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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Helping hands » » Proper care and feeding of a volunteer? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Inner circle
Yuma, AZ
2290 Posts

Profile of Ed_Millis
I confess I have been guilty of simply calling a person up to help with a trick, and when it's over simply saying "Thank you" and getting on with the show. Somehow this doesn't seem right.

I know there are bits of business used with kids. But in a more general aspect, how should you treat your volunteers? How do you make them feel glad they are there to be a part of the magic, and still be glad when they go back to their seat?

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Special user
Newark, CA
895 Posts

Profile of EsnRedshirt
I would thank them, acknowledge them to the audience, and let them take a bow. ("Let's have a hand for *Volunteer*!") Everyone appreciates their moment in the spotlight. Then let them go and return to their seat.

If they were particularly memorable, and you're quick on your feet, you can improvize a running joke involving their "performance" through the later parts of the show. Otherwise, not much else is needed- their friends should give them any additional attention they desire (hopefully after your show.)

Self-proclaimed Jack-of-all-trades and google expert*.

* = Take any advice from this person with a grain of salt.
Donal Chayce
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Inner circle
1770 Posts

Profile of Donal Chayce
Ken Weber covers this topic very well in "Maximum Entertainment," as does Pete McCabe in "Scripting Magic" and, if I recall correctly, Larry Hass in "Transformations." I strongly encourage you to read each of those books, if you've not done so already.
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Regular user
Dallas, TX
124 Posts

Profile of Dal
The best thing we can do to acknowledge our volunteers is to remember their names. I cringe when I see a magician ask someone their name and then 10 seconds later they have to ask for the name again because they have already forgotten it (or weren’t paying attention to the volunteer in the first place).

The best thing I ever saw at ANY lecture was at a Vito Lupo lecture in Dallas. Before getting started, Vito casually met everyone as they entered the room and introduced himself. When ShowTime came around, the lecture coordinator spent several minutes talking about what was scheduled for the coming months and then introduced Vito who did an 8 or 9 minute routine to music. It was almost 15 minutes into the program before Vito finally spoke. He started out by thanking his old friends whom he had known for years for arranging the lecture. The then began thanking his new friends for coming and he proceeded to recognize everyone in the room by name…and there were more than 60 people in the room. I decided right then that if Vito Lupo could remember that many people’s names for that long then I could remember a couple of assistant’s names for the few minutes that I have them on stage.

I asked Vito about it years later and he told me that it is something that he is still working on…he hates it when he forgets someone’s name.

Onetime when at a convention in Las Vegas, the corporation I was working for bought a large block of tickets to see David Copperfield. The corporation had arranged for us to visit onstage with DC and his cast after the show. While I was onstage I looked out toward the audience and was surprised to find two LED scrolling signs at each side of the front of the stage. These signs still displayed the first names of the last volunteers that DC had on stage that evening. I didn’t notice the signs from the audience because the backs were painted with flat black paint, but anyone on stage could read the names. Clearly someone offstage inputted the names so Copperfield would not forget them.

If we can find ways to remember the names of the people we bring onstage, our audiences will remember out names too.

…of course, this is just my opinion.

—Dal Sanders
Dal Sanders International Comedy Magician and Illusionist Based In Dallas, TX

The Society of American Magicians Past National President
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Inner circle
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
2136 Posts

Profile of jlevey
In addition to thanking them on stage and encouraging the audience to applaud their efforts, after the show I walk out into the milling about audience to look for each of my stage volunteers. Then, one by one, I walk up to them in the crowd and and thank them personally, asking them their name, then repeating their name as I tell them (and their friends/co-workers around them), how great they were on stage. As I do this I warmly shake their hand while: nodding, smiling and giving them full eye contact. Eye contact that is genuinely filled with appreciation and adimiration.

Perhaps too much for some entertainers, but this definitely has worked for me over all these years --and for my volunteers as well, as it is mutaully rewarding.

Max & Maxine Entertainment
Magicians with a touch of comedy!
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New user
23 Posts

Profile of yutszfung
Every volunteer is gotta be trained for years before they serve good job. Good luck training yours!
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Special user
568 Posts

Profile of stijnhommes
It helps if a volunteer feels special. Give them a closeup look no one else ever gets if you can.
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New user
51 Posts

Profile of RodHousley
Absolutely remember their names, that is the best thing you can do. Acknowledge that they did help you and make sure the audience gives them a big round of applause all the way back to their seat. Have a free poster ready for them and give it to them saying that they can have it autographed after the show.
Bob Sanders
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Grammar Supervisor
Magic Valley Ranch, Clanton, Alabama
20514 Posts

Profile of Bob Sanders
Your volunteer is certainly a dynamic part of your show. They also have friends in the audience that know them better than they know you. It is your last chance to make a good first impression.

Remember that nobody is likely to remember the magician's name except the volunteer and his/her friends!

Bob Sanders
Magic by Sander
Bob Sanders

Magic By Sander / The Amazed Wiz
Lawrence O
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Inner circle
Greenwich (CT)
6799 Posts

Profile of Lawrence O
I make a point of sharing the magic with the audience for I noticed that the effects gaining the best response were not the ones demonstrated but the ones involving audience participation.

Thus, when writing a script I make sure to provide an appropriate space for the name of the assisting spectator to fall in well and, enhancing his own image, make him feel good. Based on the fact that his own name is the sweetest music to a spectator's ear, each script has to use the assisting spectator's name at least three times in a proper way. Having these blanks to fill up in the patter, forces me to have to understand and remember the person's name.
Magic is the art of proving impossible things in parallel dimensions that can't be reached
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