Ian Adair – Audiences

Columnist:
Ian Adair

You either love them or hate them. If you hate them you should not be in the field of entertainment in any shape or form.

Audiences can be good or can be bad. Many performers say that they never blame the audience for failure in entertaining them, that it is the entertainer at fault. However, as we all know, audiences have their bad nights too.

An audience of children is a completely different matter than say an audience of adults. While children have no inhibitions and tend to say you are rubbish when they feel like it, adult audiences often feel within themselves that a performer is not entertaining but don’t verbally shout this aloud. Unless drunk, or those who simply love heckling, adults generally behave themselves.

Selecting the right material for the right type of show, or for the right age range of children is extremely important, as all of us know. Presenting Run Rabbit Run to nine or ten-year-olds is not a sensible answer to obtaining good results or recognition. Alternatively, young children of three or four years of age would never sit through Chinese Ring routines, intricate egg bag routines or any such material which has too much involvement. Animation type tricks, puppet routines, and even the live white rabbit cannot fail as long as the performer has a soft approach. Small children of three and four, tiny as they are, while seated on the floor look upwards to what can be described as a “giant” towering over them. This can be frightening. Small is beautiful.

It is an obvious statement for any experienced performer to say that the more shows you do, the more practice you obtain in front of all types of audiences. Dealing with hecklers can be a problem if you are not used to them. Knowing techniques and ready-rehearsed backfiring jokes will come with experience. And just because you want to increase your income doesn’t mean that you should advertise yourself as a children’s, entertainer, cabaret performer, table-hopper or mentalist, not forgetting an outside stunt operator. The individual MUST know his or her capabilities. Specialize in what you do best, and try to advertise your show as something different. Separate yourself from other performers advertising in your local papers.

Ask yourself if you want to present a ‘complete’ party show, or just simply offer the magic show. You may well be making more money moving from this street to that one, within your area on Saturday afternoons, rather than just accepting the ONE main complete party service. After all, people can only afford a certain amount. After they send out invitations, buy the foodstuffs, and those drastic whistles, and hats, they still have to find the entertainer’s fee. And Mum often gives all the children a goody-bag filled with sweets, toys and novelties. Some parents have the additional Bouncy Castle, especially during the summer months, so the children can obtain extra fun (normally outside) when the sun is shining.

Your audience has to be pleased. If you don’t please them you are at fault and your repeat engagements will be nil. Word soon gets around. Statements such as “He couldn’t hold them for the entire time” “He picked the wrong material” “He made my little girl cry” Will certainly not increase your reputation.

Whilst you cannot pick your audience you can work with them, not against them. Unless you are Penn & Teller or Freddie Starr, your audiences will not love to hate you.

And remember if your last audience in your last show didn’t like you – something sure was wrong.

Cheers!
Ian