How to Handle a Heckler

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Bryan is an artist, father, husband, and son (not really in that order). He works for the Department of Vetern's Affairs and writes and administers The Fireside Post with his father, Ohg Rea Tone. His writings have not been published, though they have been printed a lot.

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How to Handle a Heckler

Now, most  of us don’t have this problem very often.  Not on a weekly basis or anything.  Actually, comedians don;t have it as often as you might think, but heckling is definitely something that is part of our culture.  It is not a one-on-one phenomenon, it is a product of a group dynamic.  I have a lot of respect for actors and actresses, and I have a keen interest in Comedy; specifically, stand up comedians.  This is the door-to-door sales department of the comedy genre.  I don’t say that because I think that they are annoying and disrespected, though often that is true, but I say it because these guys and girls are getting their work experience the hardest way that they can, with the least return and the most work.  It is not nearly as hard to be dramatic and serious as it is to be funny.  Funny is a skill that few truly possess, and the real test of true comedy is standing on stage, by yourself, only a microphone separating you from the harshest critics in the industry – the audience.

The fact that it is a rare gift to be truly funny is lost on most people.  In every crowd, there is someone who thinks that they are funnier than the comedian.  Sometimes it is true, but not very often.  If you add alcohol and a girlfriend, most guys will try to prove it.  This is the part where heckling gets into real life.  If you are out with your friends at a bar very often, you will meet this guy.  He is obnoxious, he is drunk, he is impressing someone (unsuccessfully, usually) and he is confident that he is funny.  We all know that he isn’t, and I think that is why we relish the moments when those guys meet their match with a true wit.  Enough of this dissection, let’s look at some examples.

Here is comedian Jesse Fernandez making quick work of a heckler at a comedy club:

You can see more of Jesse at Thigs We Made, a web site for a comedy troop in San Fransisco.

In this situation, Richard Herring does a masterful job of handling a  heckler of the worst sort.  This guy is ruining the night for everyone, but Herring maintains control and he does his job – he creates entertainment out of disaster:

Jimmy Carr is a writer and comedian as well as one of the least known funny men in show business.  Here he is handling an attempt at upstaging him during the taping of his third comedy DVD release, “Jimmy Carr; Comedian”:

In case you ever get the notion that you might launch your comedy career from the seats rather from the stage, I hope that this will be a reminder that the brave and the truly funny are always the people on stage.  You are just the annoying person in the audience and, trust me, no one there is cheering for you.

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