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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Food for thought » » Obscene spectators? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Robin Parker
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The past month I had two instances when spectators used, IMHO, very poor taste in expressing their interest in my performance.



One poor woman had the nerve to suggest, while I was performing a flawless ring & string routine, if I could pull the ring from my a**. (Referring to my backside) I am not an extreme prude, but come on! I attempted to ignore the "request" and watched how others commented on her behavior.



Last weekend, during the same routine, a young and full figured woman requested if I could increase her bust size. Yikes! Like I said, I’m no prude but this is a bit much.



I simply continue with my performance and try to do my job which is to entertain as well as possible with the miracles of our art and allow others to embarrass themselves with their mouth. What are your experiences & thoughts on this?
Steve Brooks
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Gee, what sort of ’Ring & String’ effect are you performing?

Just kidding! Smile



I think you said it best, let ’others’ see how stupid these people are, let them embarass themselve’s.



The best thing to do when you find yourself in an ’akward’ situation, is too politely thank them, and move on. You’re correct in saying that you are only trying to do your job and perform.



Unfortunatly, even the ’low-life’s’ of the world do go out in public, and we as entertainer’s will encounter them from time to time. Like I said, bite your tongue and move on. The last thing you want to happen is a confrontation between you (performer) and them (a guest). Good luck! Smile



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Robin Parker
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Steve, your query concerning the nature is funny; actually I did not remember that both instances occured during that routine until I wrote that post. I've performed that routine hundreds of times but usually I dont receive such responses. If more such responses continue to arise during the routine, I'll then think about it. Or I could perhaps blame Greg Wilson for I learned it from his excellent video. lol Greg would probably think it funny as well.
Magicduck
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If you are old enough, remember some of the lines Robert Orben wrote in the 1960’s. He had a book called Heckler Stoppers or something. It had lines like: (to a bald heckler) Oh excuse me sir, I did not realize that you are sitting upside down or (to a woman) Listen lady, give me a break, do I come over to your house and turn off your red light when you are working?



I read these, amused, but I wonder if they really ever worked. I for one would not have the nerve to try any of them, but this was a very popular book back then and, heck, Orben was no small potatoes -- he was the speech writer for Gerald Ford, the President.



Anyone have any comments on the value of this type of line, even back then?



quack
Steve Brooks
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Probably a good way to get your nose broken.

:rotf: Smile



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Robin Parker
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I love the "red light" line. How funny!!! As is said before, I am no prude and I will use that line! Sometimes I get one of those smart-a**, 20 something cats who deserve such a line. Actually, I’ve ask’ed smart mouthed women to choose a card by the hindu-shuffle force, asking them to say "Stop". Next I say, "You remember when you used to say stop?" Gets a good reaction, but of course it is rather thin ice so use your perception well before going there. Most importantly, be entertaining, even when defending yourself after having eaten a lot of c**p. Remember Don Rickles, the guy made a ton of dough insulting others and he is one of my favorites from the ’70’s.

I prefer to be nice, but sometimes people will punish you for your virtue. I see it more & more.
Jack
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Sounds like you perform in a place that serves alcohol. When the lady asks if you can pull a ring out of her a**, respond by saying "No, sorry, this magic ring only allows me to see them." as you look through the ring at her. Now referring to the other girl (who asked if you could increase her bust size), I have only one question. Was she cute?!? Smile
Robin Parker
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Hello Jack, yes, she was cute. I’m married so I figured it was best not to go anywhere with her comment. Besides, women will sometimes say such rubbish simply wanting to tease. I did not want to give her any satisfaction.
Scott F. Guinn
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I think that, first, you need to determine whether these people were trying to give you c**p or just good-naturedly teasing you. If you are in a bar and they’ve been drinking, that kind of thing is to be expected. If it is mean-spirited, just walk away. If it’s good-natured, just laugh along with them and let them have the spotlight for a minute.



I think the "heckler stoppers" should almost NEVER be used, particularly for such insignificant indiscretions as you describe. It’s not like they were booing or threatening to beat you up, etc.





My last Pro-Files article on the Visions dealt with hecklers. My newest article deals with the use of insult humor and will be appearing in the next issue of Visions, which will be coming out within the next week.



It’s true that Don Rickles made a living out of insult humor. It’s also true that everyone knew that up front and went to see that. It’s also true that for every Don Rickles, there are a couple million out-of-work and/or beat up insult comics. Personally, I don’t care for those odds.
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tctahoe
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I think the "heckler stoppers" should almost NEVER be used, particularly for such insignificant indiscretions as you describe. It’s not like they were booing or threatening to beat you up, etc.

greatscott



I think I have to disagree with you on that. Sometimes, not always, but sometimes, the "heckler’" is testing the waters with an insignificant wee line. I think it is your job to let everyone know who is in control of your performance.



Unfortunately, not every performer understands that there are degrees of ‘heckler stoppers’. There are ways of shutting people down without you coming off the bad guy.



Another unfortunate fact, the big comedy boom of the late eighty’s and early nineties (Thar’s jokes in them thar Hills”) with so many comics performing an aggressive take no prisoners type shows. That type of entertainment has, in away primed our audiences; they expect us to be able to deal with these kind of situations.



Again, it all comes down to the degree with which you decide to deal.



If the woman had said that to me, I would have probably said one of two things.



“Can you pull that ring from your a**?”



“OH, you missed the beginning of the trick” or “Hey! That’s how I proposed to my wife. You ol’ romantic.”



If I sensed a little more venom behind her words…



“OH, for that I would need a much bigger a**…any volunteers?”



There are so many factors that go into dealing with these people. You must, MUST, learn to read people. I am in a very fortunate position; I come across as very likeable and non-threatening, even when I am threatening.



On the up side of that I can shut’em down before they become a problem, on the other hand because I appear to be so darn friendly, the audience is comfortable with me and that encourages them to want to talk. You need to understand you, and your effect on people, not just your magic.



It is so much better to have an audience respond to you and not just your tricks.

Smile



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Peter Marucci
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As for Orben’s heckler stoppers, Orben was not funny in the 60s and he’s certainly not funny now.

Magicduck points out that Bob Orben was a speechwriter for Gerald Ford. Need I say more?

TC Tahoe’s advice is right on; defuse the situation if you can’t ignore it. Most of the audience is on your side anyway.

Of course, the best thing is, as TC says, to win over the audience in the first place and avoid heckling altogether.

cheers,

Peter Marucci

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Burt Yaroch
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[quote]
On 2001-11-30 02:43, tctahoe wrote:



If I sensed a little more venom behind her words…



“OH, for that I would need a much bigger a**… any volunteers?”



Smile Smile Smile



And if she’s being downright scathing...



"Oh for that I would need a much bigger a@@ and you seem to be using yours right now."



I’m not as stupid as you look I am. Smile
Yakworld.
Scott F. Guinn
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“Can you pull that ring from your a**?”



“OH, you missed the beginning of the trick” or “Hey! That’s how I proposed to my wife. You ol’ romantic.”



If I sensed a little more venom behind her words…



“OH, for that I would need a much bigger a**… any volunteers?” -TC Tahoe



TC,



I wouldn’t really qualify those as heckler-stoppers. More of a witty retort, as they are not cruel or making the spec the "butt" of the joke (so to speak) in the same way as "Hey, do I come to where you work and...:"



Also, please note the phrase "Almost never" in my post. I didn’t say never... in the right venue, with the right audience, I have, indeed, used some of those types of lines, but it has been very rare. That includes the time I spent as a non-magical stand-up comic playing comedy clubs across the western US and Canada.



Regarding Orben (and Rickles), his humor was more acceptable in the 60’s (although maybe not any funnier), but most of it will be considered offensive in this politically correct day and age. If you are working comedy clubs, the Playboy Mansion or the Def Comedy Jam, that’s another story, but I seriously doubt most of the Cafe’s participants fall into that boat.
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tctahoe
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I think they are heckler stoppers. They let the heckler know that you are on top of things and, hopefully, will cue them in on that fact that you are in control. There can, and should be degrees of heckler stopping lines. Call ’em warning shots if you will, a well-timed witty retort may be all the ammunition you need. Too many times performers pull out the big guns and slam a heckler too hard, too soon.



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Margarette
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Here’s what I do...

but first, I must give you a little bit of background information. When I do my stand up or escape shows, let’s just say I accentuate the positive with my attire. This is basically an invitation for comments, and I accept that. I have learned to deal with that, in fact, I have some really great comebacks for certain situations. Since I know under-age people read this, I will limit what I say.



When I am performing my 50’ Rope Tie, well, it takes a while for me to get completely tied up, so there is friendly banter between myself and the men tying me up. Yes, I always use men. This banter does get suggestive, but I always have a comeback. Now, if they say something just plain rude, which I do not wish to encourage to continue, I say, "Hon, my insurance wouldn’t cover your injuries!" Prefacing that with the "hon" gets the first laugh, then the insurance comment gets a larger laugh. It usually then changes the direction the friendly banter goes. Now, I was doing one show, where one of my volunteers happen to come onstage holding a cigar... ok, now that you’ve all finished making up your own jokes, here’s what happened. He found out I was from Arkansas, and made a clintonesque joke about his cigar. I looked at the cigar, looked at him, and said, "The name’s Margarette, not Monica." Not another word about said cigar.



Now, another instance also takes place during my escapes act. I do emphasize a great deal that the object is not to put me in pain. If they don’t seem to understand, I say something like "Hey, if you want pain, that’s gonna cost you extra, and you don’t have that kind of money."



The main thing is that you don’t ever let the heckler know that what they are saying is bothering you... that is what they want. Don’t ever give them the satisfaction. Once you do that, you’ve lost control of the situation. When I do my escapes, I simply cannot afford to lose control of the situation. I do that, and to put it simply, I could get seriously hurt, or worse. Smile



Now, for the woman who asked if you could pull a ring from... well, we all know what you said... you could have said something like "I can do that, but I usually reserve that for the late night crowd" or possibly something like I use "yeah, I can do that, but it’s gonna cost you extra... and you don’t have that type of money." Now, if she says she does, give her some outrageous figure, and tell her "this is in cash on the table right now." This way, you are not being crude, you are addressing the situation, but you are not giving her the satisfaction in knowing that what she said bothered you.



Just my two cents on the topic.



Margarette
The only stupid question is the one not asked.
Jack
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The hecklers that I can't stand are the "I know how you did that!" even though they don't ones. I've noticed that in big crowds they're the ones that want to be Mr. Studdly or Miss Smarty Pants. You know, the ones that always want to be the center of attraction of that group. It's hard to perform close-up magic to a group when there's that one person interrupting your rhythm and performance with "I've seen this one before." or "That's a trick deck." or "I know how he does that." or "My brother's real good with cards also." or "It went up his sleeve."



Another issue that magicians get confronted with are guys that are jealous because their girlfriend or wife is getting turned on by you because, hey, girls like magic.



And some people just can't stand to be fooled. They've grown up with their senses (sense of sight, logic, etc.) and can't handle being led astray by them. They tend to feel insecure when they are tricked (as opposed to the majority that feel entertained by magic).



Magically, Jack Smile
Margarette
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Jack,

I can honestly say I have never been confronted by a jealous boyfriend. Smile



Margarette
The only stupid question is the one not asked.
Scott F. Guinn
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TC-



You are exactly right, and that is the point I was trying to make -- most magi hit them WAY too hard WAY too soon! Your responses are amusing, but not offensive -- most of Orbin’s "Heckler stoppers" are offensive, but not amusing.



I totally agree that you must always be in control, but I also think we need to let the audience interact, and laugh if they say something funny. I don’t think we always need to "one-up" them. Letting them have the spotlight doesn’t mean you’ve lost control -it simply means that you are the director letting them have their moment before you move on, and this endears you to the audience. After a chuckle and a pause, responding with the type of line that you or Margarette mentioned will get another laugh. I guess I don’t consider those lines heckler-stoppers, because I don’t consider the comments made by the spectator in the original post heckling. She wasn’t personally attacking, she was interacting and becoming involved in the fun. I encourage that kind of interaction and give and take.



As far as the "I know that" stuff, it can be kept to a minimum by taking as much of the challenge aspect out of your routines as possible. it isn’t a contest, it’s a joint venture where we have fun and are amazed together. Jealous boyfriend? Work to him and not the girl. Still pulling that stuff? Thank them and walk away.



In my opinion and experience, there is no reason to brutally sting anyone in an Orben-esque or abusive comic manner in any of the scenarios from the above posts. You are there to entertain the audience and the show is about them. Check your ego at the door, let them have some fun while maintaining control, or walk away. Or stop performing for the public!



Again, I refer readers to my current Pro-Files column at http://www.online-visions.com for a more in-depth discussion of this matter. I am very passionate about this, because, as TC said, too many go too far too soon, and that is one of the reasons why many people don’t like magicians!



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Peter Marucci
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Margarette has the key word: "Control".

It is essential for the performer to maintain control.

You can intereact with the audience and let them trade barbs with you. Just as long as they remain aware of who is in control of the situation.

The minute you lose control, you're dead (figuratively, I hope!).

In small groups (i.e., table hopping, etc.), I usually just stop -- stop talking, stop doing anything -- until the guy or gal who wants to be the centre of attention suddenly realizes that s/he IS! That is usually enough to scare them off. And then I continue as if nothing happened.

(You've won, remember? There's no need to embarrass them.)

cheers,

Peter Marucci

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tctahoe
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I don’t think we always need to "one-up" them. Letting them have the spotlight doesn’t mean you’ve lost control --

Scott F. Guinn



I love you for saying that. I have tried for years to get magicians to understand exactly that same thing. Some of the biggest laughs in my show are my reactions to things said by an audience member. My goal is to have them leave and remember they enjoyed spending time with me. I am sure I will be jumped on for not having a ‘bigger’ goal, but for me that is it. I want audience members to see my days, months, or years later and remember they genuinely enjoyed “that show” I did.



Going back to that inane need for one-upmanship, one only has to look to the greats to see it ain’t necessary. Jack Benny, Steve Alan, and… OK I could go on and on and on and… Sorry. Any one that physical or verbally interacts with their audience must learn this give and take.



I have jokes and effects that totally set the audience up to deliver the punch line for me, and it is a wonderful thing.



Magician = Smarta** to far too many people. Can we not try to change that?
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