Spoil Sports

Jul 30, 2015
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30
I ran into the most egregious example of a kind of behavior I've witnessed on rare occasions, namely, manipulating the cards while they are in my hands. I took steps to handle it, and almost pulled things off with a spontaneously modified trick. But then the behavior became even more egregious and the spectator engaged in vastly more excessive manipulation of the cards (again, while they were in my hands.)

How do you deal with spectators who physically GRAB the cards while you're holding them and do things with them? Witty repartee? Clever mocking? Moving to an entirely new trick which requires no handling? Telling them they're complete jerks?

I know this isn't common. In the rare cases in which it occurs, it can usually be worked around. And I'm pretty sure I happened to stumble upon the incredibly rude wife of some kind of lame card magician. (That's what she told me, at any rate.) But she wasn't the only person around, and she actively attempted to physically interfere multiple times by repeatedly snatching cards out of my hands.

Any thoughts on how to best deal with this kind of horrible behavior?
 
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Bryant_Tsu

Elite Member
Do whatever you think is right. If the spectator isn't letting you carry out your performance because of inappropriate behavior you should have all the right to stop and move to someone else.

If they ask why or make remarks about you quitting that trick, simply explain that you're trying to do your job and they're being disruptive.

If you're performing something in the wrong setting (like something with tight angles) and the spectator has reason to believe that something incredibly fishy is going on, then that's on you. If not and they just want to mess with you, that's on them.
 
Jul 30, 2015
89
30
Some suggestions for dealing with folks who "just want to mess with you" is what I'm looking for. The "that's on them" isn't an appropriate response, IMNSHO. When people try to actively screw you over, you should still aim to have outs. Packing up and going home isn't a legitimate "out." Moving to a trick which doesn't offer them the opportunity to grab cards out of your hands could be one out. That much is obvious. But I posted because I'm interested in other folk's ways of handling hostile spectators (which go beyond the lame "you're disruptive" and so "I'm out" line.)
 

Bryant_Tsu

Elite Member
Based on your responses it has become apparent to me that you are looking for advice, but you have a very narrow mindset (concerning this topic) as to what is worth looking into and what is utter trash (which I'm guessing is what you thought of my response). If you are looking for specific ways to deal with unruly spectators in a way that you seem fit, then you should be the one to come up with ideas. If suggestions (such as mine) are in your "not so humble opinion" appropriate, or that certain actions (that I recommended considering) to be obviously illegitimate, you should be asking yourself what seems worthwhile. After all, ideas you come up with will be 100% agreeable, correct?

Since I'm the one doing the talking, my reasoning for backing out of a performance due to an unruly spectator, is because I believe that your talent should be used for a deserving audience, if they aren't worth your time, find a spectator who is (this is my own opinion, don't get worked up).
 

Justin.Morris

Elite Member
Aug 31, 2007
2,758
871
Canada
www.morrismagic.ca
This: http://www.powells.com/images/blog/blog_kirsten_rj1.jpg


But in my experience, Bryant is correct. If you find someone who is trying to be Alpha it only makes you look bad when you try and one up them. The best advice is to wrap it up and move on to the next table.

If others are really enjoying the performance they will likely step in and tell the person to cut it out. If not, then the drama of watching you two duel it out is going to be more interesting to them. If they are friends, then you will not win them over by calling the jerk out or humiliating them. The only thing that you will accomplish is making yourself look desperate to save your pride.

Now if you're performance is taking place in a venue like a club where the crowd often has hecklers then having some lines to redirect them (read:encourage them to be quiet) is about all you can do.

You situation however sounds like you are at school and you keep performing for the same person. If they don't like your performing then stop performing around them or near them. How many times do you go back to touch the stove that burnt you?

Another (more important) question to ask yourself is 'why is this happening?'
-does this person have something against you? Do they hate magic? Are they trying to be funny or the center of attention? Are they trying to impress a girl? Are you doing magic for their crush/girlfriend? Are you a jerk to them and they are returning the attitude? Is your reaction escalating the problem instead of diffusing it? Is your performance laid out as a challenge rather than entertainment? Do you make the participant a hero or a fool?

Do some serious self reflection on these and if you are willing to be honest with yourself and the situation you will vastly improve your approach and performances.
 
If your not being paid to perform I would suggest just stopping. It might feel weird but more often than not the person will apologize and be quiet, in which case you just move on to your next trick. If not, don't do magic to those people anymore.

If you are being paid it's a bit tougher, generally a heckler is looking for attention, but it's difficult to turn the audience against a heckler if you're doing close up to 3-4 people. You can try having them be a part of a trick, during which you make them do all sorts of ridiculous stuff (friends will always laugh at friends) it gives them attention in a way they wont want again.

Hope this helps some!

P.S
if you just want a one liner for when someone grabs the cards out of your hand, "Oh well i was gonna make the card appear in my shoe but i guess she wants to show you herself! well let's see it then"
bonus points for making the card come out of yor shoe after she fails
 

RealityOne

Elite Member
Nov 1, 2009
3,627
3,940
New Jersey
Rule #1: The performer is always in control. The moment you cede any control to an audience member, you have given them permission to interrupt at any time.

Rule #2: Do not make magic about "See what I can do" because it is an implicit challenge to the audience to "figure out how I do it." Similarly, don't present magic with say-do-see patter because if you only focus on what you are doing with the props, then the audience will try to figure out how you are doing it.

Rule #3: Respect your audience. Don't talk down to them, don't be mean to them, don't make them feel foolish, don't belittle them.

Rule #4: Structure your performance to nullify possible explanations. Having the spectator shuffle the deck at the beginning nullifies any potential of you knowing where a card is and, as a result, they don't ask to shuffle during the trick. If you need to do a control, you shuffle the deck nonchallantly before starting (the audience will see this and assume that there is no set up because you are doing it without any emphasis). Along with this is avoiding any fishy moves that draw attention to what you are doing -- this means structuring the performance to use sleights that are justified and practicing those sleights so they are invisible.

Rule #5: Get the audience to like you before you begin performing. (See Rules 2 and 3). If the audience wants to see you suceed, they will not interrupt you.

If you follow those rules, you will avoid 99% of all difficult spectators. For that one percent, your response should be congruent with rules 1,3 and 5. So if the spectator tries to grab the deck to shuffle it, gently pull it away and tell them "Now wouldn't be a good time to shuffle because I've commited the entire order of the deck to memory and then I'd have to start over. See (turning over the cards) the nine of hearts is right after the 6 of spades which is after the 5 of diamonds... hang on... the king should be next... let me move that. OK, where were we?" or "You really don't need to see the deck... hang on. let me try that using my Jedi mind trick powers... this is not the deck you are looking at..." or "shuffling right now would ruin the trick, humiliate me beyond anything I've ever experiened and possibly increase the rate of climate change." or "Let me finish this trick and then you can shuffle the deck until your heart is content."
 
Jul 30, 2015
89
30
Some good thoughts. And yes, this isn't even a 1% situation. It's at most a .5% situation, and I think that's probably a high-end estimate. (But I can also see my past self doing this to people. There's zero question that it's going to happen at some point.)

>>Your situation however sounds like you are at school and you keep performing for the same person.

No. =)

>>Now if you're performance is taking place in a venue like a club where the crowd often has hecklers then having some lines to redirect them (read:encourage them to be quiet) is about all you can do.

I've been thinking about this a bit. I'm leaning towards clever mocking. For example, if a woman snatches a card out of your hand and turns it over, something along the lines of: "Oh, so you like to turn tricks?" might be a funny way of discouraging that behavior in a humorous manner. I'm undecided as to whether this is a wise idea.
 

RealityOne

Elite Member
Nov 1, 2009
3,627
3,940
New Jersey
I've been thinking about this a bit. I'm leaning towards clever mocking. For example, if a woman snatches a card out of your hand and turns it over, something along the lines of: "Oh, so you like to turn tricks?" might be a funny way of discouraging that behavior in a humorous manner. I'm undecided as to whether this is a wise idea.

It's not. See Rule #3 and Rule #5. Don't take the risk that your response will tick off the rest of your audience (or get you punched by her 250 pound boyfriend who is build like a linebacker). In your situation, I'd be honest with your audience. If she ruins the effect by grabbing the card, just say "We all know magic is an illusion, but grabbing the card from my hands ruins everyone's ability to enjoy that illusion. If you (gesturing to the rest of the audience) want to share some magic, I can do something else, but you (gesturing to the person) need promise that you won't try to ruin everyone's enjoyment of the performance." If it doesn't ruin the effect, say something like, "I realize you are excited but it would really be helpful if you don't interfere with my performance -- it really makes it difficult for everyone to enjoy the magic." That prevents the spectator from doing it again because you've essentially nicely told her that to do so would ruin the audience's enjoyment of the performance -- you change it from being you against her to her against the audience. Also, review the other rules -- I suspect you violated some of them in your performance.

Your description of what happened is vague -- where were you performing, what were you saying, what effects where you performing, what did she do and how did you react? The more detail you provide, the better we can understand what happened and the better advice we can provide.
 
Jul 30, 2015
89
30
You've got some really, genuinely good suggestions. I'll post a few thoughts on some of them. But to preface, I think your rules are genuinely good guidelines.

Regarding Rule #3, what counts as respect, talking down, or making someone feel foolish is not always easy to evaluate. And I'm not sure the example of what I called "clever mockery" would count as exhibiting a lack of respect or be qualify as "talking down" to the audience. Surely whether or not it would would be highly dependent on delivery, personality, and other factors (including the audience!) What the jovial magician with a twinkle in his eye can say without disrespect may not be something everyone can pull off. This is a genuinely good rule, but I think it's application is not quite so clear cut.

My first reaction to your direct, to the point, response was, "Wow, that's really good." I like directness and frankness. But then it occurred to me that delivering such a speech (or lecture), which so clearly points out the error and the reasons why it was so egregious, would probably have the effect of making the audience feel far more foolish. It might even result in severe embarrassment, or worse, tears. I think there's a fairly clear sense in which that kind of direct correction is too severe, and should perhaps only be used (if ever) in clear cases of obviously unjustified malicious intent, and not, for example, in cases prompted by an overeager sense of curiosity.

Reviewing my own presentation of the effect, I've realized that I can adjust patter (and other means of maintaining control) in order to further minimize this sort thing. I think it's clear that better scripting would have helped me avoid the situation. Some effects are deeply dependent on precise word choice and the timing of particular, carefully worked out, phrasings. In this case, I can easily reduce the probability of interference by going down that road.

Regarding Rule #2, a strict application of it would probably rule out many performances of the cups and balls. And say-do-see patter may be very useful as part of the set-up of an overall trick. But again, it's a good guideline.

Hopefully you find this response an indication that your thoughts were appreciated!
 
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