How to Make Sure the Clown You’ve Just Hired Isn’t a Bozo
By Magic Christopher
Okay Mom. Your child’s birthday is coming up next month (or week!) and you have been putting off the headache of organizing that home party you had promised. You know where to get a cake and invitations should not be a problem. But how are you going to keep a house full of small children entertained for an hour or more? If you are willing to do a little homework and make a few phone calls, you can make your child’s party a winner, save yourself some stress and maybe even save some money! The first things to consider are the ages and needs of the children who will attend the party, and then seek appropriate entertainment. What will interest them and what entertainment might they like? Don’t know? Ask! Does your child love clowns or does the sight of a clown close-up bring tears? If the kids are age 6 or older, they can probably handle a clown with no worries. If you are considering a magician, you will want to ask if different acts are available for different age groups. And act that plays well for school-age children is quite likely to be over the heads of preschoolers. And the “danger” tricks we’ve seen magicians perform on TV have no place in a children’s show. Another popular party choice is the costumed character, but watch out. Rarely do the characters “perform” other than walking around and waving. And as with clowns, the preschool set is more likely to cry than laugh. A purple dinosaur is cute on TV, but not so much in your face. Once you have decided on the type of entertainment you want, you can best find that entertainment in a publication such as Carolina Parent in the Raleigh, NC or Durham, NC area, Piedmont Parent in Greensboro, NC or Winston-Salem, NC area, or on the Internet. If you do a search of “magician, Greensboro NC, clown, Raleigh NC, or face painter, Burlington NC”, you will likely find a list of people who serve your area.
I recommend calling the entertainer, rather than e-mailing. It is more time-consuming on the front-end, but will wind up saving you time overall. You can learn so much more about the person you are hiring by speaking to them on the phone.
When you call, you should ask these questions: • “Are you available at the time and date of my party?” Ask this first and you will not have to sit through a performer’s sales pitch only to find he is booked somewhere else on that day. • “My child and his friends are four years old. Describe the show you perform for children of that age.” • “How long does the show run and do you provide other services? Balloon animals, face-painting, etc.” • “Can you provide references?” This is important. If the performer can’t provide you with someone who has used his services, better keep looking. • “Does your act use any animals?” A rabbit from the hat is a great thrill for the children…unless they have allergies. Animals also poop, and die. You take your chances. • “Can you do your show inside/outside?” Some performers won’t work outdoors. Others, a rented pony for instance, don’t work indoors. Consider where your party will be held, and what the weather may be like. And last but not least… • “How much do you charge?” Most people make the mistake of asking this first. Within your market’s competitive price range you will find people who are fantastic and those who are awful. Unless you talk to them and ask the above questions, you won’t know what you’re getting. Children's party entertainment is likely to be the biggest expense of your party. Make sure you get exactly what you need. If you start looking early enough (at least a month ahead) you can probably find someone who is good, affordable and available. Then when the big day comes, you and your child can greet your guests, sit back and enjoy the show!
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