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Andy Wonder
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Auckland, New Zealand
747 Posts

Profile of Andy Wonder
You guys may have a different experience than I, but I believe the most dominant motivating force behind children’s behaviour is greed. I have seen birthdays ruined by greed. I’ve have seen the birthday child in tears because unreasonable and greedy expectations have not been met. I have seen a girl with 3 balloon animals crying because she only had three when she really wanted four. I performed for children that are so preoccupied with collecting candy they have difficulty focusing on anything else. I just recently performed at a party where four boys pounced on my rubber chicken to fight over who was going to be the only one to hold it. I’d never seen the legs on a rubber chicken stretch out so long. At this party I was on right after Santa, so I guess that put them I a greedy state of mind from the start. A lot of this sort of problem comes down to what the children’s expectations are before you arrive.

The more, greedy they seem to be the less they enjoy themselves. Have you guys had similar problems when the children you are performing for seem totally overcome by greed. You know the ones that always yell out ‘gimmie, gimmie gimmie!’ Either that or they yell instructions of what they demand they want you to do.

I have been thinking long and hard about how I can get children from the state of mind of wanting to get something to wanting to laugh.

What strategies have you guys developed for managing greed in audiences?
Andy Wonder, Auckland, New Zealand
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Milford Haven. Pembrokeshire wales U.K.
2642 Posts

Profile of p.b.jones
HI Andrew,
I have not really had much of this during the show. However, As I explained on another post if performing for less than 35 kids I make them all a balloon which is true,but while I make multi balloon sculptures during the show for the helpers I only make 1 balloon sculptures for the balance of the children at the end I have noticed some greed here with children wanting extras for example:-
A helper might get a sword, belt and sheild, but the children at the end will get just swords. I do not do this to be mean it is simply that I do a lot of repeat bookings and making balloons for my helpers is a part of my behaviour control, if I made the same balloons for them all at the end as I do during the show the next time they see me perform they would think, OK I do not have to be good to get a balloon as I will get one anway at the end of the show,this way the next time they see me they have in their minds that they would like one of the Multi models this time and are well behaved (mostly)
Peter Marucci
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Profile of Peter Marucci
A couple of thoughts:
Was there an adult -- a RESPONSIBLE adult -- on hand? I make sure that there is always at least one at my children's shows, for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the example you give in your post.
But I think the biggest problem is that you want on AFTER Santa. I would consider that a major gaffe!
Santa should be the climax of the party and nothing should even try to top (or follow) his appearance.
In doing Christmas parties, I have two major rules for the organizers:
1: I go on before they eat (this may change, though, depending on circumstances).
2: I go on before Santa (this NEVER changes; it must not!)
Dennis Michael
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Southern, NJ
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Profile of Dennis Michael
Well Peter,

I let you know how my upcoming show works out. I violated your two rules intentionally to see the results. And a third rule,
3. Expect Cub Scouts to be a wild group when performing and prepare for it.

I am doing a Santa and Ice Cream Sundae Cub Scout Party in an elementary school auditorium. All at the same time, Santa will be on one side and the scouts will be getting their picture with Santa, others will be making Ice Cream Sundaes and on the other side from Santa, I will be doing my Christmas Magic Show.

Just visualizing the crazyness of this scenario is funny. A microphone system will overpower the noise, I see ice cream all over my change bag and silks, and receiving dirty looks from Santa as the kids try to rubber neck themselves to watch the show. I estimate 25% don't believe, 25% faking it and the other 50% want to make sure Santa gets it right this year. Those in line for Santa will be watching the show and want to get picked for an assistant but don't want to get out of line for Santa. The party is an hour and a half so I plan to be the last half hour and hopefully they'll all be done wiith santa, and finished their Ice Cream.

This is a first for me, for this combination... at the same time... in the same room, and knowing most of the Cub Scouts because I am one of their Den and Pack leaders.

Don't you just love these new and wonderful learning experiences. I know ahead of time what I am going into. It will be interesting. My advantage is that they know at every Pack meeting, the highlight of that meeting is me doing one of my funny magic routines, so I know how to control them. (Thank goodness for Akeala ears.)

(Akeala ears is the sign of the Wolf, two fingers held up to represent the ears of the wolf. It means everyone stops talking and listens to Akeala: the leader/teacher)
Dennis Michael
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Profile of danryb
I do not hand out balloon models period. I do not pass candy around period. And I live in Israel - here the children celebrate Chanuka. There is no such thing as father X.mas and he doesn't exist here. We do light the chanuka candles though and that can be done before or after the show - no problems there because the candles don't hand out presents they just shine light.
I always suggest any food or snacks be laid out only after the show or before but covered with a cloth. I always cut the birthday cake at parties and there is never a mad greedy rush for that - I am usually lucky if every kid actualy wants one peice.
As far as pre expectations together with greed - I start my show after making sure every one is seated, all parents have turned off cell phones and quickly looking every one in the eye. Eye contact with a genuine smile is a great salution for you. Even before saying a word I have got the children calm and ready for what is about to come.
Following the eye contact I gather some casual chat with all the audience such as: "can every one hear and see me?" etc. "put your hand up in the air if you're not here yet!!"
After that I dive head first into what I call a "steam train" approach from the first trick and until the end of my show. Patter, humor, child participation (I always know in advance who will come and help me just by the pre eye contact). I involve the audience as much as possible with as much waving of the hands, magic words, counting to 3 and other movements. It is these little movements that keep the momentum of the show on it's feet. If you slow down the kids will loose concentration. 15 - 20 mins of speeding up then do a slower and easier to follow trick to allow the little ones to revive their concentration span for another 15 - 20 minutes to round of your finale and say thank you for being a wonderfull audience, in fact, my best ever audience and i can't wait to see you all again.
Eye contact
And don't make any promises that you can't keep to.
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Durban - South Africa
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Profile of Shaun
The only problem I have experienced with kids wanting something that they cannot have is, I conclude my show with a production number - producing 5 umbrellas and a bunch of silk scarves. I have had kids asking if they can have an umbrella, I simply reply "No".

I have now learned to speak to the organiser, to find out what will be happening immediately after my show, if it is Santa, then I identify the person who will be taking the kids to Santa, or find out where to direct the kids to. If it is a birthday party then I direct the kids to the cake cutting ceremony.

I have found this works quite well - so I guess I concur with Peter. I am curious to find out how Dennis' show worked out!
Peter Marucci
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Danryb writes: "And I live in Israel. . . There is no such thing as father Xmas and he doesn't exist here."

Uh, Danryb, I hate to tell you this but . . .
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Profile of Payne
On 2002-12-08 05:38, Peter Marucci wrote:
2: I go on before Santa (this NEVER changes; it must not!)

But when do you go on if you do your show as Santa? Smile
"America's Foremost Satirical Magician" -- Jeff McBride.
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