As a professional Children’s entertainer I am pursuing a job that I absolutely love. There are of cause, parts which frustrate me as with any job but the pro, benefits and pleasure it give far outweighs the negatives. I occasionally overhear people saying ‘I couldn’t do that job’ or to me, say ‘I don’t know how you do this job’. Well, you of course have to love performing children.
So what are the joys that performing to children brings to the show?
Well, first and foremost, children’s entertainment is very different to a professional piece of stage magic or mentalism. For kids, the much used phrase of ‘no holds barred rings true’. I perform a lot of shows and whilst often the format is similar and I rotate several tricks, gags, puppets, games etc the kids are different, adults are different and even if the faces are the same for a repeat booking, they act very differently each time. Even if I was to perform the same show twice to the same audience, I can guarantee the laughs and dynamic would be completely different each time. Why, well starting with the adults, there are additional peripheral adults who have never seen me before – this may be a mothering grandma, a couple of rowdy uncles or the father of the birthday child. Playing host is very different to having another ‘mum’ play host as to when they are a spectator.
The children are dynamically different. Often the birthday child has a different group of friends to have seen me before, yet even then if the group is identical – they will most certainly act differently with the birthday child now being the ‘star’ of the show and the day will be fuelled with their excitement. They may shy away from being the ‘star’ and be overwhelmed by the fuss that others are making over them or be quite the opposite and become extremely giddy and outgoing. Either way no two shows are the same. Same parent may arrive late, others earlier, some stay some go.
Then there is the actually show itself. If the group is smaller and filled with shy children this can impact on the other children. If some mums, fail to encourage their child to join the party (as I sometime feel a child sat on a mothers’ lap is something of a security blanket for them too), then again this can impact on the party.
Sometimes the excitability of some kids leads to a greater level of control required from the entertainer. Sometimes the parents will fail to interject when there is very poor behaviour. Sometime the parents refuse to break a laugh or smile or even watch the show where at other the parents will get involved, watch the show with their child and enjoy the jokes and laughter too.
The show itself, whilst I am indeed the conductor, is often played out in colour by the audience – the kids. Offering funny jokes such as my current favourite offered up by an innocent looking 5 year old. Q. “Why do squirrels swim on their back?” A. “To keep their nuts dry!” Other elements which keep things fresh and exciting are the non-nonsense yet innocent observations that children make. There was a one-armed man at one of my parties and a boy with absolute no malice, just intrigue in his voice pointed and shouted “Hey you’ve only got one arm.” As adults we shy away from comments like this and avoid saying or questioning – to save face and adhere to political correctness and social etiquette. For children, social etiquette rules are still evolving. If they want to grab something. They will. A skilled entertainer knows how to deal these kinds of actions.