Entertainer Tales From The Road: Confessions Of A Fulltime Family by Tom Lilly

Reviewed by Jamy Ian Swiss (originally published in Genii August, 1998)

Okay, I'm not the family entertainer type and never hope to be one, and the term tends to make me want to politely clear my throat, paste on a stiff smile, and then find someplace to hide and escape the invariably awkward conversation about to unfold. What's more, this unprepossessing volume is combbound on a cheap computer color printer, and by outward appearances the whole affair did not appear promising.

But here's a news flash: Never judge a book by its cover.

This is a very good little book about doing kid and family shows, filled with practical advice and some fine material that screams of the author's obviously substantial professional experience in the trenches. There are routines here for tricks I will never own much less do, but that I enjoyed reading because the author has a distinctly wise- guyish yet probably quite charming manner of connecting with the kids in his audience, a process which he obviously enjoys. There are solid routines here for the dealer item known as the Elusive Lifesavers; a funny and gag-filled routine with some spring snakes and a can of tennis balls; some sound ideas for adapting old reliables like Hippity Hop Rabbits to new themes; a playful Hallowe'en presentation for the 20th Century Silks; good material on building and decorating side tables and backdrops; and a fine three- page routine for a mouth coil, with a sight gag for briefly costuming your onstage kid helpers that's almost worth the price of the book. I don't know much about kids' show magic so I don't know for certain if these ideas are original with the author, but some of them were new to me and I certainly enjoyed reading them. This is a book of kid show material that really deserves to be better produced and more widely marketed.

8 - 1/2" X 11 "plastic comb bound; 42 pages; approximately 30 computer illustrations, plus assorted awful clip art; 1998; Publisher: Tom Lilly