Blog with Paul Gertner

“There’s Something Under That Cup!”

How to Handle the Magic YouTube Know-it-All

XSL93883 Credit: The Conjuror (oil on panel) (pre-restoration) by Bosch, Hieronymus (c.1450-1516) ©Musee d'Art et d'Histoire, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France/ Giraudon/ The Bridgeman Art Library Nationality / copyright status: Netherlandish / out of copyright

Credit: The Conjuror by Bosch, Hieronymus  (c.1450-1516)

We have all experienced it… the spectator in the audience who watched a few Magic How To Videos on YouTube and armed with that knowledge is about to make your life miserable.  He is waiting for just the right moment to pounce… “You have an extra coin in your hand!”  “You switched the cards.”  “You used an invisible thread.”  “There’s something under that cup!” You smile, you try to ignore him but that makes it even worse.  So what do you do?  How can you keep the audience on your side when you have an difficult spectator intent on messing up your show?

The first thing to consider is, that if this happens to you on a frequent basis perhaps you need to look in the mirror.  Pull out the video camera and begin taping those routines and find out if your technique is where it should be.  It’s quite possible that the reason you are being called out is simply because you need more practice and that the only person you are fooling is yourself.  Properly performed magic is deceptive and the secrets should not be obvious to a general audience.

But let’s assume that is NOT the problem.  Your technique is good, your routine is polished, your presentation is rehearsed but there is that spectator from hell trying to expose and up-stage you with his unwanted commentary on the secret behind the tricks.  What do you do?

If this happens the second thing to consider is this.  Anyone who is willing to reveal a magic secret like that probably has not put any effort or time into mastering the technique or the secret he is so willing to easily expose.  To them they think the power is in knowing about the secret or the move…but it’s not.  So if we know that the Magic YouTube Know-it-All has no ability, no chops and is nothing but a loud-mouth looking for attention… there is a very simple solution to the problem.  You give them the attention they are looking for, you simply hand them the props.  You hand them the deck of cards, the cups, the coin whatever it is you are using and then you sit down, you stare at them and you say nothing… and you wait.

Yes they will feel a little uncomfortable, but they deserve it.  They will feel the eyes of everyone watching them and your audience may even snicker at them.  You might even prompt them with a little verbal direction… “What you said sounds interesting, can you show me what you mean.”  “I’ve never heard of that.  You mean you hold two cards together like… one?  But I can see what your doing… I can see the edges… I can see both cards.”  It’s fun to play dumb and begin to ask them questions that will make them look silly.  “You mean like someone can hold a coin in their palm and it won’t fall out?  What kind of glue do you use?”

I can assure you that in less than 60 seconds of being put on the spot in front of an audience they will hand the props back to you and in frustration say something like:  “I didn’t say I could do it!”  And at that point you smile, you take back the cards or the props and as you do… look them directly in the eye with a look that says:  “Well then keep your mouth shut!”  Trust me they will.

Paul Gertner is nationally recognized speaker and corporate magician, whose honors include multiple Tonight Show appearances, performing at a presidential inauguration, and winning three international competitions. He can be hired as a trade show magician or keynote presenter. For more information, visit


Posted in Magicians Only on February 26, 2016 by Paul Gertner.

10 Responses to “There’s Something Under That Cup!”

  1. John Johnson: February 27, 2016 at 11:11 am

    I just love this…especially your added comments which really turn the tables on them.

  2. Paul Gertner: February 28, 2016 at 3:25 am

    Thanks John. Yes a few well placed comments will turn the tables and they quickly realize they are in over their head.

  3. Riener Gracias: February 27, 2016 at 11:58 am

    Thank you for addressing this ever prevalent problem.

  4. Paul Gertner: February 28, 2016 at 3:27 am

    You are welcome Riener. I hope you find it helpful in the future.

  5. February 27, 2016 at 2:13 pm

    I’ve used this technique before and found it to be effective. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Paul Gertner: February 28, 2016 at 3:28 am

    Thanks Magicforrest. Glad it was helpful.

  7. Kurt: February 27, 2016 at 2:29 pm

    Very frustrating sititation!!!!
    Another way you can handle this tool, is to just bitch-smack him in front of all his friends!!!!!!
    It’s just the way it is.
    Some/most nights, I’m a rock star!!!!!
    Some nights I feel like Ruprect The Monkey Boy!!!!!
    That’s showbiz…….
    BTY, go see Pauls show. He is one of THE best magicians to ever walk thw planet earth!!!!!
    No joke…..thanks Paul!!!!!

  8. Paul Gertner: February 28, 2016 at 3:30 am

    Kurt, Thanks for the very kind comments.

  9. Ray Rannala: February 29, 2016 at 7:59 pm

    Paul, great piece. I had a situation many years ago where I was doing some strolling magic at a public event. I had about 20 folks standing around me as I performed. There were a few teens in the back of the crowd being wiseguys making comments like “that’s easy, I know how he does that”, “look at his left hand…” Normally I ignore this stuff with a smile, but they were becoming disruptive. I stopped what I was doing and invited them to join me up front. When they made their way to me I confirmed that they knew how it all worked, reached into my coat pocket, produced a wand, handed it to one of them and asked him to entertain the crowd as I needed a bathroom break. I turned, began to walk away to the laughter of the entire audience. They behaved for the rest of my performance 🙂

  10. Paul Gertner: March 27, 2016 at 11:00 pm

    Ray, Great story. I’d like to see the look on their faces when you started to walk away. Very funny.

Leave a Reply