Insights through Illusion for Daily Living

Posts tagged “annoying

How to Deal with the “Heckler” Part 3 Who to Pick

Good Intentions….

Before I was an illusionist, my first foray into ministry was being a Jr. Youth Minister at my home church. I had this great

illustration that I wanted to show (at least I thought it was great). Basically I would turn out the lights and have a student stand with his arms outstretched like a crucifix. I then took a flashlight and shown it on him. I then lowered the flashlight which caused the shadow of the crucifix to rise. I then raised the flashlight, and the opposite occurred. The idea was to exalt Christ you humble yourself, and vica versa.

I was really stoked about this illustration and about how easy it was for the students to grasp. The problem was that the student I picked to help me out, absolutely didn’t care about what I was trying to do.

The whole thing was ruined. I learned a lot that night about picking students to be involved on stage (as well as how middle schoolers still shrieked when you turn the lights out….but that’s another blog)

As an illusionist, I mentioned how easily it is for an effect to be ruined by someone on stage who has their own agenda. Check out last weeks Heckler entry here

The person on stage with me didn’t care about the effect I was doing, or what the end was that I was trying to achieve. All they cared about was that limelight for just a minute. This is an annoying thing, but it is a problem that can be worked through and avoided for the most part.

Who are you looking for?

One of the very first things I do in my show is to set up a prediction that occurs much later. The message portion of my show is built around this prediction being right, so it’s crucial that there are no mistakes or purposeful sabotage. When I go into the audience I ask a simple question, “Who’s good with numbers?” Some hands will shoot up immediately because they didn’t listen to the question, others because they are dying to be in front of everyone. The number one tip here is that I never pick someone with their hand raised. Ever. Is everyone who is raising their hands a heckler waiting to wreck the night? No, but it’s better to hedge your bets and avoid over eager people.

I generally look for someone who looks slightly nervous (not in a “I’m going to pass out if he picks me” way, but a “he’s awfully close to my row” type of nervous). I look for people who generally have a focused look on their face, and at this point I 95% of the time will pick a girl. Why? Because in the past Since this is early in the show, I’ve found that guys want to show off for their buddies, where as girls want to get off of the stage. I haven’t 100% gained their trust yet, but it comes through this.

For student ministry it’s a very similar issue. You may have some of your go to students who you can count on always showing up, but even they fall prey to the “I gotta make everyone laugh” bug. I’ve been there. I’ve done it. I still talk to my youth pastors about how they could probably have strangled me sometimes. Your go to guy or girl, may not be the best choice for a serious illustration. You have to gain their trust. You have to let them know that you are not going to embarrass (unless you are….different blog) or make them uncomfortable, but that you need their help.

Next week in Part 4 I am going to be talking a little bit more about who to pick, but I will be moving on to the next step of, “How to Approach”

Hope you enjoy and use these Heckler blogs to strengthen your ministry. Also if you missed last Thursday’s Trimming the fat blog, check it out here. It’s a guide to effectively manage your time during a service, and remain in control.

When have you had a bad experience with an illustration?

What caused it?

How could it be avoided?

How to Deal with the “Heckler” Part 2

The Heckler Part 2

Stealing Thunder

Let’s face it, the only kind of person that thrives on a heckling audience is a professional wrestling villain. If you missed last Wednesday’s blog on the introduction to the Heckler series, then check it out here.


Stealing Thunder

The heckler in question today is the Thunder Stealer. As a minister, it is of utmost importance to keep your “thunder,” which keeps your command of the room.

My show is very deliberate. Everything I do is planned. Tomorrow, I will show you how you can be deliberate in everything you do.

Sometimes though, even the most deliberate movement can be challenged. Recently I did a show in which the audience member helping me on stage would verbally chime in and make comments or jokes right before I would make them myself. This was a 500+ person show, so this could have been an embarrassment for me. This person would interrupt my patter, just to make a comment about what I was wearing, something about the lights, anything she could think of. She had never seen my show, but she had the type of personality, where she wanted the attention on herself.  The only saving grace in the situation was that she didn’t have a mic so a lot of people didn’t hear her.

The jokes and points I have scripted have been worked out over the last few years in this one routine to cause a certain reaction from my audience.  I like this routine. It’s my favorite to perform because of the way it leads the audience down the garden path, only to pull the rug out from under them.  The problem is, when punchlines or even reveals are made prematurely by the person on stage, the effect loses the amazement factor. I had to work very hard during this instance to control my stage. Thankfully, audience members only get a mic in my show when I want them to say something. There are times in youth ministry where this type of heckler can be detrimental to your service.

The Danger

Think about your ministry. Let’s say you have an illustration  you want to use.  You are super-pumped about it, and you know it will kill.  Then, you unknowingly pick the “Thunder Stealer” Heckler. You bring the Thunder Stealer on stage (whom you totally think you can trust) who completely derails you by directing the audience focus to his/herself.  It’s annoying.  It can throw you off, but worst of all…

It can distract someone who needs to hear the Gospel.  Let’s face it, the reason I do what I do, and the reason you do what you do is so that people will hear the Gospel.  Last week I talked about owning the stage to cut down on distractions from those in the crowd, but to have someone on stage with you who seems trustworthy that wrecks what your trying to accomplish, can have drastic results.

Situations like this are invariably going to happen (rarely). However, you are not going to let your thunder be stolen. It would be easy to get distracted by the Thunder Stealer’s comments, but remember, you are in your charge. This is your house, your stage, your message that God wants you to share. You don’t laugh at the Thunder Stealer. Instead, you draw the focus back to you.

Tomorrow, I’m going to go through how to pick people you can trust from any audience, whether it’s your own student group/audience, or whether you are a complete stranger.  These techniques are invaluable and will serve you very well in accomplishing the goal of coherently sharing the Gospel with minimal distractions.

How do you deal with the Thunder Stealer?