Well if you’re reading this, I assume you are a Kids Show magician or are interested in the venue. I’d like to share some advice with you guys, and hopefully help some of the newer magicians out there get started with their own magic service or business.
1. Getting Started
I don’t want to get into much detail when it comes to learning tricks and creating your routine, there are already many topics concerning this. But basically, you need a solid routine. Kids can get easily distracted, so keep your show short enough not to loose your audience’s attention, but long enough to keep them entertained. Don’t put in tricks that you wouldn’t find too terribly interesting as a spectator, I’ll call these filler tricks. Magicians will sometimes add tricks to a routine just to make it a little longer. Pick your best tricks, the ones that will give them the most for their money!
Also it’s a good idea to interact with the audience. In many cases, when I perform at a child’s house for a birthday party, the kid’s will sit down on the floor in front of me. About midway through the show, I like to sit down with the kids and do some close up tricks. I usually use tricks where they will play a role in the effect (holding a card, making items appear in their hand, etc.). Always bring your audience into the act! Now enough on the routine…
Don’t walk on stage with nothing but a box of tricks. You are going to need some key supplies before you perform.
• A Table
- What did you expect to be performing on? It can be something as simple as a folding table with a cloth over it, or a professional suitcase table such as this http://www.magictricks.com/accessories/suitcasetb.htm
. Something big enough to perform on, yet small enough to be transported. The first table I used was, like I mentioned, a fold up table with a black cloth over it. I had boxes underneath to sort out my tricks.
• A Routine List
- Maybe more of mine own invention, but it helps. Even after many hours of practice, it’s easy to forget to perform a trick or two. I usually keep a list of the tricks in performance order hanging off my table, or underneath somewhere. It also is a helpful checklist when packing my tricks, and placing them before the show.
I usually give out magic prizes at the end of the show. To a birthday boy/girl I may give out a little magic set, and to other guests a cheap little magic effect. At my local dollar store, they sell magic tricks, and I usually stock up on tricks before I go to a show. You can buy cheap magic sets at a local Wal-mart. Kids love it when they get toys!
• Fire Extinguisher?-
Ok, I know this is random, but it has a purpose. For kids you may not be doing fire magic, but I do use the occasional flash paper. It is a good idea to tell the parents if you are going to use fire, and to ask their permission before you do so. As for the extinguisher, I actually just carry a small bucket of water and a box of baking soda, more or less to keep the parents feeling safe.
By fire extinguisher I also mean any safety device you may need during your show. If you have a heavy object that you don’t want to fall and hurt someone, put some tape around it and tell the kid’s “not to pass this line. ”I don’t recommend you perform dangerous magic, but you always want to make the parents feel safe about any small hazard.
3. Pre-show inspection
I almost always make an attempt to go to the area where I am performing to find out if it will be any inconvenience to my routine.
For example: I will be performing outside in a child’s backyard. Since I’m outside, I need to make sure I am only performing tricks that are wind proof and won’t be revealed by the bright sun light.
It’s also a good idea to let the parent(s) know what area would be best for you to perform, and how seating arrangements could work. Also, have a backup plan. Weather is unpredictable, so be prepared to come inside to perform if there are bad conditions. If needed, be ready to make last minute routine changes.
4. The Show
Here are a few performance tips.
• If it is a birthday, meet the birthday boy/girl.
• Introduce yourself, “Hi, my name is Will, and I’ll be doing a little magic for you guys!”
• Meet the guests. Either before, during, or after the show.
• Interact, don’t ignore your audience’s comments, questions, or even heckles.
• If you have a heckler, chances are an adult will shut them up. Otherwise, outsmart him/her, hopefully you’ll be able to handle a kid.
• Smile! Keep a positive attitude.
• Have fun! Hopefully if the kids enjoy the show, you will too!
After a show is the best time to advertise yourself. Hopefully, people will want to see you again. Tell the audience you are available for shows, and hand out business cards/flyers. It’s also good to hand out prizes, kids are greedy, they want more.
Negotiate a Price-
It’s always a good idea to negotiate a price before the show. This way you know what you’ll be paid instead of the parent paying you what they feel is appropriate (in other words, you getting jipped). In fact, I suggest you have a set price. For example, I charge $50 an hour. Sure, it isn’t much, but I usually get a generous tip as well.
These are great to have on you. You never know when someone will approach you about a possible show. Include your name, service (Magic Shows), address, phone #, website, and any other info. There are many free web services that allow you to make your own cards, here are a couple:
http://www.thepcmanwebsite.com/business ... ator.shtml
A slogan is also a great idea to have on a card. When I was a little younger, 14-15, I was working with a friend about the same age. Our slogan was “Magic by Will and Alex: Magic for Kids, By Kids.” Even if you are younger, parents love kids who perform. If anything, I have learned that. We would also use our slogan during our introduction, and after the show.
Every year I send out flyers in my neighborhood. Most people will throw them out, but there are always a few people who contact you. Flyers should contain the same info as a business card, but it should also contain a picture of you (performing maybe?), and a little about yourself. I also pass out flyers after shows, which is where most of my gigs would come from.
I highly recommend creating a website. This is where people who are interested in booking you can read a bit more about you, see a demo video, and even look at your prices. But how much info should be on your site? Pretend you are briefing a parent about your show when designing it. I recommend www.freewebs.com
I hope this guide helped some of the newer magicians always posting about their first kids show. If anyone has any suggestion, comments, or questions please post and let me know. Also if you find anything wrong with this guide, please inform me.