Richard Kaufman wrote:We are at the point in our society when a "hug" can be seen as an act of sexual aggression over which a job can be lost and a reputation ruined.
Therefore, this is a routine that you perform at your peril.
Those reactions can real, or made up for attention. Not much can be done about the latter, so let's focus on the former.
If real, it might be uncalled for, or it might be actual sexual aggression involved. Again, I can't do much about the latter...
It is true that you don't get a tutorial in how to select a person to participate, and there are no good texts on that topic (something that perhaps needs to be written). If you get someone with social fears or anxieties, things went wrong long before the routine was introduced.
And if you happen to be socially inept yourself, this routine isn't a cure for that either - it's purpose is not to provide you with hugs. I.e. if you look for a 'hot' girl or guy to use in this routine, you're coming at it from the wrong angle and it will eventually backfire. People are not objects to be used. You look for a participant
. Someone who will participate
as a co-actor in your mini-drama. So look at the people, really look. If they don't meet your gaze, they don't want to participate. If they don't meet your gaze with a small smile, they don't want to participate. You want someone who seem a bit playful and comfortable. If you don't see a woman that fits the bill, pick a guy that fits the bill. Because the piece isn't about heterosexual dynamics, it is about a surprise meeting with darkness. If it feels awkward to hug a dude, then play it for its awkwardness, and it will be funnier than to hug someone who clearly doesn't want to participate.
Let's say a willing participant have emerged. Things might still go wrong. Your supporting actor can become offput if you have an abrasive demeanor, or if you treat your supporting actor as an object, or if you've done innuendo "humor" since the 1970's and have missed that the interpretation that formerly was the alternative one, today is the main one. So look at the person as a person.
The "Hug" card is shown. You open your arms a little and ask "Is it ok?". You wait for a reply, making it clear that a 'no' is an acceptable answer. Once there is consent, conclude the bit. Time the hug to be done in the participant's pace, and let the participant choose how close the hug is.
So what happens if the spectator says "no"? Well, then that
becomes the piece, because that's funny too. You standing there, arms slightly apart with a frozen smile and an vacant gaze. Hilarious! Sure, there's suddenly no trick, but you haven't promised a trick.
While the borderline knife-edge balance between intimacy and destruction is strikingly portraited in the image of a hug with a "Kill, kill, kill" subtitle, it is certainly not the only way to play it. Once you're familiar with the structure, other alternatives can be built. In my opinion, they will all be lacking something, but still...
The structure is:
1: The spectator picks (A) - an object, activity or event that is positive for the performer.
2: There's a little pause, to give the audience time to suspect that maybe all the cards say (A), that all the cards are the same.
3: In carrying out (A), the audience finds out that, yes, all the cards are the same, but they all say (B) - an activity or event that would be negative for the spectator.
4: The spectator never finds out.
For example, as a reward after assisting, a kid is allowed to choose a snack randomly. But in doing so, you hint that you're a cheapskate that doesn't really want to give away any expensive candy.
The kid picks "Apple".
All the alternatives turns out to be "Spinach".
No hugs involved.
That's sad because this is a routine of great genius.
There's that word again. I don't believe in that word.