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Topic: Proper/improper use of assistants
Message: Posted by: sethb (Jul 19, 2005 10:08AM)
I have just watched another so-called “professional” magician perform an effect that involved bringing a volunteer up on stage – and then embarrassing the volunteer by asking her to do things that couldn’t be done (such as trying to unlink two linked Chinese Rings, and so on). The magician also used a number of “snappy” comments that were supposed to be humorous, but were funny only at the expense of the volunteer, by making her look slow or stupid.

When you ask for a volunteer, unless you are Don Rickles, that person assumes that they are being asked to help out, and that they will not be taken advantage of or be made the butt of a joke. The main purpose of volunteers is to ENHANCE the magic by having them inspect and/or hold the equipment, or otherwise participate in the trick.

By taking advantage of a volunteer, you may get a few cheap temporary laughs. But you also run the very real risk of alienating the rest of the audience –- not a good situation. In my humble opinion, embarrassing or making fun of a volunteer is not funny. With VERY few exceptions, I also think it is also extremely unprofessional. Unfortunately, it appears to be a magic “tradition” of sorts, and therefore seems to be generally accepted among magicians as being appropriate, especially if the assistant is a young child. But common sense should tell you otherwise.

If you really want to generate some honest belly laughs, then turn these embarrassing situations on yourself, make yourself the butt of the joke, in the same way that Johnny Thompson (The Great Tomsoni) has done. If you can’t be funny without embarrassing someone else, then perhaps comedy magic isn’t for you. SETH
Message: Posted by: Lee Darrow (Jul 19, 2005 10:42PM)
One of the greatest and highest paid comedians of all time did exactly that - he turned almost every joke, gag and bit on himself. he had an enormously long run in vaudeville, radio and on TV.

His name?

Jack Benny.

There was another guy who did much the same thing... what was his name...? Oh yeah! Bob Hope!

Do I need to say more?

You hit the nail right on the thumb, Seth. Bravo!

Lee Darrow, C.H.
Message: Posted by: Bob Sanders (Aug 25, 2005 07:13PM)
Audiences and volunteers talk. Embarrassed audiences get even!

Magic By Sander
Message: Posted by: asper (Sep 16, 2005 09:09AM)
The Golden Rule is always golden. Just follow it and you won't run into any of these problems.
Message: Posted by: Alewishus (Sep 16, 2005 10:08AM)
Does the Golden rule apply to masochists?
I'm not trying to be funny, but it would be pretty neat if you had a sure fire way to pick these people as assistants, and could then treat them badly as you wanted without any guilt.
A surefire laugh generator is an animal act, small animals, where the animals are dressed in human clothing!

Message: Posted by: Alewishus (Sep 17, 2005 09:01AM)
I guess it doesn't make sense to say 'human clothing', does it?
You get the picture though - a small dog with a suit and hat! hahaha!
What I don't like is when some one dresses up monkeys; to me that's simply offensive! I saw an ape once that smoked cigars - I was nearly sick to my stomache!

Message: Posted by: JohnWolf (Oct 11, 2006 01:05PM)
When I used Assistants from the audience I always threat them with respect. Try instead of the sucker gags using them in reverse. It is great fun when the assistant does a better effect then the Magician. And it makes for a light humor when they can't explain how they did the trick.
Message: Posted by: fredmoore (Oct 22, 2006 03:41PM)
There are so many people that do treat their audience assistants poorly, and a handful that get away with it.

A street-performer by the name of The Butterflyman, is down-right mean to his audience and they love him for it!

If you have the right personality and demeanor you CAN get away with it. The only problem is that MOST magicians are just going for the easy laugh. And it's always easier to insult someone else, then to actually sit down and write a funny routine!

This is probably why magic as a profession is not that well respected.

Just my 2 cents!
Message: Posted by: Lyndel (Oct 23, 2006 06:37AM)
...And with such a "macho" name like "Butterflyman" who's going to challenge this guy on the street?

Message: Posted by: fredmoore (Oct 24, 2006 11:08AM)
The funny thing about it, Robert (aka Butterflyman) is the nicest guy in the world when he's "off".

Go figure!
Message: Posted by: Bill Nuvo (Oct 27, 2006 08:54AM)
Hey Fred, have you been up here at the Windsor Buskerfest (across from Detroit)?

Butterflyman is a nice guy (even when you have issues with him)! He is actually an upstanding guy.
Message: Posted by: ibm_usa (Jun 22, 2007 10:31PM)
On 2006-10-23 07:37, Lyndel wrote:

...And with such a "macho" name like "Butterflyman" who's going to challenge this guy on the street?


Let me guess..........
Nobody would waste a single punch on someone with a name like that nor a attitude like that. people like that aren't even worth walking by.
Message: Posted by: Butterfly Man (Aug 16, 2007 02:35AM)
Well, let's see ... I've never been punched because of my name (either Robert Nelson or Butterfly Man)... however, it is true my attitude has gotten me into some trouble in the past (specifically at a bar in Brisbane in '88)...I do take umbrage sir with your belief that I'm not worth walking by ... I am so ... in my 30 some odd years as a street performer lots of people have walked by me ... lots.

I wonder how many have walked by you?