The bottom line
If you like magic (and beer), have kids over 7 or 8 who aren’t easily offended, and if you can take a direct insult to your face and laugh it off, this show just might be for you.
I hate magic shows.
That was my dirty little secret when I arrived at the low-key Hale’s Palladium for the one-man I Hate Children Children's Show, which bills itself as being for “tweens, teens and hot soccer moms.”
Ahem, strike two.
But I determined to keep an open mind as “bad boy” magician Paul Nathan and his musical accompaniment, John Anaya, took the stage. This is, indeed, a different concept from your typical rabbit-in-hat kiddie show. The script, from start to end, relies on Nathan’s gentle-but-not-that-gentle insults to the kids (more on that below), non-politically-correct dry humor for the parents, and his palpable (but probably only half real) distaste for minors of any age. Nearly nothing that might qualify as PG is off limits here.
From I Hate Children’s description:
The show stars the meanest man in the world. Each child is personally insulted as they walk in the door, moms are served champagne while children sip on disappointment, and every child who is 8 years old or older is invited on stage to help out with the magic … So belly up to the bar at the only kids show cool enough to serve beer, and see why we make magic fun for all ages.
There was beer there, that part’s true anyway. Champagne ran out before it reached me but hey — to take a playing card out of Nathan’s deck — I’ll quit my complaining.
The best parts
The magic here is pretty cool, but what really keeps the performance charging forward with a weird but interesting energy is Nathan’s twisted banter with the audience and the kids he invites, by the dozens, onto stage to participate. Every kid over 8 got to participate on stage if they wanted to. Even 7-year-olds were invited up on the day I went and my 6-year-old snuck up anyway (whatchu think of them rotten apples, Nathan?!). The kids who sat up front participated whether they wanted to or not, and some tweens might live to regret it just a tiny bit.
Your family might have fun trying to decipher the steps of Nathan’s tricks, and this is a way to potentially spark some kids’ interest in magic-making.
Did I mention they have beer?
The twisted parts (a warning)
The disclaimer is basically right there in the title of the show. Nathan is quite possibly going to insult you or your kid, and if either of you can’t take that, you might not want to go to the I Hate Children Children's show. In the end, all the tongue-in-cheek abuse is pretty fun, and it will have the adults chuckling into their pale ales. I don’t want to give away the, um, charm of the show by actually telling you what these insults might be, but let’s just say if your child being called ugly — even in good fun — isn’t going to sit well, you might want to either sit in the back or sit this one out. I personally just might have been called a hippie…
But, if you’re a parent who hasn’t surrendered all sense of humor to Phineas-and-Ferb land, and if you’ve got a good-natured younger kid or a tween/teen with a seemingly impenetrable veneer of “I’m too cool” — this is a family activity that will be weirdly, rudely, amusingly unifying.