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Stevethomas
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I think I have done my very last birthday party after 43 years of doing kid show birthday events. The children were the worst behaved I have ever seen and most of the cause was the adults/parents. No names, but the birthday mom would let the children do anything they wanted to. There was an inflatable in the yard, right after I packed up and was ready to go, the children demolished the inflatables they had. As in, stomped them to the ground and they were completely deflated.

Have you ever worked a birthday party where the birthday boy and all his brothers (he was 5 & the other brothers were 5-7) were the worst ever? Apparently, the birthday boy and his brothers thought it was great to totally disrobe and run among the guests TOTALLY NAKED during the party. Including the 7-year-old.

The parents said nothing, and did nothing. Besides drink. After the party, and after I found someone to pay me for the event, the dad walked up and offered me a beer to go as I was in my car leaving.


After 43 years of performing magic shows at birthday parties, I think I am done. Did I mention that the party was at a house that would cost you at least $3 million in my city?

Steve

Steve Thomas
Dynamike
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I can’t believe you beat me to it. Since my second show yesterday I was going to post a similar thread. I was going to title it “Kidz Gone Wild.” As I was twisting balloons the second hour a child would try to go back behind my backdrop where my unpacked equiptment was from my magic show I finished. I was nearly done with balloons and it started to get worst. I was letting down my backdrop so I can see the kids who were back there so I could tell them to leave from back there. It got worse. Several kids went back behind the same time grabbing my backdrop and magic props. I was getting loud telling them to not go back there because they might get hurt. I repeatedly told them to put my items down. I was hoping one of the female adults in the basement who were watching would help control the kids. They happen to keep silent and just watch. The mother of the birthday children just had a camera aimed at me taking pictures. I guess she was in a panic mood, didn’t know what to do maybe taking pictures incase I would have gotten physical with the children. Next I yelled to her several times “Get the daddy.” She went in the next room to get him. I was surprised he did not come out previously from my loud yelling with my microphone and speakers on. When he arrived he told the kids to stop a few times. They did stop. I heard the father say to the mother, “Why didn’t you do anything?” The mother said to the father, “He was calling you.” The father stayed next to me for a few minutes as I packed up my stuff. It was not easy for me to keep a happy attitude as I packed my equiptment up. I told the father to stay by my equiptment as I took it upstairs out of the basement one at a time.

The house I was performing in was in the millions too. A lot of children from that culture I was performing for are totally spoiled.
Gerry Walkowski
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Steve,

Just curious what control steps you took at the beginning of your show?

I'm not saying that as a way of being smart.

Once in a blue moon I do run into a group here or there that just cause chaos but again, it's not the norm in my case. Last year I worked a country club Halloween party. While the client had praise for my show, I just found the children too spoiled for my taste. (While I wouldn't go back there again if they asked me, that hasn't been my experience at every country club.)

Mike, I'm not proclaiming I have the answer to your post, but could it be the parents had no idea on how to handle this as well?

It would be great to hear how others (Danny Orleans, Scott Green, Silly Billy) handle these abnormal situations.

Gerry
aheller5
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Never give up ...everyone has these kinds of things happening at parties... once in a while...dont let it stop you from performing the art you love some people have no consideration...you can stop your show and wait..i usually might say a joke to the parents that I'm not a babysitter hahah but last night I had a show and the kids were well behaved it was the adults who were obnoxious and loud...i asked several time to stop they ignored me and kept drinking ....the kids had a blast!!!! Keep doing what you love !!!!!
Mindpro
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So sorry to hear about your recent problem show Steve. I think what you experienced is part of a much greater problem going on in entertainment. We are experiencing the results of Gen Xers and now Millenials who were the first generations not raised on live entertainment (theater, bands, live music clubs, live comedy, magic, etc.) like the previous generations. They were raised on both electronic and personal entertainment. The result is the current group of parents do not know proper etiquette and responsibility for a live performance. They text in the theater, during a play, sporting events, concerts, comedy clubs, heck even in church). If they don't know and respect the art of a live entertainment performance, there is no way their kids possibly could. Kids get their behaviors from their parents.

The other result we as an industry are seeing is that live entertainment bookings have been down much more over the last decade-decade and a half more than any other time since the Great Depression. Less live venues, less private bookings, and for the events that still do book live entertainment (like corporate, schools, etc.) the have scaled way back to smaller events and of course smaller budgets in many cases. Also because of this they do not know how to book live entertainment which results in methods like Google and Gigmaster, Gig Salad, etc. which has resulted in many poor or bad entertainers undercutting and bottomfeeding hurting the industry and live entertainment even more.

To many people talent, skill and experience means little. Rather than understand and proudly accept a skilled, live performer that is great with kids, it is easier (and cheaper) to just book a bounce house, a low-end performer, and do-it-yourself things that used to be done by performers such as ipod music instead of a DJ or going to Party City and doing their face painting with a consumer kit.

Sadly, it is all a part of an overall greater picture that seems to be continuing.

Kids parties have always been solid and a staple for magicians, it is sad to see it coming to this. Hopefully, you'll reconsider or just choose another market to specialize in.
Dick Oslund
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One thing that might have helped DynaMike, and, other performers who bring in a "THURSTON or BLACKSTONE PRODUCTION" for a birthday party: Karrell Fox, Jay Marshall, and I carried ONE SMALL PROP CASE. We could walk in, open the case, and do a show! We didn't spend time packing up, either. We could just close the prop case, grab the waiter's tray stand, and EXIT, (after getting the check, of course!)

We all had learned, that, "It aint the PROPS! It's the PERFORMER, and his PRESENTATION!

I agree with Mindpro's comments, 101%.
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
Dynamike
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Quote:
On Oct 14, 2018, Gerry Walkowski wrote:

Mike, I'm not proclaiming I have the answer to your post, but could it be the parents had no idea on how to handle this as well?


Yes, you are right. The "female adult witnesses" had no idea how to handle it. They were not expecting it would happen. They were not preparing for it to happen. The parents only see a magician an average of only once a year. Most shows they see I expect have gone well without the kids getting rowdy.

I was not expecting it would happen either. When the first child was going behind my backdrop continually, I should have gotten a parent to control that child immediately. But I was late and waited for about 7 children to go wild before I shouted for any help.
Neznarf
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Did a camp show once and it was Carnival Day.

The campers/kids were consuming, cotton candy, snow cones and other high in sugar treats.

I tried all the controls I knew but nothing worked.

The kids were cranked up on sugar.

So I got through the show and left.

It was not a fun experience.
"Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass...it's about learning how to dance in the rain."
Mary Mowder
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I always put my Stand-Up Show, including my backdrop, away before I move on to strolling ( I don't do balloons ).

Lately I have not been actively selling my backdrop and music as part of the show. I thought I needed them but I don't. The less I do my backdrop and music the less I want too.

-Mary Mowder
aheller5
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Mary I agree especially for a kids bday you don't need a backdrop..i always wanted to get one but don't see when I would use maybe for a library show but I mainly do bday parties...
danfreed
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We all have those nightmare gigs once in a blue moon, and also gigs that aren't a nightmare, but are still quite aggravating. It's often the parents that bother me more. I haven't noticed it getting worse since I started in 94, seems about the same, though I'm better at handling and preventing issues than I was, say 15 years ago. I won't deal with too much crap anymore, I haven't really had to do this, but I'd pack up and leave if I couldn't maintain a decent performing situation, or switch from the show to something else. I almost never bother with backdrops, though they look cool and fancy things up, I just don't want to spend the extra time and effort, mainly they care about how well I entertain the kids.
Gerry Walkowski
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Several things. . .

I think we've all had a show, or a few shows, like Steve Thomas described at some point in our lives. When that happens, I think the best thing you can do if you can't stabilize things is just cash the check at the end of your performance and move on to the next show. Great football teams still lose a game here and there, but they move on to the next game the following week. That's life.

Over the years I've had a occasional show bomb or a show whereby controlling the kids was very difficult. When these things happened, I did my best Monday morning quarterback analysis and tried to learn from those mistakes.

Mindpro, I enjoyed your post. It depressed me, though. Smile

Are we all doomed?

Thanks,

Gerry
TomBoleware
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Steve has been doing this for a long time and I’m not sure he could have changed anything under those conditions. He is right that the parents are different nowadays than they were just a few years back. Hard to blame the kids when they are being raised the way they are today. I agree with Gerry, sometimes you just need to cash the check and move on.

But I will throw this out just to add to the discussion. Kids act different at daycare, school, or church than they do at home. Why is that? Knowing that ‘why’ can help. Think about it.

Now I’m not saying you should act like a teacher and demand they sit still all the time. But you do need to relay that teacher likeness to them early on. Let em know that you are the boss for the next few minutes.. Not an easy thing to do in a fun way, but the kids do need to understand upfront that things are about to be different. The ground rules are needed today more than ever. Maybe do it in a teacher like tone of voice to get their attention. Remember how you could tell when your parent or teacher was serious. They didn’t have to explain it, you just knew by that voice.Smile

Yep younger people are changing fast nowadays, I feel for those dealing with their kids.

Tom
Do What Others Do And You Will Become Average

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www.amazekids.com/magic-downloads/childrens-magic-ebooks/the-daycare-magician/

Tom Boleware
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Dynamike
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I should raise my fee and bring an assistant to maintain and instruct the children before, during and after my show. She will give the rules to the children as I am setting up. She will bring a kid to the back of the room to remind the kid of the rules if he is getting rowdy. She will make sure no kids are around my pets or props after my show.

In the past I would have a person be a clown for the kids. I would train her to do face painting and balloons. She kept the kids under control by doing face painting for 30 minutes as I set up my equipment. She would keep the kids under control again, this time with balloon twisting as I pack up my props.
Mindpro
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Terrible idea! So put the new inexperienced girl assistant in the line of fire with the same kids you don't want bothering you. Putting her in the line of fire to save your a** is only temporarily measure anyhow. It doesn't correct, fix or change anything. If she doesn't/can't handle them well they will likely be even worse by the time they get to you. If anything it can wind the kids you even more and create more problems.

Sacrificing an assistant is not a solution.

I also don't think raising your price to accommodate this is a solution as it can likely create or raise different problems and expectations.
MaveriQ
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Just curious. Does anyone communicate expectations to parents hiring for kids parties? Not sure what that would look like, but some way of saying during the hiring process that you'd like an adult present? Politely saying I am hired to perform, not parent.
TomBoleware
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Quote:
On Oct 15, 2018, MaveriQ wrote:
Just curious. Does anyone communicate expectations to parents hiring for kids parties? Not sure what that would look like, but some way of saying during the hiring process that you'd like an adult present? Politely saying I am hired to perform, not parent.



Yes, idea is to have the parents on your side going in.

Tom
Do What Others Do And You Will Become Average

The Daycare Magician Book
www.amazekids.com/magic-downloads/childrens-magic-ebooks/the-daycare-magician/

Tom Boleware
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Mindpro
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I agree. Success as a performer has more to do with the business behind your performance. I often find that most could curtail many of the common problems by addressing these things upfront as part of the sales presentation and booking process. This works for all levels of entertainers in all markets.

We must remember most people (especially those working in consumer markets) do not think as we do as insiders. They likely have no ideas of many of the issues, concerns, and problems we face and to be truthful - never will. They would likely never figure these things out on their own, which is why we need to address these properly and effectively, to present these concerns to them. I have done this for years and often have people thank me for it as it makes their event better. They will say things like "I had no idea about...until you told me." They don't know what they don't know.

We must also take the time to think from their perspective as well. They often have many of their own things and responsibilities going on which takes them even farther away from our needs and issues as well in the thick of the event. Another reason for dealing with as much of this as possible in advance. Especially when the dynamics are in their favor, such as in their home, their perceptions become different than if having the event at a venue.

Part of doing what we do is educating our clients in the process. We can't assume they will know things or worse yet we can assume they have common sense. Common sense isn't so common anymore.

So yes, I agree that we can do preventative and educational things to prevent many such things. We need to spend as much (if not more) on these behind the scenes aspects as we do the actual perofrmance.
Dynamike
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Quote:
On Oct 15, 2018, Mindpro wrote:
Terrible idea! So put the new inexperienced girl assistant in the line of fire with the same kids you don't want bothering you. Putting her in the line of fire to save your a** is only temporarily measure anyhow. It doesn't correct, fix or change anything. If she doesn't/can't handle them well they will likely be even worse by the time they get to you. If anything it can wind the kids you even more and create more problems.

Sacrificing an assistant is not a solution.

I also don't think raising your price to accommodate this is a solution as it can likely create or raise different problems and expectations.


You misread it. I will post it again: "In the past I would have a person be a clown for the kids. I would 'train' her to do face painting and balloons. She kept the kids under control by doing face painting for 30 minutes as I set up my equipment. She would keep the kids under control again, this time with balloon twisting as I pack up my props." I mentioned I trained her. I used a man also in the past. I did not use a boy, girl or teenager. I used an adult with common sense. I would train them again now when I do it again. If it worked before it will work again.

Dealing with the prices I got an one hour silver package and a two hour gold package. The gold package cost more. People still purchase it. The second person helped me make more money in the past by speeding things up so do more gigs for that day. She would start the package soon as we arrived at the venue as I was setting up. I did not have to worry about any children being around me as I was setting up. The same as I was packing up because she had them under control. We would arrive at 3pm and leave at 5pm. When I am by myself for a two hour package I am there approximately 3 hours. I cannot remember my price I had for the second person, but it sure did help.
Ken Northridge
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I love stories like this…only because I’ve been there and done that!

Forget all of your kid control suggestions, contracts and ‘expectations’ of behavior, there are some situations where NOTHING will work.

Over the weekend I had the birthday mom tell her 2 year old to ‘go up on stage and stand with the magician while he’s trying to do his show! Its so cute!’ Sure enough another 2 year came up. I tried to tell them to sit down but another adult told me, "Its okay, that’s his cousin!” Yeah, lets have everyone come up whenever they want!

I try to laugh at it and thank my lucky stars I only have to put up with it for 45-minutes….and get paid well!

I find it interesting that this seems to happen most often with the ‘super rich’. I don’t want to stereotype it because the ‘super rich’ can be the nicest people you would ever want to meet sometimes. But it is interesting…..
"Love is the real magic." -Doug Henning
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