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BIGmagiclV
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This happened to me today and it is the first time. I had a young (5) volunteer up for a rainbow rope trick. after some funny banter we get to the trick. I ask her to sprinkle the invisible magic pixie dust over the ropes. she does and I say "you dumped it on the floor!" big smile on my face, everybody laughing including her. I say "go ahead and pick up the dust and we'll do it again." she refuses. I egg her on to pick it up, all the time with a smile and not condescending in any way. she refuses again. she is still smiling this whole time and suddenly, she just switches and starts bawling! it was like someone flipped a switch. there was no facial segue, just smiling then crying. I sent her back to her mom, asked the audience to give her a round of applause and got another volunteer (older, this time) to finish the trick. She stopped crying right away and was laughing with everyone else the rest of the show. I've done this routine with 5 years olds many times and never had that response. I guess she was just shy.
I was just wondering if anyone else had this happen and what you did about it?
rossmacrae
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You did exactly the right thing.

The ones who do this have no idea why they suddenly cry, or that it's about to happen. They're not that self-aware yet.

Add together the fact that they're already worked up emotionally by being at a party, plus you've excited them from afar, and now they're RIGHT UP THERE CLOSE TO YOU and everybody's watching them, and they have no idea exactly what do do (but, darn, he expects something from me, I just can't think what) and then you throw them a curve ('dropped too much on the floor') and it all gushes out: "OMIGOSH I DID SOMETHING WRONG! WAAAAAAH!"

Same reason I distinctly remember getting right up to Santa through a long line when I was maybe 4, and suddenly ... what the heck does he want from me? ... what am I supposed to do? ... "WAAAAAAH!"
LVMagicAL
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Yup, BigLV....been there, had that happen to me too. I think you handled it well, making every effort not to embarrass the child and make them feel good for being a part of the show. It just happens sometimes and you just have to deal with it the best way you can and it seems as though you made the best of a potentially bad situation. I agree with Rossmacrae's comments...they are right on.
seadog93
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From what you described it seems like you did the only appropriate thing to do.
"Love is the magician who pulls man out of his own hat" - Ben Hecht

"Love says 'I am everything.' Wisdom says 'I am nothing'. Between the two, my life flows." -Nisargadatta Maharaj

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Majestic12
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I would of handed her a bucket and told her to cry into it so the rest of the audience would not drown.
solrak29
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I think you handled the situation quite well.

I've had one or two close calls myself and somehow diverted the actual crying
incident.

For some children you have to be carefull when the "joke is on them". They are
in front of their peers and may be little sensitive to being laughed at. Though,
they will laugh to (becasue everyone else is laughing or just showing they are
ok), I generally can tell that the child is uncomfortable and improvise
accodingly and quickly.
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Brian Lehr
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While this has not happened to me yet, I did have a similar experience last week at a school show. There were about 150 kids in the audience, K-6. It was in a community that had a strong Mennonite background, and very few of the kindergarten students had seen a magician before (the older ones saw me last year). And, of course, the kindergarteners were all in the front row.

The very first thing I did in the show was open with the Fire Book, to give the "rules" of the show. As soon as the flame came out of the book, five front row kids started crying. Several teachers had to come and get them, and one of the teachers decided to sit on the floor with the remaining kids, just in case.

That was a new one for me. Smile

Brian
Red Shadow
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Brian - I can't believe you perform with fire in front of kids, even more so, I can't believe the school let you do the trick. As an ex-teacher, there are tons of safety requirements and risk assessment forms the teachers fill in for us to be there. If they knew you were doing a fire trick, they would not have booked you. I don't know or care what kind of routine your doing it for, and I hate to be blunt like this, but I'm going to say it... get rid of that book from your children's show. If you had been in my school, I would not have paid you - seriously. I would consider your act an endangerment to the children and a breach of the safety policy of the school.

As for kids crying, it happens. They become overwhelmed by the whole idea of being the centre of attention. I personally have a running gag that goes on throughout my show. If I get the impression that the child is about to cry, or suddenly starts crying, I perform the running gag immediately. It doesn't matter what trick I am doing at the time, the running gag will stop the child crying and redirect their attention to laughter at whatever gag I am playing for that show (I have a few). This is by far the best way to handle the problem, because you are redirecting the emotion from fear to laughter in a blink of an eye. You can then round of the trick and let the child sit back down happy.
Since finding this solution, I very rarely get a crying child or one I cannot finish the trick with.

Steve
MrGreggy
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I agree, fire of any sort in a kids show is not a good idea.

As for the handling of the crying child, you did good. A minor change to the routine may help to keep that type of reaction from happening again. Instead of accusing the child of dumping it on the floor and asking them to pick it up, instead bend down and pick it up yourself, commenting that some spilled on the floor. Use the word "spill", it has a nicer sound than "dumped". Of course, for older children you can get away with being a bit rougher, they will get that it's a joke.

As any stand up comedian will attest, the changing of a single word in a routine can often times make a huge difference in the audiences reaction.
stijnhommes
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I suspect the joke is what set them off. It all went well up to that point.
Changing that single word as Greggy suggested could help a lot. Or even better, change it so you are the one who did something wrong, and need the kid's help to get things back on track.

I don't agree with the idea you can't perform with fire in front of children. Sure, it was probably a bad choice to put it in a show for kindergartners, because of the scare factor, but the whole safety issue is overblown.
1) You're far enough away from them to not pose an immediate hazard should you drop the flaming prop on the floor.
2) Fire safety doesn't forbid fire in a school. If it did, the canteen wouldn't be able to cook lunches.
3) Make sure you keep a bucket of water nearby and know where the nearest fire blankets and extinguishers are in case you need them.
4) The idea kids need constant protection against anything and everything is wrong. If the schools and the parents gave them the proper fire safety training, they'll know exactly what to do and do it. They deserve more credit than they are getting.

Of course, there is a difference between sudden fire and purposely lighting a lighter or a match. I remember trying to copy the magicians I saw when I was little. Don't tempt them to copy something dangerous and if you absolutely have to, just warn them not to try it without an adults permission.
TonyB2009
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There is no problem using fire in a kids show, and those who think there is are coming across as pompous scare-mongers.

In reply to the original question, sometimes a young child will burst out crying for no reason, and then you must just try to get them back to their parent or someone else they trust and they will calm down quickly.

Most times you will see the cry coming and avert it, but occasionally it comes from the blue, like it did to you.

It happened to me recently with a ten year old. I asked him to help me with a trick (he seemed to be loving the show). Instead of standing he stretched out full length on the floor and began wailing at the top of his voice. It was incredible. What was even more incredible was that the parents in the room just left him there. I tried to gently approach him, but that increased the wailing. The adults in the room indicated that I should just continue, but that was hardly an option. We had about five minutes of chaos before someone pulled the boy up and brought him to the edge of the room and calmed him down. Then we got on with the show, and they all loved it - including the boy.

I was told afterwards that he was shy, but there has to be more to it than that.
Michael Messing
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Quote:
On 2009-11-27 18:04, BIGmagiclV wrote:
I say "you dumped it on the floor!" big smile on my face, everybody laughing including her. I say "go ahead and pick up the dust and we'll do it again."


You handled the crying the best way you could but I really think you need to change your wording on the "dumping it on the floor." Greg had it right. Even though she smiled, you made it look like she made a mistake. I try to avoid that at all costs. Greg had a good way to handle that same line. I would say, "Oops, some spilled on the floor. That was my fault. I didn't hold the ropes steady. That way you take the blame.

It's a small point but I think it's important.

Michael
Red Shadow
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Well He used fire in his kids show and it got five children crying. I could argue about legal and safety issues, but quite frankly, Brian has practically already said my side of the argument himself.
If anybody continues to use fire in their kids show, don't come calling to me for a character reference when your in court.
Brian Lehr
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I used a broken wand in a show once. The kid holding the wand starting crying because he thought he broke it. I'm taking it out of the show right now!

Thankfully, things have worked out well for my "diaper on the head" routine.
James Munton
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I use the Hot Book at the beginning of EVERY kid show I do - birthdays, schools, libraries, shopping malls, etc. Thousands of shows.

In all those shows I have had a total of maybe four or five kids cry. This weekend I saw more kids cry in one hour while sitting on Santa's lap!

Best,
James
TheAmbitiousCard
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Quote:
On 2009-11-30 13:44, James Munton wrote:
... This weekend I saw more kids cry in one hour while sitting on Santa's lap!
Best,
James

Nice response. Be like James. Have the guts to do your show the way you want to.
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mr shiney
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Quote:
On 2009-11-30 14:52, Frank Starsini wrote:
Quote:
On 2009-11-30 13:44, James Munton wrote:
... This weekend I saw more kids cry in one hour while sitting on Santa's lap!
Best,
James

Nice response. Be like James. Have the guts to do your show the way you want to.


I agree
this guys got the guts and I think it works if done right.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Upvm6RClHlY
Best Job in the world

Mr Shiney
gsidhe
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Quote:
On 2009-11-30 08:08, MacGyverMagic wrote:


I don't agree with the idea you can't perform with fire in front of children. Sure, it was probably a bad choice to put it in a show for kindergartners, because of the scare factor, but the whole safety issue is overblown.
1) You're far enough away from them to not pose an immediate hazard should you drop the flaming prop on the floor.
2) Fire safety doesn't forbid fire in a school. If it did, the canteen wouldn't be able to cook lunches.
3) Make sure you keep a bucket of water nearby and know where the nearest fire blankets and extinguishers are in case you need them.
4) The idea kids need constant protection against anything and everything is wrong. If the schools and the parents gave them the proper fire safety training, they'll know exactly what to do and do it. They deserve more credit than they are getting.



I am not going to enter into the debate as to whether or not you use fire in shows for children...Just a minor correction on fire safety-
A bucket of water is not what you need on hand. Used with the wrong fuel and you have just made a flaming puddle over a larger area. If you are going to use fire in any venue, you need to have an extinguisher within a couple of feet of where you are performing and a large water soaked cotton cloth. That can put out errant flames on the prop, the stage and on people very effectively.
Also- Chances are your liability insurance does not cover fire. If you are performing with fire, make sure that it does. And contact the fire marshal for any fees or inspections that need to be done before you perform.
Sounds like a lot of hassle?
It is. But I do it for every single show that includes fire. If you don't...In many places you are breaking the law. If I did it where I live and was caught-Even just lighting a match in the wrong building- Up to $10,000 in fines.
Fire is not just another prop. It can kill people, even if they don't copy what you are doing at home.
Gwyd
gsidhe
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Side note- Watch this.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DZagmz0UqlA
Or even this...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ZcIWwkJYZk

Again...Fire is not a prop you can pull out like a deck of cards.
harris
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Harris Deutsch
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I chose to stop using fire, because of copy cats. My personal choice. Others can make their own decisions.

As a former "Santa Helper" at a mall, I have seen my share of crying kids. Some will even cry at a loud noise, or if they seem to have made a mistake.(by following what the magician told them to do)

Harris
still too old to know everything
Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
drlaugh4u@gmail.com
music, magic and marvelous toys
http://magician.org/member/drlaugh4u
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