It’s a rare day to have two separate school gigs in a day. I was booked for a small parochial school in Wayne, NJ for an 11:30 set with 160 K – 8th graders, a very tough spectrum of ages and abilities but I’ve done this before in other catholic schools.
As I arrived, I set up in the echoey gym while a funeral was going on in the sanctuary in the next room. The kids came in with a unique set of kids up front, apparently the sponsors of my visit. I was instructed to feature these kids during the show – not my natural way of performing. It seemed odd.
The 8th grade girls were having a good time while the 8th grade boys tried to pull up their sweaters over their mouths. I did try to nudge them and eventually kind of warmed them up.
It was a tougher gig than I thought. The kids were noisier than most catholic schools and certainly less focused. I did my Peanut Butter routine with the kids listening for the echo of the room (and there was a mighty echo), but they never quite got the concept of hitting the ‘wooo’ and listening for the echo. There was always some chatter or late woo so the kids never got the rich payoff experience.
There were several times that I tried to encourage some spontaneity from the teachers or kids, but there seemed to be a relatively dry lack of creative energy. That could be a function of this particular school.
In fact, at the end, I was asked to get a picture of me and my ‘benefactors’ and tried to get them to do a super star for the camera. most of the kids did nothing and, in fact, a teacher taking the photo asked them to be serious for the shot. That spoke volumes about the control factor I was experiencing.
The principal said thanks and said everyone enjoyed it. It still seemed to be not quite what it could have been. I’m thankful for the gig, and I’m sure most of the kids and teachers had a great time.