I started playing with kid’s names some years ago.
I don’t think a lot of people do this because they are afraid of making fun of the kids. The thing is, it’s as polar opposite as you can get. The more I make the kids names into something else, the more they want me to do it. Without exception “...do my name, do my name”
It does take practice, you have to develop the ability, you can get stuck off guard unable to come up with a funny alternate name.
I met girl named Daniella today. I called her vanilla. Once you do this you can go in any direction you want. “no Daniella” “oh, Donatello” No...Daniella” “Oh denial, you should go to rehab” Whatever, it’s all silly, you can go in any direction. And it’s so fast, you don’t offend anyone.
I do this with kids on stage, I do it doing strolling entertainment, I do it at birthday party shows. It’s an incredibly strong warm up. The kid’s can get to know your personality and they get comfortable with you in a matter of seconds.
I used to be afraid that Daniella would be called Vanilla for the rest of her life. I doesn’t really happen. Kids forget very quickly, it’s a throw away joke. If I did this with 12 year olds, this would probably happen.
If you want to take it to a higher level, you can use the name as a call back. A call back is a comedy reference to something earlier in your show. I can say that I arrived by bicycle to the show, when I do my balloons for the kids, I can say, I left my pump with my bicycle. If I can remember a name the kids howled at, when I choose a volunteer and I say, sure...Vanilla come up and help. The call back is a comedy device that works like an extra punchline.
Biggest laugh of the night.
The tough part is remembering the funny name. Often I’m just moving on to the next name throwing names out as fast as I can think of them.
Often I get a name that where I can’t think of anything funny. I can cover myself and say “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear your name Daniella” They say Daniella. “say it again Daniella” this gives me a chance to actually think about things that rhyme. If I can’t think of anything, it’s a personal interaction. I can come back in a minute if something pops into my head or just move on.
Mike...Bike? you’re a bicycle? Patricia...Tissue paper? Rohan...row row row your boat? (there is a large Indian population near me. Rohan is a very popular boy’s name).
Kid’s love wordplay. Think Dr. Seuss. this is another way to incorporate rhymes within your show.