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|Guests - David Kaye|
A Very Warm Welcome to David Kaye
Sam C: I am very pleased to announce our latest guest, professional children’s entertainer David Kaye AKA Silly Billy.
I am very happy that Mr Kaye has taken time out of his busy schedule to stop by and answer those questions that people may wish to pose about entertaining children.
Next week on April 10th, David Kaye will be presenting his lecture at The Magic Circle. As well as travelling and lecturing he also runs an agency for clowns (The Funniest Clowns In The Whole Wide World), he is in his 6th year of writing his column for Magic magazine about how to perform magic for children, he has also published a new book called “Seriously Silly – How to Entertain Children with Magic and Comedy” as well as releasing numerous props and routines especially designed for the children’s entertainer.
For more information about David Kaye and to purchase his book, props and various other bits and pieces please visit. www.sillymagic.com.
Once again, I would like to say a huge thank you to David for offering his time to us this week.
Jonesy: Thanks for dropping in mate!
davetolomy: Thank you for coming along.. Guest threads are always interesting to read and I hope you enjoy your visit.
wacky wizard: Welcome
I look forward to reading and posting in this thread this week.
Thanks for taking the time from your busy schedule
I have a copy of Seriously Silly and it is a constant source of reference for my Children’s shows - the Bits of Business and routines are great.
David Kaye: Thank you Sam and all of you for having me as a guest. I hope I can answer your questions and maybe teach you something as well.
Feel free to ask me anything you want. I have been in magic since I was 6 years old. I think I know a lot about magic in general and of course kid shows specifically.
I have been bouncing around your forum. Visited the Children’s Magic section, lots of good stuff there. Do you guys know about the US version of this, which is called the Magic Cafe? www.themagiccafe.com
I am looking forward to a fun week. Remember I am 5 hours behind you. So I will likely be responding during the nights here, which is the middle of the night for you.
Most Interesting Show
Sam C: In this business every event is different and throws up many surprises and such. I really enjoyed reading the stories of performances you have done for famous people in your "Seriously Silly" book, but my question to you is:
What is the most interesting show you have ever done and what happened to make it so?
David Kaye: Sam,
I've been sitting here scrolling through my brain visiting all my interesting shows of the past. I won't discuss the shows that I wrote about in my book (for Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, and Susan Sarandon, etc).
I think I have the most interesting show I ever did. (If you don't like this answer, ask me again.) I am sure this is the most interesting show I have ever done.
It was a long time ago. Early in my career, I was in the middle of the show and one of the boys who had not been chosen got very upset about that. He stood up and stormed out of the room with great bravado. That was weird. But I kept on with my show. Then a few minutes later he returned to the room with his mom. She asked what had happened that made her son so upset. I told her. Then she got so mad that she grabbed her son's hand and stormed out of the room to great bravado.
And I learned a very important lesson that day. It is that we learn all our behaviours from our parents, so much so that we actually mimic their exact behaviours. This was fascinating to me. To see a textbook case of how a child learns behaviours from their parents.
Jonesy: Heya David...
Thanks for taking the time to do this
my question... you've obviously done a fair few shows in your time and so inevitably had some kids coming up and touching/playing with your props (normally at a moment you really don't need them to), do you have a line or theory to get rid of these kids (I.e., get them to stand back and watch)?
David Kaye: Jonesy,
That can be a long answer. But let's try.
First I must say that I almost never have this problem. I don't know why. But that's true. I hear from my friends and others that this can be a problem.
There are two ways this can happen. One is the group as a whole runs up. The other is that there is one bad kid who runs up.
For the group as a whole the question is really, how do you keep the kids in their seats? There are many ways. The best is to set rules at the beginning of the show. Make an announcement like "I chose only the children who are sitting with their legs crossed, hands in their lap, with big smiles on their faces." Then throughout the show, keep reiterating this promise that you only chose children who are sitting properly.
For the one kid problem, you need to address this child. Remind him of the rule. But sometimes he just wants attention. You can give him that attention by having him come up to help in some way. Maybe hold a silk or other prop.
By the way, in my book, Seriously Silly, there are two big chapters on how to solve the top 10 problems of performing for children. This, of course, is one of them. I give 30 ways to solve this problem.
Kids These Days
chabang Many Kids entertainers have complained about the short attention spans and general lack of manners in "today’s kids" (and I know the odd time I've done Kids shows recently it certainly feels like much harder work ) Is this a view you share and have you found that routines and effects have to be much shorter with more punches to cope?
David Kaye: I actually open my book with a discussion of this topic. Here's what I think.
I think kids are now, and have always been, a difficult audience. The brain of a 5 year old is the same as it was 100 years ago. Kids are easily distracted, enjoy wrestling each other, grabby, shout stuff out, and so on. This is the way it has always been and will always be.
This is why some magicians can’t work for children. They are not used to this kind of behaviour from their audience.
However, I do think there are two differences in today's kids. First, the media today, especially television, is faster paced. Therefore, yes, I think we need to respond to that and make our shows faster paced, with more action and punch lines. Second, there are fewer regional differences. Because of television, movies (DVDs), and the Internet, a child in a small town in the North of Scotland is exposed to the same media that an urban kid in London is. Therefore, the Scottish kid, who years ago might have been enjoyed a slower paced show is now faster paced like his London counterpart.
Your Favourite Area
Furret: What would you say was your favourite area of magic? So for example, coins or sponge balls.
David Kaye: Well Furret,
My favourite area is kid shows. I have devoted my life to it. I love it.
However I also love card tricks. I think of kid shows as my career and card tricks as my hobby. I don't get too much time to practice. But I love watching experts.
Becoming a Full Time Children’s Entertainer
Gary Edwards: Hi David
I was wondering how you came to be a full time children's entertainer and what job you did prior to that?
At the moment I earn a part time living from children's entertainment. Although my diary tends to be booked most weekends, in order to earn a full time living I realise that I need to increase my mid-week bookings. In America it seems that entertainers get a lot of midweek work from school programmes/shows, particularly with an educational theme. In the UK it seems that there is not the same demand for such shows. I would be interested in any advice you may have with respect to increasing mid-week bookings.
Many thanks for your advice.
David Kaye: Gary,
The way I went full time is quite unique. I started as a street performer. So I ran around New York performing in spots. As I was doing this, people came up to me to ask if I performed at kid shows. Even though I didn’t, I said yes. Bought some tricks, and did my first show. The more street performing I did, the more private gigs came in. So I was able to supplement my private party income by street performing the rest of the week. You could try this.
For more mid-week work you have to find a niche where there are mid week shows. In the US people do school shows, and day care centres mid week. Are there any venues in the UK where they hire mid-week. Schools? Here in NY many of the rich clients leave town on the weekends, so they have birthday parties mid-week. That is what I use to keep busy and making money.
You could even do free shows mid-week (schools, day cares) just to promote your paid gigs. This will all lead to more money for you.
You could also spend the week working on your marketing. This will lead to increased shows and higher fees. I cant answer more than that because I don't know enough about the UK situation.
Joseff. T: Hi David,
I was wondering when you started out did you think of doing children’s magic or were you more interested in doing magic for adults. If you were interested in performing for adults why did you change to performing to children?
David Kaye: Joseff,
That’s a good question. The answer is unusual.
I was a magician as a kid since 6 years old. Mostly cards. But I never wanted to grow up and be a magician.
After university, I got a job that I didn’t like. So I quit and started to street perform in the streets of NY. I did that for 3 years. During those three years, people asked me if I did magic shows for children's parties. I said yes, bought some tricks, and did my first show.
All I can say is that I must have been good, because each show lead to more bookings. More private shows led to a decrease in the street performing. And there you have it. I never wanted to be a professional magician. And I never set out to be a kid show magician. It just happened that way.
Best and worst kids show effect
wacky wizard: Hi David
The question is in the title really
What is the best and worst Kids show effect you have bought and / or performed?
What is your favourite routine?
David Kaye: Hi Wacky Wizard,
Of course this is based on my opinion and experience. I think everyone has a favourite trick that they do. It's the one that rocks the audience the most. And for each of us, that is a different trick.
For me the best trick is the Colouring Book, done with my routine. It is so wild and fun to do. It is the peak of my show. And also, my favourite routine would be the same.
Would you like to clarify Best Trick and Favourite Routine? What’s the difference?
The worst kid show trick I ever saw was at a kid show magic convention and was performed by a famous magician. He sat there for 20 minutes with pictures of dinosaurs. Talking about dinosaurs, with 6 child helpers up there holding the pictures. And I swear, I have no idea what was going on. No plot, no magic, ugh!
wacky wizard: Hi David
Sorry for not clarifying
Best / Worst trick that you have ever bought from a dealer
You mention the colouring Book - I loved your routine - with the erasing business - but I have dropped the Colouring book from my show because I got so fed up with kids saying I've got one of those off ebay!!
Do you have the same trouble?
Also what are thoughts on pack small play big shows? There has been a lot of discussion in the past about the pros and cons of a Prop laden show and a small one case show like Jozo Bozos
David Kaye: Wacky,
I know the worst trick I ever bought from a dealer was Topsy Turvy Champagne Bottles. When I was about 12, the jerk at the magic store sold this to me. Not only is TT bottles a terrible trick. But a kid shouldn’t be doing it with champagne bottles!
I rarely hear "I have that" during my colouring book routine. I do sometimes. But all they say is "I have that" and nothing more. It doesn't bother me. Also, when I flip through the pages there is my picture and name in the book. At this point everyone thinks that kid couldn’t have this book. So I like that my picture is in it.
Also my routine is so involving and participatory, that even the kid who has the book gets carried away and erases, etc.
I read the thread on that here. I am one of the guys who has lots of props and sets them up on display.
And funny enough I am a friend of Jozo Bozo and he wants me to scale down dramatically. I am hesitant to because I like my show so much. I don't want to be restricted as to what tricks to do, just based on size. To me that is a little compromise I am not willing to make. However, I think, as I get older I may want to cut back. But Ill get to that bridge later. So for now it is packs big, plays big.
White Rabbit/Turning Pro
Chubby Harris: David. What are your views on producing the traditional White Rabbit at a Children’s show? I see that you do not work with animals etc, is there a reason for this? Also what advice would you give to a guy like myself, who is semi-pro, but would love to turn professional?
Thanking you in advance.
David Kaye: Chubby,
To tell you the truth, I cant think of anything more exciting to a kid than to witness a rabbit being produced by magic. It must be incredible. It is everything about magic that we are trying to create.
However, I don't use a rabbit or any livestock because I live in Manhattan (New York) in a small apartment. So I don't have a garage (shed) or backyard to put him in. Also, I take taxis and the underground to get to my shows. This means I can only carry one case with me. And that case contains my props.
Otherwise I can’t think of a better way to get an advantage over your competition than to have a rabbit.
To answer your question about turning pro, it is a complicated answer. And I really can’t answer it fully without knowing more about your particular situation. Otherwise I would say that you have to take that leap of faith. If you are confident in your abilities and that your popularity will increase as you do more shows, then you just have to make that break and go for it.
Are you working a lot on the weekends? Are you turning shows down? Are you the highest priced in your area? If the answer to these questions is yes, then that is certainly a good sign.
I hope that helps.
Doc: Dear David,
Thank you for spending time with us here - I'm looking forward to seeing you at The Magic Circle in a couple of weeks.
I've been performing children’s magic for just under 10 years and I've become bored/fed up with it so much so I've turned bookings down this year.
You touch on this in your book but just wondering if you had any advice - my personal view is that I need to just take some time off from it and focus on my other projects for a while and then maybe I'll be reinvigorated to perform kids shows again. (Maybe your lecture will inspire me!).
David Kaye: Doc,
If you are feeling this way, then you are doing the right thing by turning down the work.
I do talk about this in my book. When I get this way, I stop working during the weekdays. Then when the weekend rolls around, I am looking forward to the shows. If that schedule doesn't do it for you, then maybe two weekends a month for you would be better.
You should definitely learn a new skill, or read or write. It would be great to have something to show for your time off from shows.
Maybe you should work on a new act -adult act, competition act. Anything creative like that will probably make you feel excited.
Oh, and don't forget you can raise your price. Then you will work less but still make the same money.
Doc: David thanks,
I am actually working on a new act and also writing too - as well as focusing on my degree in Theatre Studies!
Thanks for the advice.
David Kaye: Doc,
That is all great stuff! That should definitely help
Maybe you need to cut back on the number of shows you are doing. If you can afford to, take one day off every week.
Case of Display
Chubby Harris: Hi David.
Firstly many thanks for giving your time to the forum. Right onto my question, lot of Children’s entertainers now days, work from a case, and do not display the props, and this may be ideal when you have quite a few shows on the same day, as it makes for a quick exit, plus it has the advantage of the "Little darlings" not being able to grab at the props.
What are your views on this? As for me, I like to display the props, as I feel by having them on show, while the children are waiting for the show to start, the colourful array of props, are creating a sense of wonder in their heads already.
David Kaye: Chubby,
That’s a good question. Somewhere else nearby I touched on this in another question.
I read the thread on this here, very interesting stuff.
I carry a trunk into the room, and set my stuff up on a table for display. I agree with you, I think it is exciting for the kids to see all the props and colours. Looking forward to what comes next.
I have heard from others that the downside of this is if you change your mind about doing a trick then the kids will be disappointed. I don't think that is true. I have had kids ask me "Why didn’t you do this?" I tell them I am saving that for next time! Not a bad answer. Maybe they will want me themselves to see the next time.
I don't have a problem with the work out of the case and put it back method. I have seen it work very well. I guess it is whatever your personal preference is. I don't think there is a right way or a wrong way. As soon as we start saying that we limit the art and restrict it.
Backdrop or no backdrop, sound amp or no sound amp. Whatever makes you happy.
Doctor Blood act
Chubby Harris: David.
Your Doctor Blood show is certainly different, how did it come about, and do you only work it for certain ages?
It seems to be breaking some of the rules regarding Children’s magic as to the gory side of the effects, how do you cope with this?
And finally, will there be a "Doctor Blood. How to.." book in the pipeline?
David Kaye: Chubby,
I love my Dr. Blood show. For those who don't know, Dr Blood is a newer character I do. It is basically a geek show for kids. I do all the geek tricks. And I scare the little kiddies.
I came up with this because I was watching my clients book me year after year and then the kids grew up and topped out of my market at 7 or 8. SO I wanted a show I could do for older kids.
I do this for 7 to 11 year olds. But due to the demand I created a less scary version for 5s and 6s. Parents beg me to do it for the 5 year olds!
I do think of Dr Blood as the Anti-Silly Billy. I do everything that you shouldn’t (and that Silly Billy doesn’t) do for kids - fire, blood, knives, danger, etc. It was very difficult to learn how to do this show right. Push too hard and the kids freak out. Not enough, and the kids eat you alive. SO I have learned over time how to perform this show and get the desired reaction from the kids.
The truth is the kids love this kind of stuff and they love the Dr Blood show. I knew it was true and I pursued it.
I have no plans to write about this or release much of the information. In fact I kept it a secret for many years fearing a backlash in the magic community. I don't think there are many places in the world you could get away with a show like this, New York is one of them. But I think there is no point in teaching this because you couldn’t do it anywhere else.
Darrel: Hi David and welcome.
On repeat bookings, do you tend to keep to the same routines, or make sure that you have new items each time?
I realise that shows are always evolving anyway, but wondered if you ever get asked to do the same items by parents.
That’s a good question.
After every show I write down the tricks that I did. Then when someone books from seeing that show I can change the tricks. But I don't change the whole show. I change about half of the tricks. The other half, are the tricks that the kids want to see over and over again. So I need to leave them in.
Often when a parent books me she will say, "My daughter's favourite part was the ____. Be sure you do that trick." And of course I do.
Darrel: Thank you for the reply.
I like the idea that you change about half of the show.
I had wondered how much to change and this has helped, Thanks.
Chubby Harris: David.
You are one of the leading Children's entertainer's in the world, but are there any other Children's entertainer's that you are in awe of?
Also I know you take a great interest in the UK children’s entertainer of the year competition at Blackpool, last year was a all-winners show, and one performer stuck out amongst the rest.... Magic Dave. His show had beaty music, was fast paced, and used small illusions in his act, would you say that this is the way of the future for Children’s entertainers?
Kids today are brought up on a diet of "I want it, and I want it now", to them everything has to be larger than life, and fast paced, big, showy, & flashy, any thoughts on this one?
David Kaye: Chubby,
There are some other children's entertainers that I am in awe of.
I think Terry Herbert is so funny. His facial expressions are priceless. The kids love him. In the US there is Tim Hannig who performs a very different style, really a family entertainer, not a kids entertainer. He knows how to use music to affect mood. I have also met many children's entertainers from around the world who are fabulous. I have seen them perform in their non-English language and I can see the children loving it and laughing. I’m sure there are other names that just aren’t coming to me now.
To me, a great children's entertainer keeps the kids entertained completely and also makes jokes for the adults. This is tough to do, but that is my standard.
I did a column on Dave in Magic magazine where I featured a routine of his with a puppet. I didn’t see the show he did at the last Blackpool, so I really cant comment.
To answer your last question I think kids are the same now as they have always been. With one exception, I do think they demand things to be faster paced. All children's entertainers should make this adjustment.
Sam C: Hi David
I think every magician does have certain influences and certain other magicians that effect the way that they have developed over the years. I can look back through my own performing life and see many people that have helped to shape the way I perform now.
I wanted to ask: When it comes to children's magic, who are your influences and why?
David Kaye: Another good question.
I started performing kids magic without seeing or reading anything by any other kids magician. I think that was a good thing because I was not influenced by another magicians style, I created my own style. I didn’t know the "right" way to do it. I just created it from scratch. I credit those early years for a style that is very strong and effective.
Then I discovered Supreme magic. It was barely sold here in the US. So it was hard to find. I bought tons of the stuff directly from the UK. None of my competition had that kind of tricks with the quality, colourful props, and strong plots.
However, there were two influences. When I was 12, and a camper at the Tannens camp, I saw Al Flosso do the Misers Dream with another young boy. It was one of the funniest things I had ever seen. I am sure it had a lasting effect on me. All that laughter! Also, I grew up on Woody Allen comedies. I know a lot of my sense of humour comes from him.
Choosing your profession
Hyperbit: Hello and thank you for taking the time to come here and speak with us.
What prompted you to take on the art of performing for children as opposed to other magic profession, such as close-up or card manipulation? Would it be seeing the absolute look of awe on their faces coupled with the desire to do what you do, or something else?
I actually answered your question previously in the question "Children's Magic" by Joseff.
I think the answer will surprise you. It was a complete accident. I didn’t even care about kids very much. Had never considered it. Now, of course, I love performing for kids. I get a real charge out of it.
But I got into this by accident. Read back...
Darrel: Is there a particular "style" of children’s magic that you feel you aren't as happy performing?
I don't mean comedy or close up type of style, more a case of sucker tricks, productions and the like.
Do you ever include anything that you can perform so that the children enjoy it, but you don't find it as much fun as some other items you would use instead.
Hope that makes sense.
David Kaye: Darrel,
That is an interesting question.
Well, it is very important to me that my routines are very funny. I need lots of jokes and laughter. So that is the direction I go in. Therefore, I wouldn’t like to do a square circle and spend 5 minutes pulling stuff out of it. That would bore me. And if it bored my audience, I wouldn’t do it.
Funny but I don't think I would perform a trick for the kids that I don't like to do. One of the goals of my show is for me to learn about children's magic, or get better at it. So I put new tricks in that teach ME something about kids, or magic. So, on the contrary, I might put something in that I want to do that the kids don't get yet - all in the name of getting better at my job.
Your book "Seriously Silly" is a fabulous book (you should all buy it - kids magician or not!).
I personally love it and find it to be probably the only "in depth" (i.e. not just a book of tricks) book on children’s magic. I particularly like the age chart near the end, which tells you what skills children of different ages, will have.
What inspired you to actually write it - and how does it feel to have written a book that has had such a positive impact.
David Kaye: Thank you Doc,
I’m glad you like the book. It took 5 years to write it. I worked very hard on it. I have always felt that I want to leave something behind; that I want to help raise the bar for kid show magic. To help make it better all over the world, but I didn’t know how I would achieve that goal.
The idea to write it was actually from Richard Kaufman. We were at a magic convention a long time ago. I had lectured there and he was impressed. And he suggested that I write a book. Then I spent the next 5 years writing!
During the years of me writing the book, my reputation in the magic community took off. I got the Magic magazine column; I spoke at more conventions, and produced new products for kid show magicians. So my name was becoming better known in magic during the writing period. Then when the book came out many people knew who I was.
Also during that period, when I was lecturing, I learned more about the state of the kid show world. There were really only a handful of leaders, and I felt many of these were old fashioned. They were teaching a style that was 20 years old. They weren’t aware of the modern-day kid, so as I was writing I was feeling that the book was really something that had not been said before. And I began to recognize the importance of the material I was writing.
Since the book has come out, the reviews have been incredible. Most of the reviewers write that the book is not just a great book for kid-show magicians, but it is also just a great magic book. That is pretty cool.
And now I think I have achieved my goal of having something that will live on after me. I can help raise the bar for kid’s magic. I get emails all the time from people who read the book and instantly apply what they learned, and are now getting more bookings, more tips, and better reactions from the kids and the parents. That is all good! It is very exciting for me.
Mfield2000: Seriously, Silly Billy is an extremely thought-provoking magician. His performance insights, his magical creations and his generosity sharing what he has all combine to make him not only the most successful New York City children's performer, but one of the most beloved magicians within the magic community itself.
I'm proud to call David Kaye a moderate acquaintance.
Is it true about you and David Oliver?
David Kaye: Matt,
What have they done to you! You are a real nut.
I just saw David Oliver work again, and he is still incredible.
Thank you for the kind words. We miss you on this side of the pond. Will I see you at my Magic Circle Lecture on April 10th?
Mfield2000: David -- I was always a real nut.
I look forward to your Magic Circle lecture on April 10.
Wishing you all the best, my friend. Terry Herbert and I are now best buddies.
Attention seeking kids
Tom!: Hi there,
I always find that there's usually 1 in the crowd that tries to steal attention.
I once had a girl who repeatedly shouted "la la la la la la la" throughout our show - not to be rude but trying to be funny amongst her friends.
This however disrupted the show.
As she wasn’t the birthday child I felt a little awkward.
As I work with a fellow magician, it made it slightly easier. But what would you recommend for this situation.
Thanks for your time
David Kaye: Tom,
First let me say that in my book I have a big section called Solving the Top 10 Problems of Performing for Children. In it I explain how to solve any problem you ever have. Plus there are dozens of suggestions on solving this problem.
However, I will tell you the most important thing to remember. That is - do not ignore the problem and hope it goes away. It will never go away. It won't stop until you deal with it.
It is a natural reaction to want to plough through your show and hope it stops. This is the wrong thing to do. Stop what you are doing and address the problem, whatever it is.
In this case I would stop the show and ask her to stop. Then keep going. If she continues, I would stop again and go up to her and talk to her. Explain to her why she can’t do that. (It ruins the show for her friends, she won't be picked, it will make the other parents angry, etc.) If you need to ask her to come up and be your helper.
Just remember to deal with it, instead of hoping it goes away.
Thanks for your response.
Sam C: When I am doing my shows (Either for the hospital charity I work with or at private parties) the hardest part to cope with for me is when children have severe disabilities. Obviously I don't want to just ignore them and I want to make sure they enjoy the show as much as the able bodied children but I find it very hard to work out the best way.
I realise this is a very vague question as there are lots of different disabilities, however, one particular disability that pops up fairly frequently is autism. I one had a show for 15 children, all of them with autism.
How do you cope when you have children at one of your shows with disabilities of varying degree?
David Kaye: Sam,
I must admit I don't have a lot of experience with kids with disabilities.
First I will say that the person who hired you for 15 kids with autism was wrong if they did not tell you ahead of time. This is not something you spring on the magician.
I recently did a show for 30 kids and one of them had autism. The parents of this kid just watched him run around the room during my show. There was no attempt to try to make him sit and watch. But that was their choice.
I used to have a client with a kid who had Down's. I performed for her many years on a row, and as the years progressed I got better and better at working with her and making her laugh. There again, she was the only one who was disabled. The rest of the kids knew the situation and we were all there to support the Downs kid.
Other than that, I really can’t say. Interesting maybe, that I have just not had these experiences.
tammclaughlin: I am relatively new to children's entertainment and have been working and tweaking my show over the last year having done several shows for family/friends/church fetes etc. I have been charging a nominal fee on the basis that I am still working on my show and trying to get some experience. After a few more shows, I would be ready to charge the going rate.
However, I have been given advice from a few people who have said that as my show is good enough, I should charge a decent rate and not tell the clients that I am still working on my show and trying to get experience.
This made me realise that you can never be 100% happy with your kids show and that the only way to get experience is to get out there and work with the kids and that as general kids entertainment changes, so will the kids performer have to adapt and change.
So, finally, my questions are:
1.What are your thoughts on when a children's entertainer can start to advertise themselves as a children's entertainer and charge a decent fee?
2.Would you agree that the learning process has to involve the kids I.e. on the job training? For example, you can spend years perfecting a card manipulation act and your first performance will be perfect. You can't do this with the kids as they are the other half of your act?
David Kaye: Good questions.
1. I think you can start advertising right away. Get out there and do shows. That is the only way you will learn and get better. I would say also that you should not tell your clients that you are new. You are probably better than you think, and judging by the fact that you are here asking questions, I bet you have tried to learn a lot about performing. Tell everyone you have been doing it for a year. Until you reach your one-year, then tell the truth.
2. Regarding your fee, I believe that you should charge less than the competition. First, you aren’t as experienced as they are. But more importantly, you want to use your price to entice them to hire you. A lower price will result in more shows. Then you build your name and reputation.
3. I would agree that the learning process has to involve the kids. No question. Many times I have put new material into my show and then the kids don't react the way I thought they would. You can’t know that until you do it in front of the kids.
I love your example of the card manipulation act vs. a kid show. You are absolutely right. The kids are an element in the show. A variable. That is what makes performing for kids so hard. They are unpredictable.
I was trying out some new patter with Flito Flower and when I smelled the flower I said, "yeuch, it smells as lovely as dads smelly socks dipped in a glass of sour milk". The kids all said "yeeeeuch" and when I said, "So you want to smell?" I expected them to say "Nooooooo" but they all shouted yes. I really did not expect that and I guess experience will give an insight into how kids will react.
We have spoken before, when you were over filming the Terry Herbert DVD. I called Practical Magic and you just happened to be there about to leave for the airport.
Your book has helped me a lot.
David Kaye: Tam,
I remember our phone call!
So glad the book has helped you and your show.
Good luck! Yeeeuuuck!
Props sitting on your shelves
wacky wizard: David I am sure that you are like all of us buy many tricks that just sit on your shelves
What effects have you bought but never performed finding out that
A it doesn’t fit your style
B You can't find a suitable routine.
David Kaye: Wacky One,
Yes, I do buy a lot of tricks that don't make it into my show.
But for me, I find I don't put them in because I just don't sit down to work on them. I have boxes in my apartment labelled "New Tricks" which I’m supposed to open up when I want to add tricks to my show. But I just don't seem to get there. Maybe I have enough tricks already for the A show; the B show and the C show.
Over the years (17 of them) I have found the tricks that I like and that I wrote a great routine for, and I just cycle through those, as I need "new" tricks.
I don't think I have bought a trick that doesn't fit my style. I know what I like in a trick and I usually buy that way. I am sure I have tried to put tricks in the show that I haven't been able to find a suitable routine for. But I am sitting here trying to remember which and the only trick I can think of is Edwin's Elf trick. I don't remember the name. It was one of Edwin’s last tricks. I cant even remember the plot now. But I always loved Edwin’s effects so I bought this. But it didn’t make it. (Unlike Farmyard Frolics, for example, which I have been doing for 15 years!)
Your name Silly Billy suggests you are clown.
How you do see yourselfAs a Clown/Children's Entertainer/Magician/Kids Comic etc?
David Kaye: I came to kids entertaining from the world of magic. But when I started to perform for kids, I felt I needed to move myself a little away from the traditional magician.
So I came up with the name Silly Billy. The same with the outfit, it looks like clown clothes. But I don't wear makeup cause it scares the kids.
I think of myself as a children's entertainer. When the kids ask me if I am a clown, I say I am a clown that can do magic tricks. Finally, my business card and web site say Comedian for Kids. Sometimes in interviews with the press I say I am a comedian for kids, using magic as the medium for the comedy.
Yeah, long answer. Sorry.
Evan S.: Hi David, I had the pleasure of watching you lecture in Seattle recently (I was the only one that thought to bring my daughter ). I purchased one of the KIDabra DVDs, and I enjoy it quite a bit, but I would be even more interested in finding a DVD, which exclusively features only your material. Any plans for this in the near future? In fact, it would be great to have a two disc set: disc 1 could be Silly Billy and disc 2 could be Dr. Blood.
Mfield2000: Disc 3 -- Og!
David Kaye: Evan,
Thanks for asking. I am about to start work on a DVD. Have it out by the summer I hope. It will probably be called Seriously Silly Live. And will feature the routines I teach in the book. So please look for that.
It will have lots of fun parts. I really want it to be special. No Dr Blood on this one. Sorry, Matt, I don't think it will feature Og either. But I promise lots of funny / non-magic stuff.
Evan S.: Excellent! Thanks, David. I'll be looking forward to its release.
Colin UK: Hi David
Over here in the UK we do 35/45/1hour and 2hour Birthday shows (the 2hr show caused some surprise your side of the pond)
How long are your shows?
David Kaye: I know people in the US who do a 45 minute show. At day cares they do a 30-minute show. At my birthday party gigs, I do an hour show.
This is what the parents expect. They need an hour to keep the kids busy. But my hour is not all magic. I do 10 minutes warm-up/comedy, 35 minutes magic, 10 minutes balloon show (not animals, a show), and 5 minutes to blow up my Jumbo Inflatable Wands to give to all the kids.
Colin UK: "5 minutes to blow up my Jumbo Inflatable Wands to give to all the kids."
Now that's interesting Do the kids ever use them as weapons and chase around trying to each otheror you?
Whilst on the subject of your wands I made enquiries a few years back but the emails went dry. Could you let me have details of min order for personalising them and shipping to the UK?
David Kaye: Colin,
Yes the kids do have a tendency to hit each other with them. So I will often blow them up while the kids eat cake and distribute them after, just before they leave.
Sometimes I blow them up and leave, and ask the mom to give them out as the kids leave. Sometimes I Blow them up, give them out, then tell the kids to put them down until after their cake. These are all methods to keep the time in their hands to a minimum. It isn’t hard to do.
And most of all, I don't have to blow up balloon animals. And the kids go home with my contact info on an object that will be in their room for years!
The ordering info is at my web site. Go to www.sillymagic.com click magic shop, scroll to the wand. There you will see links to lots more info. There are different minimums. That you live in the UK won't affect the price. It will affect the shipping charges, because unfortunately the wands are heavy to ship. If you don't see the info you want, write to me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Adapting your show to the Birthday child
Chubby Harris: When you take the call from the booker, do you ever adapt your show according to the sex of the child?, for example some effects may play better to a boy, than they would to a girl.
And a final note, what direction can you see Children’s Magic heading in the future, are we all doing the right thing at the moment, or in this hurly burly world of ours, should we be making our shows faster paced?
David, it has been a real honour and a pleasure to have you on the forum, and I certainly hope to bump into you one day, your book has certainly been a inspiration to me.
Many thanks once again.
David Kaye: Chubby,
Thank you very much for your kind words.
Such good questions.
There is one trick I do that depends on the sex of the children, my routine for Dressing Doll. I do it only for 7 or 8 year old boys. First I open the book and we see a girl in her underwear! That is already quite exciting. I tell them I am going to try to put the clothes on her by magic. Either she will end up with the clothes on, or she will be naked! Now I've got their attention. Sometimes they even start chanting Naked, Naked!
I love doing that routine.
Regarding the direction of kid’s magic, I can only speak to it within the US. I think kids magic has been in a rut for 10 years. There haven't been many new stars and there haven't been many new great tricks. It is just more of the same old.
And yes, the people who have been the stars are just giving us more of the same old style and recycled material.
This is one reason I wanted to write the book. (As I say in my book), a lot of kid’s magic comes from the rural South in the US. I am from the urban North. There is a difference in style. I wanted to teach that difference and teach my style. And yes, I think we need to make our shows faster paced (but only if they are currently slow paced).
Things have started changing in the right direction in the last 2-3 years, with the KIDabra convention in the US and the Kidology convention in the UK. Practical Magic gaining strength, my column in Magic magazine, My covers in Magic, Genii, and MUM, The Funny Paper in the US, The KIDabra International organization in the US. These are all good signs.
Chubby Harris: With all due respect, and I do hold you in the highest regards, I did find your answer in this day and age, a little disturbing:
jimmy da mook: yeah - raised a frown from me too... bit weird.
wacky wizard: Don't think that it would be acceptable in the UK
I certainly wouldn’t be happy performing it, in fact I would feel extremely uncomfortable talking about Girls in their underwear to 7 and 8 year old boys
I could see an almighty backlash from bookers.
But hey if it works for you in the USA then fine perhaps the clients are more tolerant.
David Kaye: Here is my response to your comments.
1. Here is the US we did not have the over-reaction backlash like you had in the UK with the "touch only in the triangle" and can't hug kids, etc. So I can see why you wouldn’t want to do that trick in your show.
2. However, remember that the trick was manufactured in England.
3. It is a cartoon of a girl in her underwear - it isn’t real.
4. I have achieved a lot of success doing things my way. It may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I have become quite successful doing my show my way.
5. What I base my choices of material on is the reaction by the kids. Until you see a video of me performing this routine, you can’t say it isn’t a great routine. You can say you wouldn’t do it yourself. But, like I said, in a room of only 8-year-old boys, it kills.
Thanks for your honesty guys.
Jont: Hi David, Thanks for your input this past week, it's been a very interesting read, I haven't post much myself as all my questions have been asked by others, except one.
You mention in your lecture notes and other places that you are working on a children's TV show starring Silly Billy, has there been any advancements with this, and if so how’s it coming along?
David Kaye: Jont,
It's funny that the last two questions asked are related to what will happen in the future and career direction.
I am going to answer your question in the "Where is it going" question.
Take a look.
Where’s it going?
chabang: Virtually every other branch of magic has an established career path; close up guys start performing for friends, work their way thru the restaurant scene and end up doing corporate parties. Every illusionist wants to end up with a show in Vegas etc
Kids magic doesn't really have that structure to it so where do you want your career to go - more of the same, a show at Disneyland, a huge Ringling bro's style touring arena show...?
David Kaye: Chabang,
You and Jont asked similar questions. It is a tough question for me. I have written about this in my book. And I have thought about this a lot.
You are absolutely right. Other disciplines have clear paths. Besides magic as you mentioned, so do all other arts. I often think about musicians. The structure is there. Musicians play in crappy clubs, build a following, get a record deal, and play in larger and larger arenas.
There isn’t that clear path for kid-show magicians. I have said to friends in the past, if only my goal in life were to become the best kid show magician in New York. Then I could coast knowing I had achieved my life's goal.
Well I do have higher goals. In fact I was on the cover of the magazine MUM here in the States in November. It was an article I wrote about this very topic. About what is the future of a kid show magician?
As Jont wrote, I have always wanted to have my own kids TV show. Here in the US it is much harder to get a show than in smaller countries. The investment is greater and therefore, harder to get. But I will continue to pursue this dream. Maybe someday I will have that TV show I want so badly.
Sam C: As Mr Kaye finishes on the boards this evening I would like to say a final thank you very much for the donation of his time to this site and the informative answers he has given.
Thank you once again, Silly Billy.
Michael Jay: A big thank you from me, Mr. Kaye. It's been an excellent week and I've thoroughly enjoyed reading your responses to the different questions. Thank you for so kindly contributing your time and expertise to these forums.
JWC: Hey thanks for taking the time out to post on the bunny boards
Cotswold: Thanks David, you helped some people. Wish you the best in the future
Thanks very much for giving up a whole week of your valuable time to answer all our questions, it's greatly appreciated.
I hope you don't leave us for good after this. Hang around – we’re a friendly sort and your input would always be welcome in the forums.
Thanks for spending some of your time on this board answering our questions. Although I didn't ask a question, a learnt a lot from the answers you gave.
Chubby Harris: Many thanks David for taking time out to answer our questions, very much appreciated.
You come all that way and miss out Scotland?
You’re missing out on some lovely scenery
Seriously, I hope the next time you are in the UK, your visit is longer and you get an invite to lecture in Scotland.
Thanks for your reply. As the saying goes, I thought my question was daft when writing it, but you never know unless you ask
Tam (Tommy Tricks)
Darrel: Many thanks for taking the time to answer our questions and for the advice given.
Jaz: CHEERS MATE!
Cybernettr: Thank you Mr. Kaye. What a tremendously valuable resource this is. We can all learn so much from professionals like you.
Definitely agree with that.
Thank you Mr. Kaye for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer us. I only wish I had come up with a good original question.
BTW, I apologize for the late reply.
Andy D: Thanks! That was a very informative read, and some excellent and well thought out answers.
Razamabaz: Thanks for coming onto the Warren Mr Kaye and good luck for the future.
Dunkoid: Thank you for your time and thoughts, David. Words of experience are always very much appreciated by a keen enthusiast with small dreams.
It is truly rare to get a guest here with such thoughtful and insightful answer as yours - I really have enjoyed reading your responses, especially as Kid's Magic is not one of my stronger fortes!
the conjurer: Thank you Mr. Kaye, hope you enjoyed your self
Joseff T: Thank you for answering our questions David and I hope you have enjoyed your stay here in the Hutch.
Doc: Thanks for your time David,
Looking forward to your lecture on Monday!
Jonesy: Cheers mate, answers much appreciated
David Kaye: Thank you guys.
I had a great week. The questions were smart and thoughtful. When I get questions like these it makes me think and I end up learning more about magic and myself.
Thank you very much for inviting me to be part of this forum.
Don’t forget to come by the Magic Circle on April 10 for my lecture. I am looking forward to being over there. I will be in England until the Friday after when I have to fly home to perform at the White House for Easter.
And don't forget you can get my book, Seriously Silly, at my site where I sell my product line, www.sillymagic.com.