Big trouble w/ hecklers

All beginners in magic should address their questions here.

Postby Guest » 07/14/07 06:38 AM

I was wondering if anyone had any advise for an over zealous beginner with horrible sleight of hand techniques. I am very knew to magic, and as such I am pretty bad some times. I understand thats part of the process. There are people that I can do a decent job for, but there are others that are just salivating at the chance to catch me.
For example, even a double lift I have problems with. Some people fall for it easy and don't even notice. Others, catch it almost right away. The ones that catch it right away are the same ones who demand I let them shuffle the deck instead, and are intent on following every little step to a T. When I do get them, they hound me to do it again so they can catch me the second time around. The worst is they will ruin my performance to those who are actually enjoying my demonstrations.
So I guess I have two problems.
1) How do I get much, much better at my sleights so that these people can't catch me even though there sole purpose in life seems to be to bust me at that moment?
2) How do I handle these people when they become a problem, or start hassling me to let them hold it or let them shuffle, etc?

I really appreciate any help I can get.


Postby Guest » 07/14/07 07:29 AM

1) How do I get much, much better at my sleights so that these people can't catch me even though there sole purpose in life seems to be to bust me at that moment?
Practice, practice, practice.

2) How do I handle these people when they become a problem, or start haggling me to let them hold it or let them shuffle, etc?
Don't perform until you are ready.

No offence, but it sounds like you just aren't ready to perform yet. I know you want to. I know the need to show what you can do, but if you get caught as much as you say you are, then you just aren't ready to be performing.


Postby Guest » 07/14/07 08:21 AM

First of all, the double lift is considered one of the hardest standard sleights. I understand that Eugene Burger doesn't even do it.

Second, magic isn't equivalent to sleights. Card College Light has some great self-working routines, that let you concentrate on your presentation.

Third, I don't think "haggler" means what you think it means. :)


Postby Guest » 07/14/07 08:48 AM

Second Gord on questions 1 & 2.
Mark, The viewer is haggling over the terms of the trick.
Confidence in your abilities and routines will stifle haggling. Hagglers can smell fear and attack.

Postby Mark Collier » 07/14/07 10:59 AM

Spectators are more likely to focus on method when the presentation is not very engaging.

An effective presentation can/should be a form of misdirection. If you can perfect your sleights to the point where you seem more concerned with presentation than mechanics, your audience will likely be more interested in what you're doing rather than how you are doing it.

Try to get eye contact as you do the move, but it has to seem uncontrived. Ask them a question and use their name...stuff like that.
Mark Collier
Posts: 400
Joined: 01/18/08 01:00 PM
Location: Santa Barbara, Ca

Postby Guest » 07/14/07 12:21 PM

I second the recommendation for Card College Light. It's got some of the best "self-working" tricks around. And Giobbi has written it with PERFORMANCE in mind, routining the effects into seven complete acts.

I've fooled some well posted move monkeys with the first effect (a Juan Tamariz creation).

As for the double lift problem, you are almost certainly making the mistake all newbie's make. Stop looking at the deck when you do the move. If you have to look at the deck while doing something as simple as turning over the top card you are TELLING them you are doing something more than just turning over a card. You are INVITING them to watch closely, since you seem to need to pay attention to what you are doing yourself.

Try looking at your audience, and perhaps suggest that the problem child blink occassionally because watching card tricks can make you go blind...

Postby Guest » 07/14/07 04:45 PM

I don't know why you call them hagglers. Are they trying to get you to lower your price?

Postby Guest » 07/14/07 08:37 PM


Also, answers...

1) Practice.
2) See answer #1

Postby Guest » 07/15/07 05:09 AM

I want to add that "Card College Light" is highly underrated. You can easily put together a professional performance with just self-working card tricks, and the ones in Card College Light are some of the best.

Regarding hecklers, which one has to be able to handle regardless of skill level, you might want to check out How To Kill A Heckler by Barnaby a professional juggler who has quite a lot to say about this subject.

Postby Guest » 07/15/07 09:42 AM

Assuming that you mean "hecklers," then I must agree that if you are being caught you have two problems.

1) Your technique needs work -- practice
2) you are projecting a lack of confidence -- practice.

Don't start throwing out heckle-stoppers if your technique is such that you invite hecklers. You will not be making a positive impression of magic. You probably aren't now, in any case.

I'll give you the advice that I gave all my performers when I was Entertainment Director of the Texas Renaissance Festival. Get a copy of 2002 Insults, read through it and memorize a half dozen or so that really appeal to you.

The next time you are heckled, look the heckler straight in the eye, smile at him and think your favorite insult at him as loud as you can. The rest of the people will know that you could have put him down, and they will not appreciate his noise. The next time he heckles you, do the same thing.

Once the audience is on your side, if he continues, then go in and actually recite one of your better heckle-stoppers at him. Make it a clean, surgical strike.

If you do this before you have the audience on your side, you will lose the whole battle.

However, practice and experience are the keys. The more of these you have, the less you will be heckled.

My favorite heckle-stopper was one that Edgar Bergen used when he was working in Las Vegas. A heckler yelled out "Paul Winchell doesn't move his lips."

Bergen replied "Paul Winchell doesn't have three million dollars."

Postby Guest » 07/15/07 02:27 PM

Everyone, thank you so much for all your advice. I will definitely take it to heart. You are all right, I might be trying to pull things that are a lot higher than my reachat this point. I will keep on with practice, practice, practice. And be ultra confident before I actually show something off. It is hard sometimes, because I'm not as bad as I made it seem, and I do have some success, especially when I get into a rythm of confidence, and it is such a great feeling. I will def. check out Card College Light, so that I can also work on my actual performance during gauranteed work. Again thank you all for your responses.

p.s. As far as my use of the word 'haggler'which I used as a synonym of 'caviler'. The definition of 'cavil' by the way, is - "1. to raise irritating and trivial objections; find fault with unnecessarily (usually fol. by at or about): He finds something to cavil at in everything I say.
verb (used with object) 2. to oppose by inconsequential, frivolous, or sham objections: to cavil each item of a proposed agenda.
noun 3. a trivial and annoying objection.
4. the raising of such objections." But heckler is also a great word. Thanks for the vocabulary lesson though.

Postby Guest » 07/15/07 02:36 PM

By the by B.D. that blinking comment was hilarious, I'lol def. use that. lol

Postby Guest » 07/16/07 06:03 AM

In addition, when I do a good job, and actually get them, how do I respond to the "hecklers" that ask for the deck so they can shuffle it? As a note I get people asking for the deck before a trick, or in the middle, say when they put the card back in the deck. These people are not catching me, they aren't even being that obnoxious, but they are killing me with that. It has happened more than once, so I know I am not controlling them the way I should. And I know I'm not responding well either. Any advice on this?
To people like Bill Palmer. Just so you also know, its not like I'm getting up on stage and trying to do a show. I am simply trying what I feel reasonably confident with, amongst friends, or at social places. I am not trying to misrepresent magic or embarrass the art; or myself for that matter. I just like to perform, and I'm really exited about being a good magician; so I may get over zealous at times. But I am not trying to leave a negative "impression of magic." I'm sorry if you got that feeling, because I really want to represent the art in a magical way, no pun intended.

Thanks again for the great advice on my first post on the matter, and I appreciate any further advice.


Postby Guest » 07/16/07 08:48 AM

Haggling implies arguing about an agreement. The most common usage is haggling over the price of something. The seller offers a price, you offer another, he offers yet another, etc.

There's no arguing or negotiating going on during a magic trick.


Postby Guest » 07/16/07 09:05 AM

///ark, I agree heckling would have been a better word of choice. Is it really that serious though? The point is everyone should have understood what I was trying to say. Sorry haggle came to mind.

p.s. Although cavil and heckle would have been far better words; haggle does sort of fit in the definition of - To cut (something) in a crude, unskillful manner; hack., or - to wrangle, dispute, or cavil. The reason I did not use heckle, is because they were not on my butt the whole time, being rude and loud and obnoxious. They were simply trying way too hard to catch me and doing things like trying to shuffle the deck themselves, which is what I would really apprecitae help on . Not my vocabulary. And, like I said, you know what I mean, so is it really that serious to you?

To those that have given me solid advice without jumping on me for choosing the wrong word, I really do appreciate it. And I hope that understood. I'm not here for English lessons. I do however really want to get much better at my magic, and am trying hard to do so as fast as possible.

Thanks to all again.

Postby Guest » 07/16/07 09:12 AM

p.s. Maybe hassling would have been an even better word. So I apologize once again for the improper use of haggle.

Postby Guest » 07/16/07 03:35 PM

No one's jumping on you, n9, it's not that serious, and there's no need to apologize.

I'm just interested in the correct use of language, that's all. Feel free to ignore me. :)


Postby Guest » 07/17/07 07:15 AM

Fair enough Mark. :) Well, any thoughts on what I should do when someone wants to hold or shuffle the deck? Or hold anything that I'm working with for that matter. I guess trying to make sure its not gimmicked, or what have you.


Postby Guest » 07/17/07 07:47 AM

"Well, any thoughts on what I should do when someone wants to hold or shuffle the deck?"
I think that the question is why do they want to do that?

And I suspect that the answer is two-fold:

1. If they're really engrossed in your magical performance and entertained by it, then not only will they not interrupt you with such requests, they'd be annoyed if others did so.

2. They're interpreting your performance as a challenge, a puzzle that they feel that they have to solve.


Postby Guest » 07/17/07 07:58 AM

Dave your dead on man. That's exactly what it feels like. Like I am challenging their wits and logical prowess, instead of them being like "holy #%@*, thats amazing, show me something else!" Its more like, "holey, that was good, do it again, but let ME shuffle the deck after I put the card back into it, and see how you do it." They just try to catch me. Don't get me wrong I do get that first reaction sometimes, and have to admit, its the greatest feeling in the world, its what has me hooked and looking for more. Its just very disheartening when I get the latter reaction. What can I be doing wrong? And, more importantly, how do I fix it?

Postby Guest » 07/17/07 08:04 AM

I do however really want to get much better at my magic, and am trying hard to do so as fast as possible.
Many have probably tried that approach. Take your time, enjoy and have fun, and work on a couple things until they really shine. People have given you a great many tips in this thread to work on and if it doesn't happen overnight, don't be surprised.

Postby Guest » 07/17/07 08:15 AM

Thank you Brian I will try. Its jsut hard, when you want ot do this and that, and have a lot of ideas in your head that you know will work, if you can just learn the smaller stuff first.

Postby Guest » 07/17/07 08:19 AM

Are you performing mainly for friends, family, or those that know you? I think maybe it could just be the crowd that is trying to get to you a bit. If strangers are continually doing this to you that probably means your presentations could use some tweaking or they are seeing exactly what could mess up your trick. I don't think many strangers would keep asking to shuffle the deck all the time if you have amazed and entertained them previously.

Another option is for you to have a second effect that maybe doesn't require picking a card. There are so many card tricks to choose from and if you add an entertaining presentation you will have a solid backup effect for those challenge situations. Or you could even have a non-card effect ready.

Like people have stated, you should check out Card College Light to find some great routined tricks that will let you focus on presentation. Pick your favorite, learn it well, and then just do that for a while making little refinements when needed.

Good luck!

Postby Guest » 07/17/07 08:30 AM

Actually, most people that have tried to grab the deck from me, or whatever I might be working with, are friends and family. (Let me clarify that the card thing is just an example, I am trying all sorts of different things. Sleight of hand in general is apparently a problem for me. I guess I just look too fake, or too rigid, or too obvious when I do this.) Most strangers have been at least, fairly receptive. That is an interesting point, about the friends and family. As for "Card College Light" I am def. going to buy this, and use it. Thanks to all who have recommended this, as it seems to be given consensus as what I whould be studying to get my performance up to par.
Thanks Brian.

Postby Guest » 07/17/07 08:46 AM

"holey, that was good, do it again, but let ME shuffle the deck after I put the card back into it, and see how you do it."
There are several good ripostes to that, and I cant take the credit for any of them. One good one is The first time, its magic. The second time, its a lesson. And I charge for lessons. I wish I could remember where I read that, its so good.

Personally, I tend to go with Didnt you see it the first time? Oh well.., and I pocket the coins or cards or whatever.

Another good one, especially when performing a card effect, is to say Ok, let me do that again, get them to pick a card, and then do a completely different effect.

"most people that have tried to grab the deck from me, or whatever I might be working with, are friends and family."
I'd suspected as much, and I'm sure that most others here were thinking along the same lines.

Friends, work colleagues, and family - they're the toughest audience. Their familiarity with you makes them feel that they "have the right" to treat you familiarly - you're not The Magician Who's Entertaining Them, you're just Dave (or whatever the name is).


Postby Guest » 07/17/07 08:58 AM

Again, thank you all for your advice. Dave, those come backs are great, as are some of the others posted. Its nice to have people respond to your problem, and genuinely try to help. I trully apprecitate all your comments. Including those that gave me a free vocab. lesson along the way;). :)

Postby Rick Schulz » 07/17/07 09:04 AM

n9soto -

It might be very helpful to find a more experienced magician who would be willing to critique your technique and presentation. Others here have advised "practice" but I've always been told "perfect practice makes perfect" - you may be practicing poor or incorrect techniques. Check out the local magic clubs, and ask for help.

As for your presentation, try taping yourself - either tape recorder (good) or video (better) - to see where your presentation could be polished. Listen to how often you say things like "Uhm". Another bad habit (one I'm working to break) is to simply describe what I'm doing ("and now the card goes into the center of the deck, and now I shuffle the deck.") The audience can see you doing that - there is no need to tell them. Instead, engage the audience in what you are doing; make interesting or humorous conversation. This is the really hard part.

Just my 2 cents worth - good luck!
Rick Schulz
Posts: 177
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Postby Guest » 07/17/07 09:08 AM

Thanks Rick! I don't really know if there are any local magic clubs in Miami, Fl, but I will def. try to find out, because that saound like a fantastic idea. Does anyone know if there is anything like that in the South Florida area?

Postby Guest » 07/17/07 09:10 AM

Others have given you great advice about how to handle a spectatator who wants to mess with the deck.

Here's one for spectators who like to grab: Always assume that someone will grab anything that isn't nailed down. Keep an eye on everything, and if someone does make a grab for something, you'll be quicker than they are.


Postby Guest » 07/17/07 09:14 AM

Having been a highly effective heckler (to the point I was paid for it)
and also as someone who was good at ejecting hecklers from
and stripclubs, I have a little perspective on the subject.

Here's my advice:

Go to an open microphone stand-up comedy night somewhere and
actually invite the crowd (and the other performers) to heckle you.

Have them really aim for below the belt. Tell them you'll buy a drink
for the person who ends up as the best heckler.

If you're feeling especially brave, invite them to mess with your timing and rhythm.

Even if you're shortloaded with stock insult lines from joke books,
you'll be severely tested.

It might be the most painful experience of your career, but when you
are lying in bed later that night, with insomnia, you will replay the
torture over and over again and eventually commit to memory what
timing you should have used, what you should have done and what
you should have said.

You'll learn that the best way to handle a heckler, however, is to insult
them quickly, effortlessly and with a line that was CLEARLY made up
on the spot.

Having the audience on your side is good, but even if you don't have
them, a great retort can instantly win them over, especially if you can
do it without breaking a sweat.

Remember, the audience is there not only to be entertained by you,
but they are counting on you to police the jerks in the crowd.

If they throw an insult at you, and if no one laughed, casually point out the
lack of crowd response BUT quickly get back to your program
so as not to bait.

if you sense you have the clout, ask the audience by a round of applause
whether they want the heckler to shut the hell up.

If they clap, you've castrated them.

If it is a woman heckling you, don't cut her an ounce
slack even if you're chivalrous by nature.

If after ripping her throat open, she calls you a sexist or changes
tack from one of caustic banter to moral high ground, you've effectively
killed her.

Also, try to avoid cliches as much as possible.

No one wants to hear. "I don't go where YOU work and rock the slurpee
no audience older than 5th graders wants you to repeat the heckler's
line in the voice of a sarcastic tard.

Also, try to avoid the more common Bill O'Reilly tactics as they are
usually old hat to anyone who's ever seen a college debate.

Never attack weight, old age or race.

With insults, be original. Be quick. Be high-brow--even if your act isn't.

and finally, if you're not at all witty or quick on your feet, just make
puppy eyes at them, put your finger vertically to your lips, stare at
them for over fifteen straight monotonous seconds and then simply
and gently say "shhhhh."

Postby Guest » 07/17/07 09:15 AM

Thats a great point Mark. But shouldn't my performance keep that sort of thing away just on its strength? Do you ever have that sort of problem?

Postby Guest » 07/17/07 09:19 AM

"Dave, those come backs are great"
I wish I could remember to whom to credit them.

"Its nice to have people respond to your problem, and genuinely try to help."
In my experience, the conjuring world is like that.

"Including those that gave me a free vocab. lesson along the way;)."
That would appear to be a regular feature of the Genii forum. And sometimes too regular a feature (smile).


Postby Guest » 07/17/07 09:23 AM

That was great Chris, but I don't have thr testes to pull that off quite yet. Not even close. Don't know if I ever will. But that was awesome. Maybe someday... For now I don't even dare do a trick in front of more than 5 or 6 people as it is. So imagine what would happen to me up on stage, especially asking to be heckled. Someday though, it would be fun to be THAT good though. I'll be sure to invite you when that day comes. :)

Postby Guest » 07/17/07 09:30 AM

Just as you say that I that I post like 3 or 4 of the smileys. Sorry. :) Oops see what I mean?

Postby Guest » 07/17/07 11:37 AM

If you are performing for someone who you know insists on shuffling, peek every selection, or palm/cop it out. Then, let them shuffle. I actually explain in my Triumph routine why I never let anyone shuffle anymore. No one seems to ask after that.

Postby Guest » 07/17/07 05:43 PM

I had the problem of a spectator grabbing the deck after I performed "The Lazy Man's Card Trick" for him.

I just always keep the possibility in the back of my mind, so I can react quickly when necessary.

I suppose it would be best if my performance prevented them from grabbing, but if that doesn't work, at least I'm alert to the possibility.

This actually goes towards a lot of situations during a performance. What happens if the spectator drops the deck? Forgets his card? Refuses to tell you what it is?

Learning the performance is the easy part - the rest of it is learning how to perform.


Postby Guest » 07/18/07 12:57 AM


Just a quick bit of advice... when people were trying to figure out what you meant by "haggler" and were telling you that "heckler" was a better term, it wasn't because they were trying to give you a vocabulary lesson. They were trying to make sure everybody was on the same page about what the problem was exactly. There are many different types of hecklers, some who yell out incorrect methods, some who yell out correct methods, others who throw insults, some who just want attention for themselves, others who are trying to mess you up when you say "Is this your card?" etc. While obviously you don't want unexpected interruptions, you cannot always handle each of these personalities the same way, and handling someone who's saying "No way! He must have switched them!" the same way you handle someone who's saying "Dude, you just did a lousy double lift." is inviting trouble.

From the sound of it, when you said "haggler" it seemed like you were dealing with someone who was trying to negotiate the terms for your magic trick demonstration. There are many good ways to tackle this sort of thing, some have been mentioned, others you'll figure out as you broaden your skillset.

But you might want to reconsider the slightly bitter tone at having an incorrect term corrected for you. It's easier for people to help if everybody's speaking the same language, and since you're the one asking for help, the onus is on you to compromise a little.

Postby Guest » 07/18/07 07:45 AM

thanks for the advice. you should go back and read all my posts, however. i actually did explain what i meant when i said haggler, then i corrected myself, and corrected myself again. then i apologized, and even found other words i should have used. such as cavil and hassle. I even explained that heckle might be too strong of a word and why i did not use that one. its fairly safe to say that most people, though, knew what i was getting at. i may have gotten a bit sarcastic with the vocab lesson thing, but there was no harm meant, it was just funny to me. i think most everyone caught that humor also. if any one didn't i apologize yet again. and again i am thankful to all that have gone out of their way to answer my questions, with some great advice that i am presently trying to follow. anyways, erlandish, like i said thanks, and i hope you understand i was not insulting anyone or giving them a hard time, just making light of a situation, thats all.

my best,

Postby Guest » 07/18/07 07:50 AM

mark, i see what you mean. i guess no matter how good one gets, there is always that fool trying to ruin things. if someone does snatch at my cards i'll show them my magical abilities to break his fingers. jk. anyways maybe if i do a couple of tricks that i actually let people hold the deck, and shuffle them. then maybe they'll leave me to my work. thanks again.

Postby Richard Kaufman » 07/18/07 08:34 AM

Keeping spectators from wanting to inspect your props or grab them out of your hands is something you learn through experience--it's called spectator management.
It's no different than screwing up your Double Lift--it's something that happened to me when I was a teenager but doesn't happen any more because of a lot of practice and experience. Ditto with spectator management.
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