Who will come out of the closet?

Discuss the art of Children's Entertainment with your fellow performers.

Postby Guest » 07/09/07 11:54 AM

I am fairly new to the Genii Forum. However, I have noticed that most of the current posters are adult entertainers rather than children's entertainers. This may be because, up until today, there has not been a special area for children's entertainers. Hopefully this may change, although it may take a while to build. However, it brings me on to a subject which is close to my heart. I believe there are many adult entertainers who do infact do kids shows, but do not like to make this known. It is a fact that there is far more regular work out there in the field of children's entertainment than any other branch of magic. There is a certain amount of snobbery by some adult entertainers who consider kids entertainers to be at the bottom rung of the profession. How many times have we been at a convention, and we have heard it said "I don't do kids parties!" It is often said in such a way as to imply that the individual is above that sort of thing. It is sad really. I happen to know a number of quite big names in the magic world who do more kids shows than anything else.......but they never admit it! My question is "why is this?" Are there any posters on this forum who will admit to doing kids shows, even if we may only consider them as an adult entertainer? It could be interesting. It is time for children's entertainers worldwide to be given the respect they deserve by their peers in magic! JR

Postby Guest » 07/09/07 01:01 PM

My name is Steve and I do kids shows.....

I do it because as Sutton said of bank robberies, that is where the money is. During a show I always toss in something that is adult magic oriented and it often shocks the parents present because they don't expect a kids show magician to do something that takes real skill.

Postby Guest » 07/09/07 01:37 PM

And let's not forget respect for the children themselves.
I don't really perform at children's parties, but that's because I've never marketed myself as such. In fact, I rarely perform professionally these days. Just when the occasion arises. That said, I've worked several children's parties in the past. I love kids and I can tell you that you'll be hardpressed to find a more appreciative audience. Making children smile is its own reward.

Postby Richard Kaufman » 07/09/07 03:31 PM

I remember, when interviewing Keith Barry for his Genii cover story, he said that anyone in Ireland who was earning a living doing magic HAD to be doing kid shows as well as everything else. There was no other way to earn enough money to make it entirely on magic.

For my money, David Kaye is one of the best magicians on the planet--the fact that he works for kids is besides the point. He understands his audience and constructs his routines in an exemplary fashion that is a lesson to anyone who performs magic for any age group.
Subscribe today to Genii Magazine
User avatar
Richard Kaufman
Posts: 22411
Joined: 07/18/01 12:00 PM
Location: Washington DC

Postby Guest » 07/09/07 04:02 PM

I agree with you about David. An excellent entertainer. His book "Seriously Silly" which you published had become a modern bible for many children's entertainers. He actually lectured at the Blackpool Convention a couple of years before I did, and I have heard reports that many Brits were not too keen on his style. For my own part, he is tops!
Some of you might be interested to see a clip of me performing at a library show in Arizona a couple of weeks ago. This shows how it is possible to get 5 minutes of entertainment out of minimul props. Enjoy:

Jolly Roger - three cup trick (Edited by JM to clean up the long url.)

Postby Guest » 07/09/07 05:12 PM

I agree about David Kaye. He really understands what makes kids laugh and thus he is likely the best kids show magician working. He also is a legit magic doing dude.

Postby Guest » 07/09/07 05:34 PM

I hate kids! I hate kid shows! But the Jolly Roger clip had me smiling at the by-play with the children. Talk about maximizing time with simple props, this was great. Having a British accent is certainly an asset. Strangely, despite all of this political correctness crap, the fact of manhandling the kids, shoving them around, and giving them orders seems to be a favorable high response activity sought by the parents and adored by the kids. Go figure.

Postby Guest » 07/09/07 05:34 PM

"He also is a legit magic doing dude."

I am sorry Steve. I am from England, and I am unfamiliar with the above expression. Can you please elaborate? Thanks! JR

Postby Guest » 07/09/07 07:47 PM

Thank you Don! That is a great compliment. You are extremely astute for someone who cannot stand kids!! Kids love political incorrectness. During their early years, their lives are full of boring adults instilling in them a set of rules about life. Kids are, actually, much smarter than adults in many ways. They intuitively know when you are serious, and when you are joking. Adults analise it all. Kids love being pushed and shoved, and also being insulted. It is so different from all the Namby Pamby stuff they get in their daily lives, so they find it hysterical. Naturally, you never really hurt them.....but they get great amusement from you attempting to do so. I have much more to say on all this sort of stuff, but I do wish someone other than myself would start a thread in this area. I do not want to monopolize. I might also suggest that if you know other children's entertainers, you let them know that Richard has started this area today on this Forum, so they can sign up. JR

Postby Guest » 07/11/07 11:39 AM

I am not a kid show entertainer but I do not mind doing kid shows. I am a family show entertainer. A magician that does a show the whole family will enjoy.

Some entertainers play down to the "kids" and do magic that only "little" (pre school) kids would like.

Keeping this in mind my dad the late Billy Bishop used to perform in night clubs. Back then the night clubs that he did the "whole family" could watch his show and not be offended.

Then he would go out and do a banquet or another show that had kids - he even did birthday parties like Jay Marshall did.

Magicians could entertain adults and kids with the same show. In my opinion the family show market has been shifted into the kid show market but if you look close - it is still there.

Yes I can deal seconds, and can cull and stack poker hands. And I am not bad with the shell game or the cups and balls. But I also do kid shows and family shows.

Because they are fun and they pay the bills.

Postby Guest » 07/11/07 12:15 PM

"but they never admit it! My question is "why is this?" " Simple they are to hung up on the magic, a childrens effect is easy to do, sleight of hand, mentalism or illusions are not. But a childrens performance is very difficult to do well. Also you have to work your tail end off in that 40-50 minute program, I can gurantee you I work a lot harder in that children's show, then I do in 3 hours of strolling or 50 minute mental act.

Postby Guest » 07/11/07 06:40 PM

Good post Tom! I agree with most of that. The only thing I might disagree with is about the "generalisation" that kids effects are easy to do. What is a kids effect? There are many magic effects in my kids show which I also do for adults such as ropes, rings and silks. These effects require quite a bit of technical skill. I will admit that if you are talking about "Run Rabbit Run" or similar effects, they are indeed mechanical. However, I will agree with you that performance is the key. I actually think there are many adult magicians who would love to perform for children, but are absolutely terrified at the thought of it. Am I right? JR

Postby Guest » 07/11/07 08:22 PM

Jolly Roger wrote:
"He also is a legit magic doing dude."

I am sorry Steve. I am from England, and I am unfamiliar with the above expression. Can you please elaborate? Thanks! JR
It means "He is also a magician who performs 'legitimate' magic." i.e. he can also perform for things other than kid shows.

Postby Guest » 07/11/07 08:34 PM

It means "He is also a magician who performs 'legitimate' magic." i.e. he can also perform for things other than kid shows.

Well............thank you Bill for the Clarification! I also do many shows for adults, so I look forward to calling myself "a legitimate magic doing dude" in future. That will raise some eyebrows for sure!!! I have lived 15 years in America, but I still have much to learn!! Here is a sample of my show for adults:


Postby Guest » 07/11/07 09:22 PM

Some years back Larry Nelson, Bob Nelson's brother, lived and worked in the Los Angeles area. He wore nice suits, bought a new Cadillac every few years and took his wife to Europe on vacation every year or so.

Larry Nelson, with all his knowledge of magic, was a children's entertainer and he did very well, thank you.

I remember reading an observation by someone, how they came by the information was not revealed, but the observations was this: on any given weekend, more children across the US are being entertained by magicians at birthday parties than all the audiences in Las Vegas and Atlantic City combined. An interesting thought that helps put things in perspective.

Postby Guest » 07/12/07 07:00 AM

As a kid I used to go along with my Dad and Mom and watch them perform magic shows. The thing was Dad never changed his act.

He would work a night club with the same material that he used when he would do a kid show or even a birthday party.

In the night club - depending on the club in those days they would have a live band. The spotlight and if the night club was big a line of dancers. Also other acts like singers and he would often MC.

Then he would pack up and the next day do the same stuff - not on a night club stage and often without the sound or a mike - but it was the same material just a different location and a different audience. Banquets, family show or kid show it did not matter.

My theory is this. Good magic and good entertainment and a good performer will go over no matter if the audience is a group of kids or adults. And the family show is a mixture of both.

I often find magic as a hobby boring because it centers around to much close up magic. I think magicians are often over critical of other magicians. And magicians are to much in the know and see and are around magic to often.

From the point of view of the Bishop family magic secrets have value because we have always used them to put food on the table.

It has been said that the hobby magician does lots of tricks for the same audience while the performer does the same tricks for different audiences. In my Dads case I would say that was true.

In my case the card sharp stuff is often a hobby but the close up magic and the other stuff often pays the bills.

Just my opinion.

Onward and upward!

Postby Guest » 07/18/07 08:16 PM

So is this where I have to go to find Roger being up to no good as usual! Bullocks and Beer!
How are you, Roger!

Postby Guest » 07/18/07 09:14 PM

I am just fine, thank you Chris! But why the hell should I not be wherever I wish to be at any given time? This is not the old Soviet Union!! JR

Postby Guest » 07/19/07 12:16 AM

I am strictly a preschool entertainer, but my routines would fit in any night club, just the patter's been changed. In my experience as a folksinger and magician, I've found that 3- and 4-year-olds are quite brilliant and self-aware, as well as being quite aware of what's going on around them. I cringe when people talk down to the kids and treat them like mindless lumps who have to be spoken to in sing-song baby talk. Most of the preschoolers I know are 4-going-on-25 and are quite adept at using and receiving sarcasm and when we talk about such things as Dr. King's birthday, they seem to understand his message better than many adults. They are also preschoolers, so when one child asked what happened to my broken guitar pick, I said that Cookie Monster had taken a bite out of it; she said, very seriously, "Really?" So there is a balance between treating them like the intelligent people they are and also being aware that the most important thing to them at the moment might be their blankee.

I began as a grown-up entertainer and when I started working with preschoolers, never looked back. And thanks to a lot of wonderful families, I get to answer old familiar question with "This IS my day job."

Postby Guest » 07/19/07 08:17 AM

"I cringe when people talk down to the kids and treat them like mindless lumps who have to be spoken to in sing-song baby talk."

Great post Charley! I also dislike it intensly when I hear entertainers talking down to children. I don't know whether you saw my post about the way I manage to get regular work in preschools by doing monthly educational shows at the same centers. Do you do this, or are you prepared to reveal your strategy? JR

Postby Guest » 07/19/07 08:22 AM

I've been a fulltime performer for seven years. About a quarter of my work is for groups consisting of children and/or families; about half of those are for church groups or parachurch organizations. Besides the fact that I do enjoy performing for kids, my family and I are fond of having food and shelter, so I plan to continue pursuing this part of my business.

One of the people I admire most in magic is Ken Scott, who is a wonderful performer who specializes in children's entertainment, but who is a tremendous performer for adults as well. I have learned a lot from him, as I have from other entertainers who focus on the children's market.

It would be both rude and shortsighted to ignore the lessons that can be learned from skilled children's entertainers. Sadly, we all know that there are plenty of rude and shortsighted magicians.


Postby Guest » 07/19/07 11:44 AM

"Sadly, we all know that there are plenty of rude and shortsighted magicians."

That is for sure, Joe! I also am a big fan of Ken Scott, and we are best buddies! Hopefully Ken will post here shortly, as he is a member of this forum I believe. Where are you Ken, my friend? JR

Postby Guest » 07/19/07 02:52 PM

Jolly Roger -
I've become the full-time music specialist for the preschools and daycares I work with so I visit 'em all weekly during the school year and do their camps in the Summer. I got my first school when a teacher saw me at a birthday party and mentioned they needed a music teacher to replace their outgoing one; that school originally knew me as a local entertainer who had come once or twice to do my music/magic program... Then one school called another and the number of schools I work with grew


Postby Brandon Hall » 07/19/07 03:25 PM

Glenn is right, sometimes we can't see the forrest for the trees. If you plan to make magic more than a hobby, it's a good idea to step away for a bit and think like a layman...take a break from "new stuff" and just work with and develop what you have.
"Hope I Die Before I Get Old"
P. Townshend
Brandon Hall
Posts: 373
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: North Hollywood, CA

Postby Guest » 07/19/07 08:05 PM

Ah just found this section. Thanks Joe and Jolly. By the way JR has a wonderful set of notes that he put together for black pool a couple years ago for a lecture. he sent me a copy and i love them!!

By the way closest is a HUGE closet. I think more people than think do some sort of kid shows.

Mac King along myself and others performed at the White house this year for the Easter egg roll, over 15,000 families. All KIDS and Mac peformed.

i think one of Lance Burtons best routines is when he brings kids up on stage. He gets so much mileage out of working with the kids.


Postby Guest » 07/19/07 08:41 PM

Thanks Ken! Anyone else who would like the Blackpool notes, I have printed a few extra sets by popular demand! You can see them here:


By the way, Ken, what do I have to do to get booked at the Whitehouse next year? I know it is ok that I am British, as James Munton was there and he is an Englishman!! Please let me know whose back I need to scratch!

I recently saw Ken's new library DVD. It is excellent. The music he uses in his show is a lesson to all of us, and he has some great routines which you can steal(I have)! JR

Return to Children's Entertainment