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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The little darlings » » Kid's reactions: Natural vs Forced (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

magicgeorge
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Hi all,
For me, a big part of how I rate how well my show went is the reaction from the kids, whether it be laughing, shouting, clapping, cheering or gasping (even being completely silent can be a good (non)reaction for certain parts of the show).
There are several different ways of eliciting these reactions from kids and I thought it might be profitable to discuss the pros and cons of the various methods.
The way I see it, is that there are 3 main ways of getting a reaction. Of course, this is just my own little theory so please feel free to point out what I have over-looked:

1) The natural reaction: This is when you do something funny and the kids laugh, when you do something amazing and they gasp or when something happens without you noticing and they shout out. All of which happen completely unprompted.

2) The forced reaction by instruction: This is when the kids are told to react in a certain way. For example using the clapometer or telling the kids when I say "Hello everybody" they all have to say "Hello Magic George".

3) The forced reaction by reverse psychology: The old chestnut where you tell the kids not to do something so they do it. For example, "don't laugh at my silly walk".

Of course, there are hundreds of ways to get kids to react but to me it seems they all fit into one of the 3 categories above.

For me (1) the natural reaction is my favourite, it means the kids are genuinely following and enjoying the show. You do something and the kids spontaneously all react in the same way, excellent. It's also the widest of the categories as anything funny, amazing or interesting can cause a good loud natural reaction if done well.
Category (2) I do use sparingly. It's useful to get a quiet crowd started or to help control the crowd to give the exact reaction you want. I don't like seeing it over-used though. Kids do enjoy reacting, even if they have been told to react that way, but to me it is inferior to the natural reaction and if it is over-used it might appear that the only reason you're getting your reaction is because you have plainly demanded it.
Category 3, I also use sparingly. (btw calling it reverse psychology is probably a rather over-grand way of saying it, if it doesn't sit well with you call it 'playing to the kids natural mischievous side'). I also always combine it with (1) the natural reaction if I tell them not to laugh I make sure that I do something funny etc. One of the reasons I'm not keen about over-using this is because in getting the children to disobey you on purpose they may confuse it with your real instructions. For example when you told everyone not to laugh and they did it was part of the show but when little Johnny stands and doesn't sit down when you tell him, it isn’t. This could well be because little Johnny has realised that doing the opposite of what you say is funny and is it fair to tell him off for not doing what you say when you have already prompted kids to do the opposite of what you say in another part of your show? Of course, this is avoided to some extent by the way you say it when you tell them not to laugh it's done in a fun way but telling a child to sit down is done seriously, however some children might not see this distinction.

In conclusion, I would say one should strive to make most of the reactions natural ones and use the other 2 methods sparingly (if at all)to help control your show or steer the kids reactions in the right way.

Do you agree, disagree or just think that I think about it all too much and over-analyse it?

George
Rupert Bair
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Hi,
I Prefer the natural way, this is were you can learn. It can tell you wther the trick is no good how the kids are going to react to the other tricks and you can see if your doing everything right.
I hate when people say ' and the first time I saw that I was so amazed forgot to clap aswell' I think that is pathetic. You should expect clapping it shoud come naturally. If you are good you shouldnt need to askfor it.

Matt
Peter Marucci
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Matt pretty well sums it up accurately, by saying that you shouldn't have to ask for approval if you are any good.

Kids are very difficult to steer in a certain direction if you don't know what you are doing.

Rather than like adults, who can be guided from A to C, occasionally due to ingrained inhibitions, kids will very definitely tell you whether they like something or not, whether they see something strange, whether you are funny. No "pity applause" here! They give you the unvarnished truth.
And, to semi-quote Jack Nicholson: "A lot of performers can't handle the truth!"
magicgeorge
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I agree that asking for approval can seem pretty lame. I ask for a round of applause a few times in my show....but not for me, for my worthy volunteers.
For me, getting the kids to react is not to do with personal ego stroking but to do with making the show more fun for the kids. Kids love shouting back and there are some routines where they need a little guidance into what to shout. Forget about the applause it seems to get us off track. What I'm talking about here is analysing the way kids react to what we do and say, so that they have a better time.
As I said in my first post I prefer the natural reaction but I believe using the other methods can help steer a young crowd who don't have as much of an idea how to react to certain situations. A lot of folks here use the "promise not to laugh" line it doesn't mean they are bad performers for 'tricking' the kids into laughing it means they are subtly enhancing the reaction they already would've got to make it more fun for the kids.
harris
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Wonderful topic and words for wisdom.

Thanks to you all for sharing.

I don't think I have read or heard this topic discussed in this way.

Harris
Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
drlaugh4u@gmail.com
music, magic and marvelous toys
http://magician.org/member/drlaugh4u
NJJ
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I prefer natual reactions.

I use forced reactions to 'warm up' a crowd of kids. I usually say I am going to produce the world's biggest wand and the bigger it is the more you should clap. Three wands come out 3 foot, 5 foot and 8 foot. By 8 foot they are screaming and clapping and having a great time. In my rocky routine I try and get Rocky to 'sit up'. He won't sit up however, when the children sit up straight and giggle he thinks they are having so he sits up. The kids giggle again and he sits up again. I tell the children to stop and then, of course, they giggle again. His head goes up which makes them laugh harder. Eventually, his head is bopping up and down like a jack hammer and the kids are laughing for real.

The third catergory is really just a type of natural humour. Humour is about tension and release. If you say to kids DON'T LAUGH and then do something silly you have create a) tension b) release and c) a juxtaposition of two mutually exclusive frames of reference. (the basis of all humour). Sure, some kids will laugh to be mean but most really find it funny.

A smile is created by happiness but a good smile can also create happiness. (try it now...I dare you)

:) Smile Smile
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Cheshire Cat
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Lots of ONE, none of TWO, and a little of THREE. Well that's just my way of doing things. But no criticism of anyone who does things differently.

Good Analysis, - Good Thread, (Good-day!).
Rupert Bair
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I think helpers deserve a round of applause!
Neale Bacon
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I am not sure any laughs have to be forced if they are set up right..

I prefer natural laughs of course, but think of what kids laugh at in a "forced" laugh...

The category 2 isn't a laugh response to me..but they do make great warm ups. I use the hands up test and it gets a great natural laugh when kids realize they were "caught"

For those who don't know.."Hands up all those that like ice cream...Hands up all those that like pizza " do this 3 or 4 yummy choices and then I say "Hands up all those who like moldy pickles" or some such. and kids will put their hands up out of force of habit and then laugh at the idea.

As for "don't laugh at my walk " or whatever.. that will bring a very natural laugh because kids do find it funny when adults are not in control, or speaking of chestnuts "The Magician in Trouble Syndrom".

Kids laugh naturally at all sorts of things!
Neale Bacon and his Crazy Critters
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JB the Clown
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Mmmmmmm

What I do at the start of my show is ask the kids who can laugh the loudest, get a great reaction - then who can cry the loudest - even bigger reaction - who can make the happiest face, saddest face, angiest face, who can clap the loudest and on and on.


This is obviously number 2 above, but the kids love it - and love my reaction to each of their efforts.

This gets them set up for a great show.

I'm not proud <;0)
JB the Clown
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magicgeorge
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Cheers guy's,
Nice replies, we all seem to be singing the same song with our a lot of 1 and a little of 2&3 melody.
Be proud JB, nothing wrong with doing things that way, I do stuff like that every time I pick a helper. No2 is the game category and kid's love games even the simplest ones. As you say "the kids love it" and that, my friend, is the ultimate aim.
Wow, Nicholas, those are some great thoughts you're sharing , as always. (It was actually your post about your Rocky routine that set me thinking about the different ways we get kids to react and made me decide to think about it logically and start this post.) Your thoughts about no3, re tension and release, really set me thinking. When I started out (he he he, my name's George and I've done some pretty lousy shows) I used 3 to create a reaction that wouldn't have been there otherwise, now I use it to enhance a reaction and creating extra tension to amplify the release is exactly what I'm doing , although I hadn't realised it until you pointed it out.
I actually do a bit in my show where I seemingly really try very hard to get the kids to stop laughing with a lot of shushing and pointing and as soon as I have (after a lot of trying) got complete silence Istrike a funny pose : they laugh (loud) I act disappointed/disgruntled and start again. I was inspired to do this watching an (adult) comedian from Scotland called Phil McKay. It's great entertainment, 2 minutes of nothing but actions.
Why is it funny? Remember when you where a kid and you got the giggles in class? You had a hard time holding them in and as soon as the teacher left the room you erupted. In other circumastances the funny thing that happened you would've laughed at and forgotten about but since you were not allowed to laugh it just built up and got worse...or as Nicholas says tension and release.
George
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