How do I deal with hecklers, particularly if they are unruly children making noise?
Every ventriloquist,storyteller, clown,balloonist and magician eventually has to deal with members of the audience disrupting the show in one way or another. Whether they are drunk, showing off, rude or amateur magicians whispering to their dates how it is done, they can throw the performer off pace.
The first thing to keep in mind is that the rest of the audience may not notice the heckler or attach as much importance to the heckling as you do. Working in night clubs, Mr. Magic has occasionally had to deal with noisy drunks, mainly by ignoring them. The interesting thing is that after the show other members of the audience told Mr. Magic they didn't even hear anyone making noise. So remember that you as a performer are much more sensitive to all this than the rest of the audience.
Let's stop for a moment and consider what a heckler does. Mainly he or she interrupts the show. Now when you're just starting out as a performer, having the show interrupted will definitely throw you off. And thus you'll try to deal with the heckler in an abrupt manner which might not work. Frankly Mr. Magic feels that if you can't ignore the heckler the next best thing is to stop the show and give the heckler some attention. With a smile. Usually these people are jerks and are uncomfortable when everyone is looking at them.
Whatever you do, don't get in a verbal duel with a heckler. If you win the audience may feel that you've somehow put them down. If you loose the audience will feel that you're not as calm and collected as they thought.
Often the audience will be more annoyed by the heckler than you are - after all they paid to get in. And they may eventually turn on the heckler in an attempt to quiet him down, thus saving you the trouble.
When the loud mouth is a child the problem is more delicate. You can't really go around telling kids to shut up since their parents will be likely to take offense. You might consider inviting the trouble maker on the stage to participate in an effect and thus getting them on your side.
However you deal with noisy audience members, keep in mind that the audience will judge you by your actions. They know the heckler is a jerk, but they don't know you and if you react in an unattractive manner they may decide there isn't much difference between you and the heckler.
Enjoy and have a great show!