April 29th, 2010
A little nostalgia: Statler and Waldorf, the two ornery, disagreeable old Muppets who appeared on “The Muppet Show” heckling the rest of the cast from their balcony seats. Despite relentlessly complaining how terrible the acts were,they always returned the following week. Bless their hearts.
I recall those beloved felt made grumpy old men because (last night) my show was graced with a heckler. In one abrupt outburst, he screamed “My dick is bigger than Van Dyke.” There was no set up, his delivery was poor and the wanna be attention douche clearly was unaware that Hollywood men are notoriously short.
In typical low rent inebriated fashion, he continued to attempt to embarrass, annoy and taunt the comedians who went on stage before me. Luckily, I’ve not yet experienced intense heckler action but I do have a defense mechanism that generally proves effective. Killing with kindness. Saying the following to interrupting idiots has frequently silenced the offenders: “I love you. I want to wrap a red ribbon around you, take you home with me and display you on my mantel. Next to grandpa’s urn.”
A good comedian should be able to break that 4th wall which allows audience members to have the feeling that the dialogue is being conversationally directed at them in an easy breezy manner. Perhaps over an intimate cup of General Mills International coffee. Vienna blend. This in turn can be the catalyst for some bothersome interruptions. I do feel, on some level, some hecklers truly believe that they’re helping a comedian. Seldom do you see an audience member shout disparaging commentary during a play. When I saw the musical “Cats” when I was nine years old, I didn’t hear an audience member yell, “You suck! Alley cats can’t really sing! We all know that only Persian cats have extraordinary falsettos.”
Maybe I’m too nice and should make a 180 and apply a "take-no-prisoners" approach to hecklers. Disparaging comebacks haven’t affected the careers of certain comedy legends.
- Rodney Dangerfield - On his album “No Respect” , Dangerfield responded to a heckler with "Hey buddy, you oughta save your breath. You'll need it later to blow up your inflatable date, no offense."
- Bill Hicks – On one occasion, he demanded that a drunken heckler be taken out of the audience, shouting "You drunk cunt!" at her.
- George Carlin - Carlin stopped a joke and went on with a long series of vulgar insults including "Fuck you and your sister and your wife! If you've got a kid, I hope your fucking kid dies in a car fire!"
And sometimes, negative responses to hecklers backfire. Michael Richards.
I didn’t get to use my steadfast red bow/urn defense line last night because the heckler stepped out for a cigarette for the majority of my set. However, he did revisit us just in time for my bit on 28 day drug rehabilitation programs. I asked the audience if anyone has ever been to one. Guess who raised his hand..