This American Life is a pretty wonderful weekly radio show on NPR. I listen to the Podcast every week or so and THIS week is about talking to children. The first act of the show is about two dirty 20-something comedians who are brought around to various camps... and they struggle... bomb... and eventually just resort to screaming and so forth.
It's inspiring to me, because I'm very good at working *appropriately* with large groups of children. In fact, it's probably the thing that I do best.
The kids *hated* the comedians... I wish I could have given a pep talk.
Find the show through here: http://www.thislife.org/Radio_Podcast.aspx !
OK... So I've been thinking about this for a little while and I have a response for the broadcast. First of all, the commentator says that they were doomed to fail from the start. This is untrue - completely bogus.
The concept is that people who are outgoing and possess the stage ability to entertain adults have the ability to entertain children. This is correct. Stage charisma and energy, two of the huge drawing factors to adult comedians works well for kids (unbelievably)... Look at someone like Robin Williams - his energy and spirit work for both *adult* humor and *kids* humor... interesting, huh?
Also, the commentator blames the fact that the 10-year-olds have been exposed to Dane Cook for their inability to enjoy *clean* humor. This is wrong. Dan Cook can be appealing without being dirty - HE HAS ENERGY; HE TELLS STORIES.
Dane comes along with sound effects, huge physical motions and recognizable characters. The comedians in the story were relying on one-liners; perhaps the hardest form of jokes for a younger audience. One-liners rely on the awareness of the audience - if you speak over their heads, then they zone out. STORIES are where it's at. In a story, I expose you to the information that will turn humorous... I can have multiple punch-lines or even disregard one completely!
If I could have talked to those poor young comedians, I would have steered them to Bill Cosby instead of Nickelodeon (where they did much of their research). Ten-year-olds don't get the same laughs from Sponge-Bob that they used to... but play them "Chicken Heart" or "Dentist" and they'll be laughing hysterically...
And I'm willing to publicly prove my theory anytime ;-)