How to Handle a Heckler

Dealing with a Heckler

768 340 admin

I’m a nice guy, and I treat guests kindly and respectfully. Which means that I fortunately don’t get heckled. Except once . . .

Flash back to 2013, when I was working a week at the world famous Magic Castle in Hollywood. For those of you who aren’t familiar, it is an upscale private, invitation-only, 21+ club that caters to magicians and the lucky members of the general public who can score a guest pass. Dinner, drinks, and magic — it’s definitely a fun night that you’ll remember for a long time.

I was working with a close friend, performing a two man show in the Peller Theater downstairs. The room seats about 70, making for a nice, intimate crowd. The second routine involves a participant’s dollar bill, and I guess the serial number from across the room.

Almost as quickly as I can have him pull out a bill, he informs me that he is going to make this “difficult.” A performer really only has two choices here. The smart choice is to pick somebody else. I went for the challenge. “Give Mark a round of applause as he comes onstage!” BIG MISTAKE. I correctly guess the number, and Mark gets angry. “Do it again!” 

CARDINAL MAGICIAN RULE #1 – NEVER REPEAT A TRICK! THE FIRST TIME, THEY ARE LOOKING TO ENJOY IT. THE SECOND TIME, THERE IS NO SURPRISE AND THEY JUST WANT TO FIGURE IT OUT.

No such luck, I politely inform him. To which he responds “If it’s real magic, you could do it again.

CARDINAL SPECTATOR RULE #1 – SORRY TO BURST YOUR BUBBLE, BUT I’M NOT TRULY A WIZARD.

Without breaking a beat, he yells across the room to his wife, “Honey, grab another $20.” She declines, slightly embarrassed, and now he gets REALLY angry. “I said, grab another $20!” I’m uncomfortable, and worse, my entire audience is uncomfortable. So I get a round of applause to send him back, and he responds “No. Do it again.”

He eventually left the theater upset with his wife trailing him, upset and visibly embarrassed. The best thing that can happen in this situation is for the heckler to leave on their own volition. Success!

The closing line for the evening?

MY NAME IS KEVIN VINER, AND I HOPE THAT YOU ENJOYED YOUR EVENING. IF YOU HAPPEN TO SEE MARK ANYWHERE AROUND THE CLUB TONIGHT, IT SEEMS LIKE HE NEEDS SOME AFFECTION. DO ME A FAVOR — GIVE HIM A BIG HUG. GOOD NIGHT!”

Leave a Reply