Tim Hannig sits down with Jonah this week to talk about performing for kids, upping your production value, and the power of knowing every step of your show. Tim is a magician, author, and motivational speaker who tours schools in the States with his children and family shows.
One of Tim’s early childhood magic memories is of the time his father took him to see Blackstone. Both amazed and inspired, the two began to reverse engineer the show together, building mini illusions of their own from the show.
By the time he was 17, Tim was performing magic at Six Flags. The theme park was the perfect training ground as he was not only performing the same 20mins six times a day, but he had to learn about maintaining the interest of the audience. Families were there to have fun and would gladly walk away from his show if Tim didn’t engage them. By his sophomore year in University, Tim was performing at schools and has been ever since.
A Different Approach to Kid Shows
Respecting the kids and their intelligence is Tim’s number one thing when he’s performing a show. He wants to come across as their friend and be on their side. This is why Tim isn’t a silly character on stage. And, through his years of performing, Tim understands how to get the children on his side. Tim champions the idea of knowing every beat of your show, especially for kid’s performers, because it won’t give them a chance to misbehave.
During the day he might be performing primarily for kids, but at night the families are invited back. Children sit with the parents they made come out, and the whole family leaves having enjoyed the show together. Tim explains that he knows the parents don’t expect to enjoy it, but he has designed the show with content for the adults. He doesn’t want them to enjoy it through the eyes of their kids but on the show’s own merits.
Professionalism Through Production Value
From the moment you reply to an inquiry to following up after the show, you should know what’s going to happen at every step of the process. A week before the show, Tim has automated messages that are sent to the school so that they know what to expect for the show. These are in addition to the pamphlet he sends out explaining how to set up for him. His goal is to make the lives of his clients easier which in turn makes his job simpler.
Tim also ups his actual onstage production by incorporating music into his shows. Theme songs. Stingers and bumps. Intro and Outro music. Songs behind stories. Music adds an additional element to his show that elevates the experience of his magic. While Tim’s music is custom and designed specifically for his show, he encourages performers to explore royalty free options as music can’t hinder your show (unless used inappropriately).
When Zoom shows were starting out, Tim didn’t jump right into doing one. He wanted it to be a strong product, so he spent his time watching others and developing a show that played to his strengths as a stage performer. After assembling a show, Tim performed three weekends of shows, charging $15 for a ticket. With confidence in his material, Tim has begun to offer the show to his past clients who are interested in keeping the family shows going.
Tim explains that your virtual show needs to be different from your regular show. You can’t treat them the same because they’re two very different formats. If you need a viewer to select a card, what is your plan to deal with the lag? Much like in person, you need to carefully consider your options.
However, there’s also advantages to performing virtually. Everyone has a front row seat, so you can do close up magic for 100 people. Things that are angle sensitive are now viable options.
What do you like about modern magic? What don’t you like?
Tim loves that no matter how old you are, there’s an entrance ramp for you into magic. He’s also a fan of seeing the older generation empower the younger generation.
Tim doesn’t like when a magician doesn’t know how to be a good audience. He also isn’t a fan of magicians who treat his Facebook wall like a forum.
Take Home Point
Love your audience. Give them your best every single show.