Monday, February 01, 2010

Waiting for Batman

Planning a birthday party for a 5 year old is no easy feat. Well, maybe it is for some people. No doubt some people do this kind of thing in their sleep, but not me. I stress and I worry. Is there going to be enough food? Are people having a good time? Is the entertainment "cool" enough, but still appropriate for a young five and his younger friends and siblings? I did everything last minute and consequently spent way too much money. I didn't buy enough tablecloths and there could have been more beverages. But, Big C wanted a Batman party, and Batman party he had: plates, napkins, loot bags, blue cake with a Batman shooting out of the bat cave, everything....and we had a special appearance by Batman himself.

I found a local company online that does superhero parties - you could have Batman, Superman or Spiderman come to your party and play games with the kids, sign autographs, etc. I knew going in that hiring anything like this is a crap shoot of sorts, unless you've personally seen the performers in action, but it's what Big C wanted and short of dressing up as a superhero ourselves (and have to explain why we weren't at the party a la Pokeroo) or hire someone we knew (and no one we knew would do it), what's a girl to do?

It must be a good gig to get into - dress up for an hour, play games, make jokes and get a couple bills. I know it's the actor in me, but I feel compelled to say that if you are going to do this kind of thing, you better do it well. I am just itching to call up the company and give them my notes on the performance, but Mr Earth says that it won't be appreciated unless they ask for feedback. It's killing me to keep my mouth shut, so here I am.

  1. Be on time. Kids have very little patience, and tend to get out of control when you are not on time. Especially when they don't get fed until after your act. Plus, it's simple professional consideration. Show up when you are supposed to. Ten or fifteen minutes may not mean much to you, but it can be FOREVER to a kid who is overexcited. And, if you are late - and things happen, I get it - then APOLOGIZE. You don't have to apologize to the kids, but you should apologize to the person who hired you (i.e. me).
  2. If your website advertises a "grand entrance so the kids know they have the Real Thing", then make a grand entrance. I met the guy in the hall because, it being winter, I knew he would have a coat and probably some other personal items. He wouldn't let me take them for him. He skulked into the room with a winter coat and a large duffel bag. Entrance, not so grand.
  3. Speak up and command attention. Kids are loud. You have to get their attention, especially at the beginning. It doesn't matter if you have funny jokes (and he did), if no one can hear them.
  4. Get your energy up. I expected someone with a more exciting presence. Who was more excited to be there. I know these kinds of gigs can be crap, but I don't care. I am paying you to be excited. The kids probably didn't notice, but every single adult in the room thought that Batman was hungover. That is not a good thing. In all fairness, he may have been trying to do a cool Batman voice, but it didn't read that way.
  5. Appearance. This is totally unfair, but I am picky and this is my blog so I'll pick if I want to. The guy was too short. Batman is not short. And if you are short, you have to act tall. No hunching or pigeon-toeing. And tuck in loose tags. The costume itself, though, was great.
  6. Tone of voice. Towards the end, he was making jokes that were just shy of sounding like attacks. He was trying to be funny, but it came off as a little mean. He should watch that.

These are all observations that I am making as an adult and as actor. The kids thought he was great. Big C thought he was hilarious and had a fantastic time. In the end, that is all that matters to me.

But, if anyone should call me up and ask for feedback or a recommendation, I got lots to say...