Why do you do it

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

Postby Guest » 11/19/07 09:13 AM

I am trying to learn more about childrens magic and the main question that came to my mind was why? What made you choose childrens magic over all the other kinds of performing?
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Postby Guest » 11/19/07 10:25 AM

My guess is that a large number of Magicians got into doing kid shows because for them it is were most the work performing as a magician is. When I started performing there lots of opportunities in the field of kid show entertainment. This translates into money to spend at the local magic shop. I was doing three shows almost every weekend, sometimes four. I did this for around 10 years.

I think the reason I got out of doing kid shows is because I was doing 3 or four show a weekend for about 10 years.
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Postby Guest » 11/19/07 11:50 AM

I did kids magic at first because it was the only work I could get, but the truth is I enjoyed it.
Kids are a great audience. They aren't afraid to laugh and yell out the magic word. They love it when you act silly and aren't afraid to act silly with you.
Even though I don't do kid shows these days, I have nothing but good memories.

Gord
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Postby Guest » 11/19/07 11:39 PM

Not only are children's shows a good way to start making money and lots of fun, but you don't have to choose them over other kinds of performing, as you suggested. I take what i can get. Sometimes it's a kids' show, sometimes it's not.

At one point, early on, I never would have guessed i'd be one day entertaining at a kids' party. I wasn't interested in the least. But time and again, when people find out i'm a magician, they would ask me to "show the kids a few tricks." I finally got tired of not knowing how to entertain children with magic and bought a book on it. After one performance (25 mins?), i was hooked. The kids were great! And it was soo much fun.

If you enjoy kids, there's a good chance you'll enjoy performing magic for them. It's not like magic for adults, but it's in your field, and the cross-fertilization can be very useful. And bringing joy to children is a great service to humanity to boot!

The question for me, after i got a taste, became why *wouldn't* you perform for kids?
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Postby Guest » 11/20/07 09:42 AM

Why do I perform for children? Because I love it. I love every minute of every show I do.....and there are many of those. I have probably averaged around 400 shows each year for the past 35 years! That is a lot of children I have made happy. It is also a lot of children who have made me happy. The money is a bonus, but it is certainly not the reason I am a children's entertainer.

After training for the stage at Drama School in England, I had, foolishly, a superior attitude to children's entertainment. I only wanted to do adult shows.......and I did plenty of them. 12 different cruise ships, night clubs in the north of England and Australia. Shows in the Catskills and Poconos. Then, one day, I took a good look at myself. What did I like best? The answer was entertaining Children! I cut down on the adult shows, and went full time with the kids. I have never looked back! I cannot stand the attidude that some magicians have that do adult shows, and believe that kids shows are the bottom end of our profession. I come across this at magic conventions, Society meetings, and on internet forums. It is really sad! I talked about this a bit at my lecture at the Blackpool Convention last year, and there was much agreement amonst those attending that they had frequently been ridiculed by "adult" magicians for doing kids parties. I just chuckle to myself these days when this comes up, in the knowledge that I am so blessed to have the gift to entertain children, and that I have a truly wonderful life where I daily take inspiration from the happy smiles on the faces of the little people! JR
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Postby Guest » 11/20/07 05:36 PM

I chose children's magic since I seem to have a knack for working with kids. My mom and dad were both career educators, and told me I should follow suit. Although being a teacher was not what I desired in my youth, by the time I was married and had a family, I began to understand what my folks were talking about.

I did alot of volunteer work in my son's preschool while he was a student there, and was told by many of the staff that I seemed to have a special way with the kids. I came in and read stories, told them tales about my days of touring with the circus, demonstrated my various musical instruments, and even dressed as Santa at Christmas. At that time, I had been "out" of magic for a couple of decades.

On the encouragement of my son, and my magic mentor, an extremely talented sleight of hand artist here in southwest Florida, I got back into the craft, and created a character and various theme shows that have created a very full calendar ! I only recently branched out into working for slightly older, elementary school age kids, and really enjoyed that as well. Bottom line, some people honestly enjoy working with kids, and I am one of them.

Mark Pettey
Naples, FL
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Postby Guest » 11/21/07 11:38 AM

I agree with Jolly Roger, I do it beacause I love it!!,, When I was younger (I am 53 now)I did all kinds of shows I could do, dreamed of the day of the big time, when I could do just stage shows for adults. (I never got to JR's level of sucess though) Then the reality of making a living hit; when I was in my 20's, I started a family and needed to get a "day job", tried to do both magic and work in the corporate world, but I frankly got burned out, laid off the magic for dozen years, then built my own business (non magic), and then one day I realized all I ever did was just worked, and had no fun. So I started to do shows again, part time. I very quickly realized, I was not needing to do it for the money, but just for fun. I realized I did not enjoy the adult gigs very much,, but I loved the kid shows,

a. thier sense of wonder, it made me remember when I was a kid, watching a magic show, how I would dream "if I were magic...".

b. they are HONEST, they don't clap if they don't like something, if they are bored, they will tell you, it makes it very easy to evaluate your performances in your audiences eyes, & you can fix your weak spots. But be prepared for thier honesty too, they will tell you "you are 100 years old" because in thier eyes, that is what they see. They will tell you "you're fat", and, well I am.

c. I can be a character, and "play" with the kids. It is so much fun!

When kids recognize me 100 miles from my home, in a grocery store, not in costume, that is so cool!

After doing kids shows on weekends for a couple years, I was completely bitten again by the magic bug, I felt like I felt when I was a teenager again, so I closed my other business, and promised myself I would be the "best" children's entertainer I could be. It has been about 15 years now, and I have made my living performing for "just kids". I get asked all the time by adults who have seen my shows to come perform for thier adult gatherings, and I am glad to say I have graciously turned every one of them down.

I so love performing for kids, when or if the day comes that I can quit performing for the financial rewards, I would love to go do nothing but free shows in the places where they cannot afford to see a professional magician. I would never want to take away a paying gig from a professional, but I have in the past, done free shows in places, sections of towns, where there were kids that never had seen a magician before, and thier sense of wonder, was more fulfilling to me than I think any magician ever got from the highest paying adult gigs.
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Postby Guest » 11/21/07 12:20 PM

That was an inspirational post, Kurt. Thank you for sharing! JR
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Postby Guest » 12/11/07 04:59 PM

I think one has to really approach children and magic as "fun" first and foremost...it's great to make their jaws drop, yes...but do it sparingly! AT the same time, doing great magic is a MUST for a great kids show. There MUST be a balance between fun and great magic!
There must also be theatrics. A dud in a tux is not the guy the kids want to see, please trust me on this. you need to know how to be "on stage" and "in form" and the basics of theater must be ingrained to the point of being something you simply ARE. Just ask my wife, she used to always ask me why I'm always "on"..and she finally accepted the fact years ago that because of my training I'm simply always expressive. This can be bad if one overdoes it, of course! But once your a theater rat, always a theater rat!
I hope this helps.
I will sincerely say that although I have a great love and dedication to magic, it's really acting that should be first. Houdin may have said it, but to live it is a very different matter. People want to be entertained first...the magic is only one very, VERY small part of the equation!
And yes, in case you're wondering at this point, I do make my entire family(of four) income from doing "magic". It's wonderful, sometimes heartbreaking (in good and bad ways), a struggle at times and at others a cake-walk, and overall the best career move I ever made in my life!
Best,
Chris
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Postby Guest » 12/11/07 05:48 PM

You are so right Chris! Entertaining children is all about theatre. I am very fortunate that I tread the boards for a number of years as an actor in my early 20's, and it was of great advantage to me that I attended Drama school in England.

I understand, Chris, that you have a You Tube clip of one of your performances. Would you mind sharing it on here? JR
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Postby Guest » 12/11/07 08:33 PM

Well, so far that youtube video of me (the only one, for better or worse) has been viewed some 174 times. If you take back all the times I've sat and critiqued it myself, with "tottie" or "no tottie" within reach, I'd say approx. 3 people besides myself have seen it....
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