Dealing with Bad Spectators

Apr 25, 2009
459
0
36
Yorktown, VA
You all know what I am talking about, the guy that sits in the corner and watches you do the trick and then blurts out what happened (or at least what he thinks happened) at the very end. Or the over zealous guy (and quick side note with that, why are they always guys???) that grabs the deck out of your hand and shows that it isn't really his card that you are sliding into the deck. Any experienced magician (and I say that lightly because I am not too experienced) knows that they exist. I want to hear stories of what happened and how you dealt with it. Maybe we can get some ideas out there.

Mainly, I want to get rid of the idea that the spectators control the situation, because guess what they don't. I am convinced that if we do the right things we can counter, and even better, prevent anything they can throw at us.

-The King of Spades

"Magic isn't in the hands, it's in the mind of your spectators"
-Modified quote from Wayne Houchin in Control
 
Nov 20, 2007
4,434
6
Sydney, Australia
If there is a spectator who is quite clearly the group leader or the arrogant one for the group, I always perform for him first. If I've made a mistake and I haven't performed to him first, I perform to him next (if he tries to say what he thinks happened, etc). These guys will give you the best reactions of anyone. As far as guys who try and control the action: establish that you're in charge, without being a threat, and control your audience. I really should be doing other stuff now so I'll respond in more detail later.
 
Sep 15, 2007
1,128
0
27
www.myspace.com
You all know what I am talking about, the guy that sits in the corner and watches you do the trick and then blurts out what happened (or at least what he thinks happened) at the very end. Or the over zealous guy (and quick side note with that, why are they always guys???) that grabs the deck out of your hand and shows that it isn't really his card that you are sliding into the deck. Any experienced magician (and I say that lightly because I am not too experienced) knows that they exist. I want to hear stories of what happened and how you dealt with it. Maybe we can get some ideas out there.

Mainly, I want to get rid of the idea that the spectators control the situation, because guess what they don't. I am convinced that if we do the right things we can counter, and even better, prevent anything they can throw at us.

-The King of Spades

"Magic isn't in the hands, it's in the mind of your spectators"
-Modified quote from Wayne Houchin in Control

You Just have to deal with it, I was doing a show today at the river walk in San Antonio, and immediately after my opening line, "how's everyone doing today?" a guy yelled for 2 Min. straight. I said something like, "1 too many today there boss?" And he ran up on stage and tried to ruin my effect (Pressure). Once I did it though he quit because he realized how good I performed and was just amazed. basically amaze your hecklers. that's it. There has been at least 20 threads on this so I suggest you look around the forums and find these things...
 
Feb 9, 2008
37
0
BUFFALO, NY
I've got 2 words for u my man!!! AUDIENCE....MANAGEMENT. You need to be in control of your show! IF you let the audience take control all is lost. You will learn from each performance what works and what doesn't. It's all about experience and the more you perform for real groups the easier you'll find it is to manage everyone! It doesn't come right away! You'll get it in time! I've been performing for 8 years and make my living performing. Learn to manage the audience. Don't let them manage you! You are the star of the show!!!!!
 
Apr 25, 2009
459
0
36
Yorktown, VA
I am laughing on the inside after reading some of the replies. The main the theme that I am getting is "Audience Management" and "Control Your Audience." That much I understand. I tip my hat to those who have replied so far and by doing so clarify what I truly want, phrase, specific techniques, dodges that people do so that they can prepare and repair what ever the spectators do. For example, I like to respond with "perfect" at what ever they say and in a sly way add it to what ever trick I am doing. A simple phrase, but it seems to work a lot. I agree that over all it is the awe method, but it is the little things we do to get that awe.
 
Sep 20, 2008
1,121
3
You have to remind yourself that even though you're a great performer, if a heckler wants to mess your magic up, he will. Depends on How determined he is.

I once performed randomly for two ghetto guys who were quite aggressive when it comes to magic. They heckled like mad, but i carried on. At the end they started figuring out the effects by watching my other effects. Ive handled audiences before and patter didnt even seem to work. They were impatient, young individuals who just wanted to 'suss me out' for the sake of an ego boost. I even resented to the Blaine approach when it came to patter since they wouldnt shut up. (look- watch.. Look look! watch.)

Normally i would walk away, but we were on a train carriage and i obviously couldnt.

the point is, amidst all these techniques on how to manage your audience, there will come a time where things just wont work.
 
Nov 7, 2008
23
0
There are two ways for me:

First one is to just walk away.If I see a person watching me perform just to expose my sleight of hand so that he can prove how great he is and what a loser I am - then they get quite the wrong idea of what magic is about.Probably the reactions of those people wouldn't be good either, because even if you do your trick properly they'll be disappointed they couldn't figure it out and wouldn't react.So yeah, just be careful who you perform for and if you get that kind of a spectator - walk away.

Second one is to make it a challenge.These hecklers don't want it to look like they can't do something - and that's where you're posing.For example the moment you put a card face down on the table, and you know that it isn't the card that it is supposed to be, you might say something like "Okay, so now try and follow the card face down, it's not easy but I think you can do it".That way if they turn the card over it'll make it look like they can't actually follow what card it is, or where it goes and that will make them look weak in the other spectators' eyes, which they surely don't want.So yeah, because of their pride they most probably won't turn it over.

Hope I helped:)
 
You Just have to deal with it, I was doing a show today at the river walk in San Antonio, and immediately after my opening line, "how's everyone doing today?" a guy yelled for 2 Min. straight. I said something like, "1 too many today there boss?" And he ran up on stage and tried to ruin my effect (Pressure). Once I did it though he quit because he realized how good I performed and was just amazed. basically amaze your hecklers. that's it. There has been at least 20 threads on this so I suggest you look around the forums and find these things...

What the heck man I could have met you, oh well.

Hecklers I usually just ignore and let them make a fool of themselves while I make friends with everyone else and get the crowd on my side. Once that is done someone in the crowd will say something to the guy, then I just let mob mentality kick in and control the heckler. Now I do not mean like fist fighting but when there is an entire crowd telling one guy to be quiet or behave it usually stops them, that is at least in my experience.
 
Apr 25, 2009
459
0
36
Yorktown, VA
Thanks everyone for the ideas. I really like Kira's smooth transition into challenging them. And I think that Chicken has got something too. If anyone has anything else, I am more than willing to see what they have to say. I am what I like to refer to as an advanced beginner in magic and I am trying to break that intermediate level. One step at a time =)
 
It's been said so let me just start by saying it again. Audience Management.

It's vital, and it's what you are missing.

When you have a heckler you need to very quickly decide where on the heckler scale they are, and weather or not alcohol has anything to do with it.

My heckler looks like this.

Heckler-O-Meter
1: The spectator isn't a real threat. Just trying to have some fun by harmlessly interjecting their humor once or twice into your act. Take note of any funny bits they have, and then use it in another show!


5: The spectator is a problem to the act but isn't a hostile threat. Maybe they are out with friends and or family and perhaps just trying to look cool.

10: The spectator is an active problem and should be considered hostile. They are disrupting the show, and intentionally trying to mess you up. They should not be used for any effects.

Naturally alcohol is a problem and can enhance or horribly worsen their behavior. Use your best judgment when booze is involved. You can not reason with a drunk. Don't even attempt it. Have them removed by security.

Usually with a spectator who is between a 2 and a 7 you can try a heckler line like: "That's funny. I read the script and you didn't have any speaking parts." and usually they shut up. For someone whose just a 1 on my scale I rarely if ever bother with them. I laugh, take note of what they said, and move on.

For you're serious problems, you can try a heckler line on them but chances are if they are going to be hostile it probably won't work. It will just entice them to act up more.

People heckle because they want to be the center of attention. They want to be the show. Some people are content with only sharing a brief moment of the spot light with you, while others would rather be the entire show themselves, especially if they think they have more to offer than you do.

When you acknowledge a heckler, or even use a heckler line you invite them into your act. You give them power (and permission) to engage you in conversation. In short, you give them the spot light. So if you get one whose a problem to your act, just ignore him and move on. The minute you break to engage them is the minute you've just given up control.

Audiences hate hecklers who are disruptive just as much as you do. If you just simply shut down and refuse to work the audience usually takes care of their own.

That brings me to my last point. In the absolute worst case senareos, like an 8 or above, you may be wise to just shut down the act and leave stage if necessary until the heckler is dealt with. Also, don't be afraid to call security or the bouncers to have the guy escorted out. Remember, it's YOUR show. You are the one in charge.
 
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