When a children’s entertainer crossed the line


Since writing this post I have been in contact with the entertainer in question, and my sons’ nursery.

Firstly the entertainer has apologised for any offence he may have caused.  He apologised for upsetting Toby and assured me it was in no way intentional and I have accepted this apology.

He has also assured me that he is no way racist and as such I have removed references to racism from the post, although I still don’t agree that making a joke of someone’s accent or where they come from is acceptable. 

However, the entertainer explained to me that he has a very successful business, he has been doing the same act for 20 years and has never had any complaints previously. He told me that although he had listened to my concerns he does not believe there is an issue and will not be changing his act. He sees his job as being to entertain the parents as well as the children and because the comments that I found unacceptable go over the children’s heads then there is no issue with making them.

I have also spoken to the manager at Toby’s nursery. Apparently they have been using this entertainer for years and will continue to do so. They have consulted some of the other parents who were at the party and none of them had any issue with the material used on the day.

Clearly, I am not entirely happy with the outcome here. Although I have received an apology which I have accepted, I am disappointed that neither the entertainer, nor the nursery feel that my concerns are valid. However, I have decided that it isn’t really in anyone’s interests for me to pursue this matter any further. I will just be making sure I avoid this particular entertainer in future. I will also now be closing comments on this post as I don’t think there is really any more to be said. Thank you to everyone who has commented and shown me support .

Today was Toby’s nursery leavers’ party, even though he’s not actually leaving until the end of the summer. I expected party games and a few sandwiches. What we got was something entirely different.

We arrived a few minutes after the party had started and the children’s entertainer was already in full swing. As the kids arrived he made an effort to find out their names and used them throughout the party. He made balloon animals, span plates and got them all dancing. That was all great. What wasn’t so great was how, from the minute they arrived, he made jokes at their expense to get cheap laughs from the adults.

The entertainer in question came from a company in Blackpool (and I think I’ve come across someone else from the same agency at a christening/ birthday party that we went to a few months ago – I can’t be 100% certain but they definitely seemed to be following the same script). Now I know Blackpool is renowned for its end of the pier shows with ‘a bit of blue for the dads’ as Peter Kay put it. It may be the spiritual home of Roy ‘Chubby’ Brown, but that doesn’t mean I expect innuendo, comments mocking someone’s accent, or unashamed sexism when I go to a party for four year olds.

When a children's entertainer crossed the line


It was like this guy was a wannabe stand up who was trying to his best to get laughs from the parents, and if the kids were entertained as a side effect then that would do too. Now, I don’t know if I’m being unreasonable here but at a kid’s party then I expect the entertainer to entertain the kids. I couldn’t care less if I’m entertained, that’s not why we’re there.

And so when the entertainer is mocking kids for their clothes or their hair, when he is asking them to do things that they don’t understand to get a laugh from the parents then I’m not really impressed.

A few examples for you –

A few minutes after we arrived he said ‘Toby, in a minute we’re all going to put a few quid in a hat then cut your hair for charity’. Toby just turned four this week, he believes what adults say and was genuinely horrified.

He asked the kids to come up and tell a joke, but then would keep interrupting and not let them speak, when they were nervous and just trying their best.

He got some of the boys and girls to ‘dance’ together, he told them to cuddle, he told the boys (Toby included) to kiss the girl then said ‘ooh, not on the lips, that’s dirty, you don’t know what you might catch’. I mean seriously, to a four year old?! I’m not sure how comfortable I am with my son being told to kiss a girl in the first place but what sort of message does that comment send.

One of the girls was lifting her dress up a bit, as little girls do when they’re wearing party dresses. He said ‘put your dress down, that’s dirty.’ Pause for effect. ‘Just like your mother’.

I just, I have no words.

He told one of the boys he liked his t-shirt. It was one of those with the sequins that change to a different picture when you brush them the other way. Which is fine. But then he added ‘I saw a girl with a dress like that the other day. She was 22. It was a bad night. Less said about that the better. The hangover.’

Just what? How is that funny? Or relevant? Or in any way appropriate?

Then there was the sexism…

He asked one of the girls what she would like to be when she grew up. His suggestions? A teacher, a nurse, a princess, someone who looks after animals – not even a vet FFS! When he asked a boy his suggestions were a fireman, a policeman or Spiderman.

I mean, I know this might not be important in the grand scheme of things but how can we challenge everyday sexism when this is the sort of crap they are faced with?

And of course he said he would make balloon flowers for the girls and swords for the boys. (Although I was pleased to see at the end that most of the girls had asked for swords anyway!)

Oh, and there was the moment he put a balloon sword between his legs, looked at it suggestively then said ‘oops, better not put that there’.

It gets worse though, for me at least. As part of his balloon modelling act he made a balloon dog. Pretty standard stuff. Then he started, very seriously, telling a story about a little boy who got bitten by a dog, who had to go to hospital to get checked out and then he started barking and shoving the dog into the kids’ faces. And my son, you remember the one who just turned four and believes what adults say? Well he is also terrified of dogs. I saw him trying to back away but I couldn’t see his face, and I couldn’t get to him, until he turned round to me with tears streaming down his face and came over and clung to me. It took me taking him outside for 10 minutes to get him to calm down. And I know it was just a balloon dog, but if that guy had been paying the slightest bit of attention to his audience, his actual audience of children then I’m pretty sure he would have seen the distress on Toby’s face before it turned into a full on meltdown.

But perhaps he just didn’t care. When one of the other boys was crying at the end of the party because he wanted a balloon octopus like the one he had made Toby (I’m guessing by way of apology), he told him to ‘man up’.

Then there was mocking a parent because of her accent. One of the mums sent her elder son to his brother to tell him to take his fingers out of his mouth. The entertainer noticed and asked her what she had told him. She answered with a strong Irish accent. His response ‘sorry? Is there anyone here who can translate? To be sure.’ And it got a laugh.

But if that had been a black or Asian mum with a strong accent would it still have been seen as acceptable?

I don’t know if I’m overreacting about all this. I mean none of the other parents seemed bothered, they were certainly giving this guy the laughs he was craving. The nursery staff didn’t seem concerned either. I’m guessing they’ve used this entertainment company before and probably will again.

It takes a lot to offend me. But today I was offended. Everyone has their own line of acceptability and today that line was crossed for me.

I don’t know what to do next – what would you do? Should I complain to the entertainment company? Should I let nursery know what I thought? Or should I just rant about it on the internet and leave it there?

I’d love to hear your thoughts – tell me if you’d be offended too or am I just taking life too seriously?

26 thoughts on “When a children’s entertainer crossed the line

  1. Oh wow that is crazy, he sounds like a complete weirdo. So so inappropriate and its the kind of behaviour you just don’t expect at a little kids party, what’s wrong with him? It’s not even the kind of entertainment that would be appropriate at an adults party. It’s just all sorts of wrong!

  2. Whoa, that all sounds truly awful!! I’m shocked that none of the other parents are staff seemed to be concerned… Was their laughter maybe nervous laughter, as they were taken aback by it, do you think?

    I would certainly ask to speak to the nursery manager and explain how inappropriate you found it. They should take it seriously. If they don’t, contact the owner of the nursery. I’d also contact the entertainment company too. You’re not overreacting, there was so much that was totally inappropriate in what you have written about it. I’m so sorry that it was such a horrid experience for you and Toby!

  3. Oh my gosh. I would totally be making a formal complaint. There’s the jokes in TV shows that go over the children’s heads and then there’s stuff like that – stuff they’re being smacked around the face with. I would have been so angry!! x

  4. Im not sure what I’d do to be honest but I would definitely have felt like you do about each and every thing he said or did. All unacceptable and poor Toby and the other kids. I’d be avoiding nursery parties if Gabe goes there too!

  5. Oh wow, definitely mention it to the nursery and complain to the company. What you have described is unacceptable. Maybe it would have been in the 70s and 80s when I was growing up, but we’re a lot more enlightened today and this is just wrong.

  6. If that was my girls nursery I’d be on the phone to Ofsted. If the nursery think that is appropriate what do the staff say/do when the parents aren’t around? If that was my nursery he’d been told to leave immediately and Id be complaining!

  7. Oh my god! You’re definitely not overreacting! Can you complain to the company? That’s appalling for a supposedly kids entertainer. I’m appalled.

  8. I’d agree with you. I usually let things lie but for a child’s entertainer he sounds very inappropriate. Tv I don’t find much of that kind of stuff amusing as an adult. I would say something to the nursery and also complain to the company. The innuendo is unneeded and cringe worthy, and the accent thing isnt reasonable.

  9. I think that I’ve been to a party that thus guy did! I was also totally appalled and ended up taking my child away from him and sat at the back entertaining him myself,So that he didn’t miss out in the activities after this ‘entertainer’ had finished.
    He made rude comments about children’s clothes. He actually called a child stupid! He made a remark about my child’s shyness amd I spoke to him at the end and told him not to speak to my child like that again. I would seriously reconsider taking my son anywhere that this guy (or comoany) appear again

  10. I know how you feel, not wanting to be a ‘precious mum’ but take it from someone who is also not easily offended and up for a giggle, that is all wrong and definitely out of order. I’d be sending the company this blog post and the nursery too. Sorry something supposed to be so fun turned out so upsetting for you both.

  11. I think you should say something to nursery and the company, the whole thing sounds horrendous but from a safeguarding perspective an adult telling young kids to behave like adults kissing and dancing is an easy opener for child abuse. Horrendous I know but imagine he can then say things like it’s alright remember you did it onstage. Obviously he’ll probably never see these kids again but that may not always be the case

  12. What the hell?! I would of said something to him there and then as soon as I felt uncomfortable. I know that’s easier said than done. Definitely complain to the nursery. They need to make sure they don’t use the same company again x

  13. I’m not easily offended, but I do think context is important and this guy (besides not being creative or even funny with his jokes) was all wrong. I’d be complaining to the company and letting the nursery know how disappointed I was with their choice.

  14. I’ve been to a party with this particular entertainer, and it sounds like he does the same act wherever he goes because it’s identical to the party i attended about 12 months ago. I noticed that he also does entertainment for grown up parties and I honestly think that’s where he belongs. His jokes are inappropriate for young children and my son was absolutely petrified of him. Some of the children were given balloons he’d made at the party and others didn’t get anything, when these children were understandably upset he wouldn’t hear any of it, his attitude was very much ‘man up’. I hired another entertainer from his company who was absolutely amazing and came with a bag of balloon models already made up and there was enough for everyone. I don’t know if it’s worth complaining to him, it’s his company and I feel that maybe you wouldn’t get much from him. But also maybe it’s worth just venting and then you’ve said it.

  15. Make formal complaint in writing to nursery. I’d be more upset that nursery found it acceptable. I would also complain direct to company this “entertainer” was from. Disgraceful

  16. Obviously reading this you’d show the same response as everyone has but when you’re actually there it isn’t like he’s a wierdo or anything. Some of the things yeah, like upsetting the kids with the dog, not considerate and the adult comment about the night out a bit too much (although nothing crude was said that kids would understand) but it was of course aimed at the adults. Some have come to me after seeing this saying They’re sick of people complaining on the internet (it’s been made very clear who this is just describing the way they work) FIRST instead of going directly to a company. As common sense would say to me, if you were that concerned for children you would be proactive, contact the company concerned and air your concerns for children’s sakes. And before anyone suggests, I’m not with this company I have just attended a lot of parties with various entertainers from this company. It’s like making a crap comment on any service you’ve received when you could just speak to the business first and maybe you’d get a justified explaination. Therefore your rant would damage someone’s livelihood uncalled for. Everyone feels safe and enjoys these parties albeit this entertainer may have gone a bit too far on this occasion. I’ll leave my comment to be attacked to no end now I’m sure.

    1. I’m not going to ‘attack’ you as I think you’re entitled to your opinion (as is Sarah), but I disagree that it’s obvious that the entertainer has been identified. I have no idea which company this post is talking about, and no photos of him have been posted. The people who have commented above, that have recognised him, have recognised him because they felt the same way that Sarah did, so I doubt they’d be hiring him in future anyway.

  17. I always think if your instinct tells you that it’s wrong, then it’s wrong. I’m pleased to read in the comments above that you’ve made a complaint. I would at least be speaking to the nursery to make sure that they weren’t planning to hire him again.

  18. Most definitely inappropriate, unentertaining and quite unpleasant. You most definitely should let the nursery know how you feel.

  19. Absolutely appalling! Glad to see on FB that you have complained. There is now way any of that is acceptable, or in any way ‘entertainment’!

  20. Oh my gosh, this is so inappropriate. I’ve been to many parties with kid’s entertainers and they’ve all been amazing. Lovely with the kids and so good at including everyone and making sure all the children are happy. This man obviously doesn’t have a clue. I would be horrified if any adult said any of those things to my daughter. But especially when they’ve been hired by the nursery to entertain a group of young children. Disgusting. I’m glad you’ve complained. I hope you hear from them soon. Hugs Lucy xxxx

  21. Wow, that sounds totally unacceptable. It takes a lot to offend me but anything like that around kids is totally unacceptable. I’d complain everywhere I could and ensure any local parenting groups were aware.

  22. I live down south but Ive been to a kids party with an entertainer doing identical jokes to this. I certainly raised my eyebrows and wondered if I was the only one who thought it was out of place but none of the other mums seemed to show any concern so I assumed it was just me being too pc or something.
    I think these sorts of entertainers have probably been around a long time and haven’t updated their acts since the 80s when these things were acceptable but it’s no excuse – I certainly would make your concerns known to the nursery

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