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Jaxon
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It's safe to say that In my 20 years of magic, mostly close up magic, that I've run into more then my share of hecklers. They use to really get to me and I simply viewed them all as a "Jerk". But when I learned the actual reason most hecklers are doing what they do it all started to get easier to deal with. In fact sometimes a heckler is the best thing that can happen to a performance. I know that might seem hard to believe to let me try to explain what I mean by that.

First of all. Let's look at why people become a "heckler". The truth is everyone, and I do mean everyone including yourself, constantly test the people we meet. Call it a creditability test if you will. You've got to learn something about them and their personality in order to establish an opinion of them. When you meet someone for the first time there are so many levels in which we search for things about them. From their looks, clothes, body language, health, personality, intelligence, etc... This is not something we can avoid doing. It's in our instincts.

So we test these things. Usually on a subconscious level but we are still doing it. Take for example when you tell a joke or something funny we are testing their sense of humor. Think about something you say that people laugh at then you meet that one person who doesn't laugh at it. What do you think of that person? You may not necessarily dislike them just because they didn't laugh like everyone else. But in some ways that's a mark against them in your assessment of their personality.

This is what a lot of hecklers are doing. They are testing you and your credibility to what you are claiming to be. In our case we, as a magician, are claiming to be able to do magic. To make things that are impossible seem to happen. That's a pretty big claim and it calls some people to react and "Test" that claim.

There are basically 2 ways people view "Magic" as we use it as a performing art.

1) They can do real magic (No secret methods. It's real magic)
2) They use sleight of hand, gimmicks and secret apparatus to make it look like they are doing real magic

So if they are "Testing you" they are either looking for what method you used to make it look like real magic. Or they are testing to see if it was real magic or not. Either way the heckler is trying to see if you are really what you claim to be.

So how can we deal with a heckler? The answer to that question is to understand the underlying reason for the other tests I described above. It all boils down to testing your personality. When someone examines you, even at a subconscious level, it's all telling them something about your personality. The way you dress, the way you carry and present yourself and yes even the way you perform tells them a lot about your personality.

So my advice when you run into a heckler is to not try to beat them or win them over with your magic. Instead, beat them or win them over with your personality. "Winning them over" will be the most beneficial outcome. That's what I mean by the fact that sometimes a heckler can be the best thing that can happen to your performances and the benefit is for both you and your audience. If you can turn a heckler into a friend that's quite an accomplishment and your audience will see it too.

Let me share an extreme example from my own experience. I sometimes go to bars and perform during band breaks. It's a great way to practice my stand up parlor act. One night I was invited to do this at a bar but they warned me that it was a tough crowd. The bar had Jazz bands and jam sessions. Not a place you'd normally see a magician perform and I was told stories of people basically getting booed off the stage there.

When I got there the first thing I did was just to meet people. I didn't tell any of them that I was a magician yet. I just mingled with the people. Joked around and meet them. Made some new friends and had a lot of laughs with them. I could tell that the stories I had been told where true because many comments where made about the musicians that where jamming. If they weren't good people said so.

Then the band took a break and they announced me to come up and do some magic for them. It turn out to be one of the best performances I have ever given. People I had meet where surprised when I got called up there. They had no idea I was there to do anything other then what they where doing. I was just a part of the crowd.

It didn't matter if my performance was flawless. I could have made some mistakes and still got laughs and applauds. Because they already liked me for my "Personality". That has already been tested and passed. It over rides any "Heckler instincts or tests".

So the bottom line is. Use your personality to deal with hecklers. Not your magic.

Ron Jaxon
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After regaining my ability to hear after 20 years of deafness. I learned that there is magic all around you. The simplest sounds that amazed me you probably ignore. Look and listen around you right now. You'll find something you didn't notice before.
Father Photius
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Incredibly insightful, Ron. As a psychologist, I'd say you hit the nail right on the head.
"Now here's the man with the 25 cent hands, that two bit magician..."
MagikDavid
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Great post, Jaxon!
To elaborate a bit more... I think some magicians bring on the hecklers themselves due to factors other than their personalities. For example:

* LACK OF CONFIDENCE - this leaves the magician vulnerable for someone else to take control. Unfortunately, the only way to overcome this is experience and mastery of your art.
* PERFORMING STYLE - the more confrontational your routine is... you are, in escence, inviting challenge to your audience. Some magicians with great personalities, seem to change when they perform. Try to avoid coming across as 'pushy' or 'arroghant', by choosing your patter carefully and try to appear as though you're one of them. Something as simple as acting surprised that magic has happened, puts you on their level and takes the 'heat' off them.
* LACK OF PREPARATION - failure to adhere to a tight routine (without dead spots), and knowing the crowd you're performing for... leaves the door open for hecklers.
If your show lacks structure, you will come across as an amateur. When a magician seems to struggle with 'what can I do next?', it shows that he's unprepared to entertain effectively. Knowing the crowd you're performing for, is also an important part of preparation... Jaxon's example above says it all.

Hopefully, these comments have expanded a little on Jaxon's great insights. BRAVO, JAXON!!!

Dave
One good thing about being wrong...
Is the pleasure it brings to others.
Erdnase27
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As a psychologist I say the same Fther Photius Smile
cyberdog
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Not As a psychologist I say the same Fther Photius...Smile
critter
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As a kinesiologist, this isn't my area. But it seems about right to me. Smile
"The fool is one who doesn't know what you have just found out."
~Will Rogers
cmdash24
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Broke it down pretty good.
david12345
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Confidence in what you are doing and remembering who is in control will help you stay in control
Keith Fields
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I realy like your thinking here, Thank you for sharing it.

Keith
funsway
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old things in new ways - new things in old ways
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Speaking as an 'old fart' rather than a magician,
learn to honor all of the hecklers and detractors in you life --
they contribute to "who you are" --

"a feather is for smoke, a rasp for iron, a smile for the child within."
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst

eBooks at https://www.lybrary.com/ken-muller-m-579928.html questions at ken@eversway.com
critter
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"Niether a Heckler, nor a lender be."
W.Shakespeare(paraphrased)
"The fool is one who doesn't know what you have just found out."
~Will Rogers
guitarmagic
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Southern Louisiana
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I am a forensic psychiatric professional, music publisher writer performer, and hobbiest magician.

Among us are many types of people in the general public and in our beloved magic arena. Has any one of you ever had someone demand to see what was in their pockets, demand to see their hand right now, see their props right now, attempt to pilfer their table during an act, steal their tips from the hat, break their thread, snatch their cards from their hands, etc, etc, etc?

And how does the magician deal with these types of spectators?
Why is it that on one side of the world a person looks at a picture of the Grand Canyon and says, "it looks so real." At the same time on the other side of the world a person looks at the Grand Canyon and says, "it looks like a picture."
guitarmagic
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I seem to get the tough folk when performing. Could it possibly be that I exude a personality that says its ok to demand anything from me as a performer because they aresure he will not embarrass them if they call me out?
Why is it that on one side of the world a person looks at a picture of the Grand Canyon and says, "it looks so real." At the same time on the other side of the world a person looks at the Grand Canyon and says, "it looks like a picture."
guitarmagic
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Clarification of my last post: People may seem at ease to:
1. call me out
2. bat my hand(s) to see if something is in them
3. wave their hand in the air to try and "break a thread"
4. be free to go into my pockets to see what I am carrying
etc. etc. etc.

Any ideas on this type of behavior from an audience? Am I alone in this experience?
Why is it that on one side of the world a person looks at a picture of the Grand Canyon and says, "it looks so real." At the same time on the other side of the world a person looks at the Grand Canyon and says, "it looks like a picture."
BCaldwell
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Guitarmagic,

I have to ask a couple of questions, so please bear with me.

1: How long have you been performing?
2: What is your performance "style"?
3: What type of venues are you performing in?
4: What type of effects are you performing?
5: How well do you perform the effect before you perform it for a lay audience?

The reason I ask is that I think everyone OCCASIONALLY gets a person like that, but if you are getting them all of the time you need to look at the common denominator. (That would be you, by the way.) Smile

MagikDavid had some great points about these very issues. You need to take an honest look at the situation and see what you come up with. It could very well be that you just happen to get all of the jerks when you perform but I suspect it will be something else, and that is good because you can fix a problem once you recognise it.

Good luck!
"...that's just my opinion. I could be wrong." Dennis Miller Smile

~Bob~
DeYi
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Thanks a lot to Jaxon and MagikDavid for their wonderful tips and insights.
I seem to get a lot of problems like guitarmagic too, especially with card magic i.e. one guy keeps flipping the face down card to look at it before I am done.
Whats the best way to handle someone like that?
guitarmagic
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Wow! Let me answer:

1: How long have you been performing?

ANSWER: I do not consider myself a performer, though I have tried to work in bars during breaks as a musician. Tough crowds to be bad in I suppose . . . also culturally there are intrusive types in New Orleans, etc.

2: What is your performance "style"?

ANSWER: I try to just be a nice guy who does some neat things . . . I try to be void of ego-centrism.

3: What type of venues are you performing in?

ANSWER: I am not a performer, and maybe that is my problem. I need to start doing it for the good, bad and ugly?

4: What type of effects are you performing?

ANSWER: Out of Sight Out of Mind, Invisible Card, floating ring, Imagination Coins, Kundalini Rising, etc.

5: How well do you perform the effect before you perform it for a lay audience?

ANSWER: I continue to work on effects after performing them for people, but I never stop working ON the effects to hopefully reach artistic significance.

I certainly need a lot of work . . . thanks for the help . . .
Why is it that on one side of the world a person looks at a picture of the Grand Canyon and says, "it looks so real." At the same time on the other side of the world a person looks at the Grand Canyon and says, "it looks like a picture."
Mr. Mystoffelees
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Guitarmagic-

I admire your patience with all the questions, but you did slide on an important one- how long have you been doing magic for others? To me, unless your answer would exceed a year or so, I would say you are right on track.

I have travelled this very road. It is discouraging, but do NOT give up if you love doing magic. At some point it comes together. For me it was just one effect at first- a coins across routine. I would get pounded on this time and time again from the specs. Then one day, they could not see a thing. Timing, patter, misdirection, sleights all came together, and they just stood there with their mouths open like the end of a tunnel.

What made that happen? In my opinion the major reason was TIME. Time to practice, get the negative responses, watch the mirror, try it again, back to the mirror, try again, work on where my eyes were looking, find some specs, etc. etc. Now, I never get called out.

With your professional background, you must be able to read the specs like a book! I wish I had your skills, and when you get your magic just a little farther along, you will no doubt be fantastic. It just takes time and GOOD repetition - always do the effect to your best level at that time.

On your "nice guy" persona, that may be part of the problem. The really good ones have a certain "don't mess with me" look that warns off the hecklers who have any sensitivity. Perhaps a little "edge" to your nice guy could help.

The other thing I would say, if I were trying to coach someone into magic, I would tell them not to do close up magic first. We all do that, it seems, but in my opinion stage, then parlor, then close up would be the order. Why? The closer the audience gets, the more they feel free to get involved in your magic. Please understand, I am NOT trying to say get into stage magic, rather to point out that close up is harder and more challenging with regard to the situations you are experiencing.

Hope this gives you some things to consider...

Regards,

Jim
Also known, when doing rope magic, as "Cordini"
Craig Dvorak
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Thank you, I read this post several days ago, and ended up getting an invite to a High School Pep Rally, since the students at my High School thought I was good, well I just talked to a lot of the students (Small School) before the actual performance, and it helped I messed up a trick (Not to Badly) and was able to recover from the encouragement of the crowd, thanks Smile.

-Craig Dvorak
olaf911
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Quote:
On 2009-09-28 18:07, mandarin wrote:
On your "nice guy" persona, that may be part of the problem. The really good ones have a certain "don't mess with me" look that warns off the hecklers who have any sensitivity. Perhaps a little "edge" to your nice guy could help.


I would like to second Jim. Reading your post, immediately my youngest son (11) comes to mind. With all my family I have no problems when pestering them to watch my latest trick. But this youngster is different. He is *very* critical, has very nimble fingers himself (would be a very good magician, if he chose to), and, most of all, lacks the necessary respect sometimes, I must confess. I have a very strong feeling that a lack of respect is a key factor for this misbehavior.

Off topic:
I only show him tricks now in 2 situations:
1. I am absolutely sure I can handle the situation (e. g. sleight of hand, selfworking tricks or undetectable props)
2. I know I make mistakes, tell him so and tell him to point them out. And he does... Smile
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