Manuel Malabit Jr. (aka Mad Hatter Party Host), 38, Filipino, has been a professional party host since 1995. Originally a trained dancer, this father of four arrived in Dubai 11 years ago and works as events manager and party host for Favourite Things, performing as the Mad Hatter Party Host, among other characters.
Mad Hatter Party Host As party host for Favourite Things, Manuel does everything from 30-minute performances to hosting a three-hour party. Favourite Things (04 434 1984)
Abul Rashid (aka Bozo), 33, Pakistani, was brought up in Dubai. Beginning as a part-time clown straight from school when he was just 18 (now one of Dubai’s longest-serving clowns) Rashid trained on the job and has been clowning ever since. He currently works for Flying Elephant, performing some six to seven parties a week.
Bozo Clown Working with Flying Elephant, hire Bozo for a 25-min routine (kids aged 3-8 years), or for interactive games’ parties for kids aged eight plus. Flying Elephant (04 347 9170)
Originally a professional musician, Amanda Ebersohn (aka Manda), 45, hails from Wales, UK, and has been in Dubai for 15 years. A freelance magician, this mum of two does magic shows for kids’ parties, as well as public performances, and will soon be taking her shows into schools for educational lessons on recycling and road safety.
Manda’s Magic Show Amanda offers 35-45-minute shows for kids’ parties and educational performances for schools. Amanda (050 456 0413 or email@example.com)
Describe your party character?
Manuel: The Mad Hatter Party Host is totally ‘mad’ but also extremely likeable and highly animated. He dances, sings, plays games and has some magic tricks up his sleeves too.
Rashid: Bozo is funny, funny, funny. He loves kids and amuses the adults sometimes too.
Amanda: Manda is an extension of me – my inner child perhaps. I really do love being silly.
How long does it take you to get ready?
Manuel: Around 30-45 minutes, it’s exhausting. But dressing helps me get into character. I wear the authentic Mad Hatter wacky costume: the make-up, red hair etc.
Rashid: Only 10-15 minutes, but that’s down to my lovely wife. Every morning she irons my costume. I have five favourites but love my clown jumper suit with huge pockets.
Amanda: Around an hour. My costumes are created by a US cheerleading company – no batons, pompoms or short skirts in sight!
What skills do you need for this job?
Manuel: Balloon sculpting, magic tricks, patience, energy. Oh, and a big smile!
Amanda: Yes, you need tons of energy and decent muscles to carry all the gear.
Rashid: You need to be naturally funny and confident. You also need to love kids!
Amanda: The most important thing is that you enjoy working with kids, and if you don’t, it shows. You need a sense of the ridiculous.
What attracted you to this line of work?
Rashid: I love seeing kids smile and laugh. Who wouldn’t want to attend birthday parties every day?
Manuel: Exactly! This work keep me young… forever young. I don’t want to get old!
Amanda: I’ve always been on stage – I starred in a soap opera in the UK and then became a professional musician – inevitable, I guess.
What makes you good at what you do?
Rashid: I’m a really confident chap and I enjoy what I do. Enjoying it is half the battle.
Amanda: I’m a kid at heart and know what makes kids tick and what cracks them up. Being a kid yourself helps.
Manuel: My energy! I’m animated, high octane and can keep going 24/7.
Was this your career choice growing up?
Manuel: No! It was totally by chance. I’d probably be an accountant. Yes, seriously!
Amanda: I’d be a barrister, don’t laugh. I’m a greater believe in justice.
Rashid: I’ve always wanted to be a fireman. But now I’ve done clownmanship, I love it!
What’s your best party trick?
Amanda: Tricks? A while back in Dubai, the British adult magician Phil Fenton told me that if anyone uses the word ‘tricks’, you should explain that ‘puppies do tricks and we perform magic’. He’s a big guy and you wouldn’t argue!
Rashid: [laughs] Well, all my tricks are great – I do magic, juggling, mime, unicycling, puppetry and fire tricks. The ultimate are my bubble tricks – get this, I put kids inside bubbles! And adults sometimes – they love it!
Manuel: My list is impressive too. I can craft snail and caterpillar balloons, and make coins disappear and flowers appear. My top trick is the ‘floating table’. Yes, I make a table float!
Amanda: Well, I’ve got lots of exciting stuff coming that nobody here will have ever seen. I always go that extra mile. Who else would catch a flight, drive through a snow storm, then hop back on a plane, just to bring back a talking rabbit? I rest my case…
Rashid: I’ve got exciting stuff coming too: contact juggling with glass crystal balls. It’s mesmerising.
So, what’s in your props cupboard?
Amanda: My house is my props cupboard. I’ve taken over one of my children’s bedrooms. It’s a shrine to all things ‘magical’: shower caps, six-foot wands, oversized nappies...
Manuel: My secret ‘magician’s props’.
Rashid: Balloons, balls and bubbles.
What gets the best laugh?
Manuel: Cool dance moves are popular with kids today – the funkier the moves, the better.
Rashid: My balloon tricks. I conjure up flowers, hearts, parrots and motorbikes.
Amanda: My magic wand, which comes to life on its own, ignoring my instructions. Kids laugh most when it appears things are going wrong! Don’t you just love ‘em?
Have you ever made a child cry?
Manuel: I won’t lie, yes. I blame the make-up!
Rashid: Yes. Some kids are afraid of clowns – it’s the wigs that freak them out – that’s why I wear a hat. My own baby isn’t scared of me – thankfully!
Amanda: I can’t believe you asked that! They only ever cry tears of laughter at my shows.
On a happier note, what’s the best thing a child’s ever said to you?
Manuel: ‘Come back and play tomorrow!’
Amanda: Yes, it’s such an amazing feeling when a child does that! Or when a party guest asks, ‘will you come to my party please?’ I reply, ‘I will, if your mummy asks me.’
Rashid: A child I’d previously entertained was ill and his parents asked him what he wanted to feel better. He said ‘Bozo’.
Amanda: Aaaahhhh…. A little girl told me my show was ‘magical’. Bless!
What do your family think of your job?
Rashid: Well, my grandma had a shock when she found out I was a clown! My family have serious jobs like banking.
Manuel: Mine think I’m nuts! But I also hope they’re proud of my achievements. It’s something to make a child laugh!
What’s the most challenging part of your job?
Amanda: Telling someone that I can’t come to their party because I’m already booked. And outdoor shows when it’s really, really hot!
Rashid: Keeping up-to-date with new skills. For 2011, I’m planning a workshop to teach kids circus skills.
Manuel: Multi-tasking (they say it’s harder for a man!) I have to ensure everything runs smoothly and the parents are relaxed.
Do you ever get stage fright?
Manuel: Sometimes, especially trying out new routines. It comes with the territory.
Amanda: I’m the queen of nerves well disguised. I feel a tingle before every performance. But the day I don’t feel that, I’ll know it’s time to quit.
Any party horror stories?
Amanda: Stuff does go wrong, but you have to just get on it. Kids usually don’t notice or won’t care. Adults? They go for the jugular!
Rashid: Like Amanda says, there are always little glitches. The trick is to deal with it and find an immediate solution!
Manuel: Once an outsourced magician didn’t show up. So I slipped on my hat and did the job. As they say in our business, ‘The show must go on…’