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Mind Phantom

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Reply with quote  #1 
I am of the thinking that if a person doing a mental act and is having trouble finding participants , maybe that mentalist is coming on too thick. Or, maybe that performer is being aloof.

How do you get more people to help volunteer for your show ?

Any thoughts on this matter would be great..

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(a)ndy

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Reply with quote  #2 
Joshua Jay wrote an interesting article in September 2016 issue of Magic magazine titled What do Audiences Really Think?

A section of that article is a called Can I Get A Volunteer?

it is very interesting and well worth a read.
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Bmat

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Reply with quote  #3 
Don't ask.  Just point to somebody and say "You" and then have the audience clap and cheer until they get on the stage.  

There is a pretty big downfall though.  It happens pretty rarely but if you pick somebody like me you are wasting a lot of time.  I will never get up and assist.  You can point, bribe, get the audience on their feet.  You are not getting me on a stage.  Too many times I've seen volunteers humiliated by magicians.  From being shocked in a chair, to being forced to walk around with a toilet plunger on their heads to just plain old being made fun of, all under the guise of "Its a show we are just having fun"

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Nathan_himself

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Reply with quote  #4 
I think that the performer has to make his audience comfortable. I stole this line from Luke Jermay, but I think it is one of the best. "If you join me on stage, I will do nothing to hurt or embarrass you... unless it's really funny."

I think it is important to really make them trust you in the fact that being on stage will be a positive experience.


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EVILDAN

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Reply with quote  #5 
It helps if your audience likes you. If they like you, they'll help out and want you to succeed. 
If they don't like you, they'll volunteer to make you fail. 

So, it helps to start off with something easy. In the beginning of my Mind Myths show, I have someone help me where they stay seated in the audience. And then I have a few more people help out but they do it while I go to them in their seats. By the time I need someone to come onstage to help, they know that I'm not going to do anything to make them look stupid; so being part of the show, on stage, becomes an added bonus. 
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Waterman

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Reply with quote  #6 
I saw a mentalist many years ago. His style for getting volunteers began before the show started. He mingled with those of us in line waiting for the theater doors to open. During his conversations he was able to get a vibe from the folks who would be in his audience as well as ask them ahead of time if they would mind helping him out on stage if need be.
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Blathermist

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Reply with quote  #7 

Ref: Waterman:

On the surface a good idea, with one big drawback. Some people will remember and think: "Ah, he’s arranged things with them."

Stooge!!!!

I’ve seen pickpockets use this approach, with the same negative result.

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Blathermist

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Reply with quote  #8 

It’s not just mentalists. The "problem" is ever-present no matter what type of Magic is being dispensed.

Having offered a "solution," Bmat then graphically shows the folly of of "just pointing to somebody."

I never volunteer. Sat round a table, I will, if asked, select or think of a card, or name a number and suchlike. But standing up, leaving the cosy hideaway comfort of my viewing chair….forget it. Dreadful, I know, but there it is. And I’m not alone. It’s not because I’m afeared, I’m not. I’ve been too long around magicians not to be able to give as good as I get, but that’s not what the rest of the multitude want to see. A sparring battle. Being one of their number means I’d be the winner. Not good. Even though some performers do deserve a kick up the backside on a regular basis.  

 

It is important to "really make them trust you," as Nathan points out. But spectators have memories. This heavy reluctance to step forward casts a long shadow back to the days when volunteers were the butt of a thousand and one "You’re-An-Idiot-And-You’re-Here-To-Be-Laughed-At" non-jokes.

The so-called Luke Jermay line has been around for a long time, in various guises. David Nixon, the original and best UK TV magician always said something to the effect that " I promise I won’t embarrass you". He was such a nice chap, it was okay when he said it, but I think "embarrass" is a word to be avoided. The very thought of it sends shivers up the socks of all of us.

My own sometime variation is: "Would someone step forward and help me… to make a complete fool of myself".

It’s a tricky business. The throwing or handing out of a balloon or ping-pong ball is solid, assuming that somebody in the throng does want to help. Watching people pass the parcel, as it were, often provides a humorous interlude.

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Anthony Vinson

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Reply with quote  #9 
Nathan is right: Make them feel comfortable. That is key. But more than that, they must feel safe. Performers must understand that trust and respect are earned, not given. Before asking for volunteers, first take time to earn trust and respect. How? There are lots of ways and if you need to ask, then perhaps that might be a part of the problem. It's that simple. And that complicated.

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MagicBrian

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Reply with quote  #10 
If at all possible, talk to folks before the show and let them get to know you and vice versa. I walk around and talk to people--especially those sitting close to the stage--before the show and just chat them up. If they are fun and obviously there wanting to have a good time without being an idiot, I'll even ask "Would you be willing to help me tonight on stage if I need someone?". Their answers are usually yes because I'm trying to gauge them before asking. If someone seems too apprehensive about being in front of a crowd, I have several effects where the spectators stay in their respective seats while thinking of numbers or cards, and I will see if they'd like to do that. If they are obviously distant or aloof, we spend a pleasant few moments chatting and off I go, marking them off my mental list. I very, very seldom ever cold call someone while on stage because that's so hit-and-miss and the wrong person can really derail an effect.

During the show, I will get the folks on stage who were willing to help, and use the folks in their seats who wanted to be there...but I never say "I asked you before the show if you'd help and you said yes". To the audience, it looks spontaneous, and that's important.

Jeff McBride is a master of this. I saw him last year at the Winter Carnival of Magic. Before the big Friday night magic show, he was wandering around the audience blowing bubbles. Jeff would watch how they reacted, and the folks and kids who went after the bubbles without diving out of the seat into the aisle were usually quietly asked if they'd like to help with the show later. The rowdy kids just got to play with bubbles. Either way, Jeff was pre-picking his volunteers to later make it look spontaneous to the rest of the group. 


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Nathan_himself

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Reply with quote  #11 

Trust is a huge factor in performance. It's our responsibility as performers to play the role of a guide to their experience. If we want volunteers to come up on stage with us, we have to treat them with the utmost respect. Unfortunately, Blathermist is correct. Too many performers have made fools of their audience for a cheap joke.

 

I also believe that far too often performers present their act as a puzzle the audience should try to figure out. This adversarial approach to the art will cause unnecessary tension between the audience and the mentalist. Yes, people will always come to your show looking for a method, but not everyone. With this in mind, if performers viewed our art as co-creation between our audience and ourselves, we would be better off.  I personally use the line "This is just as much about you sending the thought as it is about me receiving the thought". 

 

To bounce off of Anthony, we have to take time to get them feel safe. If we do that, they will more than likely love to chance to create some magic with you. 


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Bmat

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Reply with quote  #12 
Another issue, and I think this may be true of mentalists more than magicians is that often mentalists use math.  Adding up columns etc, many of us, (me included) are terrified of math.  And if you previously performed such an effect they may be resistant to volunteer. 

And yes while I offered a solution and then showed why not to use it, I offered that solution based on your personality.  And I should have been clear.  Some people just get away with that.  Terry Seabrooke was one.  He would get you onstage (not me) and tell you to stand 'right there, nope a little forward, come on right over the trap door and under the heavy bag, yes, yes thats it.  Which would horrify me, but he did get my brother up on stage who is far worse than I, and my brother came back and said the entire time Terry was whispering in his ear making him feel more comfortable on a stage then he ever felt in his life.

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