The Bad Spectator

We all come across the bad spectator once in a while.

If you are a magician then it is but natural to want to perform in front of an audience and not because you want to show off but because you love to watch them exclaim with delight.

Having fun is obviously a priority but the utmost feeling which is desired is that of satisfaction at being able to perform successfully in front of others and keep the spectators enthralled for an extended period of time.

Imagine that as a magician you are facing your audience with confidence and suddenly there comes a shout from amidst the crowd ‘I know how you did that’.

Now would not that be a true show spoiler?

But it is a fact every magician has to live with as invariably in an otherwise amicable and ardent crowd, there is a bad spectator just waiting for an opportunity to spoil the show.

To make matters worse, such spectators often wait for the last moment to burst the bubble - just when you have got the card or the dollar bill floating in the air and moving to your command with everyone watching spellbound, the bad spectator jumps up on to the stage and swats the floating object with his hand.

There could be a variety of explanations underlying his behaviour like trying to prove that there is no such thing as magic, exposing the secret of the magician or attempting to grab all the attention.

Whatever the intention may be, the end result is always that the show is spoiled and it is an awkward situation for everyone.

As a magician, you feel that you are being ridiculed and anger is the first instinctive reaction, but you must not let this person affect you to the extent that you lose your temper in front of an audience who are watching your every move.  In such a situation, losing your temper is obviously not a good idea at all and all urges to beat the bad spectator to a pulp for spoiling everything must be resisted.

It is undoubtedly irritating to put up with such disrespectful behaviour but an important point to bear in mind is that the situation can also be dealt with in other ways.

Since you are the one on stage and supposedly the centre of the attention, it is imperative for you to find a method of exit which not only strikes the right chord with your audience but enables you to salvage your remaining pride and make a graceful and respectful exit.

How can this be managed?

This is a question which is most commonly found being discussed in magic forums and blogs because the bad spectator is indeed a universal blight in the world of magic.

If the amateurs feel that they are the only victims then they can derive satisfaction from the fact that expert magicians have been through the same embarrassment but have managed to find their way out of the situation courtesy of some creative thinking and diplomacy.

One of the most helpful tips in this regard is provided by the renowned American magician, Magic Chris, who recommends that instead of letting the heckler rattle you, deal with him calmly and reinstate him as your assistant.

An important point here is not to lose your confidence and more importantly your cool but try to bring about a variation in the trick so that it is not the same old routine every time.

When Magic Chris is interrupted in his tricks by a kid who claims to be aware of the secret, his first reaction is that of congratulating the kid and then having a quiet word with him which will make him feel good about his knowledge and also silence him.

The Bad Spectator

Another famous magician Rob Torres has a different way of dealing with the situation and because of its hilarious nature, it could also be tried by amateur magicians, provided they are able to master it successfully.

Every time the bad spectator surfaces in his crowd, Rob Torres would react by pulling out a roll of masking tape and letting it hang in the air for some time.  

The affect of this on the heckler is like a threat that his mouth might be taped up next but what follows is rolling of the tape from both ends which move closer towards the centre.  As soon as they are close enough, the adjoining tape is snapped and there are two balls floating in the air which are then directed towards the magician’s ears and subsequently utilised for plugging out any unwanted comments or noise.

Magic Chris also urges his fellow magicians to be aware of the mindset of the audience and be familiar with the psychological aspect of the performance.

Magicians must always be in control of the show and never relinquish that control, but when a doubt is presented they must never ignore the question and take it as an indication that their tricks are probably not as clear cut as they should be.

Much of the experience in tackling hecklers comes from performing repeatedly and coping with all kinds of situations, and while at times laughing out loud to dissolve the tension followed by walking out seems the appropriate course of action, other situations call for other types of reactions.

Audience control is an essential aspect of any magician’s career if success is to be achieved and hence magicians must devise their own methods of handling the bad spectator as effectively as possible. 

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