Hi there. Last month Mark talked about what we think is the best children’s gig. This time, I’ll discuss the good things you get to enjoy when you choose to do school assembly shows.
I want to challenge you. And I know you are up for a challenge because you didn’t become a performer slugging equipment, writing routines, hoping against hope that there will be enough gigs for food, clothing and shelter because it was easy. You took a dive into the deep end when you proclaimed to the world that you were good enough at performing to get paid for it.
But there comes a point in your career when you have to ask yourself, so what?
Sure you make people laugh, you amaze them with your skills, you relieve them from the stress of life. But after the laughs and smiles and applause, what’s next?
Every magician, ventriloquist, and juggler has a story of the performer who inspired them to become a professional. And we all want that youngster to come up to us telling us that they want to be just like us. What great affirmation to know we are inspiring another human being, to know we are changing lives.
But how many jugglers and magicians does the world really need?
What if you could reach into the hearts and minds of the people in your audience and really get them to think about how to make things better after you leave? What if you could really give them actionable ideas that could propel them towards a better life?
I perform school assemblies. And the first thing you have to know about school assembly performing is that it’s not just about the entertainment, not just about the fun. The show MUST have a message, a purpose. This is where you can literally inspire the entire student body (around 600 kids) to make a change in their own life.
The message can be simple. We recommend keeping it to 3 to 4 words.
- “Reduce, reuse, and recycle.”
- “Be nice to everyone.”
- “Work hard for success.”
- “Brush your teeth.”
- “Eat right, sleep right.”
You get the idea.
Sure, these are messages that kids have heard a thousand times, but you have a secret weapon, a super power. You are an entertainer! You have the ability to take a simple message that they have heard countless of times before and present it in a brand new, totally inspiring, mind-opening, breathtaking kind of way. You can get those kids to understand that ‘brushing their teeth’ (or whatever the message of your choice is) is undeniably, irrefutably, totally the best idea in the entire world.
Here’s the low down.
Start with the message. Don’t think about the routines you already do and want to alter. Start fresh. It’s scary but I know you’re not afraid of a challenge. Figure out the clever way to deliver that message. Then start adding to it, using every bell and whistle you possibly can—music, costumes, props, sight gags, visual comedy, verbal comedy, prat falls, spit takes, double takes… anything and everything. This is the time to be awesome. (Note: Don’t do anything offensive or dangerous though, like fire eating. The kids might try doing them themselves!)
You are basically creating a lesson plan like any teacher. But it’s just one 45-minute presentation done over and over again, so you can do so much more than a teacher could ever do. They can’t afford $200 bucks on a prop for one lesson plan a day, but you can spend $200 for the prop you’ll use in 400 presentations.
And if you can put together that fun show that EDUCATES and INSPIRES, you will be a star. You will be using your powers for good.
And the rewards for you will be IMMENSE. Right off the bat, you get gigs during the weekdays, during school hours. Where else can you perform kids shows during school hours? There are 180 school days just sitting there waiting for you to fill. (THAT’S HALF THE YEAR!) And then you still have weekends and summers open for your other gigs.
The pay is also better. Typically, the pay starts off at about twice what library shows pay. It’s more than what you get for birthday parties and company picnics. Mostly you get more because they always need two shows and not many people can do this.
Repeat business is easy. Schools don’t go anywhere, and they have a steady stream of kids. They need an assembly every year. There are 3000 schools within a 3-hour drive from my house, each of them with very similar needs and structure. Once you figure out how to connect with one, it’s just rinse and repeat. Now you have a career, not just a series of gigs.
The non-monetary rewards are also off the charts. Teachers will give you great respect for holding the attention of the children while giving them a pleasant break during the school day. Your message and performance make their job easier. And of course the kids. To know you’re not just entertaining and amazing and inspiring them, but also helping them be a bit better—that is a reward in itself.
I promise you that if you go down this path, see the check at the end, hear the applause, see the respect in the eyes of the teachers, get home by lunch and then know that you are giving the students a message that really makes a difference for them and the world, you will never want to go back to simply entertaining.