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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The little darlings » » Magic without balloon animals. (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Zorak
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Maryland, USA
114 Posts

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I do have a Clown assistant (Fumbles Zee Clown) that does excellent balloon creations. Me, I don't want to do balloons. I appreciate the art, but it is not for me.

Luckily, I am a professional cartoonist (retired). I love drawing cartoons for the kids to take home and color. (See my website: http://www.kiddiekazam.com)

I know a magician that plays the guitar and sings with the kids for the last half an hour. There is another who does puppet storytelling with a simple picnic basket and a storybook.

I've been practicing origami (paper folding). I want to get really fast at it, have my papers precreased. I would have a quantity of creations in a bag to give out after the show. I can do these in the evenings while I'm in front of the boob-tube. Maybe I could give out a paper to each kid and teach them a simple fold. The possibilities go on and on.

Anyhow, whatever other talent you have, cultivate it and put it on the market.
Good Luck! Smile
Magic is in the hearts of children from 1 to 101
Please check out my Website: kiddiekazam.com
FREE ORIGINAL CLIPART FOR MAGICIANS & CLOWNS
PROP DESIGNS
MAGIC CARTOONS all drawn by Zorak
keeblem
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Inner circle
Essex, UK
1167 Posts

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For older children has anyone thought of offering karaoke?

Just to add to the balloon debate, I LOVE doing balloons— it's normally my favourite part of the show!
Emazdad
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Plymouth UK
1954 Posts

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The problem with karaoke is only one child can do it at a time, the rest will be doing a wall of death around the room bored. Especially the boys.
Yours Funfully
Clive "Emazdad" Hemsley
www.emazdad.com

"Magic is a secret, without the secret there is no magic"

Remember there are only 3 types of people in the world, those that can count and those that can't.
p.b.jones
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Milford Haven. Pembrokeshire wales U.K.
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Hi,
In our area we have a musician called BONGO CLIVE. I had heard about him from many of the schools that I visit and I finally worked a gig wih him at Christmas. I only saw the last 15 minutes or so but the kids seemed to love it.

He played guitar and had several bongos and other drums and a huge selection of tambourines, maracas etc. and as he played and sang etc. the kids played along. He would shout things like, "OK, Tambourines" and they would do a solo bit, then bongos etc. Then the kids would swap instruments for the next song. The kids really loved it (so did I).
Phillip
Michael Dustman
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Columbus, Ohio
1167 Posts

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I do not offer balloon animals as part of my act, except for the birthday kid. This was after seeing what a hit Jeff Hobson's Balloon Bag routine was. If you have never seen it, it is worth the price of buying his whole video. What a great performer.

The Balloon Bag routine is a good solid 5 minutes of entertainment and essentially ends with you making a balloon doggie "play dead" by popping him, putting him back in an empty paper bag, and blowing the bag up and popping the bag and inside is the balloon doggie all whole again which is given to the birthday star as a gift.

This is one routine I have had a lot of success with that will never come out of my act. When parents ask me during their call arounds if I do balloon animals, the intrigue of this trick and getting to know that their kid will at least get one as a souvenier has helped get the booking.

Michael
Richard Landry
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Chatham, Illinois
18 Posts

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I do a "do as I do" comedy routine with the birthday child using the 260 Q's. They get the balloon animal when the routine is over. I do not do balloons for everyone as I want to concentrate on the comedy and magic. I do give away a giant MYSTERY DOLLAR at the end of the show for all of the kids. Smile
Dennis Loomis
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1943 - 2013
2113 Posts

Profile of Dennis Loomis
I still do kids' parties and usually make balloons. It's the clients choice. My first choice would be to do all stage shows or close up for adults. But, when you hang out your shingle as a magician, you get lots of calls to work kids' parties. As a professional I can't see turning down the work so that I can sit home and practice my pass.

Kids love getting things and they enjoy seeing colorful balloons being sculpted. I neither love nor hate balloons. I did stumble on one procedure that really helps a lot. Two of the difficult aspects of doing balloons in party settings are that it takes so long for an individual child to decide what he wants, and as soon as a kid gets his balloon he runs off and often either pops it or pulls it apart. Then he's back pestering you for another. I avoid both of these situations quite easily.

I have a certain group of sculptures that I plan to make, given the size of the group. For big groups, I premake some and bring them along in a big plastic bag. At the end of the magic show, I tell the kids I'm going to make balloons for each of them, but that they will get their balloon at the end of the party when they leave. I start on the first sculpture and when it's finished I put it into a bag. (I have at least two big plastic bags with me. One with the premades.)

Of course some of the kids will immediately want the balloon and I just smile and explain again that they will get their balloon when they are leaving. Other kids will call out for certain things, and I smile and say, that's a great one, but next I'm going to make X. Then I do. If their request was one I know, I will get around to making it eventually, but not when they ask. I don't want to get into the challenge contest of their naming ridiculous things and I have to try to do it. Each time a child yells that he wants a particular balloon, I give them a big smile and say: "You don't have to decide now... wait till you see some of the other things I'm going to make."

I also go over this procedure with the parents before the show. I explain that the balloons can become a nuisance for the party if the kids have them in their hands while they try to eat, play games, etc. This actually is true, of course, and they usually see the wisdom of this.

When I finish the balloons, I use a rubber band to close the bag(s) and give them to the parents. Again, reminding them to wait to pass them out until the kids are leaving.
This way, I make enough balloons for everybody with a few to spare, and can get away without having to start repairing the ballons they pull apart, replacing the ones they break, and responding to things like: "I wanted a RED sword, Mister, not blue!"

I hope this helps those of you that do balloons. For those that don't want to...no problem. But in today's party market you may lose a few gigs. Your choice.
Dennis Loomis
http://www.mindspring.com/~deloomis/dai.html
Itinerant Montebank
<BR>http://www.loomismagic.com
simage
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Idaho
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Now I know that the original question was: what do I do if I don't want to make balloon animals. I have tried origami in the past, and it kind of falls flat. However, I have an idea that just might work.

Give out a bunny bill to the birthday kid. Then give out bunny bills to all the other kids but make them out of colorful paper, which when folded correctly, has your name and phone number on the hat portion of the bunny bill. Make those up ahead of time. The fun for the kids is watching you quickly and deftly folding the first bunny bill out of the real dollar bill.

Also, as you hand them out, you can offer to autograph each one for each kid. Now that may sound a bit arrogant, but you would be surprised at how many times out here in podunkville after I hand something out (not a balloon) that I get asked for my autograph. Anyway, just an idea.
Definitely a nerd, in science, technology, and magic.
magicgeorge
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Belfast
4299 Posts

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This is a bit of a tricky one really. What can one do INSTEAD of balloons? There's nothing really like it. I suppose origami comes the closest. I just can't imagine it being as good a selling point, though. If someone phoned me up and asked if I did balloons and I said "No,but I do origami" I think I'd have to have some pretty mean marketing tactic to convince the customer that this is just as entertaining and provides as good a take-away gift as balloons.

So what are all the aspects of balloons that need to be covered in another art form to make it a competitive alternative? Balloons are:
  • Colourful and visual
  • An excellent give away
  • A good prop for showing other skills
  • Limitless in what you can create from them
  • Already set in a bookers mind as an activity associated with entertainers and known to be loved by kids.


Lots of activities and skills fill most of these attributes but I can't think of a prop apart from balloons that covers them all. Can you? If you can we might be able to give this poor fella the answer he has been looking for rather than just telling him to do balloons.
Jerry Hornak
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Northwest Connecticut
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Several years ago, latex allergy was in the news as the hysteria-of-the-day. I started getting calls from parents who asked me not to do ballon animals for fear that the one in ten thousand kids, who MIGHT have an allergic reaction, could be at their party. Rolling my eyes, but trying to stay ahead of the curve, I settled on the fortune telling fish as a give away.

Now being used by many, it was an excellent substitute for balloons. I had small one-half by two inch gold labels made with my contact info on it and each fish got one on the bottom end of the bag. I have to say it was the best thing I could have done. Each child now got, essentially, my business card to take home and they became the primary way moms got my number (I always ask).

For kids from 3 to about age 7, I tell them if the head moves it means you're smart and if the tail moves, you're friendly. Simple and easy to remember and, of course, they're usually smart AND friendly. Smile (For the older kids you can refer them to the back of the bag, though I soften the meanings somewhat for ages 8 to 10. Fickle means you change your mind a lot, false means you like to fool people, and passionate means you feel strongly about something, like sports.)

I tell them that if they "...always keep it in the bag and keep it flat, it will work almost forever! Why, you could take this out years from now, when you're all going off to college, and it will still work." I don't know why but the parents always laugh at that line. Of course, "always keep it in the bag and flat" equals take care of it until you get home and mom sees it. And they do.

Pros...they're easy, they don't pop, they provide advertising, and the kids like them and keep them.

Cons... you have to order them by the gross and (like balloons) keep your supplies up, you have to buy and attach the labels, and some parents still want balloons.

But very, very few ask for balloons nowadays.

They ask what I do and, after my show description, I say every one gets a free magic trick to keep and take home. Sometimes I'll describe the fish and the smart/friendly meanings (which always gets a chuckle since it's obviously very cute for the younger ones).

I don't mention balloons unless they do and they usually don't anymore. If they should, I simply say I used to do balloons years ago but am now doing the free trick giveaway. Case closed without saying so. Always nice, always friendly, never act hungry.

I hope this isn't overkill on the topic! It's my first post so forgive me for running off at the mouth...er, keyboard. Smile

All the best, Jerry
Making Happy Memories for Children since 1980!
https://JerrysMagic.com
madmanmike1
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Canada (Ontario)
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I simply can not believe that hardly anyone mentioned MAGIC giveaways!

Tell you what I do to compete. I have a lot of balloon twisters and clowns in my market. All my calls for bookings ask for balloon animals (just about), some callers even expected it and were suprised when I said I don't do them! I'm sorry to all you twisters, but I can't stand them, I hate that squeaky sound and I'm sure if I tried to do them I'd make the crappiest ones around!

Here's my bit. I simply state in response that I teach the kids a few magic tricks (approximately 10-15 minutes worth). This brings my 45 minute magic show to about an hour which is comparable to my competiton (clowns mostly). It even makes my charge seem better then the other magi around who perform only for 45 minutes but charge the same.

As for give aways I provide all the kids with magic wands and the birthday child with a wand and top hat (all with my name on them). Gee, I hate to sound bad, but why in heck didn't anyone else think of wands? The wands I give away cost me 40 cents each (that's Canadian too!). They are cheap plastic wands but the trick is my show involves the wands so the kids hang on to them for a while. The top hat I give out is about $1.99 CAD, a little pricey for all of the kids but a real prize for the birthday child.

Yes my cost per show may be an additional 40 cents per child, but hey it's a great magical give away (and I like them better than the fish).

Look around for bulk wands, I buy them in bundles of 100 from Morrisey Magic in Toronto Canada.

Mike
"it's crackers to slip a rozzer the dropsy in snide!"
p.b.jones
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Milford Haven. Pembrokeshire wales U.K.
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Quote:
Here's my bit, I simply state in response that I teach the kids a few magic tricks (approximately 10-15 minutes worth). This brings my 45 minute magic show to about an hour which is comparable to my competiton (clowns mostly). It even makes my charge seem better then the other magi around who perform only for 45 minutes but charge the same

Hi,
So really because you do not do balloons you are paying out more and dropping your price(giving 15 minutes free)?

This kind of defeats the point of extras to my thinking. I use the fact that I make balloons to add variety between effects, charge more and still seem to add value.
Phillip
madmanmike1
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Canada (Ontario)
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Sounds to me P.B. like you do 15 minutes less magic and replace it with balloons. As well as putting little value on give aways.

No offence but 10 - 15 minutes here or there is no real loss (especially if it is used teaching magic appreciation) and I am hardly ever in any great rush to leave as I enjoy what I do. As far as paying out more, I'd venture a guess that my wands survive long after a balloon pops or a fish gets lost. As for the cost 40 cents per child is nothing compared to what I get back from the kids and as for monetary value it may mean only $10.00 per show approximately.

We often tell people that a magi's performace is a gift to their children (restaurant workers say it's a restaurant's gift to the customers). So then shouldn't our gift to the audience be of some importance? Even if they are just kids I'd like to leave them with something that will remind them of me as a magician.

I should add that to my thinking the purpose of an extra is three fold: 1 - to give the children something magical to remember me by 2- To add value (and yes to replace the void left by not doing balloons) 3 - To leave my name and number in an obvious place in the child's home for the parents to find and give me a call long after the original show.

Also as you stated you charge more to twist balloons, I do not have to because no work is involved handing out wands and most of the time when I teach tricks it is taught to the room not on an individual basis. I feel that I am of more value than my competition around here because I do not tack on an extra balloon fee but I still have give aways (that are in context with my performance).

My fee is the same as most of my competition without their "balloon fee". My time is approximately the same as the clowns, "cookie party" people and the "Birthday science magic" people and I'm about 15 minutes more than most magicians around my area.
"it's crackers to slip a rozzer the dropsy in snide!"
Dennis Loomis
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1943 - 2013
2113 Posts

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I have set fees for 30 minute shows, 45 minute shows, and full hour shows. The 45 minute show can be all magic, or a combination of magic and balloons. The fee is the same.

If they want an hour, the fee is higher. And it can be all magic or a combination.
In this area (San Francisco Bay Area) I get more call for the combination shows than for the straight magic. I'm a professional. I'm not in it to do what I want, but what the client wants. For those of you that say that you don't like balloons, all I can say is if you learned a few sculptures and started doing them your opinion might change. Mine did.

And, I have gotten upgraded from coach class to first class on three flights because I made some balloons for the flight attendants. A few years back I had to do a 15 week solo tour. Had to spend night after night in strange towns. I got in touch with local magicians when I could, but when I couldn't I'd go into a restaurant, order my meal and then start making balloons and just giving them out to kids. You can't believe all of the wonderful experiences this led to! I suddenly had people to talk to, people offering to buy me dinner, even invitations to visit in their homes... just because I twisted a few balloons.
Dennis Loomis
http://www.mindspring.com/~deloomis/dai.html
Itinerant Montebank
<BR>http://www.loomismagic.com
p.b.jones
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Milford Haven. Pembrokeshire wales U.K.
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Quote:
No offence but 10 - 15 minutes here or there is no real loss (especially if it is used teaching magic appreciation) and I am hardly ever in any great rush to leave as I enjoy what I do.

Hi,
It is is here or there if you are doing hundreds of shows a year. On your timings it means every fourth show is a freebie.

When I say I charge more, I do not really mean for the balloons directly, what I mean is a show with magic and balloon sculpturing has a bigger apparant value to the client than a straight magic show, therefore more can be charged for it.
Phillip
nums
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I have a life, or I would have more than
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Hello Dennis,

I could not agree more. Balloons are a great addition to the magic and done well (as I am told I do) they appear magical also. I only use balloons that the avg. Joe can get (260's and 5" round) with an occasional heart. I am almost always fought over at my local resturaunts by the servers as they know a cool balloon is given for good service along with a monetary tip. I am most of the time asked for cards by patrons who saw me making the sculpture. I am neither a magician, mime, clown, balloon sculpter or singer. I am an entertainer who uses magic and balloons to do that... ENTERTAIN. I am both saddened and happy by magicians who won't do a balloon. Saddened because they miss so much and happy as it leaves that field open for me.

Thanks for your time.
Jeff "mr. Twister"
keeblem
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Essex, UK
1167 Posts

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Hi Mike,

You wrote:
Quote:
Here's my bit, I simply state in response that I teach the kids a few magic tricks (appox.10-15 min. worth)


What type of magic tricks do you teach?

Mark
Cabrera
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Seattle
513 Posts

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I do not do balloons either. If asked I just tell the prospect that I don't need to make them because my show is entertaining enough without them. ( I don't say this in a ccky way, just an informative bit.) As long as your show can live up to your promise, and you can entertain well, you don't need another crutch.
"The quilt of life is woven with many different threads"
Zack
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551 Posts

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I'm surprised that people have found origami to be a hard sell. Here's how I would handle it:

"Now, after the show, most magicians do balloons. Now I used to do that but I found that the balloons would pop, which would upset the kids, and somebody would end up crying."

(If you REALLY want to twist the knife, bring up the choking on balloon isssue, but I think that's a little strong.)

"So what I do now is Japanese paper folding. It's just as fun and colorful as the balloons AND the kids get to take home a permanent piece of art that they can keep forever, and everytime they look at it, it will remind them of your party!"
NJJ
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Profile of NJJ
Here is what I say when I don't want to do balloons.

"I can certainly make some balloons for you if you like but I find that kids very quickly forget about them or pop them and then you end up with tears. That aside, it's kind of boring for all the kids who already have a balloon to have to sit around and wait for all the other kids to get them."

That said, if you DON'T do balloons and another performer charges the same, does a similar show and DOES do balloons, it is simple economics that he has the better deal.

Colouring Sheets and Books (printed with your phone number and pic)
Helium Ballons (printed with your phone number and pic)
Magic Books (printed with your phone number and pic)

I often do a 45 minute show then 15 minutes of close up where the kids crowd around and watch. Works well (sometimes).
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