Stars-Of-The-Kid-ShowI hope you enjoyed the first part of my Stars of the Kid Shows series. If you missed it … go check it out first, and then come back to continue this article.

The link is:

Today, I ask my friends Mark Wade, Steve Petra, Lisa Laird, Neale Bacon and Colin Dymond:

Question #2:
Are there any differences between today’s kid show audiences vs. the audiences from when you started?

Mark Wade:

Mark Wade“I’ve performed for kids for almost four decades and a lot has changed. I think the one thing I see is the attention span of children. When I started performing full time in the 1970’s, kids could handle a 45-50 minute show and stay with you the entire time. Now it has diminished to, at best, 40 minutes or less. I attribute that to computer games and how things are presented to kids via television. Everything is done in small bites and news flashes. Therefore modern kids have a hard time focusing on any one thing for a long period of time. That’s the way they receive their information…bits and bites.

Vent routines have gone from 10-15 minutes in length for kids to 6-8 minutes (as I talked about this in my new audio book, “Comedy Writing For Kidshows“) You string your show together with smaller timed bits instead of trying to do 20 minute routines. They just can’t sit still for that one period of time at a stretch. It’s a 40 minute show broken down into 5 or 6 routines or bits.”

Steve Petra:

Steve Petra“Certainly. We are all products of our culture. Elements of that culture shift over any number of years. Kids’ involvement in a fast paced, instant information, CG, 3D world means that our shows have to move more quickly with appropriate intensity while maintaining a high level of audience control. The passive kid show audience of the past is now the exception. The modern performer must adapt and innovate.”

Lisa Laird:

Lisa Laird“First of all I have only been doing this for 9 years so my experience is shorter but I will draw on my years of teaching before I started this to draw out some observations. I think that the biggest difference in kid show audiences is not so much in the kids as it is in the parents. I am always shocked at how many parents have no control over their children. They let them run and allow them to be disrespectful, and probably have not been good examples either. It is also interesting to note that while children today have access to all kinds of media at their fingertips, there is still something different about a live show. Because they are used to “putting things on pause” whenever they want, sometimes the attention span is shorter. However having said that, because a live show is so different, sometimes they can become more engaged during the live show than they do a recording.”

Neale Bacon:

Neale“I think kids are still kids. They still laugh at the same things as a generation ago, but kids today know more or maybe I should say are exposed to more. I think adults today try to make kids grow up too fast. They have a hard time just letting kids be kids. Kids lives are over scheduled and over organized, but as for a kids audience, I find they are very much the same.”

Colin Dymond:

Colin Dymond“When I started in the late 90s I would only do vent for small children, then one day i had a large family party with about 50 children in the audience so I decided that I would do my routine and if the bigger kids thought it was childish then I would soon be doing magic again. At the end of my show I had some 10 and 11 year olds come up to me to say they thought they had figured out how the puppet worked, until it started talking to them directly. Then I realised that they had lots of electronic toys that interacted with them but they had never seen a ventriloquist before.

Now most older children have seen Jeff Dunham on you tube but here in the UK there are still no ventriloquists on TV working for children and families.”

Join us in this conversation by commenting below:

How long have you been doing kid shows?

Are there any differences between today’s kid show audiences vs. the audiences from when you started?

– Let us know!

After you comment, continue this series with Part Three!