This article is NOT about art of pick-pocketing, although it is a worthy art to master, as an addition to your stage show. What I AM going to talk about is using lines or ideas that audience members suggest to you. Well, they might not actually suggest these tidbits, but they might reveal these gems to you while they are reacting to your act – if you are listening!
I am ALWAYS listening to my audience while I am performing. A reaction from a certain area of the audience might help me pick my next onstage assistant. Or what I hear might inform me as to how the audience is doing, either attention-span-wise, or material-wise. This is very helpful in helping me determine how to proceed with the show. And occasionally an audience member might say something that enhances my patter, and I may incorporate that idea into the act.
For instance: In my walk-around I do a bit where I ask the person who has chosen a card, NOT to think of the 4 of spades, which was used (forced) earlier in the act, but to only think of their chosen card, which I place face down in their hand. While I am trying to break their concentration by showing them the 4 of spades and telling them not to think of it, I shoot and aside to another spectator. I tell him, “You think that’s easy? For the next 10 seconds, you try not to think of a Giraffe!” When he immediately fails, I say, “You know a Giraffe can go his whole life without thinking about you!”
Then I turn to the first spectator and say, “What are you thinking”. They usually say their chosen card. Sometimes they fumble, and say the 4 of spades, but one time the person said, “I’m thinking of a Giraffe holding a four of spades!”. Well that’s GOLD! The next day I asked my artistic wife, Gretchen, to paint me a picture of a giraffe holding a 4 of spades in his mouth on a blank faced card. From then on, I made sure that the Giraffe/4 of spades was the one that ended up in the spectators hand. I could never have thought of that on my own.
Another time I was telling a short joke between tricks at a Christmas function. I presented the family audience with a holiday riddle. I said, “If athletes gets athletes foot, what do astronauts get?” Now the answer is mistletoe, but the 6-year-old I had on stage said, “ASTEROIDS”. After the audience stopped laughing for 10 seconds, I said, “That’s a better answer! I guess penguins get Polaroids”. And I have been telling that story at holiday jobs ever since. Thanks for the help, my beloved audience. I will keep listening!