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Profile of danny
What is the best heckle stopper you guys use that is funny for everyone else but makes the heckler shut up instantly?
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Harris Deutsch
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Profile of harris
Each situation is different. (IMHO that is).

I look at audience members differently these days.

It does not matter where the line comes from if it is funny, poignant, or appropriate to the moment.

First I have to ask myself is it my ego, or the act that is being bruised.

Sometimes less is more.

The last time I was in the audience and made a remark, the magician used the old, I remember when I had my first beer.

I didn't say it, but thought Perhaps someday you will remember your last. (beer, whiskey...)

Keep growing and glowing,

Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
music, magic and marvelous toys
Sid Mayer
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How about
"My act is usually better but then I usually work alone."

It isn't an obvious insult. You're making fun of yourself to a certain extent. At the same time, you're hinting to your audience (who probably will agree) that the show would be more fun if the heckler wasn't trying to be part of it.

Sid Smile
All the world's a stage ... and everybody on it is overacting.
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Profile of danielhunley
A post the same as this was posted 2 weeks ago..

Someone once said this (Can't remember who, though)..

There is always that one little 7 or 8 year old kid that asks tons of questions. Just pull out one of those eight balls and hand it to them and tell them that if they have any more questions to ask that.
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Profile of vernon
Sometimes hecklers want to steal the limelight and are poised to ruin your act... read somewhere... maybe Darwin Ortiz in Strong Magic... Whilst looking at the rest of the audience... (i.e., not the heckler) say, "Isn't it amazing what happens when cousins marry", this obviously is insulting but not directed at the heckler and serves to diminish his input and not direct the spotlight to him and is not laid down as a challenge... oh and it gets a laugh...
Kevin Ridgeway
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You could go the Wedding Singer route and state....Sir, one more word out of you and I will strangle you with my microphone cord...or I have the microphone and you do not, so you will listen to every D$%# word I have to say.

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Profile of RandomEffects
So many lines and even more situations. Like Harris said every situation is different and requires a different handling, sometimes you need to put them in their place, sometimes you just roll with it and have fun, sometimes you break character and ask the guy to be quiet so everyone can enjoy themselves.

You will win some and lose some but the more you perform the more often you will end up winning these situations.


BTW, The 8-ball was posted by **me**, thanks for the plug, Daniel.

Ok, so I hate it when someone comments, but does not leave any direct comments to the thread so, PBOH puts every heckler in his/her place. Mullica's impromptu and Tony Clarks PBOH video both cover it.

Brandon Harper
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Profile of Brandon Harper
Check out the following link. Our own Scott F. Guinn had some very interesting points to make concerning hecklers. Great advice.
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Profile of MisterE21
Handling the heckler comes with experience, but I think there are some common misconceptions put forth that should be dispelled.

Hecklers are not always trying to "ruin" your shows, at least not consciously. They may think they are improving the show by being amusing. With experience you learn to recognize these people and you can banter with them. Some, however, do want to disrupt your show and your bantering will probably not be met in a friendly way.

I wholeheartedly disagree with attacking a spectator, no matter what they're doing. I believe it creates sympathy with the audience for the heckler against the performer. When doing straight comedy, returning a heckler's jab with one of your own (a better one, preferably) is often the accepted course of action.

However, while doing magic...there is nothing magical about sinking down to the level of an angry, disruptive heckler. While you do it, many in the audience may laugh...But what comes next? If the heckler bests you, you look like a fool ("I mean, c'mon, you've got the stage!"; if you best the heckler, you look like a bully "Obviously he's good at it, he was on stage; that poor guy was just trying to be funny and he jumped all over him!") It's a lose lose.

I dunno...I don't think my ideas are all that popular, because the ingrained response to give back better than you're getting. Again, depending on your character, you can get away with some of that. But remember, the audience isn't doing any favors by watching you, you're supposed to be there for them. Ignore the heckler...engage in friendly banter if appropriate, but always remain professional.


Your EFFECT is only as good as its AFFECT.
Peter Marucci
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Responding at all to a heckler is a lose-lose situation for the performer.

As E21 says, above, "Hecklers are not always trying to ruin your show."

If you fire off a zinger and make the heckler look like a fool (thereby shutting him or her up), you lose the audience who, suddenly, now has sympathy for the victim of your barb. (After all, as an audience member, the heckler is one of them.)

Sid Mayer offers a good line, though: "My act is usually better but, then, I usually work alone."

This zaps you as much as the heckler and the audience is on your side to start with (remember, they want you to succeed because they have invested time and usually money), so you have a stronger hold on them than the heckler.

It takes an absolute master to insult the heckler and get away with it. And, after more than 50 years in the business, I have yet to come across ONE magician who would qualify as "an absolute master" in this area.
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Profile of Magicduck
I am amused by this. And I agree that in almost all situations, one is best not trying to outwit a heckler.. at least not with a nasty line. I remember, when I was young, dumb and impressionable, I read the Robert Orben "Heckler Stoppers." Not sure if it is still in print or not. He had some pretty aggressive lines I now find would likely lead to disaster for a performer. Two lines stick out in my memory.

Female Heckler:
"Listen Lady, do I come over to your place and turn out the red light when you are working?"

Male Heckler (bald):
"Oh excuse me Sir, you got my attention because I thought you were sitting upside down."

These might work for some performers with great ability, in a rockin' comedy club, but for most of us these lines would get us tossed out. Then again, I guess Orben's lines for Gerald Ford did not play so well either. Ford lost the election.
Alessandro Scotti
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Profile of Alessandro Scotti
On 2003-01-07 06:50, Peter Marucci wrote:
It takes an absolute master to insult the heckler and get away with it. And, after more than 50 years in the business, I have yet to come across ONE magician who would qualify as "an absolute master" in this area.

There is a famous restaurant in Rome called "La Parolaccia" (i.e. "The Insult") where you actually get heckled and made fun of by the waiters! Many of them have been working there for years and years and they have probably become at least very close to
"absolute masters" in that area! (Though they are not magicians.) Don't even think of:
- a reply and try to "out-heckle" them;
- hope that your most insignificant physical imperfection goes unnoticed. Smile

P.S. For food and price I don't recommend the place though.
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Peter Marucci
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I like the concept!
And I'm sure, after being supplied with that much raw material (the customers!), the waiters are indeed masters.
But, remember, the customers go there knowing full well that they will be insulted and are prepared for it.
When that happens in a magic show (or almost any other kind of entertainment), the customers are not prepared and NEITHER is the performer, so he uses the first thing that comes to mind, which is usually bad, rude, or anger-provoking (or all three!).
The restaurant waiters that Alessandro refers to have no doubt honed their skills in judgment as well as insults.
There's a big difference.
Trouble is, most magicians will never understand that!
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Profile of jlibby
Here's what I use sometimes when there's an unruly child in the group. I look over to where the parents are sitting and say, "Security!"

Gets a laugh, usually the parent gets the cue and comes over to hustle Junior out of the room to beat the tar out of him (okay, I made up that last part).

See ya!
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Alessandro Scotti
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Profile of Alessandro Scotti
One of the best collection of heckler stopper has been published in Maledicta (the international journal of verbal aggression) by Andrew Conway:

I laughed to tears the first time I read it years ago, YMMV.
Walk of Mind: the best source of bad magic
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Profile of rkrahlmann
It all depends on the type of heckle. Are they insulting you, or just commenting on the show? Some people think they're
"helping" or encouraging you by talking to you during the act. A line like "Dad, please, we'll talk at home" gets a laugh and gets the point across without being insulting. And generally, it will quiet them down, because you gave them a little of the attention they were seeking in the first place. If they're truly trying to mess up the show, are drunk and/or obnoxious, someone from the venue should handle it.
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Profile of ChrisZampese
I like it rkahlmann!

You make a good point too. Many people say that you should not give the heckler any attention. I agree that you should not really use them as a volunteer as that is rewarding them for their efforts, but a simple line like this will often be enough to satisfy them. Also, a clever, non-threatening line will often gain you the respect of the rest of the audience.

It pays to remember that you are not the only one affected by hecklers, the rest of your audience suffers too. Quite often they will be relieved as you are if you manage to keep the heckler quiet.
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Profile of rkrahlmann
Never use someone who heckles as a volunteer, no matter how good natured they are. Then, they really are part of the show, and will mess up your timing and act. They'll make (bad) jokes and question everything you ask them to do. The best volunteers are people who need a little coaxing to get on stage. Not someone who's terrified, just someone who is flattered to be there and will do what you tell them to do.

It used to be I asked for volunteers. It wasn't long before I realised how disasterous this is. Now I search the audience and pick someone who looks right.
Salazar Magic
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Profile of Salazar Magic
Heckle 1: Get the heckler noticed. All he wants is some attention.

Heckle 2: Get the rest of the audience on your side.

Heckle 3: Give him your best lines and shut him up.
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Profile of Snidini
WR has put together not only heckle stoppers but a ton of other funny one lines and such at the following:
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