performing for teenagers

Discuss the art of Children's Entertainment with your fellow performers.
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MManchester
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performing for teenagers

Postby MManchester » August 12th, 2014, 9:21 pm

A thread discussing the B'Wave deck included some intriguing, albeit brief, mentions of performing magic for teenagers. I'm hoping to inspire those writers and others to provide more specific anecdotes.

I worked with a group of teenagers for a year in a non-magical capacity in a library and found them very frustrating. My book of literacy magic was written with children in mind. Teenagers would not be impressed by the simplicity of the effects.

David Kaye's Seriously Silly is amazing and one of the most satisfying magic books I've ever read. His insights into performing for children that have resulted from years of professional experience would likely benefit anyone who has children in the audience even if that age group is not the specific focus.

But David's upper age range is 13 and I would like to know about the experience of those performing for older teenagers. Thanks.
Michael Manchester
Literacy magic for library and school performances - http://www.librarylegerdemain.com

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erdnasephile
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Re: performing for teenagers

Postby erdnasephile » August 12th, 2014, 9:25 pm


Brad Henderson
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Re: performing for teenagers

Postby Brad Henderson » August 12th, 2014, 10:40 pm

most of the kid show techniques such as magician failure or 'look don't see' or getting them to scream demean a teen audience. most of my clients have seen many magicians at birthday events and bar mitzvahs. They know you really CAN see it and don't appreciate being treated like an idiot. I once asked one of my audience members about a magic act her group saw a week earlier. The 13 yr old replied with a single word: hack.

these people are young, but more sophisticated than many realize.

I have much more to say but am outlining a book on the subject. After 25 years of performing for tens and tens of thousands of young people 7-17 I have an alternative approach to the many traditional kid show strategies.

The only other magician who I have seen appreciate that alternative approaches can work is Quentin Reynolds.

I will only say that teens are more than happy to believe in real magic. one need not reduce everything to sleight of hand or other purely natural methodologies. They have vibrant imaginations and,like most people, want to believe in something bigger than themselves - even if they know it's only for a few moments in a theater - but to get there, they have to feel safe and trust that you can deliver the real thing.

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Re: performing for teenagers

Postby fredreisz » August 13th, 2014, 12:13 am

At 75, no one would hire me for a magic show for teenagers. BUT put me in front of a small group of teenagers and I can blow them away!

Treat them as adults, respect them even though some out of embarrassment will try to trip you up or heckle you.

Take them seriously by showing them serious magic....I mean...professionally challenging stuff.

Look at all those screaming teenage girls in the Japanese magic ads!

Hit hard and fast at first to get their attention then you can move to more involved experiences.

Do not make them the butt of your jokes.

Do not talk down to them.

If you are 75 as I am, do NOT seek to corner that market BUT if you are in a store and they are a cashier and you bring out a stack of one dollar bills to pay and that stack instantly changes to twenties or fifties.....Act as if it happens all the time and walk away. They just might pursue you.

Peace...Fred (Reisz)
"The art of magic is the magic of art."

Brad Henderson
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Re: performing for teenagers

Postby Brad Henderson » August 13th, 2014, 1:20 am

great post. Sometimes it's not from embarrassment that they act out, it's because that's what they've been taught by other magicians.

Kid show performers teach kids their role is to yell out and scream out things that 'they catch'. many magicians present magic as a contest - fooling is the end result, not fooling as a means to produce a more meaningful experience. They know not to act an ass at a broadway musical, but they've been rewarded for acting like baboons on a sugar rush in a magic show.

Most importantly, you must give them an experience that is more valuable to them than 'knowing or exposing the secret'. give them that and they will protect and defend it. They will choose to make believe.

Oh, and they can sense insincerity. I've learned that the more honest I am in being myself, the more willing they are to join me on the trip. Too many magicians try to be other magicians. Bizarrely, most of these other magicians are 'big goofus nerds' by any traditional standard. Most of us go through our performance careers being someone else's nerd for fear of being our own.

Kids are imperfect. Be yourself. They relate to your imperfections. They are what make you relatable. They are what make you real.

Waterman
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Re: performing for teenagers

Postby Waterman » August 13th, 2014, 1:05 pm

As a public school teacher I have been performing for teenagers for over twenty plus years. Thanks to my teaching position I have always been fortunate to have an audience at my disposal to try out new effects or polish up routines that are a mainstay of my close-up act.

I'll be the first to admit that teenagers can be intimidating to perform for, but they can also be your most eager and attentive audiences. They can also be the most unforgiving audience in that they will call you out for even the tiniest hint of a suspicious move or flubbed sleight...which to me is exactly why I use my teenage students to test out new material and to practice established effects in real world situations.

As unforgiving as they may be in calling you out on a routine that needs work, they will also be the first to tell you how great it is once you've nailed it.

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Re: performing for teenagers

Postby Mark Collier » August 13th, 2014, 1:59 pm

I would add that there is a big difference in performing for a group of kids 13 years old (think Bar Mitzvah) and a high school grad night. In either case, I try to treat them as adults but I find the younger crowd to be more adversarial.

My theory is that by the time you graduate high school, you have a better sense of who you are. I find high school students are more willing to express appreciation and wonder. They are less likely to feel threatened by someone with skill doing things they don't understand.

Middle school students are more worried about trying to be cool. They are more likely to pretend they understand something they clearly don't.

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Re: performing for teenagers

Postby Brad Henderson » August 13th, 2014, 2:10 pm

there are differences at each level. and differences when combined in same age groups v different age groups v girls v boys v coed.

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Re: performing for teenagers

Postby Richard Kaufman » August 13th, 2014, 2:39 pm

I'll be publishing a big new book by David Kaye next year. :D
Subscribe today to Genii Magazine

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Re: performing for teenagers

Postby magicrobharv » August 13th, 2014, 3:26 pm

Richard, is that all you're going to say. You're killing me!!! What is the David Kaye book going to be about? Some more info, pleasing, I'm begging you !!! :D

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Re: performing for teenagers

Postby Brad Henderson » August 13th, 2014, 3:34 pm

I'll guess 'kid show stuff'

for more psychic answers to your questions please visit my PayPal site.

magicrobharv
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Re: performing for teenagers

Postby magicrobharv » August 13th, 2014, 4:04 pm

Anything with David Kaye's name on it is of interest. :D
Last edited by magicrobharv on August 13th, 2014, 4:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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mrgoat
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Re: performing for teenagers

Postby mrgoat » August 13th, 2014, 4:05 pm

I just do the bra trick and ding dong.

Kills.

Y'all are thinking this far too hard. (fnaar).

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MManchester
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Re: performing for teenagers

Postby MManchester » August 13th, 2014, 5:00 pm

What about the cups and balls? Too classy?
Michael Manchester
Literacy magic for library and school performances - http://www.librarylegerdemain.com

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Re: performing for teenagers

Postby mrgoat » August 13th, 2014, 5:30 pm

MManchester wrote:What about the cups and balls? Too classy?


Not if you do it with party cups and dime bags.

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MManchester
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Re: performing for teenagers

Postby MManchester » August 13th, 2014, 5:59 pm

The other thread I originally mentioned cites Jewish teenagers as a particularly challenging audience. Forgive my ignorance, but if the show is for a Bar Mitzvah are they gender specific events. Can girls attend? Has anyone performed for a single gender and would consider this to be a factor in how teenagers respond?
Michael Manchester
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Brad Henderson
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Re: performing for teenagers

Postby Brad Henderson » August 13th, 2014, 9:39 pm

coed v single gender groups are completely different experiences. Bar and bat mitvah's each honor a different sex but are usually attended by boys and girls - friends and family.

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Re: performing for teenagers

Postby Danny Orleans » August 26th, 2014, 1:57 pm

Performing for teenagers, as has been noted in previous posts, is a completely different challenge than performing for young children. My recently released, and critically acclaimed DVD set, "The Art of Presenting Magic for Teenagers" addresses the subject and includes, a 3 camera shoot of a show that I have performed for teenagers for over 30 years, an analysis of why the routines in the show are so effective for teens, an interview with Mac King, and a complete step by step explanation of the routines in the show.
If you are looking for insight into how teens view magicians, and stage and platform routines that are sure-fire, you can get the DVD set with 5 hours of content at a discounted price for Genii Subscribers at this link:
http://www.dannyorleansmagic.com/magic- ... /special02

cardmaster
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Re: performing for teenagers

Postby cardmaster » August 27th, 2014, 5:19 pm

Performing for teenagers is no big deal. You just show them the same material you do for adults.And virtually the same presentation. Naturally you avoid innuendo and tasteless remarks but I believe you should do that with adult audiences anyway. Now, teenagers are a little more rumbunctious than regular adult audiences but at least they don't get drunk! In any event if you treat them with respect and be ready for any outspoken remarks there really is no problem.

Now younger children are a different story. Here you emphasize the comedy and the "bits of business". In other words you make them laugh! This is far more effective than trying to "fill them with wonder". The magic is of course important but for younger children it should and must be secondary to the entertainment. You are looking for laughs rather than gasps and awe struck children.

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Re: performing for teenagers

Postby Brad Henderson » August 27th, 2014, 6:46 pm

why?

why can't children love being dumbstruck and amazed?

cardmaster
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Re: performing for teenagers

Postby cardmaster » August 27th, 2014, 9:18 pm

They can. And they should. And they do. But it should be SECONDARY. Laughter, silliness and participation is FAR more important.

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Mr Hurley
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Re: performing for teenagers

Postby Mr Hurley » September 30th, 2014, 6:54 pm

I've been asking 'how do you perform for teenagers' in a couple other forums. This thread has the best information regarding the subject

I have a couple of questions though. And be gentle, I've been into magic for a few months and I'm still learning the ropes.

I have been told to avoid prop magic (like Tenyo) like the plague when trying to make a routine for teenagers (for the record, I'm trying to make a set for a children's hospital).

I understand that using magic that involves more common items (coins, cards, maybe rope) is encouraged.

I guess what I'm trying to ask is that is ANY prop considered demeaning to older kids/teenagers, even if it uses things like cards/rope/coins/etc.
Specifically, is it possible to use things like Tenyo tricks?

What muddles it a bit for me is that with proper presentation, anything can work. But I don't know if using Tenyo tricks would you you automatically write. Off in the eyes of a teenager.

Again, I'm really new at this and I'm wanting to get into hospital magic as soon as I can (provided that I can do the sets well)

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Re: performing for teenagers

Postby MManchester » October 2nd, 2014, 6:26 pm

with proper presentation, anything can work.


I don't perform so I can't give you any practical advice. But I think your comment is key. I watched a magic reaction video several years ago but, not surprisingly, couldn't find it again.

It was a card trick performed by a teenager for another teenager, both older. At the conclusion, when the card was revealed, the spectator expressed his amazement, "How did you do that?" but then immediately said "That makes me look stupid."

It was a sad comment because magic is designed to fool us but he felt that not being able to catch the trick made him look foolish. I think that's typical though of the sensitivity of teenagers and the need for performers to plan accordingly.

I don't think cards really qualify as a common item since they serve such a specific purpose. But any effect that I would choose should emphasize that a magic event occurred rather than something surprising or shocking. Out of this World comes to mind as something that might work for a teenager because it makes them feel like they're the ones in control.

Hope that helps.
Michael Manchester
Literacy magic for library and school performances - http://www.librarylegerdemain.com

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Re: performing for teenagers

Postby Q. Kumber » October 3rd, 2014, 4:52 am

MManchester wrote:
with proper presentation, anything can work.


It was a card trick performed by a teenager for another teenager, both older. At the conclusion, when the card was revealed, the spectator expressed his amazement, "How did you do that?" but then immediately said "That makes me look stupid."


Dick Oslund posts regularly on the Magic Cafe and points out three levels of learning magic.

1. Learn how the trick is done.
2. Learn how to do it.
3. Leran how to make it entertaining to an audience.

Level three is the most challenging and very few ever get that far. The teenager mentioned above was at level 2.

Here's an article by Captain Frodo aka The Incredible Rubberman on developing an act fit for human consumption. http://carnivalchronicles.tv/carnivalchronicles/?p=1632

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Mr Hurley
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Re: performing for teenagers

Postby Mr Hurley » October 9th, 2014, 11:59 am

Thank you for the help! I know exactly what to put in for the routine

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Re: performing for teenagers

Postby Mahdi Gilbert » May 5th, 2016, 10:45 am

Some people just can't handle children and/or teenagers. If you know how to, great. If not, then forget it.

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Re: performing for teenagers

Postby Spellbinder » May 22nd, 2016, 8:21 am

"Some people just can't handle children and/or teenagers. If you know how to, great. If not, then forget it."

So you are saying that magicians, who learn complicated skills of sleight of hand and psychological audience control, are incapable of learning how to handle children and/or teenagers? The advice should be "Learn it," not "Forget it."
Phineas Spellbinder
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