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Discussion in 'Magic Forum' started by Slicke, Oct 20, 2009.
^^^ to the above poster:
I actually did...
how does it affect what I said?
Jeez there's some bad advice in here.
Seriously, I'm not sure half the people in this thread actually use the "advice" they're giving.
Obviously,you wouldnt walk away but I have said "ok, ill wait until he finishes talking.." and then he shuts up or the audience tells him to be.
We are talking about SPECIFICALLY this situation. Not all others.
And professionally,if your performing like this. For free and just for the heck of it.
Yeah, you can walk away or pretend that you will.
Give them some good advice.
When I'm not half asleep and procrastinating an Accounting assessment For now, the realisation and point that one should always sort through and assess for themselves the validity of any answers they may receive to questions on internet forums, should keep the dedicated busy.
Now that would work quite nicely I guess. But the discussion sort of expanded. Anyhoo, haven't you met the kind of heckler who heckles in bits.
You perform a bit. "thats a double". you perform a bit "he forced that". "are you done talking?" "yea.. yea.. sure" you perform a bit "that was a false shuffle"
I'm actually quite sure every single suggestion in this thread would work. It would just depend on your style... Some may not be as... ethically or socially smart, but any of them would work in shutting up your heckler. As for professionalism, I don't think any of us have enough experience and knowledge to classify what is professional. Artists and those others need to comment on these threads more... I'm pretty sure they read it, but just dont comment as they know their view does not agree with everyone else.
You can learn what the proffesionals do just by watching their shows and directly asking them about this. They do respond.
I know I gave this advice before; it's worked 100% of the time for me during really shaky performances when certain hecklers wanted to be the center of attention. Funny enough, I adopted it from high school teachers' methods of shutting up students who talked during class.
If a person wants to be the center of attention and show the rest of the crowd he knows how you're doing things... let him. Stop performing in mid-effect and give him the coldest, blank stare you could ever give someone. This simple pause will make for a very awkward, uncomfortable moment in the act and the heckler will naturally want to cower away. In certain instances, if a heckler is being particularly annoying, I stop the effect, clap my hands very... very... very slowly and stare the heckler down. I do this as if I'm bidding him the most sarcastic, fecitious "congratulations" he could ever ask for. Again, this builds a very socially awkward, uncomfortable position for the heckler and encourages him to either (a) walk away defeated or (b) keep his mouth sut and enjoy the rest of what you have to offer. The pause in the effect makes people aware of the problem and highlights it. If you have control of the audience, when you stare at the heckler in disapproval-- everyone else will too.
I'm sure the younger crowd here can understand the impact of this approach if they've ever interrupted a teacher during a class. Some teachers will stop whatever they're doing and listen to the conversation a few uninterested students are having. This typically forces the rest of the class to be silent and stare at the 'hecklers' as well until they notice their wrongdoing and immediately stop misbehaving. The psychology is very much the same. In performance, the person becomes the center of attention and realizes he doesn't like the position. He bows down and openly gives you full authority of the situation again.
Try this approach. I'm sure it will help.
Dude you are my hero. I take Accounting class. Just to throw it out there.
can you give me examples of what people have said?
Ok, time to chuck in one lone jumbo cent. I say jumbo cent because this post has exceeded the character limit, so I'm posting this in two parts. They don't actually produce one cent coins down here anymore either, but I have quite a number collected. Soooo..
Actually, firstly, if you haven't already, read the essay I wrote for Draven's contest - particularly the part about entertaining everybody. I set my performances to high standards.
Let's take this logically. We, as magicians, perform magic, at the most basic level, to entertain everyone. That means two things: firstly, we have to entertain, and secondly, we have to entertain everyone. Now, factor in a heckler. What we have is someone who is making it difficult to achieve those two things. So in some way, the goal is to neutralise this person. The problem is this: the heckler is also a spectator. Therefore, we still need to entertain him. And herein lies my problem with all approaches that hand the heckler the deck, that use witty retorts to put him down, etc.
Any time we do any of those things, we have failed in our goal to entertain - our performance has failed because we have not entertained everybody. Now, a few may legitimately think along the lines of, well, a heckler is giving up his right to be entertained, by heckling, and does not deserve our thought. Or, putting down one heckler is nothing, because we're trying to entertain the majority. Which is all, true, but I believe it does matter, for two reasons. Firstly, because, as before, I set my magic to a high standard. I don't care whether the spectator was a heckler, or the nicest guy on the planet - if he is not entertained, I have failed in my job. It's all very good and well to dismiss someone as being insignificant. But that's taking the easy way out. And if you are serious about improving your magic, then you cannot take the easy way out, no matter what. Secondly, the idea that hecklers do not like to be entertained is false. Who doesn't like to be entertained? There is no-one who does not like to be entertained in some way, whether it be through music, through magic, through theatre, film, or hanging out with friends. This sort of thinking is bad in my opinion because we tend to think of hecklers as aliens from another planet - dark, scary monsters of some miscellaneous species to be killed on sight, and who have no other purpose in life than to destroy magic performances everywhere.
The truth, obviously, is far more complex. People heckle for lots of reasons. Some want attention. Some just don't like you. Some just don't like magic.
Well, whatever the reason, it's your job to change that - if that's what it takes to entertain them.
For example, magic has somewhat of a stereotype that more and more of the famous magicians worldwide are breaking. Take David Blaine, who innovated the idea of his character, or Derren Brown, who's cornered a large part of his respective field.
So if you're walking along streets in a baseball cap worn backwards, and doing some card tricks in a monotone, only ever looking down at the deck, not engaging with your audience, and slipping out generic rubbish for patter... What do you expect? You probably deserve worse. But I'm getting a bit off topic here.
The point is that hecklers are just one more group of spectators - spectators it is your job to entertain. Any response to a heckler which is a challenge, is a bad choice and hurts your magic. Let's go through an example. You're performing an ACR routine. Heckler doesn't like it. "You did this this and this."
Your response is, "Fine, show us how I did it."
Big mistake, many reasons.
Firstly. He could actually perform something. You've just given him the stage. Every now and again, you'll meet someone who actually can do something. Now they take the stage, and entertain. You've failed.
Secondly. He could perform something, but badly. He's just shown everyone exactly how it's done. The illusion of magic has been broken. You've failed.
Thirdly. He could simply throw out bogus/real methods. The spectators are forced to think about method. The illusion of magic has been broken. You've failed.
Fourthly. He declines in embarrassment. A spectator is humiliated. You've failed.
Fifthly. He declines in embarrassment. The tone of your performance has just been brought down because you've used your power to make fun of someone. Good luck recovering. You've failed.
Sixthly. He tries and fails completely. He gets laughed at. Again, a spectator is humiliated. And you damage a deck of cards. You've failed.
Seventhly. You've given him the stage. The routine you had going has broken down, with no chance of continuing smoothly. You've failed.
Eightly. Are we getting bored yet? The rapport you gained with your audience is similarly lost. I'd rate rapport as even more important that technical sleight of hand skill in terms of getting impact from performances. You've failed.
Ninthly. Even if you haven't completely lost the two things above, you have damaged them. Therefore, your performance will not reach the potential level it could've been at. You've failed.
And now I'm getting bored. I'm sure I could think of a few more if I tried, but these are the ones that come to mind immediately. Just like that, your magic performance has failed in nine ways!
Hopefully, you can see the problems with responses that challenge the heckler. These are problems which hold true for any similar response, whether a put down or otherwise. You still lose the mood, the rapport, the flow, someone feels bad, etc.
I want to quickly address also the advice that you should simply walk away. Sciffydof, whilst I don't agree with you per se, you brought up an interesting point earlier. What if you're in a professional gig?
Walking away I feel is an approach that should be exercised with great and cautious judgment. It would be hypocritical of me not to point out that, if you walk away, then you're also giving up on entertaining the majority. In a general street magic scenario, I would only exercise this option if I felt it highly likely I would be asked to come back. In other words, rapport with your audience is key. IF you have a strong enough rapport, they will do all the work for you. Actually, if you have a strong enough rapport with your audience, you shouldn't need to take any action at all. I've performed in many situations over the past few years for a group of around two dozen people with a heckler involved - and the entire crowd inevitably tells the heckler to stop, without me needing to say a word. This sort of thing is much more effective coming from their friends because, whilst a generalisation, it is often true that hecklers do care about their image. And coming from people who don't have the spotlight, and who they're familiar with, it is all the more effective. You'd do something more readily if told by a dozen best friends than by a random intruder.
In a professional situation is interesting. This also applies to the above, but I would simply mention that you are being paid to entertain people here, but quite obviously, people are not obligated to watch if they don't want to. I would then simply explain that I will be performing at this event for the next so and so time period, walking around to different groups, so please feel free to follow, or engage me at another time or place. Some people just don't want to be entertained. That's fair enough, and you have to be a professional in the sense that if they don't want to, you can't force it. But at the same time, you let the majority know that you are available whenever they want to, and since they want to, they are basically given every opportunity to still be entertained and enjoy your magic. If the booker asked you about a situation, you would simply explain that one spectator did not feel like entertainment, so you moved on to other people. If you're good, and haven't screwed every single performance up, that will be more than adequate an explanation - especially when everyone else sends the praise in.
In case anyone hasn't realised, and is wondering what approach I personally take, to the greatest extent possible, I let the spectators do the work. I work very heavily on my communication and rapport building skills everywhere I go. It has gotten me acting jobs, magic jobs, interviews, elected official positions, and all sorts of things. And it is one of the most important aspects of the performance of magic, intrinsically tied in with persona and presentation, which, as most of you will know, I champion very strongly.
On the rare occasion this doesn't work (I don't think this has ever not worked for me), then perhaps a more direct approach such as romeo's is applicable. Whilst it does confront the heckler, it is done as a warning rather than as a challenge, and I like that again, it uses the idea of peer pressure more than anything else. Again, avoid direct challenges is the key. The heckler needs to know what is right and wrong within the context of a performance. A quiet, polite line should be enough as well. Following a polite, but firm and direct request to stop what we would call heckling, you just have an extreme case of someone without manners, and they will come across as d*cks, and everyone will know it. I would either default to romeo's approach, or default to my approach in professional gigs detailed above. At an actual gig, I would perform to this group later, in a different place, minus the heckler, or have them removed if appropriate (bar, etc.). Suffice to say that I have never had this happen - a continuous heckler despite a firm request to stop from you and other spectators. This is such a remote case, that it would almost constitute an extreme situation - see below. But no heckler enjoys being disliked by his peers. And if you've just got some pathological demon, well, see below. But short of having a pathological demon, everything detailed above will prevent this situation from happening. However you do need to establish your authority as the performer, after you meet everyone and start performing. Note, of course, that this only works if you're doing a good job of performing. If no-one really cares, then you leaving won't be a loss, so they won't be moved to move in your favour. Don't neglect your job.
In very extreme cases, this obviously may change - but then again, all the advice I've given above should fit into everything but the most extreme of cases. And when I say extreme, I will refer to the earlier example of the owner who pulled the literal plugs of the band performing. Or, the pathological demon mentioned above. When you get to that extreme, the only real possibility (in magic terms, it would be someone knocking cards out of your hand physically, or something similar) is indeed to confront them and end the performance. This is slightly contradictory to what I've said earlier, but there's really not much you can do. If you're at a gig, speak to the booker or security. If you're on the street, stand up for yourself foremost, think about entertainment afterwards. Stay safe, because they've forcibly removed the entertainment factor in an irrevocable way. You can perform to other people later - however high your goal is, you can cop one performance in your lifetime. There's not much you can do here. The only way you can win from this situation is to do well despite the guy, and the only way you can do that is to move on.
One last thing. Someone mentioned taking them aside, and asking them why they did it. I recall someone on here a long time ago providing the line, something along the lines of, "I see you're knowledgeable in card magic too. You know what, let me entertain these guys since they're obviously having fun, and we can have a more in depth discussion about the technical side of prestidigitation and subterfuge later, alright?" And then continue. Which is really quite interesting. The problem is though, given the generally young demographic of the guys here... Don't tell me that doesn't sound cheesy! Can you really imagine walking up to a heckling kid after and asking, "Why did you do that?" And good luck getting an answer! It's just not a practical response in my opinion because too many lack the maturity and age to do so. Richard Osterlind could get away with it. A kid with a backwards baseball cap, not so much.
My conclusion regarding a solution? Rapport works best. And you should be aiming for that anyway. Be more direct only if necessary, but never in a challenging way. Warn without challenging. And think about how you warn - It's the difference between saying "Please don't do this" and "Please don't do this, or else." The former is workable, the latter, bad.
I hope this has been mildly useful to someone - and even if you don't agree, please think about it anyway.
Intrigueing post P (i do not have the botheringness to type your name) I will read your essay later on when I find more time. perhaps tonight.
I agree with mostly what you have said, but what states that a magicians job is to "entertain everyone"? I understand what that may be so, but dont a lot of magicians perform based on different philosophies and goals?
Though I see where the "entertain everyone" applies, I follow "entertain everyone who is willing and allowing to be entertained". A magician comes to people to entertain them through performing magic. Everyone who wants to watch some good magic and have a good time should be in the "range" of the magician, anyone else who wants to be entertained in a different way should not.
For example youre at a party and half the people want to see some magic while the other half want to watch a movie. I dont find it necessary to take it as your job to entertain the movie half...
A heckler does not want to be entertained by watching you perform, they want to be entertained by ridiculing your performance, which is quite different.
I don't get why a lot of people differentiate magic with other entertainment based hobbies. I see the difference in style and flexibility and all, but its all the same. Comedians try to "entertain everyone" but they dont. Some people find their material offensive but they still continue cause when they do entertain the people who watch, they do a great job of it. Musicians try to make music everyone enjoys, but thats quite impossible so they only perform for those who want to listen.
Although I'm not saying that "entertaining everyone" wouldn't be awesome, I find that its more or less a holy grail. All magicians want it, but will never find it. That's why we have to make do with what we have and try to entertain as much people as possible.
What I want to know is whether or not the other audience enjoy what the heckler is doing, or do they only find it annoying. If you try to entertain the heckler, it may result in the disatisfaction of the rest of the audience. Now I pitch a hypothetical: What if the heckler heckles and everyone else finds it hilarious? what do you do then? do you continue "entertaining everyone" or do you stop?
Ah, you bring up a few good points. It looks like I have to reconsider how I say what I say. Do you entertain someone who doesn't want to be entertained? No, of course not. If you approach a group, and they obviously don't want to be entertained - they're in the middle of something, or having fun by themselves, or something's happened - that's fair enough. They'll refuse you, and you walk away and move on.
In the situation of a heckler, I see it as: a group of people who want to be entertained, and one person who can be entertained, but isn't. Most of the time, I find that it's not that hecklers don't want to be entertained per se - it's more that they resist it. I know it's a bit of a fine and dodgy line, so, to take what you've said then, the goal should be to entertain everyone who wants to be entertained, which means pacifying the heckler - but again, my emphasis would be on without embarrassing or challenging him. I see hecklers as just another bunch of spectators. Hecklers can actually give you some of the best reactions of anyone, it's very interesting. I like to see them as such because I think it's a good mentality to have - that hecklers are just another group of spectators, rather than the devil incarnate - if only because it means we treat them with a little more care, and are more aware of them, rather than just reacting to them and trying to smother them. Hecklers can be entertained just as much as anyone else, they're just more difficult to communicate with. The people I see who truly don't want to be entertained, are the groups of people I mentioned above - but a dislike of magic, or of you, or an observant type, or a know-it-all, doesn't at all necessarily not want to be entertained - more likely they just have some sort of issue which prevents them from allowing themselves to be entertained.
And incidentally, when I say I want to entertain everyone - it does refer to a few bits in my essay, but the most important thing about that is the idea of aiming high - another thing I've talked about before - although you correctly pointed out some faults with that in another sense.
And finally, to address your hypothesis, I'd say that you haven't done your job. Either you've forced yourself onto a group that doesn't want to be entertained, or else you've failed to assert your authority as a magician, enter the spectator's world gracefully, and establish rapport with the group.
Considering praetoritevong's viewpoint, I have to agree through personal experience that hecklers want to be entertained by magic, just like all (normal) spectators.
I have many Asians in my grade, and Koreans and Chinese are especially hard to please / deceive. I performed a few billet reading tricks for a Korean friend, and he actually figured out the exact method I did the center tear (please, no criticisms here, I know the fault is mine). He told me that, at some point in his childhood, he had started to watch magic for the sake of figuring them out, not for the sake of entertainment. He then said that his entertainment WAS to figure out tricks...needless to say I was disgusted and gave a face like o.0
Then, a few days later (today), I showed him a trick I made myself, which was so angle sensitive that I meant it as a joke. He then stared at my hand, and said "Wo...that was AMAZING. Seriously...that was GOOD."
I think he was entertained...amazement, to me, is an aspect of entertainment, and the one aspect we offer the most of in Magic.
Just my few cents.
i guess its just who you meet and the situation... Hard to decide...
you got hired for a gig. The employer loves magic but everyone else in the party does not want to see any? what would you do then?
I could never see that happening in practice. I would go around and meet people, and just explain that I'm being hired to entertain. It would take a stubborn spectator or particularly bad incident for someone to absolutely refuse. And it won't happen for every single person at the party. Sooner or later, someone will be kind to you, and that's your opening, and then it's your fault after that.
I think it's important to make one distinction here: People who don't want to see magic because they are busy, something has happened, etc., and people who have a bad impression of magic. If someone's just died, if someone's proposing, if people are in the middle of a heated discussion or argument, if people are watching the end of a sports game, if people are in the middle of a drinking game, they are busy. Leave those guys alone, and find the people who are socialising in a group, maybe standing in a circle with a drink in hand, away from the TV. If on the other hand, someone just has a bad impression of magic or magicians, absolutely you can do something about it. You need to make it very clear what distinguishes you from the stereotypical magician, or whatever it is that they don't like - in other words, you have to make them want you, and only then, you can work on getting them to like you and performing magic.
This is obviously a problem for the 15 year olds who perform Stigmata on the street with no patter, a backwards baseball cap, and elementary people skills.
Don't just learn to perform magic people, learn to perform.
Yea. I get that. I just threw in the hypothetical out of boredom.
I think it is impossible to give advice about hecklers.
I guess everyone has their own styles nad methods. It really depends on the magicia, people, trick, environment, heckler, context, age, everything...
i don't have the time to read though the posts right now, but I'll forget to post if I don't now..
You could 'take him under your wing..' not really teach him tricks, but give him some guidance.. tell him what books there are in the library.. teach him a simple move or trick.. basically, bring him into the world a little more, then explain how this world is build on secrecy.. respect the tricks, and respect fellow magicians.
Or ask how he would like it if he were doing a trick and you called him out on everything he did.
I like the first one better.. he has interest, and most likely calls out the moves not to be an asshat, but to appear knowledgeable. Give him some knowledge, and explain secrecy and respect