggested were too slow paced for my personality. It takes a bit of experience but you eventually become secure in what works for you. Even after years of performing I still listen to advice and always thank the person giving it, I may not agree with it but always feel if they take time out for suggestions they are sincerely trying to help. This is in regards to people in my ring and not with clients but I would probably react the same way.

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Profile of NJJ
It hurts to get that kind of criticism. We are so used to suggestions from our peers being phrased as "that was GREAT and it would be even better if...."

Take it all on board and try to address the things they said.

I would write a nice note thanking them for their honest feedback and how much you appreciate it. Then perhaps offer to come back next year for free....
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Profile of RideorDie99
Hi all,

Thanks for the advice. It's easy to get defensive and then feel low after you receive real harsh truth. The truth is I did not practice and I took the show anyways. But I see what you guys are all saying and will be doing more free shows and performing more often to stop the shaking hand syndrome.

Thanks for the advice.
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Profile of MikeDes
Here is some advice from someone who has battled with shaking hands for over 25 years of performing.

Make sure that the first routine you do is as idiot proof and shaking hands proof as you can. There are a ton of self working tricks our there that are really good. Now spend some time developing a good presentation for this routine.

There is no cure for shaking hands like hearing the applause after your first trick and knowing that you now have everyone on your side.

Good luck.

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Profile of Wolfgang
If it were me, I'd send a note thanking the person for the honest feedback, along with a refund check. I could not feel good about taking anyone's money if I did not earn it.

Follow the advice of doing free shows; then charge when you're ready. You'll be surprised how rewarding those free shows can be.
"Sure, I do Scotch and Soda in every show. What? You mean there's a trick by that name?"
Ron Reid
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Profile of Ron Reid
Hi Rideordie99:

Another thing to consider is including some very strong effects, mixed in with all the fun stuff that kids love; this will help to win the confidence of the adults. And you don't have to do knuckle-busting sleight of hand either. For instance, I do Pom Pom Pole and Super Dream Bag in my kid shows (both effects are practically self-working - very little technical skill is required for each) and I constantly have adults talk about how amazed they were by these tricks.

Good material is abundent. Seek out some strong effects to mix in your show; if you pick effects that aren't technically demanding, it will also help you with your confidence. You be able to concentrate more on your presentations.

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Profile of RideorDie99
Here is the routine I performed.

1. Opened with a few tricks, half dollar to Jumbo coin (Shaky hands here), vanishing hank(shakey hands here) , mouth coils, and then sponge balls.

2. Balloon Bag (jeff hobson)

3. Change bag (appearing 8 ft pole messed up)

4. 5 min pocket hang

5. magic coloring book

6. Run Rabbit Run

7. Vanishing Bandana

8. Ninja rings

9. Dove pan appearing sponge cake.

I thought these were really good effects. I'm thinking of taking out the change bag or the pocket hank and adding rocky racoon. But these are pretty strong effect aren't they? And I really only messed up the change bag routine. I think I know what to do next time. What do you all think about the routine?
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Profile of Tate
RideorDie99, you don't state if this was your first birthday party or not. I would hate, hate, hate to see a video of my first birthday party show. I'm sure I was awful. Of course you were nervous, and you will be for a while. But the only way to get comfortable is to perform more. You need to practice, yes, but only performing for a live group of kids will help you get better. See if your local library would like a free show, or maybe a Boys and Girls Club. (BTW, I've been performing kid shows for 20 years and last summer I did several free shows for the Boys and Girls Club.)

I'm not going to suggest that you change your show, but I heard a piece of advice from David Ginn years ago. Tricks that have simple mechanics allow you to put all of your attention into the presentation. Now he wasn't saying that all of your tricks should be simple. But by having tricks that are easy to master, you can concentrate on performing (patter, movements, interaction with the kids) without being nervous about whether the trick is going to work.

And finally, what the heck does your signature mean?

Danny Hustle
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Profile of Danny Hustle
Reading this I am a bit disheartened. RideorDie99, it sounds like you had a bad show. Worse than that it sounds like you had a bad show due to inexperience. This in and of itself is nothing to feel to bad about. We are ALL bad when we first start out.

The problem is you should probably not be charging folks money at this point in your career. It will hurt you in the long run. You only get repeat and referral bookings when you put on a good show. It sounds like the guest parents that were at this show were much harsher in their criticism than the folks you worked for. You may have poisoned the well of several potential bookings in just this one show.

I think you are on the right track when you say you are going to do more free shows to stop the hand shaking but, you should also stop booking paying gigs until you have a smooth show. It sounds like there was a lot more going on than just shaking hands. Please do not be offended by that, as it is also part of the creative process. NO ONE started out with a great show. You have to build it and that takes time.

It is hard to find a place to be bad these days. I am very lucky as I am also a street performer. The street is the perfect place to be downright awful. I do not know where you live but if you can work as a busker in your area I can not recommend it highly enough as an avenue for rapidly increasing your performing chops. Doing five or six shows back to back for real people for a week or two will put a polish on your show that you wouldn't believe.

Do not feel bad about it, but don't try to fool yourself either. You were bad, as everyone is when they are starting out. No big deal as there is no shame in being bad there is only shame in staying bad. Smile

I am certain that you have what it takes to have a good show, because 50% of what it takes is having the nerve to get out there and do it. The other 50% is having the guts to know that the more you do it the better you'll get! Smile

A lot of people that start out with a few bad shows just hang it up in humiliation. Real performers hang in there and fake it till they make it. Smile

I have been performing for just about 30 years. I have just recently decided to go back into children's entertainment. I am booking a lot of free children's gigs at the moment because I know with a moral certainty that my kids show is going to be bad and I haven't had shaky hands since Jimmy Carter left office. Smile

It is just the way it is. You need to work the material in front of real people until it flows like water and you know where every laugh and wow is. The only way to do that is by getting free stage time. the only way to get stage time and not hurt your reputation is by not charging for it.

Stick with it and listen to your audience.



P.S. the problem had nothing to do with the effects you did. All of those effects are appropriate for the venue. It is what you do with them as an entertainer that makes the difference. You mention a "routine" but you have only listed a bunch of tricks. The routine is you, and what you do with it.

"MT is one of the reasons we started this board! I’m so sick of posts being deleted without any reason given, and by unknown people at that." - Steve Brooks Sep 7, 2001 8:38pm
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The Great Smartini
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Profile of The Great Smartini
To add my two cents worth to the mix...firstly, I applaud your efforts in posting this thread and taking the time to reflect upon what happen with your show...I think it was Michael Ammar who said, as have probably others, we all need a place to be bad...that is we all need the opportunity to be in front of real people do real shows...the issue of charging is another question and other performers have already shared their views on caution to you would be not to change the tricks you have but instead to work on improving your routines and how well you do appear to be in search of the age old magician affliction of searching for the perfect trick...indeed many of us spend our entire magical careers doing so...i'm not saying don't add new material to your routine (add this stage you're actually developing a set routine and everything seems in constant flux)...once you have a set of core routines you can then add to them until you master them...this takes a very long long?...well let's see I saw Michael Ammar when he first came out and had hair...that would be around pcam of 1978 or so...i finally saw Michael lecture/perform in my area some 25 years later and guess what routines/effects he did?...that's right the same ones!'s not how many but how well you perform your routines/effects...also, look for effects that you can present not from a I fooled you look how smart I am perspective but instead from an entertaining fun kind of way...for example, you can perform the effect the hopping half as it is suggested and this is the 2 coin trick with one coin being taken away and this leaves you with...that's right two coins...this presentation makes the audience members looking this to my presentation of two coins in love which is set to poetic verse...the coins keep coming back but there is no look how smart I am...instead I'm merely sharing the unique story of two coins who met in a vending machine...i've posted it for feedback in the coin magic thread but I will post it here for you to see clearly what I mean (a point of clarification...this isn't a birthday show kind of effect)...anyways it goes like this

This is a love story....between two coins...the coins are a silver Canadian Toonie and a little brown eyed Mexican Centavo...truly theirs was an international love affair of copper and silver...this is their story...

Twas purest coincidence an occurence most strange
when they met in a vending machine.
They fell head over tails, this was no small change,
He knew he wanted her for his Queen.

Once Toonie was moved to brand new Quarters
But he slipped through a hole in the glove.
His affection for Centavo transcended all borders
He found his way back through the magic of love.

Centavo once flipped, to coin a phrase
Down a small, covered well for a wish.
She used her common sense, and the very next day
She returned, though she smelt like a fish.

A collector once found Toonies 2 cents worth
He was shipped to far off Bucharest.
But though between them lay the breadth of the earth
Centavo's love didn't fail the test.

One day Centavo found herself in a pickle
And was left on a railroad track.
The train came, she wasn't worth a plugged nickle
Toonie saw she would never came back.
In pocket change heaven Centavo now resides
and only through the magic of their love has Toonie also joined her side.

A routine/effect that you may want to consider for your program. It uses the trick What's Next which pretty much every magician owns. Contact Matthew Johnson for his lecture notes which contains his routine entitled Cing Spots. Matthew's handling of this routine is also set to poetic verse and it tells the story of the young magician learning his first effect. I use Matthew's version for my birthday shows and it is really a great routine that you will use for likely a very long time. Matthew is a very creative and talented Vancouver magician and he told me that it took him a full day to write the poem for the effect. My poem took me nearly a month to write and I needed the help of my teaching partner as well as my wife. The bottom line is that original, professional routines take a very long time. Give yourself the time to practice and continually improve. I believe that you need to find tricks that you really like and will like for a long time. Pick carefully and spend the money if the trick is worth it. Come to the Café and read what people are saying about effects they have purchased for advice. If the trick isn't for you then resell it and try again until you find the effects that you can make your own magic. All the best!


ps. stick with the vanishing bandana...if it's good enough for david Copperfield its likely pretty good for you and i...if it matches your character
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Profile of MagicbyCarlo
On 2005-03-08 19:35, RideorDie99 wrote:
Here is the routine I performed.

1. Opened with a few tricks, half dollar to Jumbo coin (Shaky hands here), vanishing hank(shakey hands here) , mouth coils, and then sponge balls.

2. Balloon Bag (jeff hobson)

3. Change bag (appearing 8 ft pole messed up)

4. 5 min pocket hang

5. magic coloring book

6. Run Rabbit Run

7. Vanishing Bandana

8. Ninja rings

9. Dove pan appearing sponge cake.

I thought these were really good effects. I'm thinking of taking out the change bag or the pocket hank and adding rocky racoon. But these are pretty strong effect aren't they? And I really only messed up the change bag routine. I think I know what to do next time. What do you all think about the routine?

Hi, RideorDie99. Posting this is pretty thick skinned of you. Take this person’s critique very seriously. If this person thinks they over paid for your performance, this will be the information they will share with others. By your own addmission you weren't ready to do a paying show and hadn't practiced! I also reccomend a refund. It will at least gain you points as an ethical business person.

My suggestion, as has been mentioned before is that you start your set with something visual and non-technical.

I have been performing for 30 years and still occasionally get the shakes. My hands tend to naturally tremble slightly and have since I was a kid, a little nerves amplify this, so I say, don't do anything that would focus on that or make you more nervous at the top of the show. You are not ready to feature sleight of hand magic as an opener. You need to get past your intro and through a couple of rounds of applause. Once the ice is broken you will feel more comfortable, also once you have done a couple of hundred shows you will feel more comfortable and have less anxiety and if you’re lucky no noticeable shaking.

Make your opener a no brain-er. Buy a good appearing cane (Harikan) and learn a flash silk production and open with music. Get rid of the 8-foot pole unless you can get it to work every time. Balloon bag is great if you can pull it off, but remember Jeff Hobson is so at ease when he performs, if you’re the least bit stiff it will cause the routine to go flat. Videotape every performance you do. EVERY SINGLE ONE! Watch your self, (at first it will be painful) and take notes. Rehearse you routines and your entire act in front of a video camera. Do this often, daily if possible. Go through the whole act including consumables. Study your performance in detail. After you’re done, go to a professional (Jeff McBride, Bob Fitch or a theatrical director) and see if you have them work on your act with you.

Your effects/tricks are fine. It’s YOU that needs the work. I don’t say this as a put-down, because if you are willing to do that work, you can become a fine performer. You’re just at the beginning of an endless journey if you want to become a true professional. It's not the tricks that make the show (as you have discovered) it's the magician/performer.

I’m a huge fan of Jeff McBride. Jeff doesn’t invent new tricks, gimmicks or illusions; in fact much of what he does is really standard magic. He just picks material that fits him, tailors it further so it fits him even better and then performs it better than anyone else. This doesn’t happen by accident, he sweats every little detail, every little nuance of performance until he has created a magical experience for his audience.

If all of this seems like too much effort, then you should reconsider your path. You only get one shot at a first impression.
Carlo DeBlasio
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<BR>and all around fun guy!
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Profile of flimnar
I am starting out as well and have done a few free shows. I have never received a letter like this, but I suspect that the adults chose not to share any constructive critism for the "free" magician. I have wondered whether performing for free doesn't bring it's own set of problems, and have considered chargin some minimal amount. Will you be taken seriously if you don't require perhaps a token charge? What do you think?

"This one goes to eleven..." Nigel Tufnel
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Profile of JamesinLA
First, I want to say that it shows a good character that you posted this feedback here. I think you're on the right track to getting better and eventually good by being honest with yourself.

I would agree with Danny Hustle. The best place to get the best experience you can get with craft and with audiences is doing street work. That's how I got a lot of expereince. And I also learned how to deal with audiences in every possible situation. If you want to be able to do your routines in your sleep because you will do them endless time, time after time, if you want to have complete confidence in front of a sit down crowd (because you've dealt with crowds that will walk away on the street at a moment's hesitation from you) then hit the bricks as we say.

I would recommend Cellini's first street performing DVD, and Gazzo's The Art of Krowd Keeping book. Those two to start with. By the way, you will also be able to make money while you learn.

Oh, my friend we're older but no wiser, for in our hearts the dreams are still the same...
Andy Wonder
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Instead of charging a token amount, require that they must submit an appraisal or complete a questionnaire form about your performance. This will either provide you with much needed constructive criticism helping identify areas you need to improve. Or it will provide you will valuable testimonials if they love your show.

Don’t let them walk over you and take a free show & give nothing in return. You want either constructive criticism or a positive testimonial.

Just make it clear that submitting the questionnaire form is in lieu of any payment for the show. Send out the questionnaire/survey before the show so they will have an idea what they should be looking for on the day.

A good place to perform free shows is the children’s ward at your local hospital. Although I would not expect any hospital staff to evaluate my show, that would be more for birthday parties or other similar events. When I was a teenager I used to go up to the hospital & perform for the kids every Thursday afternoon.
Andy Wonder, Auckland, New Zealand
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