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Profile of NJJ
Firstly, I believe that bringing people on stage is a very important part of stand up magic act. It breaks down the fourth wall that the audience has and reminds them they are not watching TV.

Also, the spectator becomes a representative of the audience. What they feel - the audience will also feel.

I don't mind embarassing the spectator a little because it helps to create conflict and therefore comedy. However, since I want to leave the audience feeling happy at the end. I always make a big deal of any spectators at the end of their time on stage.

I find that asking a spectator's name and then asking the audience to give them a big round of applause for helping out is the best way to get them to agree to come up with least amount of fuss.
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Profile of magicsoup
I did a show for a big bank one time. I asked if there was anyone who knew how to use a calculator (there were several hundred in the audience). Not a hand went up and everyone laughed. Finally one guy admitted he knew how to use a calculator.

Sometimes during my show, I will kiss a guy on the cheek, forehead, or head of a bald man (I'm a guy). This always gets a
'shocked' reaction. If I can't get a volunteer I threaten to kiss someone again. I usually kiss a guy when someone is taking a picture. It's a surprise kiss. I try to time it for when they press the button.
Dan Monroe
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Profile of Dan Monroe
I use volunteers for almost every trick and the crowd loves it. I have never had a problem getting volunteers because I make it fun and they want to help out and be part of the show. I think a lot of it depends on how you act when you hit the stage. You have to make people want to be part of what’s happening. Smile
The power is within us all...I'm just a little more full of it.
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Profile of Chugtai
I definitely agree. You shouldn't be doing a magic show that makes people think that being your volunteer will result in them being the butt of your jokes or just make them look like an ass. If you want your audience to participate you should make them feel like nothing but good can come of it. It's all about trust.
Apparently this Sun thinks something's funny. Laugh it up... Smile
That Dumpster turned out to be quite the none-bag place to blaze campbell...
Mr Amazeo
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Profile of Mr Amazeo
Along the lines of offering money, and a way that I've resorted to a couple of times with a few of the tough audiences is, after getting a cool response to the 'I need a volunteer' bit, change it to 'alright then, how about an employee...' and pull a $5 out of the wallet.

Have a W-2 form ready for them to sign. It does get some good laughs.
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Profile of DarryltheWizard
Thanks for all of the excellent replies. I will certainly use the ones I feel comfortable with. I am not sure about kissing the bald guy suggestion. I find that if you set up well in advance of the show, you have time to mingle with the audience. I noticed one lady kept taking her uncomfortable shoes off. I walked right over to the lady and said, "You're not someone who has cold feet - are you?" She reached under the table and held up her shoes. I did the wave the odor away gesture and this little segment loosened the audience up which made it considerably easier to get a volunteer up from the audience.
In another show, for a trucking company, I talked to the teenage boys of the owner. I told them I needed a guy to dress up like Brittany S. and when it came to that part in the show, they pressured their dad, the owner to play the part. It was a riot. After this they all wanted to take part. Talking to the potential helpers ahead of time is good way to break down that invisible barrier that exists between you and the audience.
Darryl the Wizard Smile Smile Smile Smile
"Life without mystery is like a candle
with a snuffed out flame." Albert Einstein
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