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SmithMagicMan
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Ive been in magic for about a year, and I have a wide range of kids and close up props. On saturday, I did a childrens party, my first.
It was in this big sports centre and the acoustics weren't great, so loud etc.

I was mildly confident, I had a fair few tricks, and The childs mum was a friend of mine. There were about 23 6-7 year olds.

I went in, and I could instantly tell that the kids were hyper.
When they sat down ready for it, there were boys pushing and shoving and people.

I performed:-

Mental Photography Deck - OK reaction.
Flower Box Production - OK reaction
Vanishing Hankie - Reasonably good reaction
MouthCoil Routine - Good reaction
D-lites - Great reaction
Killer Cut John Kaplan - Poor Reaction
Breakaway Wand - Poor Reaction
Colouring Book - Good reaction.
Expanding Wand - Alright reaction

The kids were getting up close, pulling on my props, looking inside my case, trying to tear my hankies etc, just hyper.

It was not a great experience.
I then found myself running out of tricks. I gathered that most tricks are quick and only last a few seconds.

Two things which I ask your help, Magic Café,

1) How can I control the children and make the experience more enjoyable for myself.
2) Are there any tricks that span the show out a little, but don't let the kids get bored?

Thanks, James.
Potty the Pirate
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Blimey, James, you need to read "Seriously Silly" by David Kaye first off. And whilst you're waiting for that to arrive, read through the archives here at the Little Darlings. Of course, most tricks only last a few seconds. You'll hear this over and over: "it's the journey, not the destination." When you learn to keep the kids rolling about with laughter for ten minutes, using a trick that you could show in ten seconds, you'll understand what kids' entertainment is all about.
Well done for being brave enough to post here, you sound very inexperienced, and your post is remarkably naive (I don't mean that in a nasty way, just telling you like it is), and I'm sure you'll have many folks pointing you in the right direction. If you want to get some idea of how it's done, check out the videos from some of those on this forum. You're welcome to have a look at mine. The web addresses are in my signature.
I sincerely wish you all the best, and it's rather nice to have someone here who is able to admit that they really are just learning what our Art is all about. I find that far more endearing than those who think they know it all, when they obviously don't.
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ColinDymond
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Watch other people, even the bad ones and work, work, work! After you have done a hundred shows you will be better, after a thousand you should be well in to your stride!
But there is always more ot learn. That's the fun of it.
Oh, by the way. Do you like kids? That helps.

Colin Dymond
http://www.aceofdiamonds.co.uk
SmithMagicMan
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Thank you very much for your help guys.

I do like kids, I was very nice, calm and patient, but it didn't really pay off, maybe because I was too nice?
I am very inexperienced at kids magic.
I'm pretty good at Close-Up and cards, but actually performing kids magic to kids was really really hard.

I'd love to have kids rolling around in laughter for ages from one trick, there's nothing better than proper laughter!

Thanks again, James.


Edit: I just watched the video trailer for seriously silly dvds, they seem amazing! Would it be better to get the book or the DVD?
Potty the Pirate
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James, you will learn with time what attitude to adopt depending on the kids you find in front of you. Sometimes nice and kind works, but more often, you need an edge. There is always more to learn, as Colin says, but before worrying about that, learn the basics.
Patience is the most important quality, I think, but you also need a whole heap of other abilities to really make headway with kids' entertainment.
Kep us in the loop how things go for you.
Potty Smile
TheAmbitiousCard
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Quote:
On 2011-09-27 15:38, SmithMagicMan wrote:
It was not a great experience.
I then found myself running out of tricks. I gathered that most tricks are quick and only last a few seconds.


Wow! To me it sounds like it WAS a great experience. No better experience than failing miserably and being willing to tell yourself that you're awful at performing for kids. Congratulations!!!

Now that you've had some good experience and if you're willing to admit that you really suck you can start getting better.

First of all, "the breakaway wand" is not a trick. It's a prop.
A mouthcoil is not a routine, it's a prop.

If you're basing an entire routine on a small prop, you're headed down the wrong path.
Those props help add texture to a routine. They are not a routine in and of themselves.

Most of my kids tricks last about 5 minutes or so. That's probably about normal.

I agree with Potty that you should get AND read "Seriously silly" as soon as you can.

Also...

other books:
"Kids think it's funny"
"Big Laughs for little people"


While you're at it, consider this: "The Rock Trick"

What if you were given a rock and were told to do a trick with it. Could you entertain children with just a rock?
If you want to be a good (kids) entertainer you should be able to entertain with just a rock.

Also, If kids are grabbing your stuff it's because you are boring them and they are looking for something else to do. Their minds have wandered.

Despite what some may tell you, we were all awful to varying degrees at our first shows. We were awful because we had no experience at doing shows.
Through the journey of poor shows we got better by recognizing what we did poorly and making those things better and by recognizing what worked and
repeating it.

BTW, how did you transition between tricks?
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dearwiseone
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James,
Congrats on surviving the show, any professional kids magician will tell you that first shows can be nightmares. It sounds like you did okay.

The best thing about the whole experience (in my mind anyway!) is that you're reviewing it. You're identifying what went well, what bombed, and you're asking what you can do better the next time! Way to go! Without examining and re-examining, we're doomed to repeat our same mistakes.

Regarding the kids going through your props, you need to have some discipline. Don't let kids come up onto the stage area while you're performing. Once one kid approaches and does something, they'll all want to approach and do something. Establish a "Do not cross" line with masking tape or something else, and lay out your expectations before the show begins. Tell the kids and parents that they are not to cross the line during the show. Establish consequences and follow through with them.

Get the Seriously Silly book right now. Seriously, order it right now. Read, read, and re-read it!

Some of the best advice I have is to watch other kids performers. Where are you located? Contact other kids entertainers in your area and ask them for help! You'll give them a chance to do a good deed and help a fellow magician, plus, you'll be able to learn something from everyone. Take note, write down what you liked and didn't like.

I know I video tape a lot of my shows, ask a fellow magician if you can sit down and watch one of their shows with them while they give you pointers.

There are several effects and routines that "span the show out" a bit. David covers much of that in his book Seriously Silly. While the routines will vary, you'll want routines that keep a high number of interactions per minute, but are also moving toward a finale or resolution.

Keep us posted! Best Wishes!
Vegasvent
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Think funny, funny, funny, funny,funny, funny, funny, funny, funny,funny, funny, funny, trick...funny, funny, funny, funny,funny, funny, funny, funny, funny,funny, funny, funny, trick, over and over. The kids want to laugh...at you, and at themselves. The trick is the icing on the cake. They mostly want the cake.
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TonyB2009
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Duane (Vegasvent) got it bang on the money. I use a lot of stories, bits of business, etc, to keep them interested. You should have a justification for everything. Why vanish a hanky? There has to be a reason. That reason give you a story to hook their interest, and the excuse to stretch the routine from a quick minute to five minutes of fun.
Get Quentin Reynolds DVD Five Minutes With A Pocket Handkerchief and you will see what I mean.
Once you get the right mentality entertaining children is easy. But it's never about the trick. It's about the fun.
The Mighty Fool
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James,
You tried...and you failed miserably. The important thing you learned is: NEVER TRY.
:rotf: Smile Smile Smile

Sorry....I got that off "The Simpsons" and I've ALWAYS wanted to use it!

Yes, absolutely get "seriously silly" and I think David Kaye also has a DVD format of the book now. For a kids show, especialy the age you were doing it for, you MUST focus on LPM (laughs per minute) as long as the kids are in hysterics, theyre enjoying themselves and theyll want to see more, and as long as the parents hear their kids laughing, they assume all is well. A famous comedian once said "Keep them laughing....it'll throw off their aim when they try to shoot you." The same applies to kids coming up & messing with your props. If the LPM is high enough, they simply wont have time to do that.
Did you use kid volunteers? Lots of them? And if so, did you reward them? That's VEEEEERY important! It gives you leverage when dealing with them.
You should have been able to get at least 7 minutes out of the vanishing hanky and 8 minutes out of the coloring book, and about 5 with the D'Lites. The hanky: you'll read it in "seriously silly" The coloring book: Again...it's in SS, and use the mouth coil as the finale. Tell the kids to throw up all the colors at once, then jerk your head back with a *GULP*!! and pull out the coil. "You mithfft!!"
Everybody wants to beleive.....we just help them along.
SmithMagicMan
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Wow! I didn't expect for all this help!

Frank- I used the breakaway wand in relationship to the mental photography deck I think, where I handed the kid the wand, it broke. There was silence, no laughter or anything. I used the mouthcoil in relation to like a tissue game - first to rip the tissue and slam it down on the floor wins, then when it had finished, I gathered the pieces together, and released the white mouthcoil.

Before the show, I placed all the tricks to the side of me, with my case blocking them, and put one down and picked another up.

Dearwiseonw- I was going to get my dad who was sat at the side of the sports hall to video it, but my parents thought that some of the childrens parents might not like that.


MightyFool- 7 minutes off a vanishing hankie? How on earth could they not get bored?!

I did get kid volunteers, not loads, but quite a few.
I didn't reward them, because I only charged £25 for the halfhour show and balloons, and I got through a whole bag of balloons, that cost me £7 to replace, I just didn't want to spend all the money buying sweets to reward the kids with.


Thanks again guys, James.
ColinDymond
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Change you balloon supplier. Try Playtime balloons.

Posted: Sep 28, 2011 3:39am
Also depending on where you are based you could join your local magic club. If it' s a good one you can learn a lot from them.
Leland
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Sounds a lot like my first kids show!

Not to worry it gets better as you do more shows and grow.
Life of Magic!
TonyB2009
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Quote:
On 2011-09-28 02:43, SmithMagicMan wrote:
7 minutes off a vanishing hankie? How on earth could they not get bored?!

Check out Quentin Reynolds pocket hanky routine (it's on youtube) and you'll see how. I get eight to ten minutes out of a simple thumb tip vanish of a silk ribbon, and ten solid minutes out of eating a balloon. These are not padded minutes; they are solid laughs for the duration. You need to see that there is far more to it than the final magic pay-off. It is a journey, with many turns and diversions before the finale. It takes me five minutes to vanish my ribbon, and another three to find it again. That's the way you need to think. For kids you are more of a comedian doing magic than a magician.
Ed_Millis
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There is a great diffrence between _showing_ kids a magic trick and _involving_ them in a magic trick. I learned that when I had a five-year-old walk up to me in the middle of a routine, declare "You're boring!", and walk off! They want to play with you, not just watch you play. If you brought all those toys and they can't touch them, what fun is that?!?

Depending on the age of the kids, there's a lot of stuff that is "awesome magic" to you that they won't understand at all. Young kids don't follow card plots very well, and they don't always make a distinction between one card and another. (Nothing like having a kid sincerely tell you "That wasn't my card." when you *know* it is because you marked it!! He just didn't place any importance on which one it was and doesn't understand that it's a big deal.)

One of the best educations I got was watching a professional clown entertain a group of fivers - she kept them totally engaged for almost 15 minutes with one round balloon. She is my entertainment hero!

Ed
SmithMagicMan
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Yeah, I'm already in the Shropshire Magical Society, it's good, but there aren't many kids entertainers there, and most of the lectures are on close up.

I did see a man called Jimbo do a lecture, it was great and that's where most of the tricks in my kids show come from, but I don't think any lasted for a long long time and would have got amazing laughs...



@TonyB2: How on earth can you get 10 minutes on eating a balloon?!? I know the method, but I doubt it would last longer than 30 seconds!

@Ed: I involved the kids in as many tricks as I could, for instance the colouring book, I had a large and multicoloured feather duster and told each kid who came up to go and tickle someone with colours on, it lasted about 3-5 minutes, not too bad, but I don't know how to make that interesting...


Thanks again for all your help guys, you're the best(:
Potty the Pirate
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Quote:
On 2011-09-28 10:14, Ed_Millis wrote:
....They want to play with you, not just watch you play. If you brought all those toys and they can't touch them, what fun is that?!?
Ed

Ed, that's a very good post, and the really important bit is the bit I've quoted there. This becomes less and less important as kids get older, but certainly for those kids 5 and under, this is exactly the way to think about entertaining them. Of course, kids love to get involved with your show too. That can mean anything from wiggling their fingers, saying magic words, to actually coming up in front of their friends and helping with the magic.
One of the reason I'm such a big fan of Wolf's Magic is that kids just ADORE these props. Big funky, crazy, colorful and magical objects are to kids what diamonds are to women.
One train of thought is to imagine that your magic show is a big game, where everything always seems to go wrong - even though you claim you can work magic - it's more often the kids who make the magic work.
It's funny, because I can't imagine making a silk vanish routine last less than about 7-10 minutes. I guess I could easily manage it, but I know it wouldn't be as entertaining as it can be.
Doug
SmithMagicMan
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Wowzas!

I've watched quentin's pocket hankie routine, and it looks great(:

Can I make a long routine with just a small red hankie and a TT? How!?

:)
The Mighty Fool
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By failing repeatedly in your attempts to vanish it, then again in your effort to reappear it.
Everybody wants to beleive.....we just help them along.
Potty the Pirate
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Well James, if you took my advice, you have "Seriously Silly" en route to you? You will find the answer to that question there. And, frankly, your eyes will be opened. I would be fascinated to hear your reactions to reading David Kaye's book. I think it will be a "Eureka" moment for you, as it has been for many folks. Those of us who already knew a lot of the info in that book, perhaps don't all realise just how important and basic David's book really is. It is, practically, the Bible for kids' entertainers in our modern society. I know that others will offer even more in the future, but right now, it's the most contemporary dictum on kids' entertainment, bar none.
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