Magic Magazine Reviews Seriously Silly Live
Review By John Lovick
I have only performed a kid show once in my life. It was for a very good friend, and it took a great deal of begging. No amount of begging could ever persuade me to do it again.
That said, there is one person who could possibly convince me to perform for kids again, and his name is David Kaye. And it wouldnít be because he begged, but because he has shown me how it can and should be done. You probably know Kaye better as Silly Billy and should be familiar with his writings in the pages of this magazine, where his "Turn It Around" column has run for almost eight years.
At a party during last summerís MAGIC Live! convention, I told Kaye how much I liked Seriously Silly, his book about performing magic for children. I told him that his book was such an interesting and fun read it made me forget how much I hate the idea of performing for kids. Seriously Silly is widely regarded as not just the best book ever written for the kid-show performer, but one of the best books ever about performing magic, period, and now he has released a companion DVD. Like most companion DVDs, this one wonít replace the book (and I donít think it was intended to). There is just so much more information that you can -and Kaye does-fit into a book than on a DVD. However, the DVD does give you a chance to see Silly Billy in action, since itís unlikely youíve ever had the chance to see him in his element.
The production values are top notch, and the DVD is very entertaining in unexpected ways. It begins-and is sprinkled throughout-with a very funny parody of David Blaine and his endurance stunts and TV specials. I laughed out loud at several of these segments. There is also a funny parody of Foxís Masked Magician specials, the funniest element being Gabrielle LaPlanteís uninhibited dancing.
But Kayeís real purpose of the DVD is to teach, and he does it well with a very smart structure. This is more than the performance, explanation model we are used to. Kayeís intention was to do more than give routines for you to memorize and parrot. His desire is to explain and demonstrate principles you can apply to routines you already do (or tricks that lie unused in your closet). These principles, designed to make you a better kid-show performer, are: six ways to add comedy elements to your show, six ways to add interaction, two ways to add empowering elements, how to add storytelling elements, why and how to entertain the adults.
After each segment wherein he talks about these principles, he shows footage of himself from a school show, doing a routine using those principles. Then itís back to the studio where he points out the principles that you just saw in action. He performs six such routines you can incorporate into your own shows. At the end of the DVD, he explains the workings of these routines, and his explanations are very thorough and clear.
At the beginning of the DVD, Kaye explains that comedians often calculate their laughs per minute. He explains that for a kid-show performer, whatís important are interactions per minute. Watching Kaye perform and seeing these principles in action is very enlightening. One of the six pieces he performs is his routine for the Magic Coloring Book, and he gets more phases and more interactions per minute than I would have thought possible-about one every 10 seconds. Itís quite instructive.
Perhaps this is just the book snob in me, but as much as I enjoyed this DVD and as much as I recommend it, I think itís only so valuable unless you also own the book, Seriously Silly. If you perform for kids, I think youíd enjoy it: itís fascinating reading. After youíve read the book, and if you like it, then you should consider buying the DVD to see the man in action.