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What is it That Makes Children Laugh?
As a family oriented performer I have often wondered exactly what is it that makes children laugh? What is it that they respond to that generates this rush of laughter and good times? It is interesting to research and I found out things I never knew before. If a magician understands what makes children laugh, then they can apply it to the routines they create. After all we are entertainers first. So allow me to dive in a bit on this subject and share some of my findings.
The first item that caught my eye when I first started researching this topic was about the relationship between how often children laugh and how often adults laugh. It does not take a rocket scientist to realize that children laugh much more frequently then adults do. But why is this? I found out a statistic that really shocked me. Children laugh on average of 400 times in a course of a day where as adults tend to laugh around 25. That is a staggering difference. So what is it that causes this laughter. I wanted to list some of the things I found through research as well as through my own personal experience:
Treating an Object Like Something Else
It is an important to realize that children live in a fantasy world at a young age. Everything to them is magical. Turning on a light is by magic. But often times they also start showing at an early age the idea of pretending. You see this a lot in their play. One object can suddenly become another object. This can be used by us entertainers. Because the child does this naturally, having one object become something else is funny to them.
Calling an Object or Person by a Different Name
As children start to talk they become very vocal. They use their new found communication skills and start to use that in their humor as well. If we know that children early on are fascinated with speech and with wanting to verbally tell you things, we can use this to our advantage. Children themselves will often naturally call something by a different name and find doing so hilarious.
This is a concept that as children get older and start using their new found vocal skills, they like to name play with the sounds of names. This could mean a word like Boat could be Boat, coat, soak, toat, zoat etc. Even if the words are not real words, the sound of the new silly word is funny to them. As magicians, we can use this in our performances and possibly create funny magical words that play off this idea.
Made up Sentences
This goes along with the vocal concepts mentioned above. The idea is as children develop their skills with words, they often like to make up sentences that really have no meaning to them. To children, this is exploring and having fun with the new tool of communication. As a magician I can use this idea in the storylines I create or the magic words I have the children say. If I know that this makes children laugh, I can adapt my routines to use this principle.
Things That Don't Belong Together
As children develop in their learning capacity, they start to associate the words they say with physical objects that represent them. Saying cat now is not just a sound but they know what a cat is and what the cats do and the sounds they make. What is interesting is that children now find this new found power as empowering to them. If a magician can get something wrong that the child knows is right, they feel empowered to correct the magician and they also find it funny. If I state that a cat goes MOOOO, the children will laugh and want to correct me.
Physical ComedyNo one quite knows for sure why it is that children tend to laugh at things that physically happen to the magician or anyone. If I accidentally hit myself on the head with a funny magic wand, children will find it funny. If I suddenly get my finger caught in the zipper of a change bag, kids will laugh. I think part of this stems from their own play world and from cartoons they see on TV. Knowing physical comedy is funny to a child can open the doors to possibilities in your own routines.
There are certainly a lot more that I have come across in both research and personal experience that I could share with you. However, I will leave it at this for now. This should give you a good idea of not only what makes children laugh but some of the reasoning behind it. If we know what makes children laugh, then we can strive to be better children's performers.
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Last Updated (Wednesday, 15 July 2009 18:41)