September 08 :: Heckler's

Discussion in 'Cerca Trova' started by waynehouchin, Sep 5, 2008.

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  1. one time i was preforming a trick and a dude was being a total jerk... so i took the deck and told him to pick a card and place it anywhere in the deck and shuffle...i started throwing cards on the floor until i had gone through about half the deck... i told him to pick any card in the middle and it would be his... as he bent over i threw the rest of the deck in his face... everybody busted out laughing and he never heckled me again...people heckle because they want to be the center of attention and cant handle when there not in the spot light.
    To fix a heckler to one of two things:
    1. Embarass them
    2. Bring them in on the trick and let them be in the "spotlight" for a few moments...
  2. Oh, sometimes if someone pisses me off, I'll say "Alright guys, we have ourselves a heckler here. A heckler is someone that likes to piss you off when performing." ;) However, I say it smiling an in a joking way to keep the mood happy, but then I will do the trick to the heckler then. Won't change the mood at all. :)

  3. one of my teachers told me about this... everyone in the world wants to be amazed, so thats why people watch magic, its also why you get away with loads stuff,

    why do you need a coat when you levitating, who cares! hes levitating, with both feet of the ground=im amazed, you insane, are you the devil.. yadda yadda yadda

    but hecklars, they want to amazed more than anyone else, so they ask saying stuff about the coat, because they want you to do it in more real so they can be amazed, that means they give better reactions when you do it totally clean, they cant explain it in there mind, you didnt cover the coin, you took it, they blow on it and it vanishes, were there sleaves? no, was it on tv? no, what did he do! and their mind goes mad because they cant explain it, there MUST have been something funny, but there wasnt! whats did he do? and then... magic.
    (I once vanished a rubber for this person who was being an ass, he stayed silent for 5 seconds and then shouted, "HES STEALING RUBBERS!" he he).

    so dont make fun of hecklars, they just wanna see magic.
  4. I've very much enjoyed reading about your experiences. I'd like to share a story that Shawn Farquhar shared with me a few weeks ago. For those of you who aren't aware - Shawn is a world champion magician, an extremely successful cruise ship entertainer, incredibly creative, and one hell of a nice guy.

    Shawn was performing in a comedy club back in 1988. For whatever reason, a man and his girlfriend in the audience decided to contribute to Shawn's act by heckling him... So Shawn bit back. He told the guy something to the effect of: "Hey, show me some respect... I could have been your father if the German Shepherd didn't beat me over the fence!" This comment got a laugh - and the heckler stormed out of the club.

    After the show Shawn drove home. The Guy who heckled him followed. He took a beer bottle, filled it with gasoline, stuffed a piece of his shirt into the opening, lit it on fire... and burned Shawn's apartment complex to the ground.

    Shawn and his wife lost everything in the fire. Shawn was hailed a hero after pulling more than a dozen people from the burning building. The heckler / arsonist was thrown in jail... served his time... got out of jail, found Shawn and beat him up.

    ... True story.

    Shawn will now tell you that he doesn't get heckled anymore. He spent a lot of time and energy building an onstage persona that was extremely likable - anyone who has ever seen him perform will understand.

    Each and every one of us will deal with hecklers at one time or another - Shawn learned that humiliating the heckler may get you a cheap laugh... but ultimately does not solve the problem. There are many reasons that someone may heckle a performer, but at the root of it is the need for attention.

    As a general rule - you need to command your performance in such a way that you control as much as possible, while still being courteous and respectful to your audience... even the hecklers.
  5. Wow Wayne... well that has to be the worst heckler story I've ever heard...

  6. Wayne...that is a really amazing story. I really, really, really hate hecklers now.
  7. I call dibs on that story for my new thriller screenplay entitled-

    HECKLER: The Joke's On You

    1. Yes. I have been heckled. The worst time was in a church performance. Unbelievable. (I also had the devil cast out of me in the middle of a performance by a sweet but misguided senior citizen. I'm not sure if that counts as heckling.)

    2. I use the Mac King system for hecklers. I'll explain below.

    3. All the reasons above, plus a couple new ones:
    A - Some people think they are HELPING you by being super-funny and playing your antagonist. I know this sounds stupid, but in bar and club atmospheres I have found this often to be the case.

    B - Some people are just a-holes. Plain and simple. These psychos are far and few between (in 15 years of performing regularly I've maybe met three of them), but when you find one there is no good solution. There are better and worse ways to handle it, but it's gonna be messy no matter what.

    4. Mac King has written an essay or two on handling hecklers, and I've talked to him about his system a couple times.
    My version goes like this:
    During my platform show, as a running gag, I pass out little gold star stickers to my assistants as a reward for helping me.
    When I have a heckler that's getting out of control I stop the show and say,"Awww. Somebody needs attention. Did you not get a gold star for being a special helper?" I take the heckler a gold star and as I peel it off the paper and stick it to his lapel I kill my mike and say, "Hey dude. Thanks for the extra funny lines tonight, but I need to keep the mood right for the rest of the show so dial it back for me. Thanks though. You were really funny."
    That's enough to fix it 80% of the time. If he/she is an interruption again, we do the same routine, except this time I'm a little more aggressive. I say, "I really want you to see the rest of the show, but if you interrupt again you're going to be removed."
    I've only had to have bouncers help me remove someone twice - BOTH were women. Women hecklers are the worst because they tend to be more verbal and because you can really come across as a jerk if you treat them wrong.
  8. Shawn surely is a very nice guy and very likeable performer. I had never heard that story before, how horrible for Shawn and his wife.

    my stock response for hecklers, which I have discussed before, is something to the effect of...

    "You know if you're not enjoying the magic, you're free to leave. I won't be offended if you're not interested, it's fine, don't worry about it."

    This is said tongue in cheek, but in a very respectful tone. Almost sarcastically, but not aggresive or rude.
    This leaves the heckler with nowhere to go, really. You've respectfully acknowledged that they have a problem, and suggested a way to remedy that issue. What are they going to do, argue? Why? You've only suggested a way to help the guy out...

    This has been my preferred response for a while now, and it works around 90% of the time. The other 10% is genereally when the heckler is drunk... Then they CAN get a little erratic... I find the best way to handle this scenario is to calmly than kthe other spectators for watching, pack up and move on. To another table, or another group, whatever the situation in which you are performing.

  9. Incidently, Jamie Kennedy has a new documentary coming out soon about the relationship between performers and hecklers. It seems to mostly revolve around stand up comedians, but I'm sure a lot of it will translate for magicians as well. Criss Angel is one of the performers interviewed.

    You can check out the website ( for a trailer and some clips. Kinda interesting considering our topic.
  10. 1. YEP
    2. say funny thing or quickly i do something simple and effective
    3. to prove they can catch you on everymove you make and make you look like the fool one (but not when i'm performing :p )
    4. if they said i saw how you did the trick i imediatly give them the deck and tell them do for me the trick they just shut their mouth
  11. 1) Have you every been heckled during a performance?

    - In six years of practicing magic, and 1 year professionally... who hasn't. There will always be hecklers while there are performers.

    2) If so, how did you handle it?

    - At first i did not handle it. I simply would try to out wit them or out smart them with my magic, with ultimately does not make your magic enjoyable for those who do are genuinely trying to enjoy your magic. Normally now with experience i tend to drift away from someone i think can be a heckler, or if i find myself with one i try to make myself likable by everyone so one will feel the need to heckle me. However if one is persistent, i will either pay them no mind and they will calm down themselves when they receive no attention, or if i am only performing for them, finish my routine quickly and walk away.

    3) Why do you think people heckle performers?

    - Attention. Ultimately

    4) What are some possible solutions to dealing with a heckler?

    - As ive stated ahead, at least for me, the best plan of action is to show no attention to them and they will calm down themselves.
  12. Wow, it is incredible that Shawn still performs after that. He knew he still had to perform.
  13. 1) Have you every been heckled during a performance? - Yes. People have always wanted to see my gimmicked cards, or my palms. It was very frustrating.

    2) If so, how did you handle it? - Honestly, I just walked away. I tried to hide my cards and do a crappy switch, but it never works well. I end up disappointed. This is why I dislike gimmicks and sleights.. while I wish I don't have to.

    3) Why do you think people heckle performers? - They want to be cool and the top dog. Everybody is proud of the magician for doing something sweet, and they want attention.

    4) What are some possible solutions to dealing with a heckler? - Provide useful comebacks. Make some misdirection while hiding the gimmicks.

  14. 1. Have you ever been heckled during a performance? - Yes, the other day in fact.

    2. If so, how did you handle it? I ignored it for the most part. I befriended the audience early so they did most of the work in shutting him up. Occasionally, I chipped in a line like "If you know it that's cool, don't spoil it for the rest of the girls though ok? It's not fun if you know..." And then lost him with superior sleight of hand.

    3. Why do you think people heckle performers? They like being the centre of attention... Some people get so caught up with their own ability to make jokes that that is the only situation they are used to. They are constantly performing in their minds.

    4. Befriend your audience, get them on your side. Perfect your sleights. Make a judgment call on each separate occasion and act appropriately.
  15. 1) Yes, its not a fun thing to go through, especially if you have not learned how to handle it.

    2) I perform magic on the heckler for a few minutes, i do my strongest magic on them. by this time hopefully they have calmed down, because they have seen what they have been wanting to see.

    3) Why do i think people heckle performers?
    I think they want the attention, big ego's. Or they cant figure out how we do the magic. What Hecklers don't realize is that they are not supposed to know how it is done. They think we are trying to fool them or make them look stupid.
    they dont realize we are just trying to entertain them.
    I also think that they just want to see something that is truley amazing to them. they probably just want to see something they can not possibly explain.

    4) Possible solutions for dealing with a heckler... Talk to them, let them know that you are trying to entertain them. Do something that you know they will want to see. Show them something that will make them wonder!
  16. I've been heckled. It was harsh. Not nearly as harsh as Mr. Farquhar's experience but still harsh.

    As a side note, I met Shawn this week... what an incredibly nice, warm, and caring guy, something that makes his story all the more sad.

    Anyways, my heckling got out of hand two years ago. I was actually performing at school for a guy who essentially demanded I show him a trick. I was already intimidated by this guy and the whole situation didn't feel right. But I'm not one to turn down a magic request, so I decided to show an effect to the guy and get out of there fast.

    I pulled out my cards, and just as I was starting, the guy I was performing for shoved me. Apparently someone else had secretly bent over behind him, casuing me to trip and fall hard on my back.

    A few other hazy instances occured. Then, my magic club buddy who also happens to be on the police force found out, and the police got involved in it all. After about two weeks of discussion, he was given an extremely firm talking-to and a very serious warning. I knew the situation wouldn't happen again, at least not with the same guy.

    But that was in elementary school, a place where I didn't like many of my fellow classmates and they didn't like me in return. High school has been fantastic, I am respected and give respect back to them in return. It's like one big family. However there was one instance of some mild verbal heckling but nothing serious. Just making rude comment about things I was doing, asking me if I "jerk off" to the naked angels on the backs of Bicycle Cards, things like that. Nothing I can't handle.
  17. 1.Yes i was
    2. I just showed them the strongest and easy impromptu trick ever. the bidlle trick.
    3. They don't believe in magic
    4. When they say i know how you do it, i just tell them to take my deck and perform me the same card trick.
  18. Hang on, the police got involved in a little fight between elementary kids? I understand that you were quite within your rights to be upset, but what the heck did the police do? That just seems like something the 84 year old teacher should be dealing with, not the police force...

    Oh, well, maybe I am misunderstanding the situation...I hope so...

  19. 1) Have you every been heckled during a performance?

    Yes.. Once...

    2) If so, how did you handle it?

    That guy just told me that he know how I do that.. So, I finish my routine and told the audience "Hey, this guy told me that he know my trick... So, let me give him the deck and let him explain what I'm doing..." After that, the heckler act like he know it and just ruin his performance.... Not close to the routine at all.... =.=

    3) Why do you think people heckle performers?

    They want to be the centre of attention.. They think that they're smarter then us...

    4) What are some possible solutions to dealing with a heckler?

    a) If the heckler told u that he know how u did the routine and he's not a magician, do as I do (Question number 2)

    b) Show him your best trick (make sure that the trick doesn't use gimmick.... Usually I do "Control" by Wayne Houchin... :D)

  20. My experience

    1. Yes, I have been heckled on several occasions.

    2. The first time I was heckled, it was severe. I was performing for 20 some people while waiting for my ride on the subway in Washington d.c. I performed Saw and Revolution, which horrified and amazed people, respectfully. And then this guy showed up. Asked me to do something else. So I pulled out my deck. He started trying to call out every single thing I did, every movement, every nuance. Really pissed me off. People started walking away after a bit, which killed my mood. This having been my first heckler, I just tried to play everything off. It wasn't successful. The worst part is, after he essentially shut down my performance and scattered my crowd (while trying to do the DUMBEST coin trick...putting a quarter through his head; very unsuccessful), he ended up getting on the same subway car as me and my girl. Kept calling me "Featherweight" for some reason. Heckled me for another 15 minutes.

    Another spectator tried heckling me while I was performing as a gift to a friend. I was mid-effect when I heard a cat call of some wise guy claiming to know how I did the effect. My friend, a guy, actually b*tch slapped the heckler and told him to stop ruining his birthday. That problem pretty much solved itself :D

    3. Attention. Or they think they're awesome because they can solve the mystery like it's a math problem. Or both.

    4. I've learned to do one of two things when encountering hecklers these days. The first is to stop completely what I'm doing, fold my hands in front of me, and stare wordlessly at the heckler, then around at my spectators, then back at the heckler. Eventually someone will boot the guy/girl from the group, and I'll resume with a 'Thank you for your patience'.

    The other is a bit more direct. I'll ask the group as a whole, 'Which, folks, do you believe to be more profound and lasting? Watching a bit of powerful magic and remembering it your whole life? Or listening to some jacka$$ ruin things and forget the experience in a week?' I rarely have problems past either one of those avenues.
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