Proud To Be A Kid Show Magician
By David Kaye
Do kid show magicians
deserve better? You bet, and hereís just three reasons why.
Is it easier to perform magic for children than for adults? Maybe. Close-up card workers must put in hours of practice to achieve technical perfection. And all we have to do with a Coloring Book is flip through the pages. But aren't there other forms of magic besides childrenís magic that are also simple to perform technically?
As far as technical skill is concerned, it is probably easier to perform standard children's effects than, say, the perfect pass. That is probably why so many people put down kid show magicians. But there are other forms of magic that are also simple to perform technically. How hard is it, technically, to push metal plates through two slits in a Zig-Zag illusion? When a beautiful girl changes into a tiger, the magician isnít even involved. Itís the assistant in the box who does all the work. Siegfried and Roy used to earn $75 million each year by walking back and forth on a big stage raising their arms every now and then. The field of mentalism is also easy to perform technically. How much technical skill is required for a mentalist to check out the imprint on a clipboard?
But it takes more than technical skill to be a magician. Though technically simple, a stage illusionist requires skills in many other areas. The stage magician must be graceful and elegant. He or she needs professional choreography, music, blocking, lighting, and costumes. A mentalist who simply glances at the facing page for the matching word must also be a great actor and showman, creating drama and mystery.
Likewise, though technically simple, performing childrenís magic requires more than ownership of the usual props. You must have an understanding of children, including their intellectual and verbal skills. You have to understand them psychologically. You have to know what makes them laugh and how to keep their attention. You must be likable, funny, and non-threatening. And you must be able to improvise rather than follow a rigid script.
There may even be some aspects of performing magic for children that are harder than performing magic for adults. This may explain why so many adult performers hate performing for kids. Because they canít do it! Because it requires a whole different set of skills that performing for adults does not teach you. In fact an audience of children may be the most difficult audience to perform for. Why? Because.....
Children are different than adults
A) One of the reasons many magicians have trouble performing for children is that they donít realize that children are not adults. If you attempt to design a childrenís show using your adult sensibilities, you will fail. Childrenís brains are different than the brains of adults. They donít think like adults. Therefore, children react to magic tricks in a completely different way than adults do.
B) Complicating matters further, children of different ages react in different ways to the same magic trick. Unlike the category "adult show," the category "childrenís show" is not a category for which one show would be universally appropriate. In fact, I perform a different show for every different age group. Some differences between, for example, age four and age five may be minor presentational differences, while other increments will result in a major change in the tricks that I do.
C) Children have not been socialized into being a polite audience yet. An adult audience will sit and clap politely during a mediocre magic show, out of courtesy. (You may have witnessed this at the local magic club meeting last month.) Children watching a lousy kid show magician will leave the room to play computer games the first chance they get! During the show, adults donít yell out their own explanations for how the tricks are done. After all, when was the last time you heard someone in the close-up room at The Magic Castle yell out "It's in his lap!"? Adults usually won't tell you that you did a lousy job. They might even be polite and compliment you. But we all know kids will tell you their opinions: "Boooo-ring!"
If a bad kid show magician loses control of his audience, he might have one or more children run up to "examine" his props. Kids love to look behind your table and grab, grab, grab. Have you ever seen a member of the audience run up on stage during a sub-trunk performance and shout, to the delight of the rest of the crowd, "He's coming out of the top!"
Be proud of your talent. Be proud of your show. Be proud to be a kid show magician. You may be under-appreciated by fellow magicians. But you are appreciated by the people who matter most: the children.