Don’t ever be an audience volunteer. No good can come of it. Once I was an audience volunteer at some sort of circus. A clown needed someone to ride a unicycle. I was five. Long story short, I cried in front of everyone.
But fine, maybe you don’t want to take my word for it ,and think you’re braver than me and being an audience volunteer is a-okay. Well … would you take MICHAEL JORDAN’S word for it?! Because I’m pretty sure he and I agree that being an audience volunteer is for idiots.
In 1982 Micahel Jordan was a freshman at UNC. He wasn’t an international mega-star at the time, but locally? In Chapel Hill, he was a newly minted hero after hitting that NCAA championship-winning shot. And being a local celebrity came with perks, like getting to participate in a traveling evangelical prison ministry show.
Jordan played a little ball with the prisoners, was generally an inspiration, then all he had to do was sit back and enjoy the rest of the program. If only that’s what he’d done.
The next act included a guy wearing a black belt. His thing was to slicing a watermelon with a samurai sword as it lay on the stomach of an audience volunteer. This whole act hinges on the audience volunteer. Without them, it’s just a Gallager copycat with a sword instead of a mallet. Who wants that?! “Oh cool, you made less of a mess.”
Somehow Michael Jordan, promising young basketball player, ended up as the volunteer beneath the watermelon. Michael, no! Think! You’re risking your basketball career — and while you don’t yet know how incredible that’s going to be, I’d say any career in any profession isn’t worth risking for this!
What’s the best case scenario? Someone thinks you’re brave? You leave the stage unscathed, while the swordsman soaks up the applause? Some of the watermelon flies into your mouth and it just happens to be ripe and taste good? Not worth it! The worst case scenario is death by evisceration.
The scenario that played out was somewhere in-between.
The swordsman, Mike Cain, raised his weapon and … didn’t manage to slice all the way through the melon. At this point I imagine Jordan was panicking because it’s clear Cain is not a samurai master who wields his sword with precision. Even the fact that Cain chose to use a watermelon should have been a red flag. The biggest fruit imaginable? Why does Cain need such a huge buffer?
Since he didn’t complete the one thing he was supposed to do, Cain raised the sword again. I’m guessing he overcompensated for his first too-weak hit, because the second blow sliced through the watermelon, and into Jordan. He tore Jordan’s clothes — warm ups from his first international tournament — and left him with a gash that required three stitches.
And! This wasn’t the first time Cain had cut someone during his act! According to his own estimates he “performed the watermelon trick 1,750 times and has cut 16 people.”
I’m sorry, he’s cut 16 people with a sword? That’s assault. Is the only reason he’s not in jail because those 16 people volunteered?! Is that the deal? I’m no lawyer, but that’s my educated (bachelor of arts) guess. Jordan was reportedly more upset about his clothes than his wound, but it still sounds like a pretty bad experience.
To be an audience volunteer is to be a prop in someone else’s glory. Sure, maybe the performer will say “how about a round of applause for our volunteer!” but you’re already back in your seat or on your way to the hospital at that point.
Anyway, I think Michael Jordan and I have made our case: don’t be an audience volunteer.