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John Breeds
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Just surfing and saw an entertainer's 'Friendly Guidance' list. One of the items that caught my eye was the following about disruptive behaviour.

I think it's right to list this but personally I would list it on the Contract/Confirmation letter.

Do you guys have something similar about disruptive behaviour in your Terms and Conditions?

Disruptive Behaviour. It is not the responsibility of the performer to control disruptive behaviour.

John
Potty the Pirate
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Absolutely not! But I know some folks who do. In my opinion, this is not the right message to send to clients. They are likely to infer that disruptive behaviour is common in your shows, and therefore you don't engage the kids. And they'd probably be right. Give the kids a great show, and the only form of disruption is likely to be overly-enthusiastic kids who are constantly "in-your-face", they're so caught up in everything.
Why would you want to suggest negatives like this to clients? In my opinion, it's the sign of a less-than-capable performer.
themagiciansapprentice
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I'm torn between the two ideas here. I like to have the parents dealing with any potential disturbance (and not talking themselves) BUT have never had a problem at a party that a bit of humour didn't solve. Especially if a puppet instructs young child to go back to their seat.
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kidshowvent
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I've never had a problem with disruptive children but I am inclined to not put it in my contract and just handle it on a case by case basis if and when it happens. I've always thought I should be the entertainer and not the disciplinarian, but that's just my view of it. I'm sure it could be justified in certain cases. By the way, John, I enjoyed your book "Creative Kids Magic (and Triple Your Income). Although I'm a kidshow vent there is a lot of good information in your book!

Mark
knick23
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Hi John, unless I'm mistaken, you've found this on my website. If I'm honest I did have reservations about sneaking this one into my 'Friendly guidance' list, for fear of the negative connotations that it suggests, but I felt that it was necessary. Many of my appointments tend to come from community groups where disruptive behaviour has come from children/young adults outside of the target audience. Likewise, the same can be said of households, where older siblings want to 'crash' the party. While the disruption is often minor, I feel that in some instances it can detract from my show and that contrary to common belief, I'm not a glorified childminder - for ALL their children and one should never be the only adult present.
Saying that, incorporating it into the contract may well be a better idea.

And as for P's infallible insight 'Less than capable performer'....och! I can't be bothered.
Potty the Pirate
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Knick - please don't just assume that because I say it suggests a "less than capable performer", that means you. We don't even know if John was referring to your website anyway! I was talking in general terms, and suggesting how customers may perceive a clause like this. Honestly, this doesn't read well to prospective clients....so I'd suggest that re-phrasing the clause would be most beneficial. Why not just say "at least one responsible adult is required to be present at all times"? I mention this to folks booking me for weddings, as it's the most likely place I'll be left alone with the kids. In justification, I simply say that should a child need to go to the bathroom, feel ill, etc, I'm not able to attend to the child, as I'm entertaining the rest of the kids.
I do know some performers who insist on including clauses like this - in fact I know of one who says that if the kids are uncontrollable, he reserves the right to stop mid-show, but will still expect his full fee. This would ring big alarm bells to me as a mum or dad, and I'd be reluctant to accept that the performer in question really knows his stuff.
seadog93
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I wonder if there is a more positive way to say the same thing?

I definitely need at least one or two parents at the show and usually all the adults watch and take care of the kids (which is my ideal).
"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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TheAmbitiousCard
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If you have any creativity, experience, charisma, wit and personality at all you can not only deal with disruptions, you can turn them into funny and entertaining moments in your show.

I welcome disruptions as they add to my show. One way or the other it always seems to add a comedy element that would not be there otherwise.
If you think about it, your basic sucker effect encourages disruption. Yes?

You can't tell me that after several years of shows you haven't "seen it all". Why not be prepared and look like a pro.

Knick, if it detracts from your show, you need to figure out how to make it add to your show. Period. Make it a goal. Embrace the distraction and invite the disruptor into your crazy little world of insanity. Or whatever...
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John Breeds
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Hi Louie

Yes, it was your website. I obviously didn’t name you simply because i) it would have been unprofessional, and ii) I foresaw the variable connotations that my post would bring about.

Now that Doug has added his reasons I tend to agree with both sides.

However, as the old Seadog implies a potential booker may twist both positive and negative statements to arrive at an opposite meaning.

For example, here in the UK, many entertainers make a big thing in their Ads as being registered with the CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) with enhanced Police Check. But a mom might say to herself: ‘Why has this guy had to get a police check done on him? Is he a bit dodgy with children?’

Another example: Full Payment must made immediately after the show. But a mom might say to herself: ‘Why is this guy making such a big deal out of getting paid? Is his show so bad that many before me have quibbled over payment.

I could go on with many other examples of where folks could twist the meaning. I guess we’re all different.

John


Quote:
On 2011-03-23 13:51, kidshowvent wrote:
By the way, John, I enjoyed your book "Creative Kids Magic (and Triple Your Income). Although I'm a kidshow vent there is a lot of good information in your book!
Mark
markwade@kidshowvent.com
http://www.kidshowvent.com

Gee. Thanks Mark

That's very kind of you to say how much you enjoyed my scribbles.

John
LMLipman
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I don't put anything like that in my contract, but often -- after I've booked the show and I'm following up with the client -- I mention that I talk with the birthday child to explain what behavior I expect of him/her. I do it with with the parent because I've found that sometimes the birthday child is so hopped up he or she needs a little talking down to behave properly. I agree with Frank that often you can turn disruption into comedy, but sometimes one kid may be so disruptive to the other children that I have asked parents to step in, after I've tried to control the child myself.
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knick23
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As previously mentioned I get good work from community groups and some from local government also where the CRB check is a standard requirement (for what it's worth!), so I make note of it on the site. I suppose it may seem a bit suggestive to the 'mum' on the street, many of whom, in my experience, have no notion of it. I imagine that it may get to the point where you'll seem conspicuous if you aren't checked.

Is there a comparable check in the states?
seadog93
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For me, after any party with a 'disruptive' kid that I feel I didn't handle as well as could have I always go back to "Kid Control" by Julian Franklin. I don't do shows regularly enough to have put everything into practice so there is always more for me to learn.
I just had a party this last Saturday that was fine, everyone (kids, parents and me) was satisfied with how I dealt with the 'disruptive' kids. In hindsight I used a lot of principles from Franklin's books. Still I don't feel that it was as elegantly handled as it could have been, so I'm re-reading "kid Control". So far so good.
"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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Christopher Lyle
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This entire thread makes me very sad...

If you don't know how to manage your audience then maybe doing shows isn't for you... serioulsy!
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Andrew Zuber
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So before I work a comedy club full of drunks, should I tell the owner ahead of time what behavior I expect of his patrons? I've worked for drunk people and I've worked for rowdy children - give me the children any day. They're FAR easier to deal with. That said, I've learned to handle both. When you perform for live audiences, that's part of the deal. It's not always going to go exactly as planned. You have to learn to go with the flow and work with the audience. If you're not comfortable handling rowdy children, you probably shouldn't be performing for children. You're doing magic tricks, they're hopped up on cake and ice cream, there are presents and friends around...of course they're going to be a little rambunctious. This isn't nap time, it's a party.

I don't see anything wrong with a contract stating that at least one adult should be present to supervise the kids, but I wouldn't personally mention what behavior I expect or anything else that could come across as negative. It could actually offend some parents, as though you're implying that their children are out of control or they don't properly monitor them. I would never have a discussion with a child about his behavior unless it was an extreme circumstance and I had to say something to keep the show moving, but even then it would only be a lighthearted comment worked into the patter. You're there to entertain. Let the parents do the parenting.
"I'm sorry - if you were right, I would agree with you." -Robin Williams, Awakenings
John Breeds
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Quote:
On 2011-03-23 15:07, knick23 wrote:
Many of my appointments tend to come from community groups where disruptive behaviour has come from children/young adults outside of the target audience. Likewise, the same can be said of households, where older siblings want to 'crash' the party. While the disruption is often minor, I feel that in some instances it can detract from my show and that contrary to common belief, I'm not a glorified childminder

Frank, any seasoned performer knows how to deal with disruptions. The question here is where should an entertainer draw attention about responsibility for disruptive behaviour; ie as part of the sales pitch or in a Confirmation letter.

I have already said that imo, I would put such a clause in my Standard Contract, Terms and Conditions or Confirmation letter. I certainly would not include a disruptive behaviour clause in any sales pitch.

However, I can empathize (and sympathise) with Louie’s need to put in such a clause in his Friendly Guidance on his website. Let me explain why. I live just a few miles away from Prince Charles' residence at Highgrove in Wilts, UK. It’s a very, very posh area, with posh schools and posh kids. One particular school has a dictum in Latin, which I think means: ‘Challenge Everything; Accept Nothing at Face Value’.

Despite being a hard-boiled professional I rarely looked forward to working for a child from this particular school. If I said to a 5yr old that; ‘The sun is now shining brightly,’ he would instantly disagree and challenge me with the conditional terms of my statement. For example: “No it isn’t! The sun is quite dim compared with the earth’s North Star. Furthermore, how do you know that light from the sun shone now when it originated several minutes ago, taking into account the speed of light!’ Yes, all this from a precocious 5yr old who could tie me up in knots with his big words and dominant personality.

Some of these little brats are hell-bent on trying to disrupt a show. At the start of a show one of them would stand up and chant: “Boring, boring, boring!” And this would continue until everyone joined in. Seeing the poor entertainer crumble would be their sport and fun.

It’s no good saying ‘Oh they wouldn’t do that if your show was entertaining’. Being disruptive and challenging is their sport. This is why I can empathize with Louie (Knick23). He sometimes has to work in community groups where disruptive behaviour is the norm. The responsibility to quieten down the culpable kids is with the adults – not the performer.

It goes without saying that at least two adults per 30 kids should always be present whether you are working in a school, library, private party or village hall. This is for all sorts or reasons, which is part of a different topic.

John


Quote:
On 2011-03-23 20:02, Christopher Lyle wrote:
This entire thread makes me very sad...
If you don't know how to manage your audience then maybe doing shows isn't for you... seriously!

Chris
With respect, I think you may have misunderstood the main point of this topic.
The topic is not about how to handle disruptive kids, but where you point out whose responsibility it is, ie. in your website or in your Contract.

Personally I never did either! Smile

John
seadog93
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John,
Your story about the Posh kids makes me think of the "Big Fat Gypsy Wedding" thread we had a few days ago (esp. TonyB2009's thoughts).



I've heard enough horror stories by seasoned pros (many right here on this board) that I'm pretty sure ANYONE can have a party get completely out of control. I could be wrong. I've never had it happened, but I tend to write that off to lack of experience. maybe I'll change my mind when I reach the point where I consider myself to be a seasoned pro . For safety sake that will be after I retire, so I can't be proven wrong (I learned that from older parents who like to tell younger parents what to do! Smile )
"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

Seadog=C-Dawg=C.ou.rtn.ey Kol.b
Christopher Lyle
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Quote:
On 2011-03-23 20:45, John Breeds wrote:
Quote:
On 2011-03-23 20:02, Christopher Lyle wrote:
This entire thread makes me very sad...
If you don't know how to manage your audience then maybe doing shows isn't for you... seriously!

Chris
With respect, I think you may have misunderstood the main point of this topic.
The topic is NOT about how to handle disruptive kids, but WHERE you point out whose responsibility it is, ie. in your website or in your Contract.

Personally I never did either! Smile

John

John,

I fully understand what the topic is about...and I still find it very sad indeed! If you're having so many issues while performing your act that you feel the need to bring attention to it in a contract or on your website, then perhaps being an entertainer is not for you.

Frank brought up a good point...

If I'm being honest, I love when things stray out of the norm. I enjoy the interaction with my audience and I think it makes the show more exciting and personal. I know that not all do and that's fine, but to make mention of it like the original poster was talking about is just very sad...

Christopher
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Christopher Lyle
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TheAmbitiousCard
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John,
I agree with you that it should not be on a website. It shows potential weakness or at least an inability to handle something unexpected.
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Potty the Pirate
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I'm with Chris and Frank on this one. I don't see any place for statements about disruptive behaviour in any of your marketing or contracts, whether written or verbal. I believe in telling folks what you can do, not what you can't.
On occasion, a Mom will bring this up herself during our conversation. "Last year we had a magician, and the kids were running around all over the place. The poor man just couldn't get them to pay attention." "Our son is very boisterous, as are some of his friends. Do you think you can handle them?" "I don't think my 4-year old would sit and watch a show for a whole hour, he's got a very short attention span." etc. In answer to these questions, I reassure the Mom that I normally have no problems like this, kids enjoy the show, and the only thing that might happen is some of them are overly-enthusiastic, and may keep standing up or trying to pet the puppets, etc. I may also add that in the very unlikely scenario that the kids aren't paying attention, it's no problem to take a break from the show and to play a couple of active games, etc. Actually, in practise, I've never had to do this.
I believe good audience management starts with good show structure and routining. If your show starts off by getting all the kids to react and engage with you, then builds as each routine is more engaging than the last, and of course, all the material is appropriate for the ages of kids present - then the kids will be riveted. Your show should be a lot more entertaining than watching TV, because it's live, and hopefully it's all new and exciting.
As I mentioned, having a clause insisting that at least one responsible adult is present should be sufficient.
I'll be performing again this year for a group of autistic kids. They were pretty rambunctious in the past - but apparently I'm the only performer who's ever been able to get them to sit and watch an hour's show. Personally, I think these kids are GREAT, and I can't wait to see them again. They love to be part of the show, which is rather charming, since they normally don't get involved with activities and tend to be loners.
I firmly believe that if your show is right, and your personality is engaging to the kids, "disruptive behaviour" (as Frank has said) can only enhance things.
John Breeds
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Quote:
I fully understand what the topic is about...and I still find it very sad indeed! If you're having so many issues while performing your act that you feel the need to bring attention to it in a contract or on your website, then perhaps being an entertainer is not for you.
Christopher


Chris
Oh dear. Have I misunderstood you now? Are you implying that I must have tons of issues while performing because I started a debate about where to put guidance clauses, or indeed, if they should be included at all (either in a Contract or on your website)?

Just to clarify... Before retiring I had around 8000 professionally paid children's shows under my belt. In addition, I've authored books on children's entertainment and invented several (well known) tricks, received nearly 900 unsolicited written testimonials, as well as giving advice on how to write and plan a Standard Contract. So I think I'm in position to give guidance or ask pertinent questions to launch a helpful debate and help others in a positive way (not a flaming negative way).

John
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