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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Now that’s funny! » » Picking or pre picking audience help (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Mark McDermott
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Union Mills, IN
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Can any Café members voice their theories on picking or pre-picking audience help?


Thanks,

Mark
Lyndel
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wrote the theme to the TV show COPS!
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If possible, I like to watch the audience walk into the performance area. This helps you spot any persons who may have physical limitations and may not make for an appropriate "volunteer."

I also like to watch how they interact with the people they came to the show with and/or the people they are seated near.

Are they quite and introverted? Are they animated? Do they laugh a lot? Do they have an unusual laugh? Do they look bitter or angry about something?

By sizing up your audience prior to the start of the show, you are a step ahead in choosing a volunteer that will enhance your performance.


Lyndel
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Mark McDermott
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Union Mills, IN
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That is great! anyone else have ideas on this?


Mark
Danny The Idiot
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I have a different viewpoint;

Picking volunteers is all about confidence. Don't pick the right person, pick anyone. See if they will play, what's their body language, can you get them into a 'yes set'? Be clear with your body language, your instructions, be open and clear.

They always do a great job. Any mistakes its your fault.

Be clear what you want them to do.

Always thanks them.

Picking volunteers has nothing to do with theory, you have to do it.

I hope that helps

Danny
Danny Schlesinger

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magicgeorge
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I consider who I might choose, before the performance, and make them take blood samples in case they stand too close to me.
MichaelKent
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I use interaction in the first few minutes of the show to try to feel out who will be good for different things. My show calls for very specific types of people for different bits and judging by their reaction to some of the early stuff in the show, I can identify these people. My philosophy on this is, I believe, influenced by a Mac King interview I once read about the subject.

As far as setting up with people ahead of time, I set up one of the helpers in my show this way for a very specific reason, but I won't do the rest. Some people are not good actors and if they already know they're going to be onstage, their reactions to you and your magic won't be 100% genuine. Some people over-act and oversell the actions. Ever have an onstage volunteer that was TOO cooperative? The last thing I want is to make people think I've pre-picked my people because the onstage volunteer was too good.

Also, I feel like if the spectator hasn't been prompted as to whats going to happen, they're more willing to listen to directions and focus.
Mystical Matthew
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After reading Maximum Entertainment I decided to start pre picking everyone before the show even begins... I've had fairly good luck with this. I usually talk to the person ahead of time, tell them what they're in for, and occasionally how I want them to respond. I've found this has helped improve the performance because the "volunteer" no longer has the deer-in-the-headlights look during the entire act...

Different philosophies... I'm a control freak and quite honestly if I could use stooges for all my audience volunteers, I probably would do it.

On an interesting side note... I've seen The Blueman Group in Chicago several times now... Before the show they always have staff members mingling with the audience. They pass out survey cards, but I think that they also use this time to pick out audience members for the interactive bits of their show (Twinkie act, Jello act, Free Bird!, etc...).
Sealegs
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Pre show picking often isn't an option due to the nature of someones act, or the design of the venue or the circumstances at the time. If you come to rely on it there may/will come a time when it's not an option. Best to be prepared.

I think a good approach is to use the early part of your show to mentally select who'd fit the bill for whatever routine you have in mind.

Lyndel's point about looking out for signs of physical limitations is a good one. As with all aspects the choosing a volunteer their potential appropriateness comes down to making a judgement call so there's no hard and fast rules. I've had people help me out who have been on crutches, had mechanical arms, been blind etc...BUT I've only used these people if I've judged they can participate to the same degree as someone without these impairments AND only if don't see it as being detrimental to my performance. I other words I have to look out for both their sensibilities and mine.

As a general rule though we want people who are going to be half way between:
timid and ebullient, enthusiastically helpful and totally reticent and over-the-top-extrovert and near-catatonic-introvert.

One obvious thing to look out for to increase the odds of getting a great person is to pick people who are obviously enjoying and involved with the show but without making their enjoyment a personal statement or wearing it as a badge.

For picking women a good gauge for me was seeing someone laugh heartily but sort of half covering their mouth with their hand. They're having a good time but not overly demonstrative about it. They will likely be the type that will want to help you and make things come right but will have a vulnerability about them when on stage.

For men I'd look for Mr average. Average looks, average build, and dressed in an uninteresting average way. This is a reasonable guide that they will have an average middle of the road personality type. Helpful and willing to do what is asked of them without feeling that they need to give an alpha male display of trying to take control.

Although they will be conveniently placed you might want to carefully consider leaving out members of the 1st row as your 1st choice. Choosing to sit in the front row can be, especially in some venues, a statement or even challenge to the artists.

Of course it's a judgement call and if you do enough shows your judgement will at some point let you down. Then you have to use the various techniques of helper management' to make unresponsive 'helpers' more responsive and over excited 'helpers' more compliant.

Neal
Neal Austin

"The golden rule is that there are no golden rules." G.B. Shaw
Rupert Bair
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I like to pick people who don't look like they are enjoying the show, by bringing them up I can talk to them one on one and see where the problem is...usually they go back to there seats loving the show...
Sealegs
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Matt,
That's an interesting tack to take. I'm not sure that if someone isn't enjoying you that you're going to be able to talk them into liking what you're doing but if it works for you...great. It brings to mind something that happened on my 1st ever contract. I was working on a cruise ship with a stand up comic who used to go great every show. One night, with the crowd in stitches, he noticed there was an old lady sat in the front row not laughing. He went over to her to ask her why she wasn't laughing,... "I find you rude, and offensive and not in the slightest bit funny." she said.

Well he recovered well enough with a quip along the lines of, "Now come on don't be shy tell me what you really think", got a laugh and continued on with his act.

Unfortunately for him the head honchos of the company were watching the show and he had his 6 month contract cancelled that cruise on the grounds that his act wasn't suitable! and he used to kill every show! It may have just been terrible bad luck for the guy but I couldn't work out why he went out his way to invited the trouble in in the 1st place. Just food for thought.

Neal
Neal Austin

"The golden rule is that there are no golden rules." G.B. Shaw
fredmoore
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Picking audience members can be a crap-shoot at times, unless you prepared before hand. I work in the Outta Control Magic Show in Orlando and between myself and Tony Brent we average using 12 people in every show.

A great way to test an audience member before using them on-stage is to use them
for something that doesn't require them to be out of their seat. Maybe doing the
comedy predictions (baby gag, No gag), tossed out deck or just talking and joking with them. This will give you a feel for their personality.

I'm always looking out through the curtain before the show, picking who I might use in the show. It's always good to have a few options just in case they don't want to help.

Lyndel mentioned about checking for people who may have physical limitations. If you happen to not notice something and pick that person anyway, USE THEM! Nothing is worse (and I've seen it happen) then the Magician seeing that the person has a cane and saying "oh, sorry I can't use you". You may not be able to use them for that particular effect, but do something with them and save them some humiliation!

If you use teenagers or "tweens" I find it best NOT to anything that would make them look stupid (and shouldn't this be true for all our guests on-stage?)because they're at that age where they are really trying to look cool!

Just my 2 cents!
www.moorefred.com


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Lyndel
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wrote the theme to the TV show COPS!
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Fred is right on about using someone if you don't notice their physical limitations while they are still seated in the audience. But, you still need to be really cautious about picking someone with only one hand for your arm chopper routine. That would be really tacky!


Lyndel
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