Social Skills + Hecklers can be avoided

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by RDChopper, Jul 4, 2011.

  1. Hey guys, it's been a while since I posted something, and I remember a thread not so long ago talking about how having a heckler "sux" , so I would like to speak a little bit about how to avoid them, and in a worst case escenario, handle them.

    Beware, it might be a long read :)


    For me, there are two main types of hecklers, I will explain each and how to handle them.

    The intellectual heckler

    These guys don't want to mess up your tricks, they just don't believe in magic and they think there is a solution or a "logical" explanation to how you do your tricks; That's why they are going to be constantly wanting to check if you grabbed a double, if the card that is in the spectator hands haven't been changed already and stuff like that.

    They still enjoy watching you do magic, and meanwhile they will not get amased at the "magic" you are perfoming, they will still be amased to the dexterity that you have to perform those kind of things, if they ask if you have a double, or think that something already happened, it's not because they want to mess up the trick, it's because meanwhile you are performing or doing something, they will automatically start thinking about methods and the possible explanations to what you are doing, when they ask you things like about your double lift etc, it's just because they want to see if their hipothesis are correct.

    If they ask you, don't be afraid, they still do not know the method and they just want to see if they are correct.

    Handling them is easy, just perfect your techniques to the point they look flawless and effortless, don't practice your sleights to the point where you can decently perform them, practice them to the point where it doesn't look like you did a thing, it will add to the drama and it will boggle their mind much more, making them question themselves (withouth them asking you) if their thought method is correct.

    Also have a couple of outs, learn how to show for example a double lift face up, and if they ask for the card, or if you see them reaching out to touch it and see if they are two cards, lear how to disguise the other card and give them only one card, there are a couple of methods I actually use, and I know you will figure something out :). Also let them shuffle the cards, don't wait until they ask for this, if you genuily ask them to shuffle the cards, in their minds it is being fair.

    P.S You don't want to play cat and mouse with them, if you understand my meaning.

    The A-hole heckler

    This kind of guy doesn't care about the method, they don't care about how the trick works or anything like that.

    They just want to mess you up.

    Handling them is easier than the above. First of all you have to understand their motives behind trying to mess you up. Maybe you are impressing the girl they are with, maybe you are having all the attention during that momment. Hecklers of this kind are often lousy people, they enjoy listening to themselves, and usually are leaders among their group, they are accustomed to have all the attention and if they see you having the spotlight, they will directly see you as a threat to their social standing. That's why they will try to mess you up.

    Make them part of the trick, share your spotlight with them, make them feel important, compliment them on their social skills or whatever, they need to feel approved by you and by the rest of the room, and giving them the illusion of approval is easy. If you are accustomed to have the spotlight on you, that's great, but in this case, make the tricks about him, not about you.


    I don't know you guys, but for me, the best case escenario is where I don't have to handle this kind of situations, and to do so is really really easy, I'll begin with a overrall talk about how to do it, and then I will break it up so that you guys get my meaning :).


    Above all, you need social skills, you need to portray youself as a cool guy that not only does magic, but a guy that it's also cool to hang out with. If you actually use magic as your way to be more social or more "accepted" per see, don't worry, a lot of this things can be faked. You need to win the overrall aproval of the room WITOUTH USING MAGIC, don't enter the room like " Hey guys! want to see something really really cool?" You lose your value, instead, if they ask you for something and the party or whatever is just starting, make them wait for it, be like "Not right now, maybe I will do something later :)" they will respect you and that will give you value. Also it helps you, because meanwhile they are going to talk about the amasing things you have done in the past and that will create interest in other people, giving your magic and YOU more value rather than performing right away.


    I will put it this way:

    In order to appear "cool" to them, and winning their aproval (and rapport), first you need to earn their respect. That's why you need social skills for that, think about it, if they don't respect you, they will heckle you like hell.

    If you already have social skills, that's great! if you don't don't worry, a lot of these things can be faked and you can use them in order to gain respect.

    SMILE.- This one is easy, just SMILE. Smile when you met someone new, smile when you adress someone, and smile if they come to you and speak to you, it shows confindence, and smiling is contagious, if you smile, people can't avoid smiling as well. Just try it.

    OPEN GESTURES.- I think that you already know this, but communication is 80% physical and 20% verbal. Use this to your advantage, having open gestures like moving your hands with open palms or being animated, it displays that you are actually confident, and having confidence earns respect.

    Think about it, it is all about personal space, if you are like really introvert and you gestures are like really inward and heavily closed, that means that your personal space is really small, and people are more likely to "invade" that personal space of yours. Instead, if your gestures are opne towards people, psicologically you are widening your personal space, you are marking your territory, and uncounciosly people will notice that.

    Practice your patter witouth cards, or just practice talking to your mirror using open gestures and being animated and "passionate" about what you are talking about

    VOICE.- Have you noticed how if you are watching a movie, and the actor lowers his voice, and all the music goes to the background, chanses is that you are going to get close to listen, you WANT to know what it is happening and what is he talking about.

    Be passionate when you talk, if you are talking abou good times, smile and be like you are feeling that emotion just in that mommnet, if you are talking about something sad, get sad, pause sometimes, lower your voice, and if you can, practice your diction. Sometimes when we are performing, we get anxious and we start talking really fast or nothing at all. you need to fix this, and when talking with people about surface matters, learn how to manipulate your voice.

    I already spent like an hour writing this, I will continue later and will add some more things guys.

    But in overall, if you win the heckler respect, he will NOT want to heckle you. I assure you.
  2. This guy gets it. :)
  3. Great post, I really enjoyed reading it. You really hit the nail on the head: It's about how you carry yourself as a performer, even before you perform.
  4. Thanks man. This definitely has helped me with the problem I've been facing
  5. #5 RikAllen, Jul 5, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 5, 2011
    Double posted somehow...this can be deleted...thanks :)
  6. Good read, solid advice - I have similar views but with different explanations.

    Mainly with
    Having open gestures does exude confidence, but I don't see it as marking your territory, I think of it more along the lines of inviting your audience into your space to have a good time as a group. By including everyone (asking for everyone's name, and remembering the names) you go a long way in letting everyone feel comfortable around you. The more comfortable they are, the more likely they'll enjoy what you have to show them (which is hopefully well rehearsed, flawless miracles...and not un-rehearsed and confusing tricks).

    And to add a few things:
    To go along with the open gestures, and smile, make Eye contact...and not just briefly, hold the eye contact as long as you're not doing something they need to see. If you want them to witness a color change then look down at the cards, if you're explaining something to (or listening to<-- ) your audience then look them in the eyes. No exceptions, while I'm on the subject...

    Don't be condescending to anybody, even 5 year old's don't like being treated like children(and yes, they can tell that you're treating them like a child). Children (well behaved children...some just ain't been disciplined 'nuff) are very good spectators if you don't treat them like they're idiots - While they're probably not genius' yet, they can read people better than most adults (scary, huh?) and don't appreciate being talked down to. If you're effect is clear and direct then 2 year olds can understand what's going on, and that it's amazing (even if they're taking cues from the adults...).

    Voice: Very good advice, a good way to get used to doing this is telling stories without magic, you want a chance to practice theater and not have to be on stage (and no worries about messing up?) provide a reading at your local library for's a chance to be silly and practice using your voice for characters, emotions, and also exercising your facial expressions...want to have a behaving crowd? Show them a quick magic trick and then tell them you'll show them another if they all behave throughout the story. You can even teach them something (like the jumping rubber band) if they're old enough and behave throughout the entire story. If you're trying to get into the kids birthday party market...this is a great way to go (balloon animals can also be a prize for being quiet/still during the story). If you're not attempting to get into that market, you can still read to the kids as a substitute for actual theater (think of it as a stepping stone, reading for kids and then on stage in front of 100's of people!)

    In short, respect (eye contact, letting someone speak when appropriate (and listening to them), etc...) will yield a lot less heckling and a lot of better reactions. Even the intelligent heckler will wait until you're done to inquire about the 'how'. In fact, listen to these spectators the most, whenever they question about a 'move' then that's where you need to put work into. If your doubles get called out, then they probably need work.

    Again, great read, building rapport prior to doing your magic is very important, and sometimes more important, than having perfected your routines. (not that you shouldn't practice...)
  7. Static show that 85% of people that get fire is because they don't "fit" in the group as they said. Their personality is just not good enough for the group. Having a good personnality will get you where you want to go. Read also How to make friend and influence people by Dale carnegie, tremendous book about people skill.
  8. 80 percent of your audience will be some kind of a heckler. Its just that way. However, work the non hecklers. Thats what I do. I will walk into a crowd and pick the one who will listen. The reason a heckler is a heckler is because the performer caters to them. I try to dictate to my audience, the one's with sense. I remember doing a few card tricks a while back and I'll always do a standard ACR. Some was amazed. Others weren't. Watch your reactions. The good one's. You must be your own editor so to speak. Derren Brown doesn't pick skeptics unless he's sure its fool proof enough to where even the heckler will get tricked.

    You mentally tune out the hecklers and work the respectable ones. You are fighting a losing battle, a heckler is a heckler wether you do something amazing or not. Win that person over by way of your believers. Magic is a lot like religion. The magician is in this case the pastor or faith healer. Neither wins over the congregation. Its the few that believes that will have influence over their friends who gets them to believe. We (human beings) are skeptical by nature. We believe things through conversation and testimonies. The so-called proof (magic) only strengthen our beliefs.

    Don't try to make a heckler a believer. Make them participate by comittee. They will automatically get it when you are not using them. They will shut up or try to ruin your trick. It doesn't matter even if they know the trick. They can't repeat what you just did. Have thick skin and resist talking back. There's nothing worse than a magician who has to defend his tricks. It takes away from you as a performer.
  9. The thing is, that you can actually make them believers way before performing anything of your stuff, the performance starts the momment you walk through the door, not the minute you take out your cards ;).
  10. true, but sometimes they can just be idiotic! I've performed for these people. There's respectable hecklers! Then there's some like the guy that was on david's stone's DVD where he basically bit the guy! which was funny. But yeah you are right, there's some like to touch and turn over cards and stuff. As if magic is real.

    criss angel, david blaine, those guys have the ability to make people believers before they start. maybe you do as well, I don't have that kind of reputation. i wish i was you!
  11. Good read.

    Also if you have a real bad heckler, just say sorry I cant perform with this baboon here and leave, that will make him feel bad, and you he might approach you to apologize then amaze, or something along those lines.

  12. The problem that I have making the heckler feel "bad" is that you are making an enemy for future performances, either he is going to heckle you again (and even worse than before) or he will start talking S##t about you.

    It's social relations, all over again :)
  13. You shouldn't be afraid of letting your balls drop and standing up for yourself. If you just act submissive and too "nice" those types of people will never take you seriously and will just walk all over your entire life.
  14. Yah nice post... I kind of do the same, try not to even let the situation arise in the first place... be friendly, have fun, flirt, take the piss, talk a bit before you even get your cards out... I had a wicked gig on Tuesday, a corporate party for 50 guests... everyone had a blast, you just have to create magical moments and feelings not try to push 'magic down' their throats...

    The highlight for me is I could see this one guy giving me kind of evil looks right from the beggining... after a while his friends said oh he's so scepticle, he hates this stuff - show him!!! I just said "wicked - my favourite type of audience, how's it going mate..." and off I went - showed him some simple, clean ACR type stuff and within seconds he was my bigest fan there, throughout the night he kept bringing people to me etc, was awesome. Had a chat with him and he told me that when he heard they had 'entertainment' he thought f*cking hell I hope it's not a magician - just really glad I could change his perception as I too don't really like the word Magician. Looking back I think this was only possible as I was totally on his level, just a couple of geezers in a bar and I'm showing him some crazy sh*t... not trying to fool him or make him look stupid, or being that cliched rabbit and hat type guy.

    But yeah, if there's a drunk **** just trying to mess stuff up, that's all they're going to want to do, so just hit them with the hardest quick effect you have and then move on... or just saw the cnut in half ;) Usually if others around are enjoying your stuff, this guy is just getting in the way of that - so the audience will naturally want to get rid of him... unless he's the boss... then you're screwed!!!!
  15. Regarding Randy and Kashbey:

    Yeah, There are actually sometimes when they are just plain A-holes, I mean, I'm going to be as nice as I can, but if they keep pushing it, I'll just stop and be "You know what? you are not enjoying this, I'll stop now" with a really serious face, Im going to let them know that I will not stand to their behaviour and just stop there.

    Im not going to offend them though, or try to make them look bad doing tricks Brain Tudor style, offending them or trying to make them look bad will only lower me to their level in the eyes of the rest of the group.

    It happens from time to time, but yeah it does happen. There sn't a lot you can do when you have a A-hole Heckler and on top of that, drunk.
  16. Just to add something quick, the whole idea of a performance (In my opinion ) is that you have to perform under your terms and rules, if you lower yourself to start playing the heckler's game, you are lowering yourself and then you are performing under THEIR rules of game.

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