Selsey children’s entertainer shares the secret to his success
Vicky Meets... children’s entertainer Nolan Davis
How did you begin your career?
I started as a London nightclub DJ over 40 years ago and during the early days I got offered a job in a department store to do two half-hour slots as a kid’s entertainer. I knew nothing about entertaining children, but the money was good so I had a go. I planned the first session and it died a death. In the next session I made it up as I went along. I’m still doing that now! I was then taken on by a big holiday company and did ten years for them before going on the road.
How do you hold the attention of a very young audience?
It’s lovely working with children because they are unpredictable, which keeps me on my toes. If they don’t like what you’re doing they will just walk off, so you have the first two minutes to prove yourself. If can hold them for those two minutes they will stay with you. You need to be able to improvise and be ready to diversify and change quickly if something isn’t working. Whether you are performing for three or 500 children you have to do the same show – the holiday company shows were the backbone of that teaching for me. Nowadays kids don’t want to watch a show; they want to be part of it. I was ahead of my time really – I’ve been doing that since I started out.
What are your stand-out memories of past shows?
I was proud to do some welcome home parties for the Afghanistan soldiers. Also a final birthday party for a seven-year-old who wouldn’t make eight. It was a privilege to give his family a happy memory.
What and who inspires you?
I have a huge passion for what I do. One of my lines in the show is: “this is better than working” and it’s really true. I work quite a bit with children with special needs and I love that. Nick Clark [fellow entertainer and friend] has given me great support in this area. He’s a really good act and the nicest person I have ever met in the trade.
What do kids love best and what are the challenges of your job?
Children absolutely love my routine with a Kinder egg and some balloons. It’s very slapstick. A mixed age group is more challenging, but it’s good for me as a performer. I need to be taken out of my comfort zone sometimes.
How do you relax?
I’ve lived in Selsey for 25 years. After ten years of travelling down to Bunn Leisure I decided to move here. It’s a lovely place to live and I do like a wander on the beach in fine weather. Otherwise relaxation is live music, a good curry and family time. Children keep you young. I had my son Dean at a time when most of my mates were playing golf and reading the paper.
• For further information visit www.nolandavis.co.uk