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middle earth
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Profile of itsmagic
How do you handle a spectator who grabs your gimmicked prop from your hand?

The $5 and $1 Transpo is one of my favorite tricks. It always elicits tremendous response, and friends always ask for a repeat months later.

Last night, a coworker asked me to show his wife the trick. She was amazed, and shouted, "NO WAY!" Suddenly, she grabbed my bill from my hand and saw the gimmick. "Ah, I see," she said.

I wonder if it was the way I presented the trick that caused her to grab the bill? Or are some spectators just GRABBY by nature?

I've performed this trick so many times, and not once has anyone grabbed at the bill. In fact, I don't recall any other spectator grabbing for my any of my stuff from all my performances. Maybe it had crossed their mind to grab the props, but their common courtesy held them back. What do you think?
Alym Amlani
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Profile of Alym Amlani
In my experience, you WILL get grabby spectators, and when I started out, people used to grab at my stuff—I don't know exactly what it is that changed, but it now rarely happens. I think it is really your attitude with the audience, if you believe that your props have nothing to do with the effect, your spectators will also seem to believe the same.

In the case of the lady who grabbed the bills from you, perhaps it was just that you drew attention to the bill (or the spectator was just evil!!). Smile
Logic Defied
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Profile of Paddy
Yea, it is a matter of crowd management. You are the magician and YOU are in control.

As a magician I affect reality, I can change the world for my audience, therefore, I control things, even the audience. When you have this attitude, the "grabbiness" stops. Another thing is now send her a bill for magic lessons, minimum billing is $100.

Non Impediti Ratione Cogitationis

I reject your reality & substitute my own
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Profile of Michaels

This question has been posted many times before, however, it appears that the new search method on the Café makes it harder to locate a topic these days.

To answer your question, in most cases spectators won't grab if a trick is routined well and if there is good audience control (which is a byproduct of good routining).

Also, when asked to do a trick, I'll graciously refuse unless it is impromptu (or appears impromptu), well routined and leaves me clean. A general rule of thumb while performing is to never invade a spectator's space (unless trust is established) and never let a spectator invade your space (unless invited in).

Top of the day,
"Our technology is ahead of our humanity"
Albert Einstein
stephen secret
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Profile of stephen secret
With anything you are doing up close and in your hands try and keep your hands ready to block anyone grabbing at things. I know this can be hard to catch but if you are doing something you don't want people to touch be ready to block with the off hand.

And you can always use the line, "If you want to do magic buy your own."
sincerely, secret
Frank Tougas
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Minneapolis, MN
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She may just be grabby, there are those types around. Impulsively grabbing at things or asking questions stepping on your line, etc.

I can't tell from your description but if your co-worker asked you to do the trick for his wife, she may have already been told what the trick was about.

That would then be the equivalent of repeating a trick which often courts disaster. Her attention was less on the effect and more focused on that danged dollar.
Frank Tougas The Twin Cities Most "Kid Experienced" Children's Performer :"Creating Positive Memories...One Smile at a Time"
Michael Taggert
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Fredericksburg Virginia
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Profile of Michael Taggert
Your presence and presentation are crucial. Even still you may just have a grabby spectator now and then, I suggest pain and suffering. Seriously, a grabby spectator is similar to a heckler and has to be treated as such. I had a drunk in a hospitality suite once that walked up and tore a prop in half. I had to have him removed, the rest of the weekend went great.
Believe you then that I do strange things
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Profile of triadsong
When I'm doing something close-up I try to non-chalantly put the effect away as soon as it is finished, but we've all had grabby spectators. It is all in the handling and presentation. Maybe I had some luck in this since I used to run a group home for developmentally disabled adults and would do magic for them. Very inquisitive audience and very quick to try to grab.
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Profile of Angela
I hate it when people grab... definitely keep your distance until you're clean. Then maybe move quickly onto something else that isn't gimmicked so that they forget about it.

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Profile of dluong
Nicely said alym. I completely agree. I used to have a lot of grabby spectators when I started, but as I got more confident with my routines it doesn't seem to happen anymore.
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Profile of alextsui
Yes, confidence definitely helps a lot. Your performance attitude also affects the audience's reactions to a large extent. If your patter or routine seems to "challenge" the audience to try and figure out your effect, they'll react that way.

Whenever I do close-up, I also don't stay within grabbing distance. If the props are not examinable, I put them away quickly (but not hastily or seeming guilty) and move on to something else. "Out of sight, out of mind". Thank God I've never had a "grabbing" experience by a spectator yet (touch wood). Smile

Magical Regards,
Alex Tsui

...Just want to add on a bit to my last post and share something that has worked extremely well for me in handling spectators.

Whenever I feel that there might be a chance of an unruly spectator spoiling the trick, I set up by saying something along the lines of:

"This next effect that I'm about to do is extremely difficult so I need a volunteer from the audience who has a quick and alert mind. I need someone who can concentrate and follow complicated instructions well. Is there someone like that here?"

You have to request this in an authoritative manner without seeming that you are desperate for a cooperative volunteer.

That way I get a spectator who will try his/her best to follow my instructions carefully, fearing that the other audience members might think that they are slow or dumb if they can't follow along.

Try it. Works like a charm everytime.

Alex Tsui
The Best Magic Effects to Take Your Performance to the Next Level
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Profile of Dr_Stephen_Midnight
Talk show host David Letterman is a "grabber." If I was on his show (unlikely, but for the sake of argument) I would do the steeltrap stunt. That way I could offer him the set trap and watch him backpedal.

Penn & Teller brought enough fright gimmicks (including a hatful of cockroaches) to Letterman's show to discourage "grabbiness."

Dr. Lao: "Do you know what wisdom is?"
Mike: "No."
Dr. Lao: "Wise answer."
Chris H
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Punch them.

-- Topher
Magic Grandpa
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Profile of Magic Grandpa
Magic Grandpa Here:

My approach is very direct. If they grab, I stop and say, "Grab something one more time, and you'll be sorry." I stare them down.

I'm old enough not to care. If I'm being abused by the guests, I leave. I walkout. I've had a few complaints by clients this year, but I don't care. I refuse to perform for abusive people.
I'm old as dirt; that's why there's no picture of me.
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Profile of wol
At the start of the evening have one of the clients taken outside and hanged! This serves as a warning to anyone else!
Keep passing the open windows!
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Profile of felipão
I just do the show and put all in a case and go away...
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Profile of dynamiteassasin
Knock them out with a KNUCKLE SANDWICH! Just playin'!

I suggest you watch performance, only videos to get tips on how to handle tough spectators. If he/she is really a tough cookie, finish your trick and walk away. Those kind of people are not worth your tricks. There are many out there who are willing to see the art of illusion rather than grabbing the magician's props. Experience is also the best teacher.
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Profile of grant_gilson
I try and do some tricks where they are allowed, even encouraged, to handle the props. Some good card tricks with a regular deck where the spectator handles the deck works.

The best one I had was a three card (ungaffed) monte routine. The first time I did a regular throw and asked the spectator which card. He pointed and I did a really bad Mexican turnover. I told him wrong card.

He said, "You switched the cards!" I explained the game (again) and did another regular throw. This time I did a terrible flip move. I told him he was wrong again. He pointed at me and said (louder) you are cheating—your are switching the cards—I saw you. Do it again! I told him he really did not understand the game yet and he said (louder), "Do it again. One more time!" I said OK and this time I did the hype. Not only did he come across the table but he grabbed my right arm so I could not 'switch' the cards. The look on his face when he turned over the loser card was absolutely priceless.


P.S. He is a friend of mine, I would never do that to a stranger. Smile
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Profile of Vincz
Normally if I do to people who don't know me, or don't know me well, they tend to be more respectful and will not grab. Sometimes, I do have people grabbing, but normally I just hold it tight and they will let go. If it's a non-paid performance, then I might stop performing if they continue like this.
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Profile of Bobcape
I think there are some things you can do to minimize grabbing, but I believe that there are some people who in the right situation will slip by.

Make sure your performance builds and flows to the next effect. Have a reason to put the item away; to perform the next effect. Demonstrate confidence and control of your audience. All of these suggestions will help, but someone could walk up near the end of your performance and react by grabbing. So the only other suggestion is to perform as many no-gimmick effects as possible.

Best of luck,
Be Amazed! + Enjoy The Magic!
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