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Jono Blythe: Magician | The Enigma of Call-Outs

A few years ago, I was a regular performer at the Magician's Showcase in London. It was an exciting opportunity to share passion as a stage magician with a diverse audience and connect with fellow performers. However, one evening stands out vividly in my memory due to an audience member who seemed determined to steal the spotlight.


As the show commenced, there he was—a chap in the audience who just kept on. Throughout the performances of myself and three other magicians, he consistently called out and attempted to upstage us. It wasn't so much that he was exposing the secrets behind our tricks, but rather his incessant need to make his presence known.


During my ten-minute performance, I included a trick involving a phone. I turned to the audience, showcasing the search engine on the device and typing in a query. And then, unexpectedly, came the voice from the audience: "BIG BOOBS." The room fell silent, and I felt a mix of awkwardness, embarrassment and frustration. If it had been an isolated incident, perhaps it could have been forgiven and laughed off, but his disruptive behaviour persisted throughout the entire show.


After the performance, I approached the individual in question and engaged in a casual and polite conversation. His response both surprised and puzzled me. He simply stated, "Well, you have to call out, don't you?" I was left utterly perplexed by his remark, struggling to grasp its meaning. Was there some underlying cause for this particular type of behaviour? I wondered.


While it was important for me to maintain a positive rapport with the audience, it was equally essential to navigate and incorporate this unique form of audience interaction into my act. It became apparent that understanding the motives behind call-outs would aid me in better managing such situations.


Performing in a live venue with a bar, it was not unusual for inhibitions to loosen, granting some individuals the freedom to express themselves more audaciously. However, this particular behavior seemed to stem from something deeper, something beyond mere extroversion. It begged the question: What drives individuals to disrupt a performance in such a manner?


Despite my curiosity, I realised that dwelling on the motives behind call-outs wouldn't change the reality of their occurrence. As a performer, it was my responsibility to adapt and find ways to incorporate audience behavior into my act. By acknowledging and adjusting to these unexpected interactions, I could maintain the flow of the performance and ensure an enjoyable experience for all spectators.


The enigma of call-outs in live performances remains an intriguing aspect of the entertainer's journey. While it may never be fully understood why some individuals feel compelled to disrupt and call attention to themselves during a show, it is vital for performers to adapt and work with these audience dynamics. By embracing the unexpected and incorporating it into our acts, we can continue to captivate audiences and create magical moments, despite the occasional challenges presented by disruptive spectators.


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