Yesterday I took a quick break from performing on the fair circuit and did a senior show. This was a “monthly activity” for seniors at a retirement community. Most of these places need entertainment and host multiple entertainers a month to perform at things like monthly birthdays, holidays, etc.
If you’d like more info on performing senior shows check out my book How To Perform For Seniors which teaches you how to market and perform shows at these communities.
My current 40-45 minute show fits into the black case, which is briefcase sized.
The yellow case is my audio gear.
The show was put together to visually fill a little bit of space and not look like I’m just using flat handheld props that were selected because they easily fit into a briefcase.
The nice thing about this show is that it can be done using people from the audience, and it can also be done “no contact”, so no one from the audience joins me on the stage or handles any props.
Aside from any COVID restrictions, the no contact option is handy as sometimes you’ll have a less mobile group and it’s not easy to have people join you on stage. Having them interact from their seats is good, however if you physically go to them in the back row, a lot of the audience can’t see what’s happening. When you talk to them from the stage and the magic still happens onstage the whole audience can see what’s going on.
Yesterday I had a full day of driving around town performing at senior living facilities doing my show. They love booking in magic shows for April Fools Day, and you can do shows pretty much from 10 am to about 7 pm if you want to. The main limit is your set up, take down and travel time.
Doing a lot of shows in a short amount of time is a great chance to work on things. I’m working on my Briefcase Magic Show, so not a single piece, but how to get the stuff to gel together as a show.
Everything pictured above (included the applause sign) fits into the case and sets up and packs away in less than 10 mins.
I was able to get 45 minutes out of those props at every show today! I’m working on adding a joke between each trick, that’s adding a time to the show without adding props. The goal is to have 2 minutes of jokes between each trick, that ends up being 12 minutes of the show.
Yesterday I did my second day of senior shows and it was a lot of fun. I think I may finally be figuring out how to make my coat hanger thru silk routine work. I just need to let the effect marinade and sit with the audience even longer. The trick is a very strong and visual trick, and I think brains just take a long time to process it.
Another thing I’m learning is how much people use their eyes to listen. When we listen we also do a lot of lip reading. When someone is masked, it’s harder to understand them because we can’t lip read. This makes a ton of sense looking into the past. For example my wife uses the captions when she watches movies on a smaller screen like her phone. It makes it easier for her to “hear”. Because of this I’m talking a lot more slowly and deliberately in my shows.
It’s been a while since I’ve done a show at a retirement center. The main reason has been due to COVID restrictions from many of the corporation that own these facilities impose. I’m not saying I’m against the restrictions, I’m all for protecting seniors and I wouldn’t want anyone to get severely sick or die because I was asymptomatic and brought COVID into the facility.
OK, with all of that said, I did a senior show yesterday and it was a blast! Everyone was out to have a good time, and they were into the show! One thing that I added to my show that I never really did in my senior show was the vanishing birdcage. I closed my show with it and they couldn’t stop talking about it. One resident wouldn’t shut up about the trick (I’m not complaining!), he went to everyone after the show in the halls and would say, “That was a great show, but that bird trick was amazing!” I think I’m going to keep the birdcage in the senior show!
If you want more info on performing at senior facilities, I wrote a book about it called How To Perform For Seniors. This book takes you through booking, material selection, and full of tips and advice for actually doing the gig! If the senior market is something that interests you, you should check out the book!
It’s been a while since I’ve performed a show at a retirement community. I just did one and they’ve been trying to get me in for a couple of years and our schedules finally lined up and then COVID happened. As restrictions in my state have been fluctuating, we’ve been trying to schedule and it finally happened!
When I did the show, there still was one COVID compliance thing I had to do, and that was wear a mask the whole show. That makes doing the show very challenging, but I managed to make my way through it. I always forget how much facial expression I use until I make the face and realized no one can see it under the mask!
June has been a month of learning how to do the show within remaining COVID restrictions and I’m hoping that with the west coast basically being reopened by the end of the month, I won’t need to use these skills I’ve been building anymore!
Over a decade ago I wrote a book about performing in “senior market”. These are shows at retirement homes, assisted living communities, etc. I don’t really perform in this market anymore, however I am in a couple of Facebook groups for people who do. I’m constantly amazed at how much bad advice is given. The … Continue reading “Old Tyme Music…”
Over a decade ago I wrote a book about performing in “senior market”. These are shows at retirement homes, assisted living communities, etc. I don’t really perform in this market anymore, however I am in a couple of Facebook groups for people who do.
I’m constantly amazed at how much bad advice is given. The one that drives me nuts is when someone will ask what kind of tricks to do for these shows and someone says to use music like Glenn Miller’s In The Mood.or music from the 1940s or 1950s.
Whenever I hear that advice I want to tell them to do the math. Glenn Miller put that song out in 1939, which makes that song 80 years old…but for that song to be relevant in your life, like the music you would have listened to in your teens, you’d be 95-100 years old.
That age range is within the demographic for the senior show, HOWEVER it’s a small slice of the demographic. The average lifespan in the USA is just shy of 80 years old. That means your market for these shows is about 70-95.
Let’s redo the math. It’s currently 2019, we’ll subtract 80 years for the age of the people at the senior gig, that gives us the year 1939. However were going to add 17 years to put the music when they people where in high school and we get 1956. That math means if you want to reach people purely on a musical level, your need to use music that was released in 1956 or later.
A quick Google search and it appears Elvis was king at that point. Remember that year is the bottom rung of the ladder, and we’d be assuming they never listened to music past their 17th birthday. If you fast forward a decade to when these people were 27 years old, you get the Beach Boys, Neil Diamond, the Rolling Stones. Jump forward another decade to when they were 37 and now you’re into Disco.
My point is if you assume senior’s are only into the music that was popular when they were young, you haven’t thought this through. How old are you? Do you only listen to music from when you were 17 years old?