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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The little darlings » » Princess in a Pickle--Question (12 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Ken Northridge
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I’ve recently added Silly Billy’s Princess in a Pickle routine to my act.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2o2CUS7ieHw

Because Silly Billy’s routine has automatic laughs, is a quality prop, and plays big-packs flat, it has quickly entered my A show status. I’ve been doing in every show and have really been enjoy it.

The most comical part is when the frog (boy) and the Princess (girl) are supposed to kiss. This a wonderful moment of drama and comedy that works almost every time.

However, I’ve now had 3 cases where the boy and girl appear painfully uncomfortable and embarrassed. One time, as my boy volunteer sat down, he swatted me on the back as to punish me for the embarrassment, then began to cry and had to be consoled by his teacher.

Let face it, if you’ve made your audience cry you’ve totally failed as a children’s entertainer!

For those of you who do this routine, what am I doing something wrong? And with all the talk of gender neutrality, is this even appropriate? (A growing number of people think it is wrong to label any person a boy or a girl.)

Its caused me to reevaluate its A show status. To me, an A show routine can be done in any situation and will always get the reaction you desire.

Can this be fixed or will it end up as another victim of political correctness?
"Love is the real magic." -Doug Henning
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MichaelCGM
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Several points.

First, having an occasional child cry does not, necessarily make one a failure as a children's entertainer. I've had that occur during my Needle-Balloon (some kids are afraid of loud noises), during my Axtel Drawing Board (some kids are afraid of anything they don't understand - *gasp* "A talking picture!!", and a few times because a child was just frightened in the group setting.

Second, An "A" show routine that "will always get the reaction you desire" is the Holy Grail. I've been in magic for 50+ years and have found no such beast. It would certainly be wonderful, but I don't expect that I will ever find such a routine. Some come extraordinarily close though (mostly bright-colored production routines). If y'all find one that always gets the reaction you wanted, please share. :o)

Third, I don't use the "Princess In A Pickle" routine, but I'm not sure how we might know what you may be doing wrong (if anything) without seeing your own personal routine. But I would bet that it's likely that you are doing nothing wrong and merely had a run of bad luck in selecting your volunteers. It's slightly possible (again without seeing your routine), that you may put more emphasis on the kissing aspect than necessary (as I felt while watching the YouTube video). In the case of the later, I would script it to adapt to the reactions you've been experiencing.

EXAMPLE: First, I would not use the level of persuasion shown in the video you provided. I can see why that might embarrass kids. If I were using the routine, I might hint, repeatedly at needing to kiss the Frog and, perhaps change it to, "No, no. no. It's not what you think." (Relieving both kids' anxiety.) "The Princess doesn't kiss the Frog in this story. In this story, the Frog must kiss the Princess on the hand." (Depending on whether the Frog reaches for the Princess' real hand, or whether he reaches for the hand drawn on the silk, I would interject.) "No, no, no. Not that hand, this hand." (Pointing to the hand not chosen by the Frog.) (If that is the girl's real hand, and the Frog is still embarrassed, then say,) "Okay, okay. Let's try the other hand." (The one on the silk.) Then go into the change-bag aspect.) "Just to see if that hand really worked." (If the Frog and the Princess don't appear to be embarrassed - if the real hand is chosen - then proceed with the kiss, then say.) "Ahhhh... indeed, chivalry is not dead." (the adults will get it, even if the kids don't. The line will work, regardless of which hand is kissed.)

One thing is for certain, though. As entertainers, we need to do whatever we can to prevent political correctness from dictating what we can and cannot perform. It's a fine line, but it really needs to be drawn. I'll be curious to hear what our other brothers and sisters in the art have to say. In the meantime, consider accounting for and scripting more comedy for that sensitive point in the routine.

Hope this helped, somewhat.
Magically Yours,

Magical Michael

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stempleton
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I don't own this, but when I viewed the demo vid I thought of that possibility. But look, if I were to contemplate the wrong turns that could possibly occur with every volunteer in every routine, nothing would make it into my A list. I had a boy cry because I called him by the wrong name. Perhaps choose pairs you were told by the parents that they were good friends? As for the gender neutrality/traditional marriage thing, that's also given me pause...I do a line about boyfriend/girlfriend. It's sad when we have to face these issues. I hope you find a comfortable solution for your routine!
Ken Northridge
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Micheal,

Very good suggestions, especially about having different ways to present it depending on the children's behavior.

About having routines that always getting the reaction I desire, I guess I should have said 'almost' always. I understand there are no guarantees with children.
"Love is the real magic." -Doug Henning
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Danny Kazam
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It's entirely your decision to keep it in your act or not, but there is a big difference from a child crying from a loud balloon or calling them the wrong name than causing a child to cry from making them uncomfortable and embarrassed about kissing someone. I personally never would ask a child to kiss anyone for the reasons that happened to you. If it's happened a few times already, good chance it will happen again and again until you get a reputation of bringing children to tears by trying to get them to do something they are not comfortable and embarrassed to do. You could always come up with another option so the child has an easy out if they don't want to, or change the routine. Again, it's entirely up to you. It's your show and reputation.
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Gerry Walkowski
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Ken,

Two thoughts here.

Since this effect is probably placed somewhere in the middle of your program, could you start gauging your audience for the 2 volunteers you might want to select?
You know what I mean. You want them to be of a certain age and they have to look like they're really having a good time. Maybe that will help solve that problem - some of the time.

Also, what if you had an joke ready to use in the event this part doesn't go as planned.

How about, "You can now kiss the frog (wait just a few seconds to see their response and if you see it's not working say", or just shake hands."

I bet many will opt to just shake hands and this may wind up getting an even greater laugh in the routine. This way it also gives all the parties involved an OUT if they need it.

Try it and see how it plays.

Gerry
harris
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Harris Deutsch
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I like the shake hands or perhaps

FIST BUMP?
Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
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Tony Thomas
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Good topic. I have this routine and on a couple of occasions have had similar issues. I usually announce the kiss in an over blown way to the audience, and then with a silly smile peer over at the kids to see how they are reacting. They are usually shaking their head no, which gets a good laugh. I've never actually had them kiss, that would be weird. I usually break the tension and have them blow a kiss. But just creating the tension is enough to set some kids off. I have had one kid sit down and another become indignant and quit participating. I agree it's all about getting the right participant, but behavior can be hard to predict. These reactions cooled me off a bit to the routine.
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Ken Northridge
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I had someone on another forum tell me:

1. Emphasize it is just pretend.
2. Try to use 6 or 7 year-olds.

I think one of the mistakes I've been making is using older children. My thought is they would be more mature. However, in reality I think older children may be a little more sensitive to this, where as younger children seem to still be in a 'play' mode.

I've done this routine 3 times since I got that advice (and all of your advice) and have not had a problem. So, maybe that's the ticket.
"Love is the real magic." -Doug Henning
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0pus
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Don't use the expression "kiss the frog." Tell the princess that the audience wants her to "give the frog a kiss." Do the by-play, but have a 'magic token' (actually a Hershey's Kiss) in the tote bag change bag; produce the Hershey's Kiss for the Princess to give to the frog (at the same time showing that the tote bag change bag is otherwise 'empty') and bring the trick to its conclusion.
Payne
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In my routine I've made a change bag that has bright coloured lips all over it. It is my "Kissing Bag" I bring the frog and the princess together and have them stand side by side. I then bring out the Kissing Bag and have them each reach inside. It is of course filled with Hershey's Kisses. I then, while putting the silks into the bag, tell them to exchange Kisses. They hand each other the candy Kiss that they are holding. I then rip open the bag and reveal the combo prince and princess silk.

Kissing problem solved
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0pus
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Love that tear apart change bag.
TheAmbitiousCard
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A canned trick with canned props and canned patter... the most difficult of all to put into an act, such that it has some relationship to the rest of your show....unless your show is just "here's a trick I bought, here's another trick I bought, and another and another, where's my check, thank you and goodnight!"

I think you need to be very creative to pull something like this off like a pro.

If you really want to do the trick as you see on the video clip, you've got 3 kids to choose from (once on stage).
What tests can you do to figure out who's your best choice? Do you scan the audience during the show for just the right person? I would. How do they react to other tricks. What do they do when they come up and you ask them to xxxxx? Lots of psychological profiling can occur. Do it. It's critical.

Many kids and adults are very self conscious in front of others, when singled out. You must know that, understand it and choose accordingly.
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Kimmo1
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Ken. I've used this effect and my handling of that moment is that I DON'T tell them to kiss. I tell them not to. I make them stand far apart and insist that we are only acting and there will be none of that mushy, yucky stuff in MY show! Then I turn around and the theme from love story starts playing. I act horrified and shout at the speaker to stop playing the romantic music, insisting that there is NO KISSING in this show! Then 'Let's Get it On' starts playing. I act horrified again and have another argument with my speaker. Then I turn away again and a big kissing sound effect comes on, at which I snatch the silks away and stuff them in the bag ready for the final change. The point is, I am the uncomfortable one and the children react to MY discomfort, not the volunteers. In fact, sometimes the volunteers kiss for real just to annoy me!
randyburtis
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Reading Kimmos handling of just this point makes me actually want to buy the trick, I had no interest before, but this is a brilliant bit!
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Tony Thomas
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Wonderful suggestion Kimmo. Love it!
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Ken Northridge
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Excellent suggestions. Thank you for sharing.
"Love is the real magic." -Doug Henning
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Owen Anderson
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At birthday type events I ask Mom if the birthday girl or boy is sweet on a particular kid. If so that girl becomes the Princess and that boy becomes the Frog.

At other events I allay concerns by saying that this is a magic show, not a mushy show, so we're going to use this magic bag (supplied with prop when I bought it) to do the "mushy" stuff. Tapping them on the head with the bag is about as mushy as it gets and usually takes care of self conscious kids who are anticipating the tradition fairy tale plot.

----------------------

I briefly 'interview' the Frog, Dragon and Dungeon kids. Kids say the 'darndest' things so you can get some fun responses. Great chance to ad-lib, do double-takes, and over-react to what they say.

If you do this at a library you can suggest during the 'interview' that the reason the kid is in the 'dungeon' is because he didn't return his library books on time. Always gets a smile/chuckle from the librarian and other adults present.
Owen Anderson
harris
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Harris Deutsch
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My first thoughts

It's not if or when a child cries in your show, it is what happens next.

Classic tales including "fairy tales" are important in and off stage.

Music is a great addition to the process.
I choose to add it live rather than use it from computer (or in the old days reel to reel /cassette, MP3)

As Time Goes by.. Is a kiss just a kiss?

Harris
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David Kaye
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I was tipped off to this thread and here are my thoughts. I am Silly Billy and I invented this trick, Princess In A Pickle. I love some of the ideas here especially from Payne and Kimmo, both of whom received the first sets from me years ago, as they are close friends.

First, I think of this trick as a house. A bare house. And you can decorate it any way you like. So start out performing this with the script that comes with it. But I encourage you to make it your own. Keep the parts you like and change what you don't like. Magicians have added more costuming, like hats, and others add a lot of music. You might be able to find Silly Scott's routine which he used to win the Childrens Magician of the Year at Blackpool. It lasts about 15 minutes. Filled with gags and props.

Second, regarding the kiss. I have performed this trick more than 500 times. I always do it the way it is in the instructions, by making it seem as though I expect them to kiss. I don't want them to kiss, that's where the big laughs come in, but I want there to be the tension. that's what makes it funny. So here are some tips.

1. If you perform this with kids under 7, they will likely kiss. But that's fine! It is adorable and the parents love it.
2 But my favorite way is to perform this using children 7 and older. If it is a birthday party, then I do it if they are that old. If it is a family show, and I have a choice, I choose a boy and a girl who are 8 or 9 years old. This is the sweet spot. Because it is at this age that the idea of kissing a girl is repugnant. So you should have no problems if you use this age.
3. If it looks like the two kids are not having fun with it (and you can tell by looking at the faces), I switch gears right away and announce, "Ok, we will do it without kissing. We will do it using magic." As soon as I say that, everything normalizes and everyone is relieved.

By the way I have done this using adults and it is also hilarious. You may get actual kissing which, if you pretend you didn't expect that, is very funny. I have also done it with kids 13-16 and older. Its weird with that age, as they actually DO want to kiss. SO I don't recommend it.

Going back to the original question, I would be curious what ages you have had the trouble with. But either way, try my tips here.
David Kaye / Silly Billy
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