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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » New to magic? » » I fear the tweens! (2 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Ed_Millis
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I'm looking ahead to November where I will be performing at a City-sponsored "fair". I'll be in my EZ Up for maybe 8-10 hours, doing 15-minute mini-shows. This is all freebie - I pay nothing for the space, they pay nothing for the entertainment. I'm not the only one; the whole "fair" is like that.

I wouldn't even bring that up except for the next part. Older kids roam this annual fair without supervision in their little rat packs. I plan on finding my niche market doing whole-family shows, so kids in the 11-16 age bracket are an expected part of my audience. But at this age, some of them get their prestige and jollies from runing things - like performances. The "free-ness" of this whle event means little security, except for the occasional roaming policeman.

I'd like to do routines that play to the older kids - no sense having them drug along to a family magic show and be bored by change bags and coloring books. But I fear playing to an innocent-looking tween with the devious mindset of "The guys will love it if I make this magician look like an idiot!"

How have y'all handled these situations?

Ed
JIMclubber64
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Personally, I wouldn't worry about it all that much. I work with kids alot, 11-16 being rather scarce, but I do get them on occasion, and I don't really have all that much problem with it. However, if you really are all that worried about it, I'd say in my lack of experience with this issue, avoid tricks that can be easily messed up by the audience, such as cards tricks where the specs handle the cards alot, or other similar things. However, if you do have a lot of card effects, you could simple have them point to card, then you show it to the audience, and place it back, instead of them handling it.

Hope that helps.
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123TJS321
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Im 14 and all I hve to say about preforming for kids in the 11-16 age bracket is to treat them like adults and do more adult-type magic for them

if you do this they will respect you more
The Burnaby Kid
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Ed,

If the magic is genuinely good and you know what you're doing, I think you'll be surprised at how receptive they can be. Taking a page from Silly Billy -- once kids graduate from a certain stage in life, they do need to be fooled badly in order to appreciate what they see. If you can manage that, you should be ok.

If they try to heckle you in order to put you off, keep in mind that they're probably annoying the crowd as much as anybody else. Also, if you structure your show correctly and develop a strong pace (which shouldn't be too difficult given that your show doesn't sound long and you'll have a lot of chances to run through it) you'll minimize the opportunities for them to heckle in the first place.

If it ends up being a small crowd of just those kids, change your material to something dedicated just for them. Giving them the magic colouring book would be an invitation for them to hate you. Most adult material should play fine to them. You can even ask them if they've seen any magic before. This serves several purposes... First, by putting the spotlight on them, it can make them a bit awkward, and so when you reclaim the spotlight, they can relax and become passive. Second, it shows that you acknowledge them and value what they have to say. This can help them like you. Third, it gives you an idea of any material that you've got that might not play well to them, either because it's the wrong theme, or they've seen it before, or it's not going to be deceptive enough. Finally, when it comes to showtime, don't arbitrarily choose assistants -- use that early interaction with the kids to figure out who likes magic and who doesn't, who's going to play ball and who won't. You can usually see it in their eyes. And, if by some chance you get a bad seed and they ruin your set, don't take it too personally. Just treat it as a learning experience.

(These days, I have to admit, I love getting the bad seeds. They keep things interesting for me, and when you can still get them at the end, it's quite satisfying. It's worth noting that I know through experience that my closer will kill, and that knowledge helps keep me steady throughout any weirdness that might come up.)

One other thing... if it comes to the point that they're starting to derail the show, it's fine to use the heckle-stoppers, the mild insults, etc. Others advise against it, but working in that venue means that you're not getting to pick your audiences, and that means you've got a lower default prestige. You've got to claim higher status by showing that they can't mess with you. A lot of street performers and comedy magicians do this pre-emptively, by throwing funny insults at the audience before they've even had a chance to deserve them. The more likable you are, the less you'll have to do that. But even then, it's a really tough thing to quantify, but a lot of the time these things that you think would detract from a show, actually add to it. A very smart buddy of mine called Travis Bernhardt made the point that a lot of people who see you performing on the street or at a fair actually feel a certain amount of envy for the bravery that you're showing in doing this. They wish they had the stones to share their passion to strangers. So, when the performer gets heckled, they can feel the awkwardness more keenly than others, and if the performer stomps the hecklers down, they share in the victory. Just don't do anything that'll make the organizers mad.
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Ed_Millis
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Quote:
On 2009-07-02 15:13, 123TJS321 wrote:
Im 14 and all I hve to say about preforming for kids in the 11-16 age bracket is to treat them like adults and do more adult-type magic for them

if you do this they will respect you more


Well, I do respect this age bracket enough to ask how to handle these situations with somrthing besides a flamethrower! I've raised four kids of my own through this age bracket, so I do know something about kids this age.

But when you say "more adult-type magic," I have no idea what that phrase means to you and your friends. I had adults having a wonderful time with the coloring book, the Invisible Deck, and Twisted Sister. Is that "adult" enough for you? Or do want Criss Angel, David Blaine, spoon bending, spike through arm, etc? I only have the magic that I have, and I'm trying to work the kinks out of that before I get into the more demanding stuff for more demanding audiences.

Ed
Ed_Millis
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Andrew, many thanks for your advice. I'm sure this is something I'll work through, especially as I gain confidence and a larger repertoire of effects. Right now, though, I only have what I have. It's not "childish", but it probably is aimed at a younger set, except for a few card tricks. And I'm not confident yet of having _anything_ that "kills"!

But doing the shorter shows will probably help me get through it with less pain. If I'm boring to them, they probably won't hang around.

Ed
The Burnaby Kid
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Ed-

Do you have a list of your current repertoire?
A screed for scams, sorcery, and other shenanigans... Nu Way Magick Blogge

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Ed_Millis
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Andrew:

A lot of my current repertoire would make no sense to anyone! Actually, there's only a few things I can do right now: Coloring Book, silks in change bag, silk/TT, B'Wave, Twisted Sister, Burglar Ball, Invisible Deck (I have both regular and jumbo decks).

I'm working through what will be my main routines: a chicken that won't find the card; a kid gets a speeding ticket using a Mental Epic board; reworking Burglar Ball into a larger-playing effect complete with kung-fu. I could see these being completed by the November deadline.

I've also got a ring-and-rope routine that I haven't done in years, and I can do Prof Nightmare but my story needs a lot of work. These could also be ready. And a smattering of card tricks that can be done with a jumbo deck for a small stage.

I've also been working with Clutch (Oz Perlman) and the mercury fold. I was actually thinking of putting together a set of card routines that might play well to older kids: I draw the card they've selected (a Sankey effect-can't think of the name), then Clutch, then something similar to Sankey's Paperclipped.

It all plays really great in my head!!
Ed
Brad Burt
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Ed:

It's a real concern, but probably not as critical as you may imagine. It's kind of like the monster in the closet. You hear the scratching and finally in panic throw open the door to find a little mouse is making all the racket. If you are a mouse-phobe....well, that's a different story.

Be ready to NOT be rattled. The worst possible thing is to show either fear or concern. JUST keep on going with the show, etc. Don't be afraid to STOP the show sooner if you have to .... ALL the while doing so AS IF that WAS the place you were going to stop! You control the critical points of access here bro.

Try to have at least 3-5 routines that you know will FOOL anyone! I like Six Card Repeat, Proff Nightmare or Cut and Restored, etc. You may want to have those Sure Things in reserve, etc.

The problem will almost always be with young males. Don't act superior, just have a good time.

Now, let's say you have a whole crowd of the little buggers...what do you do? Have a routine that reflects a 'perceived need' of theirs. "Hey, I see we have a group of young gentlemen here today....guy's (wink, wink) this next 'trick' is a sure thing for the ladies." Do Invisible Deck or whatever just theme and patter it so that it is of interest to 'them'.

The thing that can get you through this kind of possible 'bad' situation is to put yourself in the place of the possible problem causers. How do you get them ON your side???????? That's really the most important thing. Trust me on this. How do you get to be their friend?

Show ends..."Hey, any of you guys into magic? Yeah, what's your favorite." If you are approachable....then they won't feel they have to stand apart and attack.

Note also....if you are able to get a cadre of these guys ON your side....they then become YOUR protectors, etc. Teach 'em a simple trick with a psychic theme that they can show a 'girl' they might want to impress, etc.

Or, you could just shoot them. That works also...... ;-)

(Note: The Magic Café in no way endorses the shooting of teen age boys! Don't do that. In fact we don't even endorse the idea of making them your friend. Although the friend thing is probably better than the shooting thing. We'll get back to you all about that. Thank you.)

Best,
Brad Burt
Strange Tasting Fish Sticks
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Ed have you thought about using sponge balls? These are great for kids and adults I think, and the one where you put one in your hand and one in theirs and it travels kills.
Sam Weiss
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I am almost sixteen and I have a lot of experience of performing for kids of my age group. What I have noticed is that we are more receptive and more respectful to older magicians performing and less so to someone their age like me. It is very true that some kids my age like to heckle, but I would say that only a third to a half do so. The other half (particularly girls for some reason) like to be fooled and don't appreciate it if someone tries to ruin it.

So overall I would say you are worrying about something you don't have to. Kids at the 11-16 age are, for the most part, no more hecklers than older adults.

Cheers,
Sam
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NurseRob
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I get kids of all ages in the hospital, and you are right about the tweens being most challenging. Although I do 1 on 1 close up, and can pick exactly what I want to do for each age and situation I encounter, if I do an effect that is more for a younger kid, and there are older ones present, they may get restless. My favorite follow up trick is Crazy Man's Handcuffs, done right under the nose of the older kid, THEN when they get all wiggly and say "Woah, no way...howdya do that?' consider it a standing ovation, cause that's about as good a response they are gonna give you.
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ibm_usa
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Quote:
On 2009-06-25 12:45, Ed_Millis wrote:
I'm looking ahead to November where I will be performing at a City-sponsored "fair". I'll be in my EZ Up for maybe 8-10 hours, doing 15-minute mini-shows. This is all freebie - I pay nothing for the space, they pay nothing for the entertainment. I'm not the only one; the whole "fair" is like that.

I wouldn't even bring that up except for the next part. Older kids roam this annual fair without supervision in their little rat packs. I plan on finding my niche market doing whole-family shows, so kids in the 11-16 age bracket are an expected part of my audience. But at this age, some of them get their prestige and jollies from runing things - like performances. The "free-ness" of this whle event means little security, except for the occasional roaming policeman.

I'd like to do routines that play to the older kids - no sense having them drug along to a family magic show and be bored by change bags and coloring books. But I fear playing to an innocent-looking tween with the devious mindset of "The guys will love it if I make this magician look like an idiot!"

How have y'all handled these situations?

Ed


Ed, 11-16 and up year olds are the easiest to work with. However, I assume your a professional using this freebie show to gain network from. As a professional you must know about crowd control. Don't be mean or stingy but do show authority. You are an adult, you can do what every you have to for as long as you don't hit the kids intentionally.

As with all audience, but kids especially, make your presentation very visual and very entertaining. If they don't like what they see, they will show it and you will lose all your expensive equipment you brought with you. But think your lucky stars it will be much older youth that will hopefully have enough self control more so then the 5 year old.

IF the kids start messing with your props, tell them sharply NO! snap your finger and give them the look. Let them know you have authority.

When Im doing fairs I always have my wand with me. If the kids start getting into things they shouldn't be getting into, I tell their parents. If they don't have any parents with them I bring my wand out and point it at them while giving them the look that tells them I mean business.

IF you can control your audience full of kids successfully, the parents will know you are good with kids and you will be getting more children shows.

When I do shows that I know will have kids, I always tell the adults that they need to be watching the show withe kids to help me keep them under control. Let the parents know if they don't do that, that I have the authority to move the misbehaving kid out of the room because its my business, its the kid's shows the kids what to see it but they can't because someone is acting up.
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Ed_Millis
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Ibm_usa: Thank you for your comments. Reaaly - it sounds pretty much like the way I handled my own kids!

A couple of items, though: I'm not a professional - I'm an amateur wanting to gain experience and "face time" with a live audience. And I really don't want "kids-only" shows - I'm aiming for a whole-family market. With these 'tweens", it will be difficult to tell their parents anything, because most of them will be there without their parents.

I am definitely striving to make my presentations as visually and mentally stimulating as possible. It's my lack of professionalism - and the various audience management skills that come with the experience that makes you professional - that gives me pause. I'm going to go through with it. I'm just looking for good ways to handle possible situations.

Part of the situation is that the event is mainly for younger children, and so most of my presentations will be geared for 5-10 year olds. Very boring for the "cool" older kid. But I've gotten some good advice, and I think I just might be able to pull it off.

Thanks!
Ed
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I like to find the one kid who is the "leader of the pack" and win them over by having them pick the card for the Invisible Deck (or whatever) at that age they tend to feed off of peer pressure so if you can win over the leader the rest will usually fall in line.
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vincentmusician
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Yes. Older kids. I have heard some Magicians are a bit worried. Some good advice is here. Do your more adult material. Also, have a few heckler proof magic routines ready to go. Also, I like the idea someone said of having magic that the volunteers do not handle.It means you are more in control. It will take time to try out many different types of magic. The ones that get constant heckling you can eliminate and the ones that get silence from older kids you know can be your go to routines. Cheers.
Drylid
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Quote:
On Jul 24, 2009, Strange Tasting Fish Sticks wrote:
Ed have you thought about using sponge balls? These are great for kids and adults I think, and the one where you put one in your hand and one in theirs and it travels kills.

I 100% agree with this statement. Back when I worked at a local magic shop, we were right on the river walk so it was tourist crazy there. I had to do shows ever 15 min to draw them in and get them to buy stuff. Spongeballs sold like wildfire to all of them. Even more so than hummer card
thegreatscungilli
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This is an old thread but if you want to do effects without having kids touch the props or cards, in the age of COVID you have a good reason. I bought a little metal sword (with a little story) that I can let people use to point out a card, or stab into the deck while I do a riffle, or point to a selection or a coin etc.. Gives the spectator something to hold without touching your cards or props. Afterward show the folks that you spray the sword with alcohol. Lots of other ways to let spectators make a choice with out letting them handle stuff.
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