“I think karaoke is a Japanese word and it means bad singing,” said Mike Randall. Randall visited the annual kids’ camp in Spencer on July 22, though (obviously) not as a karaoke singer. Instead, Randall wowed the Panther PAK (Pretty Awesome Kids) campers with his magic and jokes.
Randall opened with a pre-show, in which he appeared to pull a red light out of a stunned Landon Thompson’s ear.
After calling for someone in the audience who was “brave, strong, fearless, and female,” Randall explained his personal definition of karaoke and the segued to another East Asian word: origami. He instructed his volunteer – 6-year-old Myra Goodrich – to wad up a piece of paper, promising to turn it into origami. The result, to a chorus of giggles, was simply a wadded up piece of paper.
After determining the problem was the lack of a magic word, he suggested “halfabanana” would be an appropriate word and pulled out a giant foot-long banana. Somehow the banana did the trick and the wad of paper transformed into a paper hat.
Next, he asked for “somebody who’s very patient … because this is a new trick.” Curiously, numerous kids consider themselves to be patient. After adorning one boy with a hat and glasses he drew a bevy of giggles by pretending to make a handkerchief vanish by placing it on the hat brim. He went on to explain what misdirection is before eventually making it disappear for good, through honest-to-goodness magic.
Randall explained that the name of the show was “Read Like a Superhero” and talked about how reading stimulates the imagination. To prove that, he pulled out his “imagination tester,” a sheet with different colored dots which, through “concentration” the kids were able to make “move” every time Randall folded and re-folded the sheet.
Next, Randall pulled out a sassy cow puppet named Chloe who denied her name was Chloe, claimed to be invisible, and demanded that she be called Supercow.
She went on to prove she was invisible by asking how many fingers she was holding up, only to tell Randall that he gave the wrong answer because she doesn’t have fingers. Next, she proclaimed that she could jump over the “moooooon.” A boy named Dillon giggled, “He said MOOOOON like a cow moo.”
Dillon, it seems, is particularly perceptive as he then turned to the reporter and told her she was dressed like a superhero. After informing the youngster that she is indeed a superhero by night and reporter by day, our fearless reporter was informed, “You should dye your hair red.” Apparently, it would complete the Black Widow look. (Incidentally, Black Widow is a villain and not a superhero, but I’ll choose to take it as a compliment anyway.)
After requesting help from another brave young woman, Randall pretended to break eggs on the youngster’s head before finally turning the egg into candy.
As it approached lunchtime, Randall moved on to a series of tricks involving peanut butter and jelly by pulling out a joke-telling book named Larry. The book asked, “Do you know how to catch a squirrel?”
Run up a tree and act like a nut.
Panther PAK is a six-week camp for kids ages 5 to 11. Erika Brown, the camp’s director, said that it’s been going on for seven or eight years and includes free lunch and breakfast with the $150 attendance fee. The camp is funded through grants as well as contributions from the Town of Van Etten, the Town of Spencer, and the Village of Spencer.