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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The little darlings » » Dealing with hecklers (2 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

gmsmagic1
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If you perform enough kids shows, it's inevitable that you will eventually come across annoying kids that want to out-stage the entertainer or prove their superiority by trying to expose every trick they can. This can be especially awkward if it's the birthday child that you might need to set straight!

There are no right or wrong answers to this question, but I'm just curious as to what tactics seem to work best for each of you in dealing with hecklers?

I know this topic has been covered in many other sections of the Café, but it appears that it has never been discussed in detail within the Little Darlings section from what I can tell, so I thought it would be a worthwhile topic - especially considering the sensitivity involved when dealing with kids.

I personally have been fortunate enough not to allow this to become much of an issue at my past parties, since I find that the key to dealing with hecklers is to reduce the likelihood of them ever becoming an issue by establishing ground rules up front and maintaining crowd control throughout the party. Sucker tricks will often shut them up at least temporarily, but I don't like to ever make the kids feel like the suckers unless absolutely necessary. I suspect that involving the heckler in the show to keep them preoccupied or to get them on your side might work, or pulling them aside prior to the show to be-friend them if you anticipate ahead of time that they may become a problem could also be a decent tactic.

What works for one magician may not work for others, so I'm just curious as to what has worked best for some of you?

- Gary
NYCTwister
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If you need fear to enforce your beliefs, then your beliefs are worthless.
The Mighty Fool
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"been covered"?!? There's been a WAR fought over it in here which ended in least 2 people getting temporarily booted!

Now, there are 2 types of hecklers: the verbal kind, and the far more dangerous physical kind--you know, the kid who keeps trying to grab / mess with your stuff, tries to get behind you, etc.. At school / daycare ?library shows, the physical heckler ususally isn't a problem, as there are plenty of in-charge grownups on hand ready to quash them. At private parties / festivals however, they can be a real threat. When you arrive at the party, as youre setting up, you can often get a good gauge of the behavior level by observing the kids, and usually, if there IS a grabber in the bunch, he'll come up to you while youre setting up & get an early start! Remember, he's not trying to be mean or cruel, he simply craves attention and he's indifferent as to any damage he causes in getting that attention. Your best weapon against him is a fast-paced show LOADED with laughter. If he's in fits of glee, he'll see no need to attack. Also, if you do a style where your props constantly misfire & the kids get the best of you, again--he wont see the need to attack because you've basically beaten him to the punch!
Everybody wants to beleive.....we just help them along.
pbj100
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For me the first step is to reduce the chances or oppertunities to heckle

1 a great show that you know inside out after about 5 years or so of performing your act it becomes much Improved after 10 even more so . I know you might think at the 5 ,year point it is at its best but she you get to 10 years of the same act it is just so much better . Similarly at 15 and 20 years andso on


2 links between tricks a d smooth transitions reduce heckles

3. Strong magic reduces heckles

4 fun presentations and involving all of the audience from thier seats reduces heckles

If you have all of this and your still heckled it is mostly what I call the chatter which although disruptive to your show is usualy some one simply over excited and not someone set to spoil the show
I try just saying to the child " that's great well listen you sit and watch the show and I will have a chat with you after the show "

I then continue but talking in a much quieter voice than before
Phil
Gerry Walkowski
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I'm 100& with PBJ100 on this one.

My show is very strong because it's been fine-tuned over the past 20+ years. Unlike many, I did my homework up front so now many of the effects will remain in my program till the day I die. Still, that's not to say I won't tweak something if I think it's necessary or I come across a new joke or gag.

I find it comical that many magicians bring sound systems into intimate birthday party homes or place safety cones or tape on the floor so they don't get carpet creepers.

About 98% of the time children are very attentive at my performances because they can't wait to see what's going to happen next. My show does "not" fit into a little suitcase, however, I also don't cart in any backdrops, sound systems, bigger magic wands, chair suspensions, etc.

What I bring in compliments my brand and personality, but it's not used to compensate for a lack of talent.

So, having a child heckler is so rare for me that I don't even consider this an issue.

And if anyone is having this issue, then re-read what PBJ 100 stated here and learn from that.

Gerry
Dynamike
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Keith Fields have a book titled "How To Handle Hecklers".
http://www.keithfields.com/how-to-handle-hecklers
jay leslie
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I like it when the birthday boy hits and punches me for no reason other then • too much sugar OR • their parents said "This is you're special day... and you can do anything you want"... (I'm sure everyone has seen a few of these young gentlemen, right?)

Even though I won't let other kids act-up the birthday boy can hit me or tug at my coat all the want... I've learned that It gets a much bigger tip. Huge, usually.

Just one rule "Turn sideways so they don't punch you in your cups and balls".
The Mighty Fool
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I actually wear a cup, kneepads and shinguards under my pants. The kneepads were originally to make it easier to kneel down to the kid's level, but they saved my bacon one time when the BDB's 'special' brother swung full tilt at my knee with the aluminum bat they were using for the pińata! (Even with the pad, it still hurt for awhile, and I've since upgraded to the hard-cover kind) I got to thinking how if the lil' shyster had aimed a bit lowewr he could've busted my shin, or if he'd been 4 or 5 inches taller-----ouch. That's what inspired me to start wearing protection.
Everybody wants to beleive.....we just help them along.
Frank Wessels
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gmsmagic1
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If I have to spend $65 to learn how to stop heckling, I'll be heckling the authors if their ideas don't work! Smile

Why spend $65 on a book when you can spend only $1 on a gag to shove in the hecklers mouth?

Just kidding of course Frank. I'm sure it's an excellent resource if you're recommending it. Fortunately, I've never really had a serious issue with hecklers. I just thought it would be a fun topic to explore further.

- Gary
guitarmagic
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Sorry to be so late in joining this topic. It appears this is an excellent topic and one that is NOT exhaustive. Vernon mentioned there were days of a more polite society, which says a lot about us all as a whole.

Today, it seems that heckling involves as many situations as people. There are hecklers at bars, sober or drunk, that can top children hecklers . . . sometimes. Smile

I have discovered my weakness in handling hecklers has been found in my skill with audience management tied to each specific effect in my performance repertoire . . . and with this knowledge I'm making my way, slowly, efficiently and successfully.
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."
wwhokie1
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Quote:
On Nov 26, 2013, The Mighty Fool wrote:
I actually wear a cup, kneepads and shinguards under my pants. The kneepads were originally to make it easier to kneel down to the kid's level, but they saved my bacon one time when the BDB's 'special' brother swung full tilt at my knee with the aluminum bat they were using for the pińata! (Even with the pad, it still hurt for awhile, and I've since upgraded to the hard-cover kind) I got to thinking how if the lil' shyster had aimed a bit lowewr he could've busted my shin, or if he'd been 4 or 5 inches taller-----ouch. That's what inspired me to start wearing protection.


When they bring out the pinata it is time to pack and go home. Never get near a pinata. And if parents are dumb enough to give kids an aluminum bat to swing at a pinata, its time to run. Bats slip out of kids hands.
TonyB2009
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I did a party two years ago (a communion) and the drunken uncle of the party boy loudly announced to all the kids that they could throw cake at the clown. When nobody took him up on the invitation, he shouted it again.

I paused, looked at him directly, and said equally loudly that if anyone hit me with a cake, I would go down and thump the man. And if he opened his mouth again during my show, I would go down and thump him. Normally I handle heckles with a bit more class, but I am nobody's pinata.

Seriously, heckles are quite easy to deal with. If it is a fun heckle, come back with a funny line. If it is a kid who is just plain trouble, and who wants to disrupt the show, you shut him down immediately. Even if he is the birthday child. But that situation is a lot more rare than the fun heckles, which can actually enhance the show.

Kids are quite happy to follow the rules, once they know there are rules. If we lay out the boundaries of what is acceptable behaviour and what is not, we generally get no problems.
wizardpa
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The best advice I have on this subject comes from what a magician told me almost 30 years ago. Totally ignore the heckler, performing your show as if they are not even there.
If I'm doing a show for kids 8 and above, I bring my hand chopper illusion. I get the heckler up to help later and I'll do everything I can to have him or her think that this is a really dangerous illusion, and I have never done it before. I might not even do the illusion if there are no hecklers, or I tone down the dangerous factor.
The Great Zucchini
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I have a friend who was doing a show one time, and a kid yelled, "I know how you did that', and he said, 'oh really, come on up here, and I will switch places with you'. My friend sat down in audience, and left the kid up there for a minute. He yelled, 'show us the trick'.

I also, rarely get heckled, but if a child, says, "I know how you did that', my favorite line is, 'so do I, I'm the one who bought the trick'. Parents crack up at this line too.
However, I agree with Tony, that you have to decipher if a child is trying to make show about him, nip this immediately. Don't let this happen, and I would never ever reward it, by letting them come up and volunteer, like someone suggested.
Dynamike
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I would not have that person volunteer also. There are two reasons. One reason is because they might be just as out of hand in the spotlight. The other reason is because it can create a wave of other kids to follow up doing the same thing.
harris
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One might analyze why the person spoke or did something in the audience.

or follow some of the above advice from wise showman.

I've been heckled by the best

A. K - 12th Graders
B. Mental Health Clinicians
C. Drunk Comedy Crowd members at a late night shows
D. Prison Inmates
E. All of the above

Most of the time the "heckler" just wants to be part of something.
If it is funny I love it. Laughs, don't just have to come from me.


Harris whispering EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE E. all of the above
still too old to know it all
Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
drlaugh4u@gmail.com
music, magic and marvelous toys
http://magician.org/member/drlaugh4u
MichaelCGM
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Quote:
On Apr 29, 2014, Dynamike wrote:
I would not have that person volunteer also. There are two reasons. One reason is because they might be just as out of hand in the spotlight. The other reason is because it can create a wave of other kids to follow up doing the same thing.


I have to agree with Dynamike on this one. Rewarding bad behaviour only encourages more bad behaviour.
Magically Yours,

Magical Michael

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wizardpa
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In the few times I've had this happen, and I latter did my hand chopper illusion on them, they have chickened out. I've never heard a peep out of them the rest of the show.
Starrpower
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While I have never had a kid punch me (Yikes!) I have had hecklers. Behavior is a form of communication. Behavior serves a function. If we can address the reason that the kid is acting out, we can better manage the behavior. The kid who jumps up is not trying to be disruptive, but rather trying to TELL you something!

In most cases, kids just want attention or want to look like they are in charge. Empower them in some way. The TV show "Blues Clues" is an excellent example; the kids notice things first. But even if we have kids up to help us, they may continue at act out if we make them look foolish or the butt of jokes, i.e. hand them a prop that falls apart. I'm not saying a clatter box or breakaway wand is bad, but how we use it that makes the difference.

We should also set limits early. "Criss-cross applesauce", "I choose kids who are sitting with hands in their laps", etc. are examples of this. Define your expectations, and make them simple and clear for the kids.

Finally, it's supposed to be fun. Don't impose so many rules that you're just another adult telling them what to do.
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