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Choosing a Birthday Party Clown or Magician

Updated on June 13, 2012

Who to choose?

Clown or Magician?

When it comes to your child's birthday, there are plenty of options out there. You can go to the local Chuckee Cheese, or Children's gym. There are restaurants, and playhouses. You can visit a pottery shop, or even build a bear! You can even have the party at home. (People still do this, you know) All are fine, depending upon your and your child's desire.

Then there is the entertainment.

  • Magicians
  • Clowns
  • Face painters
  • Puppeteers
  • Jugglers
  • Storytellers
  • Costumed characters

But you're reading this, so you've decided on entertaining the children with a clown or a magician. Those are very popular options. Who doesn't love magic? And who doesn't love a fun clown? Ok, the clown is actually a scary option for some children (some adults even). So lets deal with that one first.

Finding the Right Clown

Some children are afraid of clowns. So, check with your child about this -- And you might let the parents of the intended guests know about your decision to have a clown as well. That way they can work around any anxiety that might exist. However, there are clowns and then there are clowns. Unfortunately, it is too easy to put on some makeup and a wig and call yourself a clown. That doesn't mean they are good at it. Did you know there is actually a clown college? Clowning really is an art that takes years to perfect.

Drama, music, dance, wit, acrobatics, juggling, riding and, of course, make-up are all used in various combination to make people laugh.There is a psychology to clowning. The amateur clown finds it hard to understand that every action is a planned action. Even the professional clown does not leave laughs to chance.

So you want to find a clown that understands the art and has at least a track record of performing for several years. You want someone who treats this like a business. These two things indicate how committed they are to providing a good, fun show. After all, you are paying for the service. Expect quality in return. Don't be afraid to ask questions when you have him or her on the phone. One good question to determine who takes the business seriously, is "Do you have liability insurance?" The answer should be yes. Another is "Do you have references?" Don't be alarmed if you don't get a list of names and phone numbers. Most are reluctant to give that information out to a stranger. However, they should have a lengthy list of quotes from past clients. These should be on their website already, but if not, don't be afraid to ask them to read a few to you over the phone.

If you don't have a personal reference for the clown you wish to hire, these are a few good questions to help ferret out the casual clown from the serious but silly ones.

Finding the Right Magician

Much of what was written above applies to finding a magician as well. Magicians do need to know how to perform the magic tricks they do. This requires practice, just like the art of clowning. Unfortunately, knowing how to do a few tricks might let a person take on the moniker of 'magician', but it doesn't mean that person knows how to entertain. Face it, watching something vanish is amazing -- once. But if that's it, then that's soon boring -- especially to child. They want funny and silly along with the amazing. A good magician knows this and is prepared to make it happen. This also takes years to develop.

Magic is an art; and performing magic for children is a specialty within that art. Frankly, David Copperfield would bore most children 6 years old if he came to their party. He's a great magician, but not for kids. So, when you are searching for the perfect magician for your child's birthday party, you want someone with a track record of entertaining kids. The truth is, most magicians entertain children as well as adults. It is possible to do both. So check the references. How? It helps if you have a recommendation from a trusted source. But you can always do a search online for 'birthday magician'. These days any magician worth his salt has a website. Look for the testimonials. You should find a healthy dose of positive, gushing quotes from happy customers. Look for real names on those quotes as well. Not every quote will have them. But a good entertainer will have a number of great comments from people willing to put their names on the line.

Also, look up the performer's name online. See where else he or she is found, or what he or she is saying elsewhere. You might not like the personality that comes out on their facebook page or on some talk-forum.

Once you have done all the research you can, make the call. Talk to them. The questions listed for the clown apply here as well. Do they have liability insurance? A serious perform will. Is he full-time? If yes, that's a good sign. What services does he provide? Balloon sculpting is a common add-on these days. Not necessary, but kids do like them. How long is the show? Are there options? A good performer will answer these questions even before you ask. Also, notice if the entertainer asks you any questions. He should. There is a lot that goes into creating a quality experience for your child. A good entertainer will ask the right questions to understand the situation and make sure your expectations are met. If the guy you're talking to doesn't have any questions for you, keep looking.

Price

Now for the biggy. How much do you pay? Well, the old adage "you get what you pay for," can be seriously applied here. Generally, you'll find that clowns are priced a bit lower than magicians. It is impossible to put an exact number on what you should pay though. Different areas of the country, and even different cities have different prices.

Do expect to pay more than $150. You should also be able to find a quality entertainer for $350 or less. Obviously, that's a big variance, and it is determined by the type of entertainer and what that entertainer provides. The clown that does a 30 minute show, will be on the low end. The magician with a great show and a perhaps a larger illusion will be on the higher end. If you live in Washington DC you'll pay more than if you live in Montana.

But the days of the $75 clown or $100 magician are gone. If you want a seasoned, quality performer who knows how to entertain your child, expect to pay appropriately.


Other Resourses

How to Find Great Party Entertainers for Kids Parties -- Another hubpage article with a slightly different focus.



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