, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

PhotobucketThis article is not about choosing audience volunteers. That is altogether another topic that I had written about before.  You can read it here: Choosing a Volunteer from the Audience.

This post is about bringing volunteers up on stage in front of a crowd. It assumes you already profiled your audience and pre-selected someone to help in a routine.

PhotobucketThe crux of the matter is how to invite them to come with you to the stage with less fuss and hassle.  If the candidate hesitates to help, or if much tugging and pulling ensues before he or she accepts your invitation, then the spectacle of the two of you engaged in a little drama of hard-to-get negotiation will unlikely be entertaining to the rest of the spectators.

Here are a few methods I use to bring audience members to the stage.  Follow them at your own risk.  These methods don’t work all the time.  No method influencing the free will of human beings works perfectly all the time. Remember that.

Also, these methods work well for grown-up members of the audience.  As I said before, enlisting children volunteers is hardly a problem.  They all want to volunteer. When reading the following tips, keep in mind, “Suitable for Grown-ups.”

They are for grown-ups. I design these methods for them.

The Simplex method.  A simple request works for most audience members under normal performing conditions.  Someone laughing, clapping his hands or showing signs he is enjoying the show will probably jump to his feet and go to the stage with you with just a simple, “Would you be so kind to help in the next presentation?”

The Applause method. Encourage the candidate to come up on stage by asking the rest of the audience to applaud him or her.  Say, “Let’s give this young woman a nice round of applause as she joins me on stage…”

PhotobucketThe Dangle a Prize method. Entice the audience to help in the show by offering a prize, say, a house-and-lot or a brand-new BMW. If you have a rich sponsor to give the prizes, finding audience volunteers will not be a problem.

Of course, in the real world, the prizes available will be modest.  It may be only a free movie pass or a prepaid phone load or a toy or assorted doodads.

In most cases, it doesn’t matter what the prizes are.  A prize or giveaway for audience volunteers always softens the hearts of spectators enough for them to participate in the show.

The Ask Friends method. If the candidate hesitates to accept your invitation, get help from his/her friends.  This technique works for a spectator who comes to the show in a group.  Say, for example, “I need a woman of virtue to help me in my next trick.” Look around and address her friends, “Guys, don’t you agree she is a woman of virtue?” In most instances, her friends will cheer and egg her to take part in the show.

PhotobucketThe Throw an Object method. Toss a balloon, ball or sponge item to the audience to select a volunteer. Tell them whoever catches the object comes up to the stage to help.

This method has a high percentage of success.  Someone who doesn’t want to volunteer will toss the object to the next person until it gets to someone willing to help in the show.

The downside is, you will get a volunteer you have not pre-qualified.  That means, you may get to invite the worst kind of helper—a heckler, hyper active, non-reactive, giggler, moron who can’t follow instructions, Civil Service flunker to help in a book test, and many other characters you don’t want to be on stage with you.

The Gag method.  I have less success with women volunteers.  Most hesitate to go up the stage to help.  I break down their reluctance by making them laugh first.  I perform on them some gags like the “No” gag or the “Baby” gag while they are seated in their chairs.  After the punch line, when I see them laugh and their resistance melt, I invite them up to the stage easily.  My success rate rises tremendously when lady volunteers are laughing when I offer them invitation to assist.

PhotobucketThe Con method. This is a complete con.  I’ve seen a couple of magicians use this, but for the life of me, I can’t remember who exactly they were.

This is how it works.  Before you even need a volunteer, you pass an object, say, a rope to an audience member.  Ask him if to examine it.  Once he is satisfied it’s just an ordinary rope, tell him to put it in his pocket.

Go on with your show, and forget about the rope.  When time comes to get an audience volunteer, you announce, “I need a piece of rope for my next trick.  Does anybody have a rope in his pocket?”

Of course, the person you gave the rope to earlier will raise his hand.  “Oh, what a coincidence.  Please bring it here on the stage!”

This is a clever gambit. And funny, too.  But I have not yet road-tested it.  I’m mentioning it here only because you may find it useful one of these days. I can see in my mind that I can make it work.  I know you can, too.  You don’t need a piece of rope for this con game.  Other objects are also possible.  Moreover, you can twist the con to suit your personal style.

Stay magical,