Thursday, April 30, 2009
For the subsequent years we have been on the road whenever this parade would take place and missed out on it. Not this year. Come down to downtown Oroville where the cast and family of the Kent Family Magic Circus will once again march along our local town's street in full costume as we join the parade. The 62nd Annual Kiwanis Kiddie Parade. Starts at 4:30 pm ...downtown Oroville May 8!.
What makes our show unique and very different from any show you will ever see any where?
It's got to be a family performing together right? No....in fact we just referred a great family act to ABC for a TV show and we have run across family singing groups, cloggers, dancers, magicians, etc. Then it must be an act full of variety right? No....there are tons of variety acts. And there are tons of acts that specialize in just magic, just juggling, just side show stuff, just snakes,, just birds, etc. Wait...lets look back there...did I say snakes....yeah, I'll get to that.
What makes us so darn unique is that we are a family that performs a very unusual variety of stuff. We have the magic and illusions, we have the juggler who stilt walks and unicycles, we have a teenager who is a master of the bullwhip including insane stunts, he also lays on beds of nails, has bricks broken on his tummy, eats fire (like his old man....me), and occasionally walks on glass, and the irony is he also performs as a balloon tiwsting clown who rides a reaaaaaaly tiny bike. We have the Quick change artist slice-em-up, make her float 17 year old daughter, the 7 year old who gets tied up with 100' of rope and does other escapes as well and occasionally turns into a 21 pound bunny. We have the 5 year old who can read the mind of adult or child and the 3 year old who upto today just made bunnies and doves and sometimes a chicken appear....well she wanted a snake.
If you read the last blog entry you know we took her to a pet store to see if she really wanted a snake...you know let her handle it. She did. She loved it. it was a tiny corn snake and she thought it was cute. The cold scales above as the muscular insides wrangle around didn't freak her out. So off to Craig's List and low and behold there is a gentleman wanting to thin his herd and is giving away a Ball Python with a cage and all the trimmings. Grant it it's a two and ahalf hour drive. But worth it.
Tomorrow Princess Olivia will become Princess to the snake...we will keep it away from the bunnies...though the 21 pound one might give the snake heartburn...or worse.
We will post photos soon.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Yesterday the family was chit chatting and little Olivia expressed an interest in adding a snake to the show so later we went to the pet store in town with a buddy (Hi JC) and they took a corn snake out of the tank and she took to it like it was a baby doll. The three year old loved it. So I started my look for a Red Tail Boa today (I was told they are the best one for human interaction). Craigs list, local shops, the newspaper. Who knows maybe soon we will have yet something new in the show.
Idaho....We performed in Lewis County, Idaho three years ago and it was fun. The group has contacted us again. We are in negotiations. It would mean 48 hours to get from south Texas to North Idaho.....can it be done?
Texas.... A buddy of mine (Hi Vorin) is the manager of a nice theater in Texas. Through a deal with him we are going to do a 2 or 3 show program for the schools in that area. Already one school has bought a ticket for each of their students. Three days before this gig we Will be finishing up our Iowa gig......talk about glob-trotting.
Track...Princess Cynthia (who was a State finalist last year) has had a pretty tough season. She missed a couple of the first meets due to the bad timing of a bad cold. Then she did 2 meets and twisted her ankle badly at a practice....SPRANG! That was two weeks ago and 3 or 4 meets. She hopes to be better for the league championships in two weeks. keep he in your prayers. At today's meet Miles ran the Mile and took 4th; the 100 meters (his first attempt) and though he finished 5th out of 5 (he's a distance runner) he had a blast and was laughing the entire run...in distance shoes not spikes. He also ran the 3200 (2 Mile) and took first. he loves longer races and prefers 5K, 10K or more.
Skunks...It''s the time of year where we restock our sales items. 300 spring skunks arrived today. They are very popular at our show. Whew!
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Think about it... Even the lowest level juggler has to practice for hours upon hours upon weeks and months to develop the skills to get those balls moving correctly. A dancer, the same. A hula hoop artist, the same. A bullwhip artist, the same. A (good) singer, the same. A drummer, the same. Even a tambourine player needs at very minimum rhythm. But a magician.....all he needs is money to buy a trick.
I have run across hundreds of people who hand me their card and read on it, "Magician". After speaking with them for a bit, and perhaps even watching them do a quick trick or viewing their Youtube video, it turns out they do all the standard stuff that can be purchased by anyone who knows where the local magic shop is or who can type in "Magic Tricks" on google.; and that's all the skill, for many of these folks, that is required. Go to Youtube and you will prove me right. A magician thinks all he needs is a trick, music he heard Copperfield or Criss Angel use, and he has an act. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! What kills me is they then go out and get cards printed...or worse yet, print their own at home and boom they have a business.
Magicians....listen up....any ne can do what you are doing. Watch the masked magician on TV, learn a few tricks, if you have money buy a few illusions, and boom you are a magician. The kicker to all this is many of you hacks will read this and agree with me totally oblivious to the fact I am referring to you! (Like those really bad singers on American Idol who have no clue.)
I will tell you how you can tell if it is you. You very rarely ever get booked. You do a ton of free shows but can't get anyone to pay you. If you can only book shows for $150 or less and are only called back because you were cheap...or worse yet, they don't call you back. If you have to ask how you did after a show and they say, "It's was good." and then don't elaborate. If people get up during your show to eander or leave on a regular basis. If there is a lot of butt shifting in their seats during your show. If the only people who voluntarily say your show was good are family and friends.
Some of the best magic I have seen performed have been by non magicians. Just a couple of months back I did a TV interview and the reporter asked if I had a trick she could do to work a magical-pun-segue into the story. I gave her a t***t*p and a silk. She performed the trick after only two practices in front of the camera and looked more natural than 90% of the magicians I've seen do it. Go to my website and see the video...it's fantastic. Also, have you seen the two big Illusion movies, the Prestige and the Illusionist Ed Norton and Hugh Jackman were fantastic as well, and they're just actors. Shouldn't the average person calling themselves a magician be better than an actor playing a magician? Those actors played the magician, something like 99% of self-proclaimed professional magicians today don't give it have the skill, energy and style those actors did. And believe it or not that includes many I saw at the Magic Castle. Most magicians today play to the trick instead of making the trick part of themselves. What I mean by that is simple. After a show, I mean right after the show, what (good things) do you remember about the performer? Do you know his name? Did he have a unique style that stands out? Most people remember the trick but very little about the performer. A lot of people don't even remember the trick. ((Personally I don't care if they remember any of the props or tricks..as long as they remember me....as long as they remember that "I" gave them a good time.))
I no longer call myself a magician. Yes, I do magic but I do something that is even more important, I entertain. My goal isn't always to fool the audience, though I am happy when we do. I want to touch each audience member in a memorable way. I am a showman.
I believe that nearly 99% of those folks calling themselves professional magicians fall into the category of hack or bore.
Now for that 1%. Wow. When in the hands of someone with talent magic can be WOW! When a performer can connect to the audience WOW. When the performer has practiced and developed innovative, unique, clever routines, patter and style WOW! When they take the time to develop a style, costuming, presence, skills WOW! Look at the Youtube video of Cardini...wow! Look at early Copperfield. Look at some of Criss Angel (since a good chunk of what he does is edited, cgi and fake...look at the really early stuff).
There are some great tricks out there. But at the end of the show if you are forgotten and the trick is all they remember that's too bad for you. And don't forget that there are thousands out there doing that some trick. At some point someone with real performing skills and showmanship is going to do that trick and those who saw you do it will only have bad things to say in comparison.
So hacks go out and spend time developing skills. Practice until you have somehtin unique. Take some art classes, some drama classes, dancing classes, creative wrting courses, anything to get your creative side and phycial side working together...and by allmeans throw your egos out the window.....but that's for another day.
Friday, April 24, 2009
We will adjust our act to the audience present. For example, when an audience is weighted more with adult crowds Princess Amelia won't do her "Frog" mind-reading routine but will replace it with a routine where she reads the minds of three adults in the audience. Or name the "invisible item" an adult from the audience is imagining in their hand. And no one can say that walking on broken glass, levitating, Impaling an assistant, the bed of nails, and high quality juggling is just for kids. I guarantee you there is no better show for adults or for kids or for mixed audiences than the Kent Family Magic Circus.
And some people make the error of think we are a "magic show". We were once a magic show. But when Jim starting juggling, Miles started bull-whipping, Several of us started eating fire, walking on glass, laying on nails, pounding nails into our head, walking on walking globes, unicycling, etc the term "magic show" was replaced with MAGIC CIRCUS. There are many magic or illusion show elements in our show but it' can;'t be called a magic show any more. Still the magic elements are strong, well practiced and as professional as you can get. Likewise the variety entertainment that are non-magical are just as strong and well practiced and professional that to leave them out of the show title would border on being a sin.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Notice the pizza hat!
First off let me say that Lemoore has some of the best audiences in California. We always fill the seats and have rows of people watching the show. The organizers at the Pizza Festival are fabulous and do an awesome job. The vendors, for the most part are great people. (I know you hear a but coming......No not really but since a blog is like a diary and for me it's a place to put my thoughts down before I forget them....in case I write that book about us someday I will share everything.)
April (and sometimes March) is when things start moving faster here at the KFMC. After a week and a half of serving God doing outreach Christian programs we spent this Saturday in a little town south of Fresno called Lemoore. For a little town they have a big heart and a big love of pizza. This is our 4th year at the pizza festival and true to form it starts off with us setting up our stage. It has been at 4 different locations over the past four years. This year we were set at the entrance of a Parking Lot where we ended up partially blocking some cars....fortunately most were there for the day. One ,however ,I ended up negotiating out of the parking lot for the owner....our trailer and stage blocked her.....in the picture it's the white car to the right.
The Festival is no the biggest in the world...we only brought 4 of our 12 4X8 stage pieces. Still it was big enough for this event.
One thing you can count on at every festival everywhere in the world ...there is always someone unhappy with something. Last year the hardware store, whose parking lot entrance on the festival street side (that section was closed to traffic) was the sight of our stage... complained at first but came around when they realized the city gave them no choice. Three years ago a shop owner didn't like all the noise out in front of their shop.....I think they were against the festival to start with. 2 years ago the city had hired a grumpy ol' sound guy (who wasn't old at all) who didn't want any of the acts to use his stage....you know the stage the city rented from him for the acts to use. Fortunately the only complaint was a woman (a vendor) who complained we were blocking her car (Not in the picture...since she was able to move it). When she went to move it she had no problem at all....but complained anyways.
Festivals are always filled with people like these who complain about their vendor space, the parking, the security, the noise, the trash, the electricity, the sun, the rain, the "whatever"....it's one of those things you have to get used to. The best advice I have for performers is don't become one of them. Be cordial, be kind, be gentle, apologize even when it's not your fault, smile a lot, and if it's not that big of a deal remain quiet. If you can't do that don't expect to be hired again....no matter how good you are....that grumpy sound man learned that.
We pulled in good audiences and filled every seat at every show. And like I said there were always rows of standers. We were scheduled to perform three shows but we ended up adding a show when it became apparent our stilt walker, Jugglin Jim wasn't going to be able to do it due to a severe intestinal rejection of sushi he had two nights before. A 9' man throwing up on a festival goer would not be the publicity we needed. Still we had Magic Mouse stroll and I made balloon animals for the kids at the festival. I still felt that since we contracted for and they expected Jim to stroll as a stilt man we owed the festival something more. So I talked it over with our client and we added an extra show. Glad we did too because that show had the biggest audience.
Magic Mouse gets a high Five and above that Jugglin Jim trying to cope with Bad Sushi!
We met a few new people this year including a fireman- amateur photographer. He took the picture below and emailed it to me this morning. We also met a very nice vendor who made jewelery out of all silverware...real silverware. He's out of Bakersfield and he introduced himself in a very interesting way. He came over after our first show and told me he admired how I work with the kids and include them in the show. Then he said we were blessed and we must be Christians because the Holy Spirit is just bubbling out of us. (I should add here we had nothing going on or spoken that related to Christianity or God in general. ) It further convinced me of something I have noticed for many years. Brothers and Sisters in Christ can recognize each other through the Spirit. I have experienced it towards us many times and towards others as well. If you are truly in the Faith you don't have to say a word or do a thing you radiate God. (That doesn't mean we don't slip up or a bit of the world doesn't slip in...we started off as fallen humans after all.)
I suppose I shouldn't forget about the pizza. The most popular pizza there was from the Fatte Albert Pizza shop. The owner's daughters were regulars at our audience. It constantly had long lines and had several traditional and gourmet varieties. Domino's, Little Cesar's and a local shop Boston Pizza were all represented too.
Police Dept. Supporters sell Strawberry Pizzas!
The Princess' posing with Pizzas from Boston Pizza Shop.
The Pincess' in the town square.
Domino's Pizza being devoured by festival goers.
Little Cease Getting a hug from the crew!
Every show has it's stories and so did this gig. I notice a big boom in skateboarders. In fact, I think this is the only festival where skateboarding wasn't prohibited. As a result problems did arise. For example during our second show a couple of tween boys started walking through our staging area, mid way through they dropped their boards and rode between me and the audience laughing and reveling in disrupting the show. I didn't break beat as I was introducing a Miles for a routine I said, "and there are a couple of morons." It got laughs. In fact, the boys must of thought I was talking about them (I was). They turned around and by their actions I could tell they were going to do it again. I turned to them and said, "Hey morons, if you are thinking about doing that again you better look", I pointed to a uniformed policeman in the audience (he was watching the show with his family). He waved to them. The boys still looked like they were going to go> I really think they believed the cop had no power over them. I was astounded. So I said, "If you do it again he's going to take your boards, and call your parents and tell them what morons they have for sons." (The cop shook his head.) Then I said, "OK then he will hand the phone to me and I will tell your parent about how their boys are morons and how they are lousy parents for raising such morons...." I looked at the audience, who were being entertained by this. "...and the audience will support me", I concluded. The audience roared with laughter and clapped very loudly. It was awesome. (((I should point out I am the only performer I know that can get away with talking to jerks and hecklers this way...don't try this at home.)))
We also notice a couple of full fledged gangs while there. An Asian Gang in full gang colors walked through the festival at one point. The Mexican gang-bangers weren't as flaunty and just kind of blended into the crowd for the most part. Last time I saw this many ended in a riot at the Riverside Orange Blossom Festival a few years ago. They never held that festival again due to the property damage, security costs, and personal injuries. Our sound man was badly bruised up the next day. Fortunately, in spite of this being a beer garden event...no riots or problems occurred. Still seeing so many made us cautious. I think the real worry of the day was the high number of tween and teen grunge. We felt we had to had to keep an eye on our stage and equipment a little more than in the past.
The artisan vendors had some beautiful stuff out there. Many pieces of jewelery and art that you can only get at the Pizza fesitval and if you are into thatyou would be remissed not to come someday.In one of Princess Amelia's routine I use a joke I learned from a British magician, Wayne Dobson. As part of the routine I make small talk and ask one of the audience volunteers, "I know it;s rude to ask a woman her age...so How much do you weigh?" The line is used in this routine all the time and I save it for the first woman who gets the cards that were tossed to her. Well, this woman was a bit heavy...OK she was fat. (But she wore it well....she looked good with the weight.) AS ususal there was laughter and even though no answer is required (remember it;s a joke) this woman said, "I know I'm fat." "OOPS", I thought to myself. I didn't mean to be inslulting so I said, " No darlin, you are perfect. You are a beautiful woman." Thenshe yellled out, "200 pounds"...Eveyone laughed. "I really didn't expect an answer".
Over all, the high number of nice folks outwieghed that of the grunge and the festival turned out to be fantatic from our perspective.
Oh yeah, Jim is feeling much better now.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
(notice the wet ground and water-destroyed bales of hay...they were the seeting for the stage.)
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Also don't forget tonight we are closing at the Neighborhood Church in Corning, CA. They have been having the biggest crowds ever for the event.
As I said, with the entertainmen,t it is an outreach and evangelical show where we share the opportunity for folks to come and know Jesus better and perhaps even accept God's invitation to salvation. (I know some of my readers don't hold these views but I want you to know that even if you don't believe in Him, He believes in you! Someday, you may come to understand that we (true Christians) aren't trying to cram anything down your throat and would never force you to accept anything. We have just experienced something that unless you are there you can not understand....but I am sure there are times your heart and mind cry out to try and understand. And we, with all our hearts, through the love of Jesus, hope and pray all who we know will come to understand as well. But you cannot unless God reveals it to you Himself. We can only tell you about it. And yo can only hear about it when we tell you about it. Beautiful are the feet of the one who brings Good News. By the way, everything I just wrote is in the Bible!)
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
I suppose I'm at the age where funerals will become more regular as time marches forward. As a child I was an alter boy and the church often used me for funerals. I had been to scores before I reached 18. Not knowing the departed back then I was not emotionally touched by any of the services...though my heart went out to the families. Today's funeral I felt the same as I did then. I came to support my Friend and his dad...but I had only met the woman once. Her illness was a long one and her passing was not a surprise so the family was handling it very well...narely a tear. So I felt out of place, no emotional connection, and no one to empathize with as everyone was composed.
This week has us also at a 4-day outreach program where we are hired to entertain and evangelize. Tonight is day 3. I don't envy the life of a full time evangelist. I will explain. People who don't have an active faith in and an active relationship with Christ will not understand what I am about to say. People who deny a God and or deny a Satan will likewise not understand. But those who do and most especially those who reach out to the world in the name of Christ will know very well what I am about to say. The Devil is out to stop the spread of Christianity. He doesn't like people evangelizing and he doesn't like people contemplating truth. He will throw everything and anything he can in the way to distract, dissuade or down right destroy those who evangelize. He is much happier with people arguing about faith, and sweating the details, he revels in and encourages hypocrisy. He wants you, me and everyone to keep their focus off truth and on the world. Evangelists are under constant attack from him. Whispers in his ear, actions of others, temptations, lies,anything that will cause one to loose focus of the Lord and refocus on anything else...especially self! These are just some of the tools Satan uses. Without prayer, respite, and encouragement I can't imagine how anyone can make it.
We have been doing evangelism for years but not regularly and this week we have been at it for 3 days.....and the attacks are coming relentlessly. But we are faithfull and God has been as well and has been providing us with everything we need to overcome.....still....keep the prayers coming.
Monday, April 13, 2009
Friday, April 10, 2009
Monday, April 6, 2009
Sunday, April 5, 2009
It's exciting to see the new stuff get the reactions they have been getting. After all, our goal, first and foremost, is to entertain. Sure sometimes we do things to entertain ourselves and the audience is left scratching their head...it's our own little inside thing. But the audience is never left un-entertained...when we can't make them happy then it's time to quit.