One forms a picture of the children’s entertainer in a typical situation with the young ones all distracted, captivated as they behold this man (it’s usually a man) and his contrived and overstated silliness, his calculated absurdity, his quips and his portfolio of magic tricks. Balloons, involuntary noises and silly tales, painted faces and raspberries all combine with the object of ensuring that the child’s attention belongs entirely to the party entertainer, whose brief it is to keep them amused for the duration.
The successful kids’ entertainer must of course be able to do all these things, but there is so much more involved if one really is to fire the imagination of the child and to hold on to it. Children are famously vulnerable to distraction and excitement very soon descends into boredom, often without any neutral state declaring itself in between, if the correct balance between the novel and the familiar is not maintained throughout.
So rather than being a mere series of tricks and stunts the entertainer’s repertoire in actual fact constitutes an unbroken performance, a set of individual punch lines that roll seamlessly into one, rather in the manner of a stand-up comic. One bout of mirth will flow organically from the previous one, enticing the audience to follow the story through to the end. It is an art that is acquired from experience and drawn from the entertainer’s own resources of natural talent.
The outcome is a consistently successful delivery over a period of an hour, an hour and a half, or however long the willing buffoon, has been entrusted to keep the children happy.
The magic (no pun intended) of the successful entertainer is this ability to capture the child’s imagination and to retain it throughout the performance.
But, sadly, the show does have to end sometime, and when we see the expressions of joy upon our child’s face we so find ourselves willing that we could bottle whatever it is that the entertainer has and release it into our living rooms during the school holidays to keep them amused.
Sadly though nobody yet has been able to entrap it in a bottle, but the next best thing one assumes would be to share the secrets and the joy of the show through such modern media as CDs, as well as the more traditional books and merchandise. A show with a pirate theme, for instance, might find its way into our living rooms through the purchase of pirate games, pirate party bags and the suchlike.
Keeping the active mind of a curious, growing child focused is a permanent and quite thankless task for which we really could sometimes use a little help.