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Danny Diamond
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Connecticut
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Hello,

I am working a one-day kid's event this weekend, hosted by a local radio station. It's a pretty big local event and they have about 7-8 entertainers lined up to perform throughout the day. My slot is 11-11:30am. There is a magician/clown on right before me, and he is the first act of the day - his slot is 10:30-11am. And right after me is another clown, from 11:30-noon, followed by another magician at noon.

In talking to the organizer, she had mentioned that they were pretty "laid-back" as far as the schedule went - meaning, if an act ran a few minutes long, or started a few minutes late, no big deal. The schedule is basically a guideline for the day.

This is the first time I will be part of an entertainment lineup like this, so I was looking for general advice on this type of gig.

The way I am planning for it is as follows: arrive and be inside with my gear by 10:45am. Take the stage as soon as the first act finishes, and take 5-minutes to set up. Perform a 20-minute, three routine set. Take 5-minutes to break down and pack up and leave the stage.

My set-up and breakdown time might be even shorter if I choose to not use my Jet-Set (depending on the look of the main stage area, I may or may not use my backdrop).

Audio is another question for me. I have my own amp which should work well for this event, but I know they have their own audio set up as well. Do most entertainers use the house audio at an event like this? Using theirs would obviously cut down my set-up time too.

I feel pretty confident - I'm bringing my own audio and backdrop, just to have with me in case I need it. But if I need to simply roll my table out and start my act without a backdrop and with their audio, I can do that too. I will bring a gim-crac mic holder, in case I need to use their wired mic.

I feel I have my bases pretty well-covered, but I just wanted to maybe get some feedback from those who may have done this type of thing before. Are there other things to consider when working an event like this?
You don't drown by falling in the water;

you drown by staying there.



- Edwin Louis Cole
magicgeorge
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Belfast
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Be glad you're on second. I wouldn't want to be the 8th guy on, that day.

I'd use the house audio but see if I could plug my wireless system into it and have my own amp with me just in case.
Danny Diamond
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Connecticut
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Quote:
On 2011-04-13 09:23, magicgeorge wrote:
Be glad you're on second. I wouldn't want to be the 8th guy on, that day.


Well yes, I am glad I am on early. But after noon, the entertainers switch from magicians/clown, to dancers and singers. So there is variety. And the crowd basically changes throughout the day, people coming and going at the event.
You don't drown by falling in the water;

you drown by staying there.



- Edwin Louis Cole
Dr. Delusion
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Eugene, Oregon.
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We work several events each year like this one. I'm with George on using the house system. Odds are the only mic that they'll have will be a hand held type with a stand, so if you have your own wireless one, bring it along with everything needed to get it hooked into the system they provide. The main thing is be flexable and have fun. I would also bring a few extra tricks. It's no fun to see the act before you performing one of the tricks you planned on doing.
Have fun and the best of luck to you.
Bob.
Danny Diamond
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Connecticut
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Quote:
On 2011-04-13 10:48, Dr. Delusion wrote:
I would also bring a few extra tricks. It's no fun to see the act before you performing one of the tricks you planned on doing.


Ah yes! I did think of this. I will bring an extra trick or two, just in case - but the three routines I have planned are pretty original to me - not really "stock" kid show effects. So I'm not too worried about the guy before me doing anything I will be doing.
You don't drown by falling in the water;

you drown by staying there.



- Edwin Louis Cole
Al Angello
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Eternal Order
Collegeville, Pa. USA
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Danny
Use the house amp, you can always plug in your own mic in case they only have hand held mic's. Most clowns stink, so you have a great time slot. It sounds like a perfect opportunity for a great performer to shine, so go have fun.
Al Angello The Comic Juggler/Magician
http://www.juggleral.com
http://home.comcast.net/~juggleral/
"Footprints on your ceiling are almost gone"
Potty the Pirate
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Whenever I have gigs like this, I like to call the other magicians for an informal chat before the event. This can avoid any duplication of effects, and also some may have experience of the event from previous years. It's good form to be friendly like this, and can be beneficial in many ways. There is a lot of jealousy and pride among performers, and getting to know your fellow performers a little is one of the best ways to diffuse this. It certainly can't do any harm.
MichaelCGM
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Oklahoma City
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I agree with the majority... use the house amp with your own wireless, if possible. I usually take my own system along as a back-up. I've played some venues where the house system was totally inadequate AND one where they couldn't get the house system to work. (Not likely since a radio-station is hosting, but one never knows.) Also, I wouldn't use my backdrop when working a multiple-performer gig. It may leave some people with the wrong impression (not to mention the extra time it takes and the break in uniformity among the acts).

Good luck and have fun!
Magically Yours,

Magical Michael

MagicalMichael.com Smile Laus Deo!
Alan Munro
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Kentwood, Michigan, USA
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I use the house system, because it's not practical for every performer to set-up and pack a system. I have my mike handy, in case I need it. If the budget is really limited or setup needs to be simple, I may only use my gimcrack.

I try to get as much information as possible and I may even call the sound man before I arrive, to go over details. Usually, a wireless headset is available, or if the system is built in to the facility, a lavalier mike is available. I just play things by ear and keep things simple.

For those who don't perform often, this kind of gig should be motivation to get the setup, performance and packing down to a system. Otherwise, these kinds of gigs can be real headaches.
themagiciansapprentice
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Essex, UK
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Alan's correct - keep set-up down to a minimum. And potty's amde a good point about contacting the guy in front, maybe you could already have your table at the back of the stage ready to roll-forward.

Normally, I leave the sound to the people there, but always have my own ready in the case or car.

The worst thing I've found about this type of show is starting late, then getting mad signals from the organisers to cut my act short.
Have wand will travel! Performing children's magic in the UK for Winter 2014 and Spring 2015.
Mary Mowder
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Sacramento / Elk Grove, CA
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Wind, even a slight breeze is an issue with Jet-Sets out doors. Even with a weight the curtain can blow and upstage you. Skip it for all out door events. It's a hassle to carry, set up and take down. You'll look more pro. without it.

Take your Jet-Set out doors and try it, you'll see what I mean.

-Mary Mowder
Payne
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Seattle
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You'll need to give the audience a few minute break between sets so they can reset. You'll have people who want to leave. Others who have come to see you specifically and there will be those who just want need to use the facilities or grab a drink from a food booth. If you try to go on right after you'll have an audience that is in transition and thus distracted. So make sure theres a few minutes between sets.
"America's Foremost Satirical Magician" -- Jeff McBride.
Tony James
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Cheshire UK
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Mary has spotted something I'm not clear about. Inside or outside? Two totally different styles of operation, even though some of your props may be the same.

If i's outside you have the additional aspect of pulling an audience. And then holding them. If the act ahead is good you can pick up their audience - provided you are very quick. You've got to be able to start straight in. No delay, no time to set or most of the audience will drift and when they start to go they go fast. So no set up time. On and straight into the act. This will influence the props you use.

On the other hand an indifferent act may end up with no audience at all for you to pick up on and you will have to start from scratch. So think about it and how you may have to react to the situation you find.

Children's entertainers are used to an audience already there. Outdoors you have to pull an audience and build it and that is an art in itself.

Keep it simple, visual and above all, fast. Outdoor audiences will hang in better. They don't generally respond to the fine detail and subtleties which work at shows inside.

And when you finish, get out of it fast. Remember, there's another act ready to come straight on and pick up your audience.
Tony James

Still A Child At Heart
Ken Dumm
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For shows like this, I use a short countdown with music and funny announcements between the tracks of music. It's usually 4-5 minutes. The end of the countdown introduces me, so I don't have to wait for an organizer to bring me up to start the show. The music and the announcements lets folks know another show will be starting shortly, and lets me get my stuff up and ready to go. I use the announcements Tim Hannig put out a few years back. Here's the link:

http://www.behindthecurtaindvd.com/

Best $40 I've spent...

Ken
Ken Dumm
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The Show Starts is the title of the CD on the link above...

Ken
Ken Northridge
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Quote:
On 2011-04-13 12:37, Potty the Pirate wrote:
Whenever I have gigs like this, I like to call the other magicians for an informal chat before the event. This can avoid any duplication of effects, and also some may have experience of the event from previous years. It's good form to be friendly like this, and can be beneficial in many ways. There is a lot of jealousy and pride among performers, and getting to know your fellow performers a little is one of the best ways to diffuse this. It certainly can't do any harm.


I agree with Doug. If there is anyway you can talk to the other entertainers before the event to prevent repeat effects or bits of business its a good idea. I personally don't mind too much but its a sign of respect for your fellow performers.

I, and others, were hired to do some walk around magic for a corporate gig in which Jeff McBride was going to do the stage act. I remember he came out to tell us what effects were off limits. This included the mouth coil! I don't know anyone who does a mouth coil for walk around, but, whatever. He was nice about it, just insistent.
"Love is the real magic." -Doug Henning
www.KenNorthridge.com
Tony James
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Cheshire UK
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Ken Dumm - this clearly works for you in America but I doubt you'd find it as effective in the UK. Audiences are very hard in the UK.

Payne's post and mine crossed. Payne - you're right. In an ideal world you would want a break and it is undesirable to have "an audience that is in transition and thus distracted."

But that is what you have to do in order to keep a proportion of that audience which is already in place. If you don't then the booker records that the act couldn't hold the audience because unless you give them something visual - something to see, some action - then you will lose them. Maybe not in America but certainly in the UK.

No act can expect to keep a whole inherited audience. Of course a proportion will move away but you have to hold on to the majority and then build that audience again during your act. What you must not do is lose them. You won't be remembered for the good things you achieved. Few bookers notice what you do or are even interested. They do notice how well you hold and build an audience and the size of it. The bigger the audience the more successful the act. Not how clever - just how big. Size does matter.

I have seen it happen countless times and very sadly it is often magicians who lose an audience gifted to them by the previous act. I have handed over audiences of several hundred to acts who knew when I started mine that they had exactly 25 minutes to be ready. They weren't and within four or five minutes their audience plunged from maybe 500 to 50 to under 20. They just get up and walk away.

And remember - it's the adults who take the children away because they - the adults - are not impressed. Time was parents wouldn't expect to be entertained by that which appealed to their children so they sat them down to watch and observed their offspring from a distance. Not any more. Not for several years. Not here in the UK anyway. Parents now sit with their children and often right at the front, blocking the view for children sat behind. If they are bored, even though their children are delighted, they get up and walk and take their children with them.

UK audiences are hard to please.

So in practical terms you have to jump in and takeover regardless of the people leaving and moving and you have to start work instantly. You have maybe one minute to establish yourself or you will spend the next 24 minutes fighting to get and keep your audience on side.

I am interested to know if my experience of outside working in the UK over the last 35 years reflects the situation in America.

Or are audiences very different with you?
Tony James

Still A Child At Heart
Ken Dumm
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I agree with you Tony, you try to hold the crowd, but at times, getting control of the stage, especially if there's an act in front of you with a lot of props or instruments, can be impossible. I would rather be handed the mic and start my show, but if that's impossible, the music and announcements keeps the entertainment atmosphere going till I can control the stage.

Ken
Mr. Pitts
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David Pitts
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I think a US audience at an outdoor event will behave in much the same way as you describe the UK audience Tony. They will sit with their children, up front, and expect to be entertained as well. If they get bored, they leave and take the kids. It's a good idea to engage them immediately, and doing something visual is effective. Don't squander your audience with a long set-up. Engage the audience as soon as the announcer stops talking (if you have an announcer).

Will there be a stage manager to help keep things moving?

Mary's advice about the backdrop is good, even if the show is indoors. On a variety stage like that, you are better off being minimalist, make it about the act, not the set. Use the house sound if possible, as others have said. But it's a good idea to bring back up if you've never worked with the event before. I have two events similar to what you describe coming up this month. One is a repeat and I know they have good, professional sound, so I won't bring back-up. The other is a new event for me, at a mall, and they've assured me the sound will be good, but since I haven't done this mall before, I'm bringing my sound just in case. The mall event is going to be weird because they want me to do 15 minute sets with short breaks in between for all afternoon. In between will be dancers and singers, also doing very brief sets. I'm packing light but bringing two different 15 minute acts. It's going to be weird and maybe not very good, but I'm determined to be the professional and make my little sets stand out and be tight. I asked if there would be a stage manager and they said there would be.
David Pitts
The Astonishing Mr. Pitts
Comedy Magician and Ventriloquist
http://www.mrpitts.com
Ken Dumm
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You're right David, keeping set up to a minimum is a must.

Ken
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