Hecklers ruin comedy

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Hey, @beschizza - this post sucks! It isn’t interesting! :wink:


Who goes to see any comedian banter with idiots? Sometimes it can be a great moment in a performance. Think of both Eddie Izzard and the “Move on” guy in Dress To Kill and Patton Oswalt taking time to explain to the douchebag how comedy works in Werewolves & Lollipops.

The problem I have even with these examples though is that the heckler gets rewarded. Even Steve Martin’s subtle “Yeah, I remember my first beer” risks sending the message that heckling contributes to the comedy.

Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t.


I wish these people were asked to leave immediately.

They fuck up my experience considerably in-person, even if Hicks’ teardowns were sublime.


I saw the Sklar brothers in Chicago maybe about 5 years ago?

Good size crowd, everything was going pretty smooth and they made a Sarah Palin joke. I don’t even remember what the joke was, but some woman in the audience got really upset about it. Yelled three or four things at the stage.

They stopped the act. Asked security to remove her. She wouldn’t go. Two bouncers at either end of the aisle she was sitting in, waiting for her to come out. They said we’re not starting again until she leaves.

After about 2 minutes of this you could feel the audience shift from “ha! amusing drunk” to “this woman is ruining all of our evenings.” At about 4 minutes (I’m guessing? It was probably a lot less based on the “hot stove” theory of relativity) she and about 3 others finally left. I think the only other comment was something like “Fuck them, we already got their money.”

I’ve seen Hannibal Burress deal with hecklers, too. He’s not as confrontational, but still pretty deft at it.


One of the best responses to heckling I’ve seen was by the old Australian comedy duo “Los Trios Ringbarkus”. They would simply say “what?” and when the heckler spoke again they would say “:what?” again - and their patience was limitless. This wasn’t exactly entertaining, but it gave the heckler no oxygen at all - no reward for their egos.


They’re not jerks, they’re genuinely concerned about ethics in comedy journalism :wink:


Tony Hinchcliffe spoke about a successful heckler on The Fighter and The Kid podcast.

The guy sat in the front row and whispered to Tony over and over throughout the whole set. Tony was the only one who could hear him and was trying to fit his routine into a 10 minute allotment as an audition for some TV special he might get to film based on the set.

He’s a badass insult comic but he admitted it really threw him off his game.

I had the pleasure of seeing Doug Stanhope when he was touring the UK and there were at least 3 total fuckwits in the audience, all of whom Doug was taking pains to totally destroy whilst also warning them that they would be thrown out of the place of they kept it up. One of them was smacked up and another kept making fucking phone calls.

Doug will often come out to meet and greet the crowd after shows but not that time and I think I understood why, it wasn’t just the hecklers but the apathetic feedback he was getting from the majority of the audience. Stupid, up-tight fuckers couldn’t take a joke and he had to change tactics to keep them enthralled, which seemed to have the effect of not allowing him to follow through with the material he was setting up.

I was the guy in the back, laughing my god damn ass off, hope he comes back.

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I’m not a violent guy. But I think it would be acceptable to have the club patrons be required to sign a waiver accepting that if they heckle, the comedian has the right to throw whatever they can get on hand at them.


Has any well-known stand up tried this one:

When a heckler starts yapping, just say to the crowd: “That person is wasting your money.” and just repeating it? I saw that at a small club once. The heckler said something dumb, and the stand up just calmly started addressing the audience with “that guy is wasting your money. Should you let him keep wasting your money? You all paid to come see me perform, but instead that heckler is making my job difficult. He’s wasting your hard-earned money. Should he even be here?”

The whole crowd pretty much split all the way to the door and peristaltically expelled him from the club like a chunk of vomit. Pretty awesome how fast a crowd can give an asshole the bum’s rush if that’s what the performer asks for.


A decade or so ago I saw Doug Stanhope. The opening comic got heckled so bad by some asshole behind me, Doug came out and took them down. But it was still soo obnoxious.

Hecklers are people that think they are funny but aren’t. Many justify by saying they are providing feedback, but laughter or not laughter is better feedback.


Seriously, the hecklers are the ones who need feedback. Perhaps by sticking the mic right next to the stage monitor until the heckler leaves.

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I love Richard Herring.

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Heckling isn’t criticism, and criticism isn’t heckling.

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Yelling unfunny insults is “sublime” now? I guess it’s not that much worse than the rest of his material.

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Moshe Kasher has a really funny bit where he plants a secret heckler in the audience. At first it is really uncomfortable, but then the audience figures out what’s going on and it turns hilarious.

And the reason is works is because the ‘heckler’ is another comic that has rehearsed the bit with Moshe. Oh, and its funny not aggravating :slight_smile:

I didn’t watch the video in question, but I recall one where he tears into his heckler pretty handily.