A January weekend

Well January is a quiet month for many in the entertainment world after the mayhem of December but fortunately children don’t stop having birthdays and of course most of them insist on having a party every year! The nice thing about the January children too is that by and large they have to have their parties indoors which limits the options a little bit and makes getting a magician in a very attractive option! Anyway it was a busy weekend, i started on Saturday with a Children’s party in Bromley in a Church Hall. It was a 5 year olds party so one of those parties with about 30 children and 30 adults crammed into a small hall so fairly full on. I do like to do a show to a whole room so that involves creating as good an arena as i can with chairs in a horse shoe shape around me so we have some children on the floor, some seated with some adults too and then adults standing at the back.
You then have to take control of the room by minimising distractions i.e toys, food and drink in the hands of the children and by getting the adults to sit or stand in the right place and not start chatting even though they’ve just bumped into their best friend. This is easier in some situations than others and then you also have to cope with the late arrivals wanting to say hello, give a present to the birthday child etc etc. Anyway this first show was pretty full on in all of these respects frankly but i have to class it as a success, after the first five minutes when i had a few two year olds running around with balloons and a stream of late comers arriving i though it was going to be tough but it got better and better as the show went on and by the end everyone was absolutely loving it. They all particularly enjoyed me accidentally knocking over my Tommy Cooper classic ‘Multiplying bottles trick’ so they all fell in a heap. Its often said there is nothing funnier than a trick going wrong well in great homage to the great man who was famous for getting his tricks wrong, i did get the biggest laugh of the day by doing just that.
After that i had to get my skates on and head to a golf club in Hemel Hempstead for a 60th birthday dinner for 20 ladies. Well i have to say as much as it is a pleasure doing magic shows at children parties you really can’t get much better than scenario like that. They were a bit boisterous and cheeky to be fair but it was a lot of fun and almost relaxing after what had gone on before.
Sunday started with a children’s party in Greenwich in fact more specifically, little Ted’s 5th birthday party. This was great as it was in house with parking outside in a street i knew as i have an old friend who lives in the same street, with 11 children and 11 adults and a nice room to do it in. i have always considered myself a parlour magician and this is what i’d called favourable conditions. A nice room, a nice demographic, the adults with a Prosecco in a good mood and the children in a very manageable number. The show was great, the funniest moment for me was when a lady in audiences phone went off. i always seize the opportunity of a phone going off as an opportunity to have a public chat with whoever has rung up during the show but as i borrowed the phone i noticed the name that came up on the screen was “Lover boy Tom”. Anyway i answered it , asked if it was ‘lover boy Tom’ and explained to him that the lady couldn’t talk right now as she was busy watching the show and i then got all the children to all say after three ‘goodbye lover boy Tom’ which caused much amusement and hilarity all round. I do love moments like these and i’d like to thank Tom for the gift of a memorable gag.

I then had to get my skates on and get to Eltham for another children’s party. this was Max’s 7th birthday party. There was an interesting mix of people there as Max had a Polish mother and a Turkish father and very charming they were too. The kids were boisterous no doubt but again it was a great room to do the show and actually i do like it when the kids get a bit older, you get a more honest critique of the show and you have to use your wits. This is not a game for those who don’t like a heckle but actually you can use heckling to your advantage and make those heckles and the responses to them the funniest bits of your show. This is something i learnt from the late great Malcolm Hardee who was brilliant with hecklers but actually found it quite hard when there weren’t any and he had to resort to his act. Anyway the show at Max’s party was great and i particularly enjoyed the reaction of one child after my ‘chocolateometer’ machine had accurately found that his mother had consumed the most chocolate in the last week. She was actually a very slender Polish lady who just happened to be sitting in the right place for the gag but her son was appalled much to everyones amusement.

The last show of the day was in a function room above a pub in Peckham. It was actually a 40th birthday party but with forty adults and about thirty children in two rooms above the John the Unicorn pub in Rye Lane. Again you never really know what you are arriving at in this game and as i arrived i could see that was not going to be one of the easier shows on the spectrum. A lot of the kids were very young, and one of the rooms was a sea of prams, tables, coats, scarves and hats and it was hard to see where i could even do a show at first. The adults were all having a jolly time and really just wanted the children occupied to be honest, as i arrived a lot of the kids were gathered round a TV and to be fair they were all quite enjoying it.
Anyway i slowly managed to create an arena, by moving tables and chairs and i was pleased to see quite a few like minded adults ready to help me have a show by focussing the kids and adults a like. I do love it when adults are on the same page as you and know themselves what is desired and required to help you have a good show.
Anyway when the moment arrived, the TV went off, the kids and adults gathered round and i went for it. I can’t say it was the easiest show in the world, you can’t expect good situations all the time, you can’t always expect the kids to be of the right age, in this case they were probably far too young for me generally but you have to try and be flexible with your show and especially your patter to engage the audience as best you can. In this case i was pretty pleased with the result, the kids were more engaged at the end than they were at the beginning and because they were very young and its quite a long show that was quite an achievement. Their parents were certainly delighted and i know i’ll be hearing from many of them again, the birthday girl was also very pleased that the children had been happily occupied for so long!
So there you go, that is one way to spend a weekend in January, fortunately i have on Monday a very relaxed day planned