Dealing With Challenging Spectators on TV

A masterclass from Derren Brown

Dealing With Challenging Spectators on TV
Don’t forget to hydrate

I’m not a performer, so this post is not advice for your close-up gigs. Instead, my perspective here is from a TV angle, which is unique for challenging spectators.

Several years ago, I was on a magic TV show in which a female magician performed impossible magic to unsuspecting male contributors. It was an expensive shoot, with a pricey location that we could only book for a full weekend (even when we only needed it for four hours). Due to the number of extras required for the shoot and the length we went to set up contribs, we only had three opportunities to capture the performance.

The second contributor was an awful, awful man. The worst man. He arrived drunk and spent the entire time negging and insulting the magician. It sucked. He was sexist and verbally assaulted the performer. The executive producer let the magician know via an earpiece that we could stop if she wanted to.

The worst part about watching this all unfold on the monitors wasn’t the urge to leap out from our hide-out and punch the guy in the face. The worst part was knowing that if this man gave the best reaction to the tricks that night, we’d need to make him look like a lovely fellow in the edit.

That’s right; if he gave the best reaction, we’d need to edit around all of his awful sexist remarks. Maybe one day, he’d be in the pub showing the clips to his mates and boasting about how well he comes off on the telly.

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