At least he got that right: Controversial writer talks about performing for kids

August 5th, 2012 | Joe Hadsall | Filed Under General

Alex Stone has taken some heat for his recent book “Fooling Houdini.” While Rick Lax thought the book’s deconstruction of magicians wasn’t that bad, Ricky Jay was much more damning. (The book is on our to-read list; we’ll let you know how it is.)

But most all magicians can agree on something he wrote in that book: Performing for kids is harder than performing for adults.

But why?

Stone thinks it has to do with the way kids concentrate, according to a report in the India Times. Adults are very good at focusing on one thing and ignoring distractions. That way, magicians can exploit avenues for misdirection much easier.

“Kids, on the other hand, tend to focus on more than one thing at a time — their attention is more diffuse — which may make them harder to fool. Moreover, kids are relatively free of assumptions and expectations about how the world works, and magic is all about turning your assumptions and expectations against you.”


This is why kids’ magicians rank pretty high in our book. Not every magician can handle the extra work and performance skill it requires. And that means if you get asked to do a kids’ party, and you’re not ready, DON’T DO IT.


  1. Magnus Asbjorn on:

    I’ve found that when I’ve talked to non-magic folk about a career in magic two things have been said a lot. “You should do kids shows” and “You’ll never make it if you don’t do kids shows.” I’ve always replied magic for kids is a whole other skill set I don’t have.

  2. In my experience I’ve found that kids will also call you out if they see you mess up right on the spot. Adults will usually let the trick go on till you’ve finished, and if you work in enough slights that they did not catch they will still appreciate the illusion. Children will focus in on that one mistake you made, and tell you straight up that you are a bad magician and a fake.

    Furthermore, it is my belief that children are able to pick up on some tricks faster than adults, so the old rule about never repeating a trick is one you must not break no matter how well you think you have mastered it.

  3. managing large OR small groups of children? You need to be able to IMPROVISE,…BIG TIME..what gets huge reactions from children?..when something goes wrong….2.when they can HOLD a prop… and dad are “part of the effect”….4.when you make a mess….snowstorms,confetti..and chemical reactions…mentos and pepsi…5.effects that involve ALL the children..Example…spelling happy birthday, no tear birthday message..”Do you know what this letter is”?… they all say in unison..”H!”..(can you speak a little louder?” they will….YELL…”H!!”..

  4. kids like visual magic like sponge balls and misers dream style manipulation of colorful props, if you only do card tricks you need to be VERY careful about what you are going to present