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Topic: Heckler Stoppers When You Can't Walk Away
Message: Posted by: warren (Jul 9, 2019 01:25PM)
I cam across a post on a magic forum group on FB where a magician was performing for a group of 10 people and one spectator was giving him a real hard time, you know the sort ie can I shuffle the cards, I want to change my card for another one, let me look at those rings altogether, let me hold the rope and see if you can get the ring on etc.

So I thought it might be good to post some real world advice for when this situation arrives so that we can have something to fall back on.

Imagine the situation, your being paid to perform and you get called over to perform something for a certain person only to discover this person is the spectator from hell, now remember your being paid well, you've been asked to show this person something perhaps from the host so what do you do ?

To get the ball rolling here's some ideas.

1/ Marked deck: once the spectator actually takes a card and shows it around you've basically won that round.

2/ The Bar Code Gag: it fits in your wallet so packs small, your guaranteed to make the group laugh, the spectator won't like it but hey who cares

3/ MD Mini: Even though I don't find these type of routines entertaining as long as more than one person gets to see what colour is showing or number if using a die it's going to be impossible to get it wrong

Over to you
Message: Posted by: puggo (Jul 9, 2019 03:23PM)
I've not really encountered much in the way of issues in recent years (touch wood) and if someone is a bit feisty and cards are in play, I would opt for a light hearted thought of card quickie with a top change and CTW 'out'. I've used this many times for challenging spectators and it hasn't failed me (and allows me to keep control of the cards).
You can then of course let a (nice) audience member shuffle them if you want :-)
In many ways, I think good lines/banter can be at least as effective as a heckler stopper trick.

I used to carry one of these: https://www.cards4magic.co.uk/donor-card-card-blue-back-p-1309.html as it got a laugh and was not confrontational, but stopped a few years back.

My first ever proper gig was with 2 other magicians (who were good friends) and there was this woman who was really aggressive/disruptive/challenging.
She was really giving one of the magicians a hard time. He was about to walk off so I introduced myself and asked if she could guess what was in my pocket. I happened to have an 8 foot appearing pole that I produced and it completely floored her in a good way - she was laughing and happily watched another trick without issue.
However, when my magi friend returned with the intent of perhaps giving it another go, she turned back into a pain in the a**...
With that said, after a couple of gigs I stopped carrying the pole at close up gigs due to the impractical reset etc.

I think that the more you do, the less hecklers you get due to a good approach, experience at managing difficult situations etc., but sadly there's no way of completely eliminating the chance of running into an idiot. For most close up workers, our job is intruding on people and that carries risk!

Not that I have an MD mini, but I wouldn't risk such a prop with a bad crowd (I'm too tight!). I also wonder if a 'challenge' trick may be less effective compared to something surprising/silly.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Jul 9, 2019 04:46PM)
No matter who hired you for how much you are not a trained monkey. You don't have to be treated like that.

Finish up what you are doing and move on. You never are going to look great in the exchange so why bother? Nobody knows what routines you have planned. Just move on.

If you can force a card the game is over.
Message: Posted by: warren (Jul 9, 2019 05:15PM)
Thanks for the response and Danny I agree with you completely personally I just wouldn't bother with that type of spectator either.

Puggo as soon as you mentioned the 8ft pole from pocket it made me chuckle I would imagine that would disarm any hostile type spectators ha ha
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Jul 9, 2019 08:33PM)
The truth is that sometimes "that guy " is just that guy and nothing you do is going to help. It simply doesn't matter who hired you for how much you can't make people not be who they are.

It is vanity that makes magicians try in the first place. It is a complete lack of understandable of the audience. When you are in walk around situations you may not always be welcome. The fact is you may be an interruption, and not a welcome one.

Contrary to what magicians seem to believe not everyone wants to see or even likes magic. To try to make them watch is pointless.

Also the part of the equation that is missed is the spectators point of view. Clearly they don't want to watch so to try to force some effect on them they don't want to see in the first place is just crazy in my view. Go to those who want to watch.
Message: Posted by: warren (Jul 10, 2019 01:55AM)
Danny once again I agree with you however in our hypothetical situation it was the booker that asked you to do something for their friend, in this situation you would have been put on the spot as you wouldn't have been able to gauge the situation beforehand.

Admittedly this would be a very rare situation but I also think that this would be the worst case scenario so if one can walk away from this situation with some degree of success then the magician would have done well.
Message: Posted by: davidpaul$ (Jul 10, 2019 09:11AM)
I was hired to entertain at a graduation party strolling around from group to group. I ran into one of those "guys". The person that hired me was enjoying following me around to watch his guests interactions and responses. I could not avoid or walk away from this particular "heckler" spectator.
If I did, I would not have fulfilled my obligation to the person that booked me plus he was watching me.. How did I handle it???? One example;

I used my experience with "Outs" and other subtleties. He wanted to see a card trick, so I obliged.
I had controlled his signed card to the top. He said "my card is on the top of the deck". I then executed some false shuffles and cuts. He said "my card is still on top of the deck". I then legitimately cut his card to the center and handed him the deck to shuffle. I asked if he was satisfied. He was. Then I did something bold and asked if he was sure his card was still in the deck while I was searching for it right in front of him. (Cards tilted toward me of course) I culled his card back to the top casually. I said to the heckler, "Your card is not in here, it's in my pocket.
I executed the Glenn Morphew top palm (a little plug for Glenn) and slowly removed his card from my pocket. The person stood up, shook my hand, shook his head and said WOW well done.

Hecklers can be handled successfully in many different ways. Sometimes when I experience a difficult person I will jokingly say "I see we have a heckler in our midst" This often times gets a laugh and diffuses the situation. Sometimes it's the performers personality / approach, that can be off putting and encourage a heckler. Perform effects that are fair and don't arouse suspicion. I rarely force cards but rather have someone think of a card in their minds and use signatures. You just have to have many different moves and sleights in your arsenal to draw upon. Experience and knowledge as well as practice, of course.

Then there is that rare person that nothing you can do or say that will suffice. It happens.
I keep my composure, smile, possibly shake their hand and say something nice to them.
MOVE ON...
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Jul 10, 2019 09:32AM)
[quote]On Jul 10, 2019, warren wrote:
Danny once again I agree with you however in our hypothetical situation it was the booker that asked you to do something for their friend, in this situation you would have been put on the spot as you wouldn't have been able to gauge the situation beforehand.

Admittedly this would be a very rare situation but I also think that this would be the worst case scenario so if one can walk away from this situation with some degree of success then the magician would have done well. [/quote]

This hypothetical situation almost never happens in real life. Almost never is a generous estimate.
Message: Posted by: Gerald Deutsch (Jul 10, 2019 10:02AM)
Sometimes (not always) when you are performing "Perverse Magic" you can appear to be on the heckler's side and sort of be puzzled when the effect works.
Message: Posted by: warren (Jul 10, 2019 11:55AM)
Davidpaul whenever I come across an awkward situation when using cards my go to is to palm the selection as I hand the deck to be shuffled and produce it from my wallet which has always got me a good reaction and usually gets the spectator onside too.

Danny point taken lets get back on topic now please.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Jul 10, 2019 12:01PM)
If the situation is as extreme as you pretend here, then palming a card is the LAST thing you want to be doing. I mean getting busted flat out with the card in your hand with NO way out is just not going to be a good thing in the end.

This is why a force works so well. No matter what happens if you force the card, then have the problem child show it to others you are golden. You need to be able to do something that flat out can be examined, shuffled and just hit every time no matter what. There is no condition under which a force will not cover the problem child.
Message: Posted by: warren (Jul 10, 2019 02:03PM)
[quote]On Jul 10, 2019, Dannydoyle wrote:
If the situation is as extreme as you pretend here, then palming a card is the LAST thing you want to be doing. I mean getting busted flat out with the card in your hand with NO way out is just not going to be a good thing in the end.

This is why a force works so well. No matter what happens if you force the card, then have the problem child show it to others you are golden. You need to be able to do something that flat out can be examined, shuffled and just hit every time no matter what. There is no condition under which a force will not cover the problem child. [/quote]

I wasn't talking about my hypothetical situation I was just agreeing with David as it's something I've done in the past when someone has asked me if they can shuffle the cards. Back to the hypothetical situation the spectator isn't really going to be easy to force a card on to and would most likely say oh no I don't want that card let me change it for another card.

Something that I think would work is to allow the spectator to shuffle the deck, then take it back riffle the deck and get the spectator to glimpse a card and then to peek it as you hand the deck back to be shuffled which sort of allows for what you were saying.
Message: Posted by: Kaliix (Jul 10, 2019 02:23PM)
Let them pick the card, then fan the cards and have them shove it back in where ever they want. The deck should be pinched firmly so that the card stops going into the deck a bit past halfway. Either the spectator stops pushing and you crimp the card when you push it in or the spectator pushes against your firm grip and crimps it for you. After that, finding it is no problem, proceed as you will.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Jul 10, 2019 02:28PM)
Forces like the slip force work 100% of the time. If they want another one, force another one. The point is toy know their card and the effect is easy.

You keep moving the goalposts and creating an imaginary spectator who can't be worked for. Which brings us full circle to why work for them?

It was aids earlier that the more experience you have the less this happens in reality.
Message: Posted by: warren (Jul 10, 2019 03:48PM)
Kaliix the fan control you mentioned is actually something that I was also thinking of and agree that it is a very disarming method.

Danny I'm not moving any goal posts perhaps you should reread the original question especially the 5th line down.
I'm not saying that forcing a card isn't a good idea or that it would not work in many situations but I'm referring to the worst case scenario. For example this could be your opening effect, which most likely wouldn't even be a card trick.
Message: Posted by: warren (Jul 10, 2019 04:26PM)
My mistake that should have read 3rd line down.
Message: Posted by: imgic (Jul 11, 2019 01:57PM)
[quote]On Jul 10, 2019, Gerald Deutsch wrote:
Sometimes (not always) when you are performing "Perverse Magic" you can appear to be on the heckler's side and sort of be puzzled when the effect works. [/quote]

I was curious about "Perverse Magic" and so I googled it. After seeing results of first search, I added "magic trick" to the search and got some more suitable returns. Found a great blog entry on it:

https://jackshalom.net/tag/perverse-magic/

It's review and discussion on what I'm assuming is Gerald's book. Love the outlook and will be ordering a copy to read in the future.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Jul 11, 2019 02:13PM)
Jack did a wonderful review of it.
Message: Posted by: WitchDocChris (Jul 12, 2019 02:53PM)
I largely just agree with Danny. If someone is actively hostile to me, I don't perform for them, host request or not. I should also note - I've set my character up to be in line with that ideal. When I introduce myself and do things for people, I point out that generally I need the audience to be cooperative and if they fight me, it won't work.

By setting it up that way I take the wind out of their sails, so to speak, and it makes messing with me no fun. "Ok, you're fighting me. I told you it wouldn't work if you fought me right off the bat. Now, if you'd like to try this, just follow my instructions ..."

To indulge in the OP's original question, though - If I had a truly troublesome audience member that I absolutely had to perform for, for some reason, I'd do something he couldn't possibly bust.

That's going to be different for each performer, of course, as it has to be in line with their character. But I can put a needle through my hand, and it suits my character. Few things silence an attempted heckler like seeing a few inches of metal shoved through the performer's hand while they make eye contact.
Message: Posted by: warren (Jul 12, 2019 03:02PM)
Thanks for everyone's input, just to be clear I'm in total agreement that the best thing to do is not perform for them I just thought it was worthy of a thread to help fellow magicians should the situation arise.
Message: Posted by: Josepher (Jul 24, 2019 09:07AM)
In rare cases,
Firmly ask the intruder to 'relax and enjoy the miracles I have prepared for you, I'll be happy to discuss your questions after my presentation'.
Message: Posted by: RickDangerous (Jul 24, 2019 01:10PM)
I once did the following just to try it out (can‘t remember where I learned this from, this is not original to me): You give a deck to the heckler and tell him to walk off into a corner, shuffle the deck and then pick a card and wait until someone from the group brings him back. As soon as the heckler walks off you bring out a second deck and finish your set.

It works. But it‘s not nice and you really have to pick your battles.
Message: Posted by: ThomasJ (Jul 24, 2019 02:56PM)
Say, “I don’t want to steal the show from you, man. I love watching magic, too.” Then hand him the deck. He will shut up very fast or do something simple, be pacified by the audience, and you can go on with your performance.

You’re performing for more than just one insecure dude trying to challenge you, right? Focus on the people who are there for the right reasons. Sometimes the heckler type is unavoidable, but if it happens often - film yourself performing to see what triggers that personality type.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Jul 24, 2019 03:13PM)
I wouldn't go the route of directly challenging them. Why give up control of the show in that fashion?
Message: Posted by: WitchDocChris (Jul 24, 2019 03:37PM)
Direct challenges are a very risky move, notably because as Danny said, you're giving up control of your show entirely.

On top of that - you're teaching the audience that if they pester you, you'll immediately give into them. Shooting yourself in the foot, that is.

Also, what happens when you hand that deck to someone who's more entertaining than you? What happens when they don't give it back? What happens when they decide to throw it across the room to be a jerk?

And lastly - giving a direct challenge to someone in the audience is a direct challenge to the entire audience, vicariously. So if you're a jerk to that one, others in the audience will believe you're just a jerk.
Message: Posted by: peppermeat2000 (Jul 24, 2019 03:42PM)
Danny knows what he is talking about. Throughout this thread he has made valid points/suggestions regarding the scenario that the OP presented. The fact that so many magicians discuss performing scenarios and the infinite hypothetical situations which can result from a unplanned moment may account for the tiny percentage of magicians who simply go out and PERFORM!
Lessons are best learned from experience and not through chit-chatting about the best way to do this or that.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Jul 24, 2019 03:50PM)
[quote]On Jul 24, 2019, WitchDocChris wrote:
Direct challenges are a very risky move, notably because as Danny said, you're giving up control of your show entirely.

On top of that - you're teaching the audience that if they pester you, you'll immediately give into them. Shooting yourself in the foot, that is.

Also, what happens when you hand that deck to someone who's more entertaining than you? What happens when they don't give it back? What happens when they decide to throw it across the room to be a jerk?

And lastly - giving a direct challenge to someone in the audience is a direct challenge to the entire audience, vicariously. So if you're a jerk to that one, others in the audience will believe you're just a jerk. [/quote]

What he said.
Message: Posted by: ThomasJ (Jul 24, 2019 06:09PM)
Let’s not forget OP said, “Imagine the situation, your being paid to perform and you get called over to perform something for a certain person only to discover this person is the spectator from hell, now remember your being paid well, you've been asked to show this person something perhaps from the host so what do you do ?”

In a parlor or more formal setting I’d agree with Chris, Pepper, and Danny. However, in a strolling situation, asking them to show everyone something real quick will put an end to heckling very fast. It doesn’t have to be in a snide tone or sarcastic delivery.

If that’s not true, what do you fellas suggest in this situation?
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Jul 24, 2019 06:23PM)
We have all said. Even in fantasy land I would not give them the deck.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Jul 24, 2019 07:22PM)
Don Alan shows a clip of him on a TV show with Henny Youngman. Henny is bringing the show where Don doesn't want it to go. Don just sits and waits until he is done. Shut him right away.

Getting into a back and forth with a spectator has no upside. Even in fantasy land where you somehow must perform for them in the end you look like a jerk.

Engaging them is not the move. You have changed your show to suit them.

In reality these situations simply do notoccur that often. Usually the rest of the group takes care of it for you.

Also the idea of saying "relaz ans enjoy the miracles I have planned for you" really isn't going to help in the long run. First if all using the word miracles to describe card tricks to laymen is red meat for a heckler! Second it engages them which is exactly what they want. If a guy really is busting your chops and you pull out that line, if he is THAT guy them that line is not going to be helpful in the least.

Don't engage. Can't go wrong.
Message: Posted by: ringmaster (Jul 28, 2019 01:25PM)
Use "heckler stoppers" in a restaurant and you want have to move away. Your boss will have you moved.
Message: Posted by: 252life (Oct 9, 2019 10:59PM)
[quote]On Jul 24, 2019, peppermeat2000 wrote:
Danny knows what he is talking about. Throughout this thread he has made valid points/suggestions regarding the scenario that the OP presented. The fact that so many magicians discuss performing scenarios and the infinite hypothetical situations which can result from a unplanned moment may account for the tiny percentage of magicians who simply go out and PERFORM!
Lessons are best learned from experience and not through chit-chatting about the best way to do this or that. [/quote]


Danny's input is always worth the read.
Message: Posted by: warren (Oct 10, 2019 02:07AM)
[quote]On Jul 24, 2019, peppermeat2000 wrote:
Danny knows what he is talking about. Throughout this thread he has made valid points/suggestions regarding the scenario that the OP presented. The fact that so many magicians discuss performing scenarios and the infinite hypothetical situations which can result from a unplanned moment may account for the tiny percentage of magicians who simply go out and PERFORM!
Lessons are best learned from experience and not through chit-chatting about the best way to do this or that. [/quote]

For the record I do plenty of actual paid gigs but having read other posts from magicians who have encountered this situation I thought this thread might be helpful for others hence the chit-chatting as you put it.
Message: Posted by: TheAmbitiousCard (Oct 11, 2019 01:16PM)
[quote]On Jul 24, 2019, Dannydoyle wrote:
Don Alan shows a clip of him on a TV show with Henny Youngman. Henny is bringing the show where Don doesn't want it to go. Don just sits and waits until he is done. Shut him right away.

Getting into a back and forth with a spectator has no upside. Even in fantasy land where you somehow must perform for them in the end you look like a jerk.

Engaging them is not the move. You have changed your show to suit them.

In reality these situations simply do notoccur that often. Usually the rest of the group takes care of it for you.

Also the idea of saying "relaz ans enjoy the miracles I have planned for you" really isn't going to help in the long run. First if all using the word miracles to describe card tricks to laymen is red meat for a heckler! Second it engages them which is exactly what they want. If a guy really is busting your chops and you pull out that line, if he is THAT guy them that line is not going to be helpful in the least.

Don't engage. Can't go wrong. [/quote]


"Yep" to all this.
Message: Posted by: Kyoki_Sanitys_Eclipse (Oct 14, 2019 10:59AM)
Ive just started performing walk around for pay. For years Ive read how some people don't like magic and couldn't believe it.... but then I learned. I once tried to "show" someone they must like magic and it went terrible.

Now I begin by introducing myself and getting everyones names. I ask permission to show them something. Then I perform something quick and visual with multiple phases. The first phase requires nothing of the spectators but is flashy. This lets me gauge reactions and lets them know by ability level. Then I move to phase two. It requires minimal help from a single member but is stronger than phase 1. This lets me gauge their willingness to both play along and volunteer. Then I end with phase three which is super stong but requires nothing of them, except their attention. This allows me the opportunity to disengage if we don't work well together, no harm no foul, or offer to perform more magic. All of this takes less than 2 minutes.

This has worked well for me so far. Im able to guage my potential audience and plan my attack. Sometimes I don't make it past introducing myself, and that is ok. Ive learned to take rejection. Heck every once in a great while they will see me performing for others and their enjoyment. This prompts them to call me over and ask if my offers still good.


Ok that's only happened once but it was cool
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Oct 14, 2019 11:10AM)
Odd how I've been saying much of this for over a decade and you sort of argued with me about it.

I am happy to hear you have reached a point where it is easier for you to get and accept the results you seek.

Everyone has their own methods and yours sounds very well thought out and effective. It is a great idea. I bet as you hone it that it will be even more effective.
Message: Posted by: 252life (Oct 14, 2019 11:24AM)
Danny, the more experience I acquire the more I appreciate your input on these boards :)
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Oct 14, 2019 12:11PM)
Yup! The voice of experience!
Message: Posted by: 252life (Oct 14, 2019 01:40PM)
It’s true huh? I used to read his posts with an arrogant ear.
But that changed with some miles under my belt.
Message: Posted by: Kyoki_Sanitys_Eclipse (Oct 14, 2019 03:15PM)
Danny I cant remember yesterday, let alone before that. However, I know your right. Ive matured over the years. As have you. I recognize the wisdom in your words. There are still things I will disagree with but that is ok.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Oct 14, 2019 03:54PM)
[quote]On Oct 14, 2019, Kyoki_Sanitys_Eclipse wrote:
Danny I cant remember yesterday, let alone before that. However, I know your right. Ive matured over the years. As have you. I recognize the wisdom in your words. There are still things I will disagree with but that is ok. [/quote]

I respect disagreement. No problem! Seriously. I mean I would NEVER use the method you speak of, YET I can easily see it working! We disagree, but you are right and I am right. LOVELY world we live in isn't it?

My problem over the years in general is the "theoretical experts". Guys with no practical experience, guys who think Google is a substitute for experience and IQ. THEN they want to argue. At that point I get frustrated. That sort of disagreement is just not intelligent. It is ego drive. (NOT accusing anyone, just saying.)

Also I think Dick and I are part of that generation caught between the world of the internet, and the world of reality. At some point at Magic Inc. if you had a theory and spouted it off and just blathered on about it about say a card trick, SOMEONE eventually was going to slam a deck down on the counter and say "show us". You put up or ya shut up. THAT was the way things were.

With the internet and Google experts that sort of check and balance between reality and bloviating simply does not exist. When it does exist it is some guy in his mom's basement with bed sheets to frame a stage as a curtain on YouTube! It is ridiculous.

Information about these things used to be a treasure hunt of sorts. You had to find the guy who had it first, then had to hope he would help you. I am not saying it is better or worse. Life moves along and that is the way it goes. Adapt or die! So I am not yearning for the bygone era! Not in the least. Just explaining a bit.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Oct 14, 2019 03:54PM)
[quote]On Oct 14, 2019, 252life wrote:
Danny, the more experience I acquire the more I appreciate your input on these boards :) [/quote]

You sir are very kind. STOP IT! (Most would add an emogie here but I refuse.)
Message: Posted by: 252life (Oct 14, 2019 04:00PM)
Imagine the brains you’d break if you started using emojis.
It would almost be worth it!

And Ok, but the sentiment remains :)
Message: Posted by: 252life (Oct 14, 2019 04:03PM)
[quote]On Oct 14, 2019, Dannydoyle wrote:
[quote]On Oct 14, 2019, Kyoki_Sanitys_Eclipse wrote:
Danny I cant remember yesterday, let alone before that. However, I know your right. Ive matured over the years. As have you. I recognize the wisdom in your words. There are still things I will disagree with but that is ok. [/quote]

I respect disagreement. No problem! Seriously. I mean I would NEVER use the method you speak of, YET I can easily see it working! We disagree, but you are right and I am right. LOVELY world we live in isn't it?

My problem over the years in general is the "theoretical experts". Guys with no practical experience, guys who think Google is a substitute for experience and IQ. THEN they want to argue. At that point I get frustrated. That sort of disagreement is just not intelligent. It is ego drive. (NOT accusing anyone, just saying.)

Also I think Dick and I are part of that generation caught between the world of the internet, and the world of reality. At some point at Magic Inc. if you had a theory and spouted it off and just blathered on about it about say a card trick, SOMEONE eventually was going to slam a deck down on the counter and say "show us". You put up or ya shut up. THAT was the way things were.

With the internet and Google experts that sort of check and balance between reality and bloviating simply does not exist. When it does exist it is some guy in his mom's basement with bed sheets to frame a stage as a curtain on YouTube! It is ridiculous.

Information about these things used to be a treasure hunt of sorts. You had to find the guy who had it first, then had to hope he would help you. I am not saying it is better or worse. Life moves along and that is the way it goes. Adapt or die! So I am not yearning for the bygone era! Not in the least. Just explaining a bit. [/quote]


Indeed
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Oct 14, 2019 04:05PM)
[quote]On Oct 14, 2019, 252life wrote:
It’s true huh? I used to read his posts with an arrogant ear.
But that changed with some miles under my belt. [/quote]

It is funny you should use the phrase "read his posts with an arrogant ear". It is brilliant.

I have contended for a LONG time now that all tone in internet communication is added by the reader. I mean maybe not ALL but certainly a huge percentage of it. In particular if you are young and don't like being told you might not know something it can start on a bad foot. (Often ego drops off as we get older. At least it did with me.) So now you are reading with that tone in your head of being a bit put off in the first place. So you add that to the text. (As you said reading with that "ear".)

It is the only bad thing I can really say about the dissemination of information through text and written word. Especially when broken down in to small posts like this. Now if you add to this a guy who has a habit of being a bit sarcastic and has no real filter for things that he says, much less types, you have a recipe for misinterpretation. So that happens once or twice and suddenly an entire world view of this person is gained in the mind of the reader. After all I have read a LOT of posts and they all come across like that!

Also there is one of my favorite quotes often attributed to Mark Twain, but the first attribution to him of this quote was 5 years after he dies. I like to think he said it, but unfortunately probably not.
"When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years."

Funny how life seems to be the same even from 1915!
Message: Posted by: 252life (Oct 14, 2019 06:07PM)
All true again.
When I started breaking down how I processed information it was humbling.
Habits die hard. But, these days I have a few rules I try and be aware of as starting points.
1) try giving the other person the benefit of the doubt.
2) listen to the actual words and ask questions when necessary.
3) breathe

Obvious stuff to most people maybe, but a constant work in progress here.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Oct 14, 2019 06:41PM)
Those are great poinrs to keep in mind when reading posted material.
Message: Posted by: 252life (Oct 14, 2019 07:02PM)
Point taken lol
Message: Posted by: warren (Oct 15, 2019 04:29AM)
Thanks everyone for all the input, hopefully some of the less experienced performers will get something out of this thread as there are some great ideas along with plenty of do's and don'ts on how to handle this rare situation :)
Message: Posted by: ringmaster (Nov 20, 2019 07:45PM)
Dr.Q had a good out.
Message: Posted by: Brent McLeod (Dec 2, 2019 12:00PM)
Have come across this problem only a few times at gigs, I make a living performing in the corporate market & I agree so much with
Dannys original comment, you can tell in a few seconds if the heckler is really annoying, Be professional.dont argue with them,finish up & move on,
normally after 1 quick effect. Theres a room of 200 people,have fun with groups that enjoy what your doing.
Message: Posted by: 252life (Dec 2, 2019 01:23PM)
At this point I think I prefer an intentional heckler over a sloppy drunk lol
Message: Posted by: ringmaster (Dec 15, 2019 06:07PM)
[quote]On Nov 20, 2019, ringmaster wrote:
Dr.Q had a good out. [/quote]
It involved getting your hands around his throat.
Message: Posted by: Jonmaddgician (Apr 2, 2020 10:39PM)
Chris Ramsay had a video with a few great tips!
https://youtu.be/6DiyXKt2FEA

But also I've also had to say "Look, my job is to entertain, & I'm here to entertain people with some sleight of hand. If your'e more entertained by seeing a trick go wrong then here, is this your card? No? You having fun now? OK well I'm just gonna go entertain these other people over here that seem to appreciate my work." & then any time they wanna see something I just do something super lame & purposely very poorly stuff up the trick, apologise & then move on to wow another audience. Until or unless they apologise for being a dick about it.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Apr 2, 2020 11:37PM)
That video is not anything I would every recommend. Why engage them at all?
Message: Posted by: Aaron Smith Magic (Apr 3, 2020 02:19PM)
[quote]On Oct 14, 2019, 252life wrote:
Danny, the more experience I acquire the more I appreciate your input on these boards :) [/quote]

Danny is the guy I listen to the most. He doesn't BS and he has years of experience to back it up. The Café is lucky to have him here.
Message: Posted by: 252life (Apr 3, 2020 04:30PM)
[quote]On Apr 3, 2020, Aaron Smith Magic wrote:
[quote]On Oct 14, 2019, 252life wrote:
Danny, the more experience I acquire the more I appreciate your input on these boards :) [/quote]

Danny is the guy I listen to the most. He doesn't BS and he has years of experience to back it up. The Café is lucky to have him here. [/quote]

That is the truth. Took me a bit of evolving to appreciate the gent :) we’re lucky to have his input.
Message: Posted by: griz326 (Apr 17, 2020 04:21PM)
Only once did I encounter an absolute jerk at a table in a restaurant. Rather than dare him to flop it out on the table ;)
I lured him into a Kung Fu trap: When you can snatch the pebble from my hand grasshopper...

I put a quarter into his open hand and said that I would snatch the quarter from his hand.
With a nickel classic palmed, I played the part of grasshopper trying to snatch the quarter from his hand.
When I hit his palm to "snatch the pebble" the nickel dropped from my hand, dropped into his grasp, while the quarter bounced into my snatching hand.
He jumped up cheering his success while I quietly displayed the quarter and he proudly showed the nickel.
The table was ROFLOL!
He was a good sport about it.

We became "buddies" playing the challenge trick/gag on one of his unsuspecting crew whenever he came in...
It was not part of my modus operandi, but it worked for that crew.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Apr 17, 2020 05:00PM)
[quote]On Apr 3, 2020, 252life wrote:
[quote]On Apr 3, 2020, Aaron Smith Magic wrote:
[quote]On Oct 14, 2019, 252life wrote:
Danny, the more experience I acquire the more I appreciate your input on these boards :) [/quote]

Danny is the guy I listen to the most. He doesn't BS and he has years of experience to back it up. The Café is lucky to have him here. [/quote]

That is the truth. Took me a bit of evolving to appreciate the gent :) we’re lucky to have his input. [/quote]

Thank you guys, you are very kind.
Message: Posted by: 252life (Apr 17, 2020 05:12PM)
No prob it’s all true
Message: Posted by: chosen1 (Apr 18, 2020 12:31PM)
I just had a thought that I don't believe I've read on this forum yet.

Before I get into this (unproven) idea my usual tactic is to bring them to my side literally. I say something like "You seem to have a handle on all this stuff do you mind helping me?" And then I actually pull them in so that they are standing shoulder to shoulder with me. I have a coins across routine heavily inspired by Eric Jones and let that heckler "do the magic." Because of the amount of micro managing that routine requires and the fact that they are not "on stage" in front of everyone they find themselves continually doing as you request which puts them into a state of compliance. And now that they are part of the show they really don't want to mess up. So they acquiesce, and it makes them look great. Now it's really hard for them to heckle without looking and feeling like a jerk. You've given them a chance in the spotlight. You've been polite, so if they continue it's all on them and most people are better than that.

The new idea is this. Why not just ask for them to explain themselves? There is semi viral idea of the best way to deal with people making inappropriate jokes is to pretend like you don't understand and ask them to explain it to you. Most people will be embarrassed and stop in their tracks. What about using that same methodology in this context. After some heckling type behavior you just ask. "Hey, is anything wrong? Are you not enjoying this?" I think the bluntness and putting them on the spot will at least get them to consider their behavior.

What do you all think?

Best,
Brandon
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Apr 18, 2020 01:27PM)
So you give them control of your show.

That is one way to do it.
Message: Posted by: chosen1 (Apr 18, 2020 01:56PM)
Good Afternoon Mr. Doyle.

I don't quite see it as giving control. In fact, with how specific the instructions get my coins across is one of the most "control" heavy pieces that I do. I place the spectator where I want them, direct where their hands go, manage their pacing. It's an illusion of bringing them onto my side of the show, but it's still my show. Really it's how I present the routine anyway. the only difference is the opening line, "You seem to have this stuff figured out." Other than that I proceed exactly I normally would. Everyone kind of gets what they want. I get to continue my show with a more complacent heckler (hopefully), they get some spotlight, the rest of the audience gets magic.

As far as the question tactic. My guess is that it will clam them up immediately. So I don't think it would give up any control, but admittedly it's just a theory. It might open up a can of worms that would be better left alone. When audiences exist I'll give it a try and report my findings.

Thank you Mr. Doyle for your vast knowledge and the kindness you show in sharing it with us.

Best,
Brandon
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Apr 18, 2020 06:25PM)
I had a dog a long time ago. He was half Siberian Husky and half Wolf. Great dog, friendly dog and loved other dogs.

We used to take him to the dog park and most of the dogs just wanted to play with him. All except one. For some reason THAT was the dog he wanted to play with! I used to wonder why with all the other dogs lining up to run with him he HAD to fixate on the one dog who didn't want too.

In life and when performing close up magic I try to be smarter than my dog was.
Message: Posted by: chosen1 (Apr 20, 2020 06:42PM)
That is a really good point, Mr. Doyle, one I believe we'd all do well to remember. And one I'm sure I've forgotten my fair share of times when my friend's eyes have long ago glazed over, but I just can't bother to notice. LOL.

I do agree that if someone is just completely not interested in magic I don't see a need to perform for them and won't. That isn't often the case that I find though. Now granted, I'm 5'6 have the softest voice a human can have, and look maybe 16 years old so it's extremely rare that I get truly heckled. Usually when someone is being disruptive to one of my performances it's more just a misunderstanding of roles. They feel like it's banter, or just don't know how to act while magic is happening. It's a pretty rare experience for most people. So usually by bringing them to my side and step by step controlling their actions for the next piece they start to realize the kind of back and forth I'm encouraging and any disruptive behavior stops. Like I said though my experience with heckling is pretty limited; my personality and appearance just, as my friends often say, "make it like trying to yell at a puppy." So as soon as I make someone aware that I'm not a fan of how they are acting it almost immediately ends. Unless, of course, alcohol is involved. LOL. But that's a completely separate thread.

Since we have you here, and your advice and experience is always so welcome, I'd love to ask a few question about the psychology of hecklers as you see them. What do you think is their most common motivation for acting the way they do? Have you found a certain demographic to be more likely to heckle than others, is there a certain venue that seems to bring out more hecklers than others?

A lot of really thought provoking advice on here. It's been a joy to read.

Best,
Brandon
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Apr 20, 2020 08:42PM)
My experience is not universal. Not by any means. I am 6'5" and 285 pounds. I have hands the approximate size of Rhode Island. (I can literally hide an entire poker size card in the palm portion of my hand.)

All that aside here is my view on hecklers. What causes most of them? BEING BORED! It is really that simple. If they are being engaged or entertained with the performance they are seeing, they won't heckle. It really is that simple if you think about it.

Now mind you I am talking ONLY about performance in which you are actually engaged to be there. If you are just showing magic to whoever will watch then all bets are off. I have no experience in that so I am not speaking about that.

Take a look at some of the ridiculous plots and inane patter magicians use. It is crazy to expect adults to sit through it! Magicians take themselves SO seriously it is pathetic on many levels. It is shocking MOST don't get heckled more than they do. (I take what I DO very seriously, I do not take myself seriously. There is a huge difference.) So many get so caught up in the technique and all that and most people don't care. They want to have fun. Also people don't mind being fooled, they don't want to be made a fool of. Magicians that do puzzle magic often have trouble with hecklers.

I take the heat off of me and my size immediately and am a little self deprecating. Showing I take what I do seriously but not myself. So right away it is more like "I am just a guy who knows a couple of cool things you may want to see" as opposed to "look how cool and clever I am". It makes all the difference for me.

But all that aside I think a primary reason for hecklers is simply that they are bored. Magicians scripting is SO horrible and they have SO many holes in it that there is an opportunity, and they person takes it. They are trying to have FUN. If you tightly scripted, not much time to heckle is there? If you have an engaging presentation or personality there is no room to be bored or heckle now is there?

Now the other part is that not everyone who interrupts is a "heckler". Often the opposite is the case. They ARE having fun and want to be part of it! Too often magicians can't see the difference. BUT if you have an actual heckler and you want him to stop the behavior the WORST thing you can do is put him in the spotlight. Why is that? Because he is LOOKING for the spotlight, and you have just shown him that the way to get into the spotlight even brighter is to misbehave. (Not unlike a dog being trained is it?) It goes like this in his head. He just acted like a jerk, you then bring him in and make him part of what you are doing and rewarded his behavior. Do you really think it will stop? If you want behavior to stop then don't reward it.

If it is just a guy having fun let him have fun. Who are we to tell people how to have fun? Just control it with tight scripting.

Don Alan used to handle hecklers with silence. (So do I.) It is really great. I mean if someone says something, then you say something, then they say something where does it end? It escalates, and before you know it you are WAY past what the show is intended to be. It is just not your best show. Silence simply can not be answered. There is NOWHERE for them to go. He was on the Tonight Show with Henny Youngman. Henny being a comedian thought the spotlight was always his. Don was there to do magic and he knew the spotlight was his. So when Henny just started blathering Don shut him down with silence. Just let him go and looked at him. Then Henny shut up and Don did his thing. It is brilliant. It can't escalate. It can't go anywhere. All that can happen is that your show goes where you want it, and keeps you in control. If it keeps happening it might be a scripting problem. But when you simply stop what you are doing OTHERS will tell him to shut up. (Provided it is not a boredom problem or a problem with inane patter.) Because the REAL problem is no matter what you are an outsider. So if you attack one of theirs, even if they deserve it, YOU are the bad guy. You run a very real possibility of losing the rest of the crowd, just to satisfy your own ego need to get the best of him.

That is my experience anyhow. It is not universal, it is not necessarily "right" or even right for anyone but me. It is how I think of it and anyone else can think of it completely opposite of this and be correct! It is all opinion in reality. So take it with a grain of salt.
Message: Posted by: 252life (Apr 20, 2020 11:36PM)
That says it all. Couldn’t agree more.
Message: Posted by: chosen1 (Apr 22, 2020 11:28AM)
You're wonderful Mr. Doyle.

Thank you so much for that gold rush of information. And if you're interested I think you and me could star in a remake of Twins. LOL.

At the risk of pushing things too far. I'd like to ask one more question if you don't mind. How did you reach this conclusion of how to do deal with hecklers and how is it different from how approached them when you were just starting out? Was there one major turn that you saw or experienced or was it just bits and bobs in the course of the thousands of shows you've done?

Your time is greatly appreciated and I know for sure many are getting a lot out of what you are sharing.

Best,
Brandon.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Apr 22, 2020 02:51PM)
It wasn't a shift at all. Being non confrontational is really common sense.

Also I did not learn from YouTube. I was taught to do magic at Schuliens. I learned from Charlie Schulien, from Don Alan, Jim Ryan, Jay Marshal and so on. These things were taught to me from the time I started when I was 19. So it wasn't a revelation or anything. It was how I was taught. And again I reiterate it is nothing but one persons OPINION and offered as nothing more. If someone has a different EXPERIENCE it is 100% valid and is just as correct. There is no one right answer. There is room for a lot of styles, actually that is a GOOD thing!

I think that is what is missing from how many learn to perform today. The "mentor" system is just gone. Everyone thinks they can learn everything they need from YouTube and buy the latest big thing from Elusionist. It simply is not true.

You can't theorize your way though live performance. Just like any great chef must cook at least one edible mean, a performer must be in front of an audience for their opinions to really mean anything.
Message: Posted by: warren (May 1, 2020 05:36PM)
Wise words as ever Danny you were lucky to have such great mentors.
Message: Posted by: Nikodemus (Jun 3, 2020 06:22PM)
I suspect people who heckle magicians mistakenly assume it is all a legitimate part of the fun. You need to somehow correct that misconception, without alienating them or the rest of the audience.
Message: Posted by: Nikodemus (Jun 7, 2020 08:01PM)
I just delved into Strong Magic by Darwin Ortiz. He has a whole chapter on the subject of hecklers. He says they just want attention - so the best thing is to totally ignore them. If you respond with a witty put-down you will only encourage them. I think this is excellent advice.

He ALSO says their goal is to wreck your performance. I'm really not sure I agree with that. I suspect that some at least think a magic performance is a "game" where you try to deceive the audience and they try to catch you out.

I can only think of one type of performance where heckling is generally regarded as acceptable. Stand-up comedy. But there is still an "etiquette". A certain amount of good-nature banter with the audience is seen as a test of the comic's ability to improvise. But it mustn't go on too long, and the performer always has the last word.
I was once at the Comedy Store years ago, and one guy in the audience was very drunk, and being a bit of a pain in the neck, but all the professionals could handle him. Then they had an open-mic amateur spot. A young woman came up who had great material but was very nervous. The drunk started heckling her and his friends shut him down IMMEDIATELY - before he got lynched.