We had a heckler last night and I have to say it was hilarious. Not the heckler, he was a complete douche. From all reports he'd been heckling throughout the night and the lads that work at The Comic's Lounge hadn't been able to pinpoint where he was sitting. At the beginning of the third bracket he made the very kind move of sitting alone at a front table that had been vacated earlier in the night. He was obviously attempting to impress his friends who were sitting up the back in the dark. Host Monty Franklin told him that nobody was interested in what he had to say but this did not deter the heckler. By the time I was introduced Monty and I had a quick conversation about him onstage (while the audience was applauding) and I decided I would meet him head on.
Hecklers are tedious. They're never helping out a gig and I find them to be completely boring. I also find comedians who welcome hecklers boring as well. The way I like to deal with them is to be all Al Pacino circa the movie Sea of Love: I get in and hit hard so I can get out of there as quickly as possible. I don't mind someone talking to me onstage. Someone who is caught up in the moment and yells something out that is part of the routine can be quite nice but a heckler is usually a dude who doesn't have the skill to perform themselves so they try to snipe from the safety of the audience. Those types of people are fair game in my book and I'm quite happy to do whatever I can to destroy them utterly.
Last night the heckler was a complete douche. English, pale, smug...sitting at the front thinking he was hilarious. I got in quick with him letting him know I had no interest in anything he had to say. The best thing for me as well was that I know the Lounge's zero tolerance for hecklers and I was watching the lads move through the shadows of the room preparing to take this guy out. I said to him:
"You should be quiet and listen to me because the people that work here are coming for you...and they're big...and you will be dragged out of here. So seriously, listen to me or this will be embarrassing for you."
The heckler gave me some more tough guy schtick only to have three massive mother fuckers descend upon him. He then decided to fight back while I pointed out to the rest of the audience that he should be careful because the three guys dealing with him weren't even the bigger guys that work there. At that point the owner (who is massive!) swooped in from the other side of the stage and they collectively dragged him off much to my delight and the audience's laughter.
"Well that was an awkward start to the gig," I pointed out to the audience. When something like that happens it is better to state the facts rather than launch into material. The audience is genuinely a little freaked out and I knew the next bit of material I was going to perform was probably going to be a little lost as I would have to reset the room. It is important to show the audience that you're not flustered in anyway, give them confidence that you're still confident and soon they'll stop thinking about what happened and return to enjoying the show.
With that in mind I reverted back to pretty much the standard set I had been using at The Lounge. No going into the audience this night to play around with the room, it was time to give them a muscular show that helped them forget about the heckler as soon as possible.
Afghanistan: Marching on ANZAC Day
Soldiers are funny.
Car Crash in Adelaide
Invite Who You Want To Parties
Being An Arsehole
Little Boy Joke
Tripping and Farting
Getting Angry as I Get Older
No Need to Share All Your Opinions
Glitter in Invitations
People wearing your glasses
I enjoyed the gig although the energy felt all over the place after the heckling incident. At the end of the night I took great delight in pointing out that the heckler would probably be dead now but we now had to stick to an albis because we were in this together. The audience responded nicely to this. It is also a subtle way of letting the audience know that while someone was physically removed from the room, it was for everyone's benefit and we were all in this together. I think this worked as a gambit as I had a lot of the audience come up after the show to talk specifically about the heckler and how they enjoyed the way I dealt with it. That is not only a sign of my experience onstage but also the confidence I had in a venue where I knew that dealing with that tool was not something I would have to endure alone.
6th of April, 2013