Charlie The Juggling Clown
Creating Happy Memories that Last a Lifetime
How To Make A Party
With Live Entertainment
By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson
Don't decide on an entertainer based on price alone. The bitterness of poor quality lasts long after the sweet taste of a bargain is forgotten. There is a wide range in quality of entertainers. You are creating a long lasting memory, book the best entertainer you can find.
The best way to select an entertainer is to hire one you have enjoyed. If you see an entertainer somewhere, ask for their card. (Professional entertainers won't discuss future bookings while they are working, but they will have cards and be happy to give you one.) If your children are excited about an entertainer when they come home from a party, call the host and ask how to contact them. Don't worry that the children have already seen them. Young children like to repeat entertainment because being able to predict what will happen makes them feel intelligent. (Remember how many times they watch their favorite video.)
Another good way to select an entertainer is by referral. Ask your friends to recommend entertainers they have enjoyed. When you talk to an entertainer, ask them for some references you can check.
Call as far in advance as possible to make sure the entertainer you want is available.
Ask the entertainer in advance if they have any special needs in terms of performance space. For example, a juggler may need more headroom. If you hire a juggler, don't stretch crepe paper streamers over the performance space because they will get tangled in props. An entertainer working with live animals may need to be in the shade.
Try to provide for the comfort of both the guests and the entertainer. For example, plan an outdoor performance area with the sun to one side so neither the entertainer or the guests have to look directly into the sun.
If the party is at a park or other public location, give your guests a name tag or distinctive sticker so the entertainer can tell who is one of your guests and who is part of the general public.
Schedule an entertainer to start at least a half hour after the party starts so late arrivals don't miss any of the entertainment.
Make sure the entertainer has parking nearby. Remember they will be one of the last people to arrive, and will have equipment to carry in. If parking is limited, post a sign reserving a space for the entertainer.
There is a fine line between playful interaction and disruptive interference. Assign an adult to help the young guests stay on the right side of that line.
One-year-old-children are too young to understand and appreciate a clown. For a first birthday party, a clown can provide some good photo opportunities with the birthday child, but the focus of their attention will be on entertaining the other guests.
Children around the age of two and three tend to be uncertain around Santa Claus, clowns, and other fantasy characters. Don't surprise a child of this age with a clown at their party. Prepare them in advance by talking about what a clown is. Get a picture from the entertainer for them to look at. Once the entertainer arrives, remember that proximity is a factor in how your child will react. Let them watch from a distance while the entertainer interacts with older siblings and friends. Eventually your child will feel reassured and join the others. A party for a two or three year old is most successful if there are older guests.
The Federal Government has identified balloons as a potential choking hazard and requires a warning label on containers of balloons stating they are not suitable for children under the age of eight. It you hire a balloon artist, be sure to supervise the children so they don't put the balloons in their mouth. Also, be sure to immediately pick up the remnants of broken balloons.
Activities like face painting, trick cartoons, and balloon sculpture generally don't hold the attention of the entire group. Kids may loose attention as soon as they have their own. Plan for some alternative game or craft activities during this period.
Be sure to take photographs. If you don't own a camera, purchase a disposable one for the party. Avoid standing so there is a window or bright light behind the people being photographed in order to avoid their image being only in silhouette. Be sure to get some shots of your guest's face and expression as they enjoy the entertainment.
You can't legally videotape an entertainer's show without their permission. Some entertainers refuse to let their act be recorded for valid reasons. If having a video is important to you, be sure to ask the entertainer for permission at the time you schedule them.
Follow the entertainment section of the party with the cake. This focuses the attention back onto the birthday child. Most entertainers will help you get everyone seated and lead in singing Happy Birthday. Then they leave while the guests are busy eating. Many clowns prefer to not eat in front of the children because they feel it weakens their fantasy character.
Before the entertainer starts to leave, have the payment ready so there is no awkwardness. Place it in an envelope to hand to the entertainer as you thank them for coming. This lets the birthday child think the clown came just for them. If you wish to pay by check, ask the entertainer to send you a letter of confirmation specifying how the check should be made out.
How to Contact Bruce
Charlie's Creative Comedy, P.O.Box 82084, Kenmore, WA 98028