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Profile of jondark445

When I was a kid I loved magic. But I've never performed. A friend with kids...knowing I love magic...asked me to perform for his child's birthday party this weekend. What tricks should I perform?

Nah, just kidding. I love starting posts like that. But on to the serious question....

I had a show this weekend. It was a family Christmas party. About 30 people with 8 or so kids. I have a very interactive show, so when I did my first routine and asked for a volunteer no one raised their hand. NO ONE. Not one kid, not one adult. It was like pulling teeth to get someone up there. I thought it was just a fluke, that it was because the show was just starting. But it was like that for EVERY TIME I asked for a volunteer.

Anyone ever run into this problem? Know any ways around it? Any funny ways to get the folks to come and help?

Al Angello
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Eternal Order
Collegeville, Pa. USA
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As long as you are not wearing a mike you can go right to them while they are seated and ask them to pick a card. You should never wait for something to happen, make things happen at your speed.
Al Angello The Comic Juggler/Magician
"Footprints on your ceiling are almost gone"
Dennis Michael
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Southern, NJ
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Kids once they reach the "cool" age around 12 the hand goes up less frequently, very few if any.

If the performer has in the past embarrased a volunteer and the guests know this, you won't get a volunteer.

Having said that, there are several options:
1. look for a prime candidate before the show and ask them to please help you. Make it clear it will be fun and they won't be embarrassed in any way. This has always worked for me, expecially in magic clubs when there are no kids.

2. Call the birthday child up honor them, give them a present (small magic kit,or magic wand), the ask them to help you with the next trick.

3. Say things like, "I'm looking for a great magician, one who is wearing a red shirt, blue pants, is ther anyone out there that fits that description?"

These few have worked for me.

Without the kids reactions, interactions, many good kid show will flop because they are designed for kids in the 5-9 age bracket. Older kids can be a little "Trying" but work at it.

Dennis Michael
Tom Stevens
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Here's a street performer trick:

Ask a person whom you think would be a good helper to hold their hand up and then hold a hat or a linking ring or anything as though you were going to toss it on to their raised arm. Stop before tossing and say, "Before I contunue, I need one volunteer. Oh you there with your hand up, please come up here...."

Another one I've seen and used is asking a person their name:

-Hi what's your name?


-Now, I want to draw attention that Jane here has come all the way to this place on this day and has stood right here (you walk toward her), right in this spot, right in FRONT OF MY VOLUNTEER! (grab the person behind Jane and drag them up on stage)
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Profile of Spellbinder
One of the old timer tricks: Go into the audience and have someone pick a card (force a card that matches a large card silk you have). Ask the person to hold the card up high so everyone can see. Everyone still can't see? Maybe you'd better stand up so you can hold it higher. Still can't see? Maybe you'd better come up here to the front so you're in the light. Still can't see? Maybe you'd better come up on stage. That guy in the back still can't see. (grab the card and release the card silk so it looks as if the card suddenly enlarges in changing to the card silk) How about NOW? Is that better?

Then continue with another trick. You've got your "volunteer."
Professor Spellbinder

Professor Emeritus at the Turkey Buzzard Academy of Magik, Witchcraft and Wizardry

Publisher of The Wizards' Journals
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Profile of eddieloughran
If you ask for a helper and no one volenteers then there is a good chance that every one after that will do the same. I've seen it over and over.
Adults are the worst!

While I do my first trick I decide who I want as my first assistant, and then ask him/her directly.
Bill Nuvo
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I usually ask "Who wants to do something really cool?" Almost every hand goes up.

And for the adults, I usually say to the kids " I need an adult/grownp-up man/woman to help me. Now kids I want you to go and push someone up, go push your mom/aunt/grandma up here, beg them, pull them, do whatever it takes!"

With this the whole crowd loves the fact the a lot of the kids will go grab someone and you see a whole tug of war type of thing happening and then finally a parent gives in. I figure that since a lot of people have been embarassed on stage before, I might as well play with that idea for laughs and after the person comes up and does the trick, I usually say, "That wasn't so bad was it?". And they always agree!
Skip Way
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One of my first attempts at magic in a comedy club was with a modified version of Harry Anderson's Buffalo Bills. I needed two five dollar bills to start the routine. What I got was 2-3 minutes of the most pathetic segment of pleading and shaming audience members into giving me ten bucks you have ever seen in your life. Egads! I learned very quickly that when doing a bit in a comedy club that requires volunteers ALWAYS have a couple of shills planted and ready in case everyone resists your best attempts. On the other hand...I REALLY like Tom's and Spellbinder's suggestions. Consider them with due credit!

:o) Skip
How you leave others feeling after an Experience with you becomes your Trademark.

Magic Youth Raleigh -
Smoke & Mirrors
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Pre-show work.

Let the folks know you'll be needing helpers as you meet them individualy before the show, and if youve already met s few folks that you like, tell them before the show begins that you will be needing them on stage later. Works like a charm and they are a "warmer" type of volunteer as well. I don't like cold-calls because you sometimes find a real "dud" of a volunteer.

I rarely ask for hands for volunteers because even then, they raise and wave their hands, nearly jumping out of their seat and when you point to them, they look surprised and sometimes say NO. I usually go right into an illusion by walking up to the one that I want in the audience and place my hand on their arm and ask them if they will come help me.

And on the complete opposite end of the spectrum I have been known to play some real pimpin' music and let them tap a balloon around the audience until the music stops and whoever has the balloon is the volunteer, this should be for an effect that makes NO difference what type of volunteer you have though. This is a very HIGH energy way of getting a volunteer and expect much noise, movement, laughter and such, if it doesn't fit your venue - stay away from it.
Bob Sanders
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Magic Valley Ranch, Clanton, Alabama
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I use the same thing for selecting volunteers as I do as a registered lobbyist. By observing how the person relates with others around them, you can greatly improve your odds of success by selecting someone involved with the group versus self only. Whatever the reason for being involved with self only, they don't contribute much to the needs or pleasure of others. Look for the ones that seem genuinely interested in others. Then (for entertainers) look for someone who laughs easily. This is very different from shy on stage behavior. Putting them at ease is your job. Set yourself up to win.

Many things reduce the willingness of volunteering. Age, race, sex and agenda head the list. This is entertainment, not a contest. Pick someone ready to have fun and be fun. Insecure "leaders" make worse volunteers than secure subordinates. Good volunteers are generally those who feel safe.

Remember that volunteers are always a magician’s choice!

Bob Sanders
Magic By Sander
Bob Sanders

Magic By Sander / The Amazed Wiz
Brian Lehr
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Edmonton, Canada
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At the beginning of the show, I do some group exercises to get them used to lifting their hands, laughing, clapping, etc. It helps break down any inhibitions they may have had about lifting their hands.

Several years ago, before I started doing these "warm-ups", I was doing a birthday party for a four-year-old boy. There were about 8 kids in the room, along with the parents. They were the quietest bunch I've ever worked for. As the show continued, I discovered why. Before I arrived at the show, the parents had spoken to them about how to behave "properly" during a live show. No speaking, no making noise, no interupting the magician, etc.

This "pre-conditioning" was very obvious when, at the beginning of the show, I was doing an effect similar to the Blooming Bouquet, and not one child would go along with it. When one child finally attempted to give the expected response, her parent immediately shut her down: "Suzie, shhh. Remember what I told you earlier. Be quiet and listen to the show."

That was one of those shows that just dragged on. Now I always start my shows with the warm-ups.

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