Paul Nathan: Harrassing children at the Fringe sells tickets
By Caro Moses | Published on Friday 12 August 2011
Last year, our reviewer was totally impressed by ‘The I Hate Children Children’s Show’, and one of ThreeWeeks’ editors was a bit gutted not to be able to see it.
Magician Paul Nathan stars in it, alongside guitarist John Anaya, and the pair also perform a grown-up show, ‘Devil in the Deck’, every night. We put some questions to Paul, and hope to see at least one of his shows ere long.
CM: How did you get into doing magic?
PN: Both John and I learned our craft from books, starting around age six. I learned magic, John learned guitar. My mother was a librarian, she brought home an armload of books on magic and I was hooked. John grew up in Hawaii and a friend of the family gave him a guitar, taught him a few cords and bought him a book of guitar lessons. Then he gave him some candy and tried to lure him into a van. That was John’s first music tour.
CM: What made you decide to do a children’s show?
PN: Last year I lost a bet, and the pay off was to do a children’s show for the run of the Fringe. It turns out that the show was a hit, and surprisingly, you can actually make money harassing children here in Edinburgh. This year I conned John into playing music for the show with a promise that he could ride that kiddy cash cow all the way to the bank with me. Merchandise sales alone are covering almost all of John’s copious beer budget so far this year.
CM: How does your theatre show for adults differ from your show for children?
PN: The children’s show is irreverent and fun. It’s John playing guitar as I flirt with hot moms and encourage parents to drink. ‘Devil In The Deck’ is a collection of the best card tricks in the world wrapped in an elegant and romantic story. In the children’s show everything is spontaneous and chaotic. In ‘Devil In The Deck’, every aspect of the show is elegant and finished. The music is great, the story fantastic, and the magic is… well… magical. We are proud to be the only children’s show which invites parents to sneak in booze and drink in the dark. For ‘Devil In The Deck’, everyone is invited to bring a deck of cards and may challenge me at any time to use their deck. If I can’t do any trick in the show with their deck then I’ll give them a thousand dollars.
CM: Which is better, an adult audience, or a child audience?
PN: A family audience is the best. Even though I am best known as an adult entertainer (in the most adult sense of the word) I love seeing families laughing and having fun together as I did with my parents. I love shows where the parents sit with children in their laps and everyone is laughing and sharing together. Parents teaching their children how to enjoy a show, how to laugh, how to have fun. Adult crowds are wonderful but there is something special about families sharing the experience together. That is real magic.
CM: What do you think is the secret to a really good children’s show?
PN: A bit of whiskey in the punch makes every party better; don’t you think? Long answer – I think the key to a great children’s show is the same as the key to any other show. Great writing and editing for a story that moves with purpose, elegance, and style. Great presentation skills that engage the audience and keep them present. Great jokes, great skills, great acting, great directing, great music, and great production. These are the ingredients for any great show. Anyone who thinks that they can get away with anything less than that just because the audience is young does a great disservice to the audience, themselves, and society as a whole and they should burn for eternity in kiddy show hell.
CM: Why did you decide to come to Edinburgh, and how long have you been coming? Will you keep coming back, and why?
PN: I’ve been coming to Edinburgh for about five years. I keep coming back because it is the most beautiful city in the UK and the people here are the most delightful, charming, and playful as well as smart. Plus there are more yummy mummies here than anywhere else. I brought John last year. He is in love with this place and this festival. This year John brought his 12 year old daughter. This city is magic.
CM: What shows will you be seeing this year?
PN: I’m excited to see ‘Doris Day Can Fuck Off’. Terrible title but it’s supposed to be a great show. Also, ‘Muscle’ is supposed to be fantastic and no one knows about it yet. Also Paul Daniels, Barry and Stuart, and Amanda Palmer. John is seeing ‘Perfection’, ‘Ophelia’, and loitering around other children’s shows, where he sleeps off the effects of his nightly debauch and late night jams at the Royal Oaks.
Paul Nathan’s shows ‘The I Hate Children Children’s Show’ and ‘Devil In The Deck’ were performed at Zoo Southside and Zoo Roxy during Fringe 2011.