Simple Ways to Fill Down Time Before You Start Performing

You’re all set up and you’ve done a run-through of your show, but you don’t start for another 20 minutes. Here are some ways to use this down time before your performance to ensure that your show runs smoothly.

Sit Down with the Audience

Children are a unique audience to perform for. The way they perceive the environment around them is different from that of adults.  As children’s entertainers, we must take this into consideration with each show we do.

Get to know your young audience a bit by sitting down and talking with them before your show

So get to know your young audience a bit by sitting down and talking with them before your show. If the children are overly energized, you can use this as an opportunity to calm them down. Show them how to slow down their breathing and talk in a quiet voice.

Play Games

If your audience is more low-key and you need to energize them, try playing a game with them that requires movement.

One of the techniques I use is the Magic Dance game. To do this, tell the children that you are going to teach them how to make magic happen. Ask them to stand up, raise their arms in the air, and wiggle their magic fingers. Periodically throughout your show, you can have the children do this magic dance instead of saying magic words. This will add more fun to your routine and it will also help the kids focus their attention.

Another thing that you can do is you can bring out your puppet and introduce it to the kids. (Be sure to give the puppet a cute pet name!) Tell a story about it and make it wave, jump, hide, or laugh to really bring it to life for the children. This little activity with the puppet will not only fill in the time; it will also help you gauge your audience and give you an idea which kid would make a good assistant during your show.

Do a Running Gag

Maybe there’s a pesky snake in a can of potato chips or a pair of glasses named Glassy that just won’t stay on your nose. These types of running gags are what I call “Laughter Triggers” and they can fill the quiet lull both during pre-show and even during a routine quite nicely. They require a bit of setup and sometimes even a story, but that’s all right because they give you more things to do to kill time.

Here’s another example of a running gag that you can do before your performance.

Running Gag: The Silk Handkerchief
Before approaching the audience, place a silk handkerchief in your back pocket. Make sure it sticks out a bit.
Now mingle with the kids and then start searching your pockets or your case. Tell them that you can’t find your handkerchief and ask them if they can help you find it. Turn your back to the audience so they can see the handkerchief in your back pocket. The kids will most likely yell that the handkerchief is in your pocket. Turn back around and check your front pockets. (You can drag this part out as much as you’d like before producing the handkerchief.) When you’ve finally “found” your handkerchief, place it in your case and tell it to stay there.
After this, you can produce the handkerchief periodically throughout your show by having it fall out of your pocket or by finding it attached to one of your other props. The premise of this running gag is that you are telling the handkerchief to stay in your case but it is disobeying. Children are sure to find this hilarious, so why not give it a try?

Give these techniques a try next time you find yourself with some down time before a show. Just remember, the key is to entertain your audience while creating the foundation for a successful performance.