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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The little darlings » » I want to be a children's/family entertainer but I'm scared. (5 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Alan Munro
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Defining the character you're playing can help make your actions comfortable, if it's consistent with the character you play. You will make mistakes. Learn from them and change the show as you learn.
the fritz
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On Dec 7, 2019, Iamnewt wrote:
I'm afraid that other adults will look down on me or something.

It's hard to explain or articulate exactly why I feel this way.

The thought of a grown man acting silly in front of children, doing often cheesy tricks and patter with cheesy little props. (and if it's a family show how do appeal to both children and grown sophisticated adults?)

I feel to most adults it will come across as just kind of lame and sad.

Please note, this isn't a dig on children's entertainers at all.

I really want to be one... but I have these weird limiting beliefs getting in the way.

Can anyone help bust them?



It is normal to think this way, especially if you don't have kids of your own. I am assuming you don't. Once you do, you will find that adults actually appreciate a children's entertainer. Think about other family entertainers. Go to a library and watch the guy who plays his guitar and sings silly songs during story time for the kids. Every town has one. The women appreciate him and even strike up conversations with him. Go to a vacation spot like Hilton Head, SC or some other similar place and watch the guy who stands up at the boardwalk or the pier or under the huge tree by the amphitheater and watch him perform. No parent looks at him and ridicules him. It is the opposite because parents realize how valuable it is to have entertainment the entire family can enjoy. Go watch an animated movie. Why are they so popular today? A children's magician is no different. I would agree with you if you said you were performing a children's show and acting like a clown in an auditorium full of people who are expecting to see David Copperfield or in a comedy club full of stand-up comedians playing to drunk adults. That is not your environment. Do children's magic where children's magic is expected and everyone will appreciate it.

My wife passed away a few years ago (she was 40, to give you a context to this) and I started doing children's magic when our kids started preschool. She appreciated it. I started dating again and I was reluctant to tell my girlfriend that I did magic because of the same fears you have described. I thought she would think I was immature. It turns out she likes magic so much that she made me go to the car to grab a deck of cards when we were on a date waiting for our food at a restaurant. She wanted me to perform some tricks for her brother and his date. He keeps asking if I am coming to family events so I can do magic for "his daughter." Simply put, many people really like magic as a performance art and few have seen a magician who really cares about what he does. Instead, most see a person who just likes to show off, does poorly thought out and rehearsed magic or doesn't share appropriately, when it is expected.

Do children's magic proudly at an event where it is expected and every adult in the room will appreciate you. Push through the fear one time and see. If it goes terribly, you don't ever have to do it again. But my money is on once you do, you will want to do again and again because it is just fun. It's fun when you begin to see that sponge balls appeal to both kids AND adults. And the stupid joke about the two red balls changing places... "Wanna see them go back?" is a joke that people really laugh at. Truly, they do... I am not kidding. It's fun when you realize that a simple cut and restored rope where you slide the knot off the end appeals to both kids AND adults. You'll know when you hear the collective gasp and the "How did he do that?" comments. You'll know when you hear them all react to an old sliding sucker die box that this is something that appeals to kids AND adults. You'll know when you see the "What the...?" look in their eyes when you make a handkerchief disappear, or you do your version of the sucker silk to egg, that this appeals to both kids AND adults. Go watch Max Howard make a handkerchief vanish, watch him do the sucker die box, watch him do the wand in bottle trick from beginner's magic books and tell me if you think he looks like a clown. Those tricks could go into every children's show and you could play them without Silly Billy's gags (which he does beautifully), and you will see that it goes over well and you don't look like a clown. Just do it and you will see.

Look through the eyes of a parent who loves their child with everything in them and see how their heart lights up when their kid looks back at them when the magician called them up to help out with the trick. Then you will see there is nothing silly about being a children's entertainer at all. On the contrary, it takes guts and a huge heart to do it. Appreciate the bond you are helping a parent build with their child and it will be totally worth the time you spent doing it.
nyborn
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Quote:
On Dec 7, 2019, TomBoleware wrote:
Who said you had to act silly?

Funny doesn’t have to be silly and kids can still laugh and have a good time.

You don’t have to be a clown to be a magician. Lots of kid routines out there that will get laughs without being silly.

I wouldn’t worry about the adults; those there will be parents and will enjoy watching the kids have a good time.
But there is nothing wrong with having a couple of effects just for them.

Tom


I'm a long way from any kind of performing, but I'll be holding on to this advice along the journey should it lead in this direction. Thank you!
nyborn
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I was watching Patrick Page's Thumb Tip magic from his Secret Seminars Voume 1, and he does a couple of delightful tricks that he states he used to do for children. But I believe it's his warm paternal underplaying of the magic that would go over with kids along with his selections that engage them in thinking they saw what he did. which is probably a whole technique itself, since once proved wrong they're likely to engage more fully. Just my thoughts as I was thinking "this I can do."
0wen
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Quote:
On Dec 7, 2019, Iamnewt wrote:
I'm afraid that other adults will look down on me or something.

The thought of a grown man acting silly in front of children, doing often cheesy tricks and patter with cheesy little props. (and if it's a family show how do appeal to both children and grown sophisticated adults?)

I feel to most adults it will come across as just kind of lame and sad.

Please note, this isn't a dig on children's entertainers at all.

I really want to be one... but I have these weird limiting beliefs getting in the way.

Can anyone help bust them?

Maybe it's because I always wanted to be or picture myself as cool and edgy. (I'm not but wanted to be like this strong, buff, tough, rugged guy... I'm the total opposite. lol Not sure if I should embrace who I am or work to become the image of the guy I want to be)

And it seems weird for that kind of guy to be a kid's entertainer.



The self perception and confidence issues are probably something you're going to have to work out on your own; but something you need to work on to get comfortable in your own skin (in life and performing!). I think most of us may have had some issues with this at some point and to some degree, but it's just something you need to 'do.'

I have 3 main acts, all pretty different from each other - Comedy Magic, Spook Show, Flea Circus. The Flea Circus was probably my most difficult show at first because of how ridiculous it is, but I embraced it, and today might be my favorite show to perform. Certainly my most popular festival booking and earner. It's the closest thing I have to a pure kid's show as my magic act is a general 'family show.'

As far as the adults looking down on you... A.) So what? b.) They're paying you hundreds of their 9-to-5 dollars to show up for an hour and be a nerd. I'll take that arrangement 24/7, 365 if it keeps me from working a "normal" job.
nyborn
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Quote:
On Dec 7, 2019, Iamnewt wrote:
I'm afraid that other adults will look down on me or something.

It's hard to explain or articulate exactly why I feel this way.

The thought of a grown man acting silly in front of children, doing often cheesy tricks and patter with cheesy little props. (and if it's a family show how do appeal to both children and grown sophisticated adults?)

I feel to most adults it will come across as just kind of lame and sad.

Please note, this isn't a dig on children's entertainers at all.

I really want to be one... but I have these weird limiting beliefs getting in the way.

Can anyone help bust them?

Maybe it's because I always wanted to be or picture myself as cool and edgy. (I'm not but wanted to be like this strong, buff, tough, rugged guy... I'm the total opposite. lol Not sure if I should embrace who I am or work to become the image of the guy I want to be)

And it seems weird for that kind of guy to be a kid's entertainer.

I don't know.

Any help?

Thanks in advance.

I look forward to having some discussions that can help move me through this.


I was wondering if reframing silly to playful would be a more helpful mindset. And instead of going full blown clown, like going zero to sixty in an instant, to gradually increase your comfort level by wearing something that makes you feel playful, curious, and open that no one need to know of but yourself. For example red socks, or a colorful bow tie. Something that's for YOU, not necessarily a costume piece.
When I'm rehearsing a monologue or other acting piece, I keep a kazoo around to blow (or not) to remind myself it's just play and I have a little nerf basketball hoop to remind myself not to hold onto anything too tightly, that I'm just throwing up foul shots.
Music, wacky (like the Benny Hill theme) or otherwise that can be listened to before a performance or entry music.
I guess the gist of what I'm aiming at is to find those things that open a playful un-selfconscious state (NLP would call this an anchor/talisman). Just thinking about playing with my no longer two and three year old nephew gets me there.
Also practicing this 'state' in non threatening no consequence situations; on the phone with a customer service, a sales interaction (post Covid19). Looking back, that's how I gradually became more outgoing, by starting little chit chats ("you guys look busy" or "slow day") compliments about attire, questions about something, gradually building more comfort and teaching my subconscious that there's no danger here.
MagicDUK
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Hey,

I thought I'd throw in my own advice which may be helpful. So I'm a professional family entertainer (I've stopped calling myself a children's entertainer which I'll discuss later) I've been at it pretty much full time for the last six years, live in an urban area like yourself. When I started out I tried to be "cool" - I wore a nice suit (which may or may not have been for tax reasons too) But anyway it didn't work for me.

I came into this much like you, wanting to be cool and not pander down to kids, and also I wanted to seem respectable too. But for me, this didn't work. It took me nearly a year to figure out what was wrong, but when I did it all fell into place. One of the biggest pieces of advice I can give you is to find your own character. I'm not talking about being a clown, juggler, "Silly Billy", scuba-diver whatever, but by a character I mean someone who you are on stage. You may say that you want to be yourself. You can be, but the key thing is that you will never be yourself onstage but a character of yourself. Find that character and your worries will go.

This character will define you and your act and will really help you. For me, I have two characters that I use. They are very similar but slightly different depending on the audience. My first one is for my "grown-up"/corporate audiences. I wear a suit do a bit more mentalism in my show, and it has less silly jokes but the energy and character is still there.

The second one, of course, is my "clown". I'm calling it a clown because of the costume, but it's very rare that I go full clown with it. The character developed from a jacket I got from my stilt walker costume which when I added some bits to make it into a costume - when I started wearing it, it just felt right. Suddenly the character started to develop. It was silly, full of energy, a little bit cheesy but very charismatic. Think kids entertainer on speed. Controlled Chaos...

As I started to create this character the same thought came into my head like yours. How on earth will people respect me as a performer and take me seriously? But the weird thing is that people love me more since getting the costume and character. Adults love it. You may get the odd alpha male type who says "nice socks" or makes a crappy joke about it, but the majority of people don't really notice or care. When they get to know me, see my act and see my rapport with them and others they seem to love what I do and really enjoy it. In fact, I've made lots of friends, regular clients and even got people offering me their phone numbers and other "opportunities" - while I'm dressed in my clown costume - which is in the picture below (I may add I'm happily married and professional so I never took these offers up but still!)

Once you get confident with your character it really shows and people like confidence more than anything else. They will forget the fact you are dressed like an "idiot" and respect you and the show more. To get this character, find something in your show that you really enjoy doing/wearing and use that to develop your character. As I said for me it was my jacket (and my puppet). And for my adult show, it was an improv single line as I walked out one-night "Thanks... I know what you're thinking... Ron Weasleys career has gone downhill since leaving Hogwarts"

---

What you said about appealing to both adults and children really strikes a chord with me. One of the reasons why I call myself a family entertainer is that I designed my show to entertain both children and adults. There are silly tricks in there and bits where I can add in daft jokes but I always make sure I include the adults. One of my opening bits is that I say my magic words are "Ooh ee ooh ah ah". When the kids repeat it with me I play the Cartoons Witchdoctor and play around with it, stopping it with "magic" and starting every time I say those "magic words". The kids love the silliness, the adults love the jokey nature of it and then I bring the adults back into the joke by adding in "grown-ups... if you want to have fun like this - £15 from amazon and flashing them the remote.

Its things like this that keep the adults entertained as well. And the trick that I do aren't just your silly kids tricks but are tricks that will keep the kids amused, but the adults entertained. I like Vanishing Bandana for this (I've updated it with Alexa for myself) and the most popular trick I do is Snowstorm in China - my own adaptation, telling a story about my own little boy. The kids love the snow at the end and the adults love the story and the trick.

You've got to remember in the end that the kids are the highest priority when it comes to entertaining at these events, but the adults should be entertained too. After all, they are paying the bill in the end and will be the ones sharing you with other potential clients. So keep them entertained as well and it will improve your business and your show.

Finally - have fun with it. However ridiculous you may feel it's the most important thing. When you have fun with it so will your audience. They won't care what you look like as long as your show is good. If you're looking for ideas I've got some bits on youtube and on my website etc where you can see some more pics of my costume and some clips of my shows - www.magic-dave.com
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