Not always. There are performance killers at many venues that can trip you up. These killers run from the gamut of technical requirements to the inexperience of the client (usually the birthday mom) to organize an event or throw a party.
Here are eight usual at-the-venue hurdles that can mess you up.
1. The birthday mom suddenly decides to feed the children ice cream or other food stuff in the middle of your show. When children have food in their mouth, they will fall silent. Remember, they are taught not to talk when their mouths are full. They will not shout the magic words nor laugh at your jokes nor engage you in repartee. They will not also clap their hands if they are holding food in their hands. Silence after your best jokes and strongest routines can deflate your morale and send your ego crashing to the ground.
2. Large spaces separate the performer from the audience. Examples of these yawning divides are swimming pools, basketball courts, dance floors, bowling lanes, etc. Don’t get caught in this performing situation where a chasm separates you from your audience.
3. Some charitable persons distribute giveaways, toys, loot bags and other captivating doodads while the show is in progress. If Santa Claus (or some good Samaritan) arrives with loads of toys, the children will jump out of their seats and leave you standing in the middle of the floor holding the breakaway wand with nobody laughing.
4. Relatives come late and smother the birthday child with love. If grandpa or grandma makes a big entrance in the middle of Run Rabbit Run performance, and he or she gives the birthday child a huge display of some lovin’, your rabbit will have run three hundred miles before you get back the children’s attention.
5. Pets drop by to watch the show. A stray dog sniffing at children or a cat ambling into the room will create a commotion so huge it’s difficult to get your composure back. You might as well close the show and bring the children to the zoo.
6. Chairs and tables form an obstacle course. Chairs and tables also qualify as dividers between you and the audience. Not as insurmountable as swimming pools, but they pose potential performance dangers just the same.
7. Audience seat in perfect symmetry all around you. People watching you from all points of the compass can disconcert you. Of course, you can pull angle-proof tricks from your box, but that will reduce your choice of strong magic.
8. The client wants an outdoor party. Don’t play tag with the weather. An outdoor performance (such as in a garden) may be cute or romantic. But you don’t want to be cute and romantic with the audience. You want to entertain them. The sun when shining is not entertaining, especially to the children when they sweat. On the other hand, when it rains, the guests will scamper inside the house and leave you collecting your wet props.
I once had an outdoor show. After we had set up our stuff in the middle of a beautiful garden, it rained hard. We brought our props inside the house and re-set them in the living room, but after a few minutes the rain stopped. The mom wanted us to break down our set-up and go back to the garden, which we did. After we finished our garden set-up, the rain came back with a vengeance, so we ran back inside the house and re-set everything. In the end, we were dripping wet and exhausted. It was not my idea of a magical evening.
Next time, I will tell you how to avoid these performance killers, so your audience will enjoy your show and you will enjoy performing for them.