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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Table hoppers & party strollers » » When friends turn into hecklers (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

moechsle
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Ĺrhus, Denmark
42 Posts

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Hi,

I'm a semi-professional magician in the sense that I get paid for doing magic for companies and private persons. I'm an amateur magician in the sense that my main income comes from my job in the IT industry.
This week I learned some valuable lessons I would like to share.
Just read the story and press the MISTAKE button whenever you spot one.

I was attending an IT conference with some colleagues and one of the nights we we're having a couple of beers at a bar.
All my colleagues know I'm a part time magician and at one time one of my them (which I will denote the Heckler) said: now you can tell me the explanation to the vanishing handkerchief. He has been asking me about this before and I have politely refused to give any answers.
Now he wanted to know. Instead I took out my deck and said I would like to show him some other magic.
UHNNNNNNNNK
Good. You pressed the MISTAKE button. Actually I already violated two of my own rules right there: I normally don't do magic for friends, family or colleagues. And I never do magic without being asked (or paid, of course) to do so.
So I had it coming. I should have known.
But instead I said, pick a card, any card. The heckler finally went for one but insisted on seeing the card before and after his chosen card. That was ok. When told to place the card on top of the cut deck he tried to insert it directly into it to 'fool me'. I managed to avoid this. As soon as I had done it he said "and now it's on top, right?" Actually it wasn't but I acted as if it was supposed to and showed him and my two other colleagues the wrong card. After this I went for a t** ch***e.
UHNNNNNNNNNNNNk
Yes, wrong choice. While I actually have a fairly decent t** ch***e that never gives me trouble it still is a bold move. I shouldn't have done it. He saw me do 'something' and said - now that's probably my card, right? My feeling at this point was that the other guys were suprised to discover this.
So I went on with a really solid and foolproof routine which I normally use as an opener. Nevertheless he spotted a DL in the routine. I continued the routine with only a small hesitation and there was silence from the heckler and a few smiles from at least one of the others through the rest of the routine. Well, almost - at one point the heckler tried to grab the cards when they were momentarily on the table.
At the end he told me that his brother is doing magic and always practising his technique so "I know all about it". He mentioned DL's and bottom deals and a few other things as the methods. He also commented my technique and said that I was doing good - he couldn't see what moves I was doing. So the silence did mean I fried him.
Good, I thought. Wrongly.
I agreed with him that it was all about sleight-of-hand and a lot of practising good techniques. After a short discussion about how much I practise I decided we were now over the competition and ****ing contest and who-tricks-who.
I was wrong.
I decided to do Bill Malones Cut 'em High and Tie, which I have previously shown to drunk soccer players and hard ball young workers - with great success.
I will press the MISTAKE button this time for you.
UHNNNNNNNNNNNNNK!
The routine requires the participating spectators to actually do what you tell them. Lesson learned: don't do this with a challenging spectator.
The heckler was still in the agressive mode. He thought he saw 'something' happening to the deck and therefore took his cards from the middle of the deck instead of the top, effectively ruining the effect.
At this point I realized my mistake and got fed up with it. I just stopped, collected the cards and told the heckler that with this attitude, it was impossible to show them magic. I put the cards away.
We went on to discuss how to enjoy magic, the brother's magic and so on for a while, and then I think the heckler learned a lesson: he apologized for ruining my 'show'! In the next couple of minutes he apologized several times and finally suggested I do a trick without involving him. He promised to be nice, and one of the other guys said he would like to see more.
So I took the cards out again and as soon as they came out, the other guy yelled out that HE couldn't promise to be nice.
As I know him to be a challenging type as well, I didn't want to take any chances, so I put the cards away again.

Sad story, right?

A couple of additional info about the situation

* There was beer involved. My other colleagues had had a couple of beers. I had only one and was perfectly capable of doing magic
* We're all 30+ years (and I'm 40+)
* as in all environments dominated by men we have a pretty rough way of speaking to each other.
* I have a very good relationship with my colleagues, including the heckler. I still enjoy hanging out with them (and, occasionally, working too).

But - I felt humiliated and disrespected by my colleagues: why did the heckler act this way?
I have been trying to analyze the situation and the psychological 'play' between him and me. I know several errors made by me that made it worse, but I don't really understand his motivations.
Logically, it makes no sense: he had just stated that he knew it was all about techniques and sleight-of-hand. So why continue ruining my next effect?
* Was it an attempt to confirm his theories about how magic tricks work?
* Was it because he wanted me to stay a 'plain' and 'good old' colleague instead of suddenly having to view me as a Magician?
* I think we can rule out the stealing the thunder motivation because he's not that kind of guy.
`
While my feelings and pride were hurt I stayed calm and tried to explain that this is what happens when you perform for people you know instead of people that pay you.
Nevertheless I feel I learned a lot from the experience:
* I will (continue to) work on my technique to make it absolutely flawless
* work with my presentations
* see if I can expand my repertoire of outs and jazz magic methods, so I can get out of such situations gracefully instead of just stopping

I will not perform for any of my colleagues again unless they ask me and ask me twice (this is Eric Meads rule). Perhaps I should just refuse to do magic for these particular colleagues again.

I know there are a lot of good discussions about hecklers and how to deal with them but I feel that this situation is a bit uncommon and I wanted to share this here. If anyone has comments or suggestions I would appreciate it very much.
How would you have handled this situation?
Michael Peterson
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Inner circle
is where I'm trapped, because of my
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I think you handled it the best you could & learned some things in the process. All the advice in the world can't help you with a heckler, only experience can.

I belive that experiences like these help us to establish our personal rules for magic. Knowing when to avoid performing or how to make a bad situation work only comes from doing magic for strangers and learning how to read people.

Lesson learned, experience earned!(I'm copyrighting this phrase) Smile

Mike
slyhand
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Good ole Virginia
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Nothing wrong in performing for friends. Just make sure you know the "mood" and make em fool proof.
Of course you now know that already.
I am getting so tired of slitting the throats of people who say that I am a violent psychopath.

Alec
gaddy
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Agent of Chaos
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A fine story. Thanks for sharing.
*due to The Magic Cafe's editorial policies, words on this site attributed to me cannot necessarily be held to be my own.*
Christopher Lyle
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Dallas, Texas
5698 Posts

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I "NEVER" perform for friends. I look at it as rude of them to ask. If I were a plumber, would they ask me to fix their toilet? If I were a dentist, would they ask me to perform a root canal? It's all the same thing. My profession is Magician/Entertainer. When I'm "off the clock" I don't perform! My friends know this...they respect that, they don't ask.

Good for you for realizing your error in judgement. If I were you in your exact situation, after his first heckle, I would have put the cards away with some kind of comment about his mother and that would have been it!

You will never win against a person like that. The outcome will never sway in your favor...

Christopher
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Christopher Lyle
Magician, Comic, Daredevil, and Balloon Twisting Genius
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moechsle
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Ĺrhus, Denmark
42 Posts

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Quote:
On 2009-11-21 00:30, Christopher Lyle wrote:
I "NEVER" perform for friends. I look at it as rude of them to ask. If I were a plumber, would they ask me to fix their toilet? If I were a dentist, would they ask me to perform a root canal? It's all the same thing. My profession is Magician/Entertainer. When I'm "off the clock" I don't perform! My friends know this...they respect that, they don't ask.

I have had success with asking some friends who enjoy magic to evaluate new material. I directly ask them about their opinion about the presentation. This works well.
If I'm relaxing at a party or visiting some friends I would'nt mind informally showing a couple of tricks, and I always carry a deck. But I perfectly understand your opinion.
As an IT professional, I'm actually constantly being asked by friends, family and neighbours about computers. This can be annoying, but most of the times I do help or answer questions.
I wouldn't say its always rude to ask. When people ask you about magic, plumbing or computers the rudeness/politeness level really depends on how they ask and their attitude: do they simply expect you to do professional services for free in an agressive way or are they just hoping you can help out. It really depends on the situation. This is so easy to analyze theoretically. As my story above shows, I can still learn a lot about handling and understanding the situation when it happens 'live'!

Quote:
Good for you for realizing your error in judgement. If I were you in your exact situation, after his first heckle, I would have put the cards away with some kind of comment about his mother and that would have been it!

Good to hear that. I have been wondering if I should have tried to end the last effect or if I, as you suggest, should have stopped at the very beginning.
Next time I meet a spectator this agressive I think I will stop and try to establish the premises for the performance. Unless it's a drunk person of course.

Kim
Hansel
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Puerto Rico
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I don't perform for friends but in any circumstances for family too!!!MY BROTHER turn in a heckler because he claims to know what is a t.t or a d.l!!
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asgar
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Nice story!! S**T happens .I guess we all had been to your position at some time .hahahah.I know I had(many times before I learned to forfeit before losing it all ).
Magic is believing in yourself, if you can do that, you can make anything happen.
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