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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Ever so sleightly » » How to prevent spectators from grabbing cups and balls (12 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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cafeinst
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I was doing a close-up show in which the spectators were seated very close to me. I was doing the cups and balls and the kid next to me grabbed one of the cups, revealing the extra ball. I told them I had to stop at that point with the trick. So I went on to another trick.

Is there anything I could have done to prevent this? Is this common?
BCS
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Caféinst... I will qualify my comments by saying that I am not a working pro, but amateur.

When presenting magic I try to manage as best that I can my props to be out of reach and while performing (this can even be where people are seated... placing kids head on rather than the sides... telling them they can see better there), everything is within my reach and I can block grabby hands. That being said, I find that if magic is presented as magic (or a nod nod wink wink) rather than a puzzle or challenge your are less likely to have unruly spectators.

I look forward to hearing comments from working magi... this is a good question.

Thanks,
Bruce
Pete Biro
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Pick up the extra ball and vanish it. Then go on. Could you talk to him about it. Was this a formal paid show? How big was the total audience? Smile
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cafeinst
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It wasn't a formal paid show. It was a free practice show about 15-20 kids and 8 adults. The show went very well other than that.

I think cups and balls should be done close-up for maximum effect. The first time I saw it was close-up.
AaronSterling
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Quote:
On May 7, 2014, Caféinst wrote:
I was doing a close-up show in which the spectators were seated very close to me. I was doing the cups and balls and the kid next to me grabbed one of the cups, revealing the extra ball. I told them I had to stop at that point with the trick. So I went on to another trick.

Is there anything I could have done to prevent this? Is this common?

Audience control is a skill that takes a lifetime to develop, and it's very, very hard. A lot of magicians pay less attention to it than they should, because a lot of people come into magic more as move-wonks than as people-focused entertainers.

My advice is:

1. Read Magic and Showmanship by Henning Nelms, and
2. Find a guide, and try to emulate that person.

Either the guide is someone in your real life, like a drama teacher, or a performer whose videotapes of live performances you can study repeatedly. Different audience control techniques work better for different people, and your age, gender, and personality all affect this. To provide two examples of very different audience control techniques: Ricky Jay adapts a lecturing, I'm the PhD and you're back in school style, where he makes historical references and uses high-falutin vocabulary to make points. By contrast, Avner the Eccentric does not speak at all, and right away gets the audience on his side, wanting to take care of him, and rooting for him to succeed.

Develop a sense for helpful vs. unhelpful audience members. If soemone is rambunctious and hard to control, don't seat him/her right next to your props. Even adults reach for things, knowing it's rude. If you blow someone's mind, they might not be able to help themselves.

I wasn't in your situation, so I don't know for sure what I would have done. But I probably would have said, "Ah ha! You found a secret!" and continued on with the trick. Remember that Penn and Teller do cups and balls with clear plastic cups and get lots of applause and money. Fooling the audience isn't the point: providing a magical experience is.
Nate The Magician
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Whenever anyone tries to pick up a cup, I tend to just tap the top of the cup with my wand. That way, they either don't pick up the cup or I can say that the ball "materialized".
leomagnus
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If people are grabbing stuff than quite simply you're not in control of your audience. Now I don't know you, I haven't seen you perform, so I can't tell you exactly how to fix this. One tip is that the way you start your show sets the tone for the rest of the performance. If you give the correct impression/attitude in your opening routine, people will be much less likely to give you trouble the rest of the show. For example, when I perform I want the audience to really be a part of the show. So in my opening routine(a multiple selection routine) I ask people questions, I get a lot of different audience members involved. This encourages a dialogue throughout the show. Maybe you could use a similar technique to discourage grabbing.

One old bit of business that I've heard from several people as it pertains to the cups and balls, is that the wand can be used to keep "busy fingers" away. If you're hitting the cups with the wand, you can subtly repel any "handsy" spectators.

Good Luck!

-Leo
MGordonB
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Have you thought of making a child spectator part of your routine? There's a video of Bob Sheets doing a C&B that involves a lot of kids helping out.,they seem to be having a lot fun and none of them are doing anything they aren't supposed to be doing. I wonder if involving a child spectator in your routine might signal to the other kids to stay away until it's their turn?
Ray Haining
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It happened to me once. I wouldn't worry about it. Just be alert to the possibility.
ROBERT BLAKE
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Doing cups and balls close is not always good. why do people grap the cups? first they are to close. second when you com to thier table and put thing on it that means they can pick it up and look. why? because the table is thiers. the street performers do the trick on the street and the audience is always further away from the cups then at the table. that is why it is good on the street.

teh solution that mr. Biro said was the best option. basically because you stopt the audience realised something went wrong. crowd control is also an issue. but understanding why people do things is half the battle. that is why tommy wonder did the cups and balls with 2 cups. see 2 cups 2 hands 2 balls.
David Fillary
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I perform for kids in my school all the time (I'm a teacher). They sometimes break the barriers of performance because they're kids. If I make a coin vanish, they might grab at my sleeve etc. Most don't, but they're kids - it will happen. All the advice above is good, but I don't think that it necessarily means you lack audience control. Anyone who says that should try teaching - some kids can just be *** unruly regardless!
tomsk192
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I'd say that stopping the trick at that point was a bad move. It seems a bit petulant, to me, although I think I understand why you did it.

As Pete said, you could vanish the ball and move on. There will always be people who claim that with 'good audience management' that these things will 'never happen'. Firstly, I don't agree. Secondly, it is a crucial skill to be able to improvise when something goes wrong. It might be that a sleight goes wrong, or a gimmick fails, or whatever. Some routines are 'bomb proof', so to speak, but the Cups & Balls, as most approach it, is not one of those routines.
cafeinst
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Robert Blake gave the solution I think - do what street performers do. I'll do it on my own table. That sets up a clear boundary. The first time I saw it done was from a street performer.

The kid who grabbed the cup was around 3 years old. (I think another kid around 2 years old followed him and grabbed the other cup.) I didn't continue the trick because I wanted to signal the parents to control their kids. This wasn't a paid show; if it were a paid show, none of this would have happenned. I would have done it on my own table Smile
pepka
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Yep, Pete said it best. Many parts of cups routines can be "jazzed" and therefore to vanish the extra ball and load it back under any cup should not be that difficult. My normal routine is close to the Vernon routine. The only parts set in stone are the opening with the tip over load, and the final load sequence. In between, the ability to improvise can be VERY helpful.
Motley Mage
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I really like Pete's idea to vanish the ball and move on; that's the voice of experience telling us how to improvise through a difficult moment. I also like the deterrent factor of whacking the cups at the appropriate moment, which could be done fairly aggressively (ala Gazzo) or with a degree of sublety, depending on your character. Thanks for the post & thanks to all who replied. I have learned a bit today.
Pete Biro
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I once dropped the hand dye tube used in Color Changing silk. When it hit the floor I looked up, then picked the gimmick up, saying, "Where did this come from?" Then I did a vanish move, tossing (nothing) up in the air, then continued on with the routine. Smile
STAY TOONED... @ www.pete-biro.com
55Hudson
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I was doing a chop cup routine with some friends and one reached over and picked up the cup, revealing a ball prematurely. The friend-nature of our relationship made the spec think it was okay ... Not!

I went straight to the two-ball final load. Got a great reaction.

I guess sooner or later just about everything happens during a performance. You've just got to be prepared for everything and keep on moving on.

Hudson
cafeinst
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Another solution is to just do the chop cup routine when people are close and cups and balls when people are far away.
cafeinst
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I did the chop cup routine yesterday for kids. One of the kids, about 7 years old, grabbed the cup. So my solution to just do the chop cup routine doesn't work. The trick was done on a picnic table, not my table.

Wow, kids must think I'm a pushover Smile
David French
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I agree with David Fillary. You can be the best but there will be kids that are just out of control. And parents that don't care. I have been doing my chop cup for thirty years. The other night a kid grabbed the bag that holds an extra ball. He shouted "he has two balls" I could not resist...came back and said "As it should be"...

I should have known NOT to do the chop cup as a I saw this young man being obnoxious during my first trick. That was my mistake, not recognizing it for what it was, but there was a request for the lemon and lime trick (chop cup)

Bottom line, it will happen, no matter what you try to control...hopefully not too often however!
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