As many who know me, I started my career, like most professional magicians, performing for kids parties & shows. Back then in 1993, there were only about 3 or 4 professional magicians (who all performed mainly kid shows) in Singapore and I was the new kid on the block. Today, we have almost 20 magicians who are performing full-time or part-time, mostly doing kids shows.
I remember watching all the shows back then and realized that the approach that all the magicians adopted for kids shows was the same… and I did not agree with them. Many of the shows appeared tacky, childish and low-brow. I think is the same reason why the general public and mass media have, especially then, a low opinion of magicians.
This why I developed my approach which was actually based on my desire from the start to bring magic exclusively to high-end corporate events in Singapore and subsequently the region. However, I also knew that I had to work my way through the trenches first.
But my relative success doing kids shows (and then family shows) for the first 5 years of my career proved that a non-traditional approach could work when performing for kids.
While I obviously don’t do kids shows now, the pinciples apply when we do the occasional public shows (with lots of kids present) like one we did last Dec as finale guest performers for the finals of the Square 2 Magic Competition.
One reason why I think many magicians/ entertainers (old and new) approach kids shows in the same way is because that is what everyone seems to do. In addition, they operate on a number of fallacies. Here are 3 common fallacies concerning ‘Children’s Magic’ or Kids shows:
Children are the easiest audience in the world to entertain
Children are actually one of the most difficult audiences to entertain and satisfy. When you are performing for a group of children, they might consist of ages ranging from 2 – 13 years old. Within this demographic range, you will have children who are :
- too young to understand too complex routines
- older and feel that your magic is of low standards and undermines their intelligence
- ‘Smart Alecs’ who heckle and disturb the show by shouting out the ‘secrets’ behind the magic
- too shy to respond or are too shy to volunteer
- over excited or ill-disciplined and rush up onto stage or pry at your props
Imagine, your magic/ show content has to be able to cater to this whole range of children. No mean feat! This means the presentation of effects must be scripted and structured such that you can effectively entertain different children in the same show. This actually invovles a lot of thinking, performing and evaluating.
You can perform anything for kids because that don’t know anything and they just want to be entertained.
I will not deny, this is true to a certain extent for kids of a certain age BUT if you think that… aren’t you subscribing to the lowest possible standard?
Mr Magician must act like a clown, do slapstick comedy and speak in “kiddy” lanaguage (or broken Singlish in Singapore’s context) before children will enjoy their show
Again, I will not deny that this is one way to engage the kids BUT is not the only way.
As a country develops, the culture also matures and individuals get more sophisticated in their choices of art & entertainment. Now, entertainers are supposed to pave the way for this progression and be ahead of the culture evolution. If an approach was used to engage kids 30 years ago, should’nt entertainers evolve forward to attempt to entertain kids who are now exposed to the Internet, Xbox, 3D Animated movies and grown up-themed cartoons?
Here are a couple of performing tips for kids magicians/ entertainers working in today’s world:
- Kids are much Smarter than you Think
- Don’t Talk Down to the Kids
- Don’t be a Disciplinarian
- Speak good English
I’ve helped produced a the shows for few kids entertainers in Singapore and all of them are now very successful profesisonal kids entertainers who have brought their craft to higher levels and new markets. The most unique one so far has got to be Kinetic Gal.
She is the only female magic juggler in the country and performs many event shows that use this distinction to promote her. And, because she is a female, girl audiences take to her much better than to male entertainers.
That is a reason why 80% of her birthday party bookings are for birthday girl parties. Parents also feel much more comfortable having a female entertainer interact closely with their girls, especially in a close setting like a birthday party. In fact, half of her bookings are a result of clients and parents choosing her because Kinetic Gal is a cool gal entertainer.
In my opinion, she also has the best kids party & entertainment blog in the country as well because the content is current, relevant and updated regularly. It is a great resource for parents who are not just interested to book an entertainer for a birthday party.
Bookmark it here: http://singaporebirthdayparty.wordpress.com/
Recently, Kinetic Gal was featured on OKTO Live, check it out on YouTube here or below: