Birthday Parties

It’s your birthday, uh huh!

Well, it’s your child’s birthday. And here’s a few tips on how to best utilize a live entertainer at the party. A lot of this is just common sense, but it always helps to define what each performer prefers to do at a “home” show.

First off- it’s always weird to have a person come into your home as an entertainer. You don’t know what to expect! Ask questions ahead of time! If you’ve hired a clown, does the show start the minute he rings the doorbell? Does the magician need private time to get his magic box in order? Get a plan for the party one that has lots of activities and flexibility. Ask Qs, trust me, the performer loves to talk about himself.

Find out what kind of space requirements a performer needs to have. Will he bring amplified sound? What does he want the audience to do?

A good performance space is in the living room in front of the TV. That is usually set up as a natural stage. Try to keep pets and people from walking across the staging area.

Once I did a party show on the deck outside the house. The parent insisted I should stand by the door so the other parents could watch too. All throughout the show people were coming and going through the sliding glass door. Whoomp. Slizzz- whoomp. Very annoying. As a performer I should have said no to the distractions, but hindsight is the best educator.

I prefer to arrive when the guests arrive. This kinda tells everyone I am a guest too- and want to be treated that way. I have seen birthday parties where the kids are mauling a clown while parents laugh. Or the kids are heckling the magician. A good way to avoid that is to explain to the children that a special guest is coming and explain the behavior you expect from them. You want to heckle an entertainer, hire a dunk tank and pay for it! (I think that would be fun, actually!)

Also, a show right off the bat is a great way to coral all the children and it sets the tone for the party. This will keep kids from going through your closet and stampeding through the house. A parent should stand-by while the show is going on for helpful crowd control. Gentle shushing is OK, even if it is not your child. You are the adult and it takes a village.

Keep in mind my show is kid comedy, which means the audience has to pay attention. It’s the same with storytellers, magicians, jugglers and most performers. However, I have been to some homes where the parents had several performance “stations” going on- like a backyard circus. Music was playing, magicians were walking around, and kids running from event to event. That was fun too- I had a day of just doing quick, hit-and-run mini shows. But I prefer to have a nice amount of time to get a rolling boil going from the audience.

Other ideas…… and yes, these actually happened….

Do not hand out toys or noise-makers ahead of time.

Do not give them sugar ahead of time.

If parents are talking, drinking and noisily coagulating in the show area, ask them to either listen or take it into another room.

Be sure to include your child in the planning process, and let them know an entertainer is coming. If I were a kid, excited to see my friends but suddenly I am SURPRISED by a clown suddenly dominating MY party- I’d be cheesed!

Do not give the kids PETS. (Yes, one party gave the kids goldfish to take home! WOW!)

Don’t start drinking a few hours before your child’s party, save it for YOUR party!

A good concept  for a successful show “flow” is to control the gradual acceleration of energy. Start with the show, moving into pizza and cake, then eventually presents and handouts. Once the sugar has kicked in and the excitement has squared the kid energy, that’s when you let ’em loose and send ’em outside. Some parents plan games other like free-time, so talk to your child and see what they’d like to do.

My birthday show? I do a lot of noises and stories, games and pranks, teaching the kids noises and giving the birthday child and their guests a special gift. It runs 45-60 minutes and I duck out when the food is served, so that the birthday kid can be the center of the party. Also, eating is a nice way to calm the energy waves. I bring in a small sound system and a few props and try not to break any knick-knacks on the mantle. All for 250 bucks (locally)

Personally, I love birthday parties because the energy is a real kick. During the show I can explore the kids sense of humor and do gags and jokes for them. At libraries and schools, I don’t get to do that. It’s gotta be educational or have some theme tie-in. Thats cool of course, but sometimes I love being rowdy and entertaining. Just plain, good, funny, clean, old-fashioned, live entertainment.

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