The 5 A**holes of Heckling

So, here's something you may not know about me:  I hate being heckled.  Wait, you too?!  Crazy!  It's like, NOBODY likes being interrupted, right?  Because it's absolutely pointless.  It irritates me because it doesn't make the show better, it just makes it longer.  Now I have to cut a joke short, or not do a bit at all because I'm on a time limit onstage, and some idiot can't keep their mouth shut.  Plus, it makes me say things to people I don't want to say just to make them be quiet, and honestly, I don't trust myself with all the mean words I've learned just yet.  My show is all love.  Everybody should feel better about themselves after seeing one of my shows.  That's my goal each night.  Believe me, I understand that when you're under the influence of drugs and alcohol, it's extremely difficult to listen to somebody talk for 60-90min straight without getting to talk back.  I certainly wouldn't sit down with a friend of mine and listen to them jibber jabber for 10min straight let alone an hour,  without either hanging up or stealthily walking away, but if an entire crowd was expected to do the same, I think I could do it...or I would leave if I couldn't to keep from distracting everyone else.  Dealing with stupidity while not stooping to its level can be absolutely DRAINNG.

Last month I was having a post-show drink in Boise with my long-time comic buddy, Leil Cardoza.  It was directly after an onstage verbal battle I had with some hecklers in which the people responsible for the pain in my ass were friends OF friends of mine.  Looking back, I was halfway to blame.  I had told my friend to invite whoever she wanted to my show and I would comp them.  But my friend didn't help the situation by bringing people she barely knew.  Plus, SHE was heckling me too!  I'm not talking once or twice.  The whole damn show.  I think I got maybe 5 jokes in, the rest was dealing with her and her fellow drunken minions.  For 45 min.  I've known her for years, and she does it because she knows I can handle it, but she also knows how much I hate handling it, so I got annoyed.  It's like your sister can pick on you, but your sister's friends need to knock it off.  I don't KNOW them.  Oh well.  You know who you are, and you owe me sushi.  Either that or I owe you an intervention.  Whatever the case, sake is on YOU!

So as I was saying, Leil and I were talking after the show, and like he does almost every time we have a conversation, he proceeds to blow my mind with his sage-like wisdom.  He's actually a bit of a genius.  And by genius, I should disclose that it doesn't take much to blow my mind.  Here are some other examples of times he has made me question everything I know about the world:

  • "Dude, those empty fields you see when we're drivin' are used to harvest crops.  They're never gonna build new cities here."
  • "All Tomatoes aren't red Alvin.  They're just the easiest to ship."
  • "Verizon gets cell phone service in Montana.  You don't get it because you have AT&T."
  • "Yeaaa those strings on your tires mean it's time to get them changed."
  • "This is called a dessert wine."
  • "You can grill greens.  You don't have to boil them in pork fat and pretend like it's healthy."

So maybe I should study up a little more on my vegetables and automobiles, but who needs to when I've got Leil?  So anyway, THIS TIME, he says to me:

"Comedy is the greatest job in the world.  Because you'll always get a chance to have a do-over.  No matter how long you perform, you're only going to encounter 5 assholes in your entire career.  Not 5 people total.  There will be a lot of people.  But they'll all fall under 5 different types of assholes.  And you'll know exactly how to handle each one."

!!!!MIND BLOWN!!!  BOOOOooooom!!!!!

He was so right on!  I thought about it in my own career, and he's right.  Here is MY list of the 5 Assholes and how I deal with them.  I prepared my list from the least annoying to the most annoying. Or as I like to call it, The Douchey Decimal System! HA! (I used dashes instead of decimals...but let's be honest this title was way funnier.  A-1 = least obnoxious, A-5 = most obnoxious)

A-1) Asshole +1 (a.k.a. The Friend of a Friend)

This occurs when you invite people to a show, and they invite people you don't know.  But then, they start shouting out unfunny garbage from a table, and you can SEE that they're sitting with your friend who neglected to tell you their relationship with them beforehand.  So what's the story?  Are they your boyfriend?  Are they your coworker?  Affair?  What am I dealing with here?  Technically, it doesn't matter, they should shut the hell up.  They were invited here, and got in for free probably because they know your friend who you knows you.  What amazes me about this phenomenon is that your friend is always surprised when their guest acts up.  Like they didn't KNOW this person does stuff like this every time they hang out.  Then they see you're not going to kick them out because they're with your friend, so they get even more bold and don't shut up.  But you have to be able to handle it and move on, because here's the kicker:  They boost merchandise sales.  After interrupting you onstage constantly, they feel bad and buy your merchandise after the show and tell you how much fun they had.  Other people buy your merch after them because they want to hear what you sound like it's a Win-Win...or a Lose-Win-Win.  Either way, mo' paper fo' you!

The crazy part is that I know some of my friends will read this and think I'm talking specifically about them.  Well yes, and no.  Believe it or not, this happens OFTEN.  I've dealt with it 3 different times in 3 different cities since August...TWICE in Oregon...I'm gonna start putting together a chart to see if there's something to that.

If you can't handle the heat, don't give out the comps.  Otherwise, the best way to handle this situation is to find out ahead of time who your friends are bringing, WARN them that if they get out of line, you'll pull no punches onstage, and let the chips fall where they may...And they'll probably kick your hard-headed asses out.

A-2) Asshole Fan (a.k.a. Joke Requester)

Jay-Z says it best "Niggas want my old shit. Buy my old album."  If you're gonna have a heckler, this is the easiest to have.  The "Asshole with a Heart of Gold".  This is someone who is such a fan of your material, they've bought your dvds or traveled to multiple shows.  They don't want you to do your new material, they came just to hear their favorite jokes again.  Now, what starts out as flattering can end up distracting if you don't shut it down early enough.  They mean well, but if they've had a few too many, they may start to become disrespectful about it.  You'll see a lot of famous people have to deal with these types of hecklers.  They don't realize that just because they're saying something nice, doesn't mean they're not being a distraction from the quality of the show.  I don't mean to sound rude when I say fans can be assholes, but to better illustrate how this can spiral out of control very quickly, I'd like to tell you a story about a man by the name of El DeBarge...
El DeBarge
The 1980's were a simpler time.  Jheri Curls were all the rage.  Pastel colors and puffy elbow-padded suit jackets flooded the nightclub scene, and dancing flash mobs in dark parking lots at 3am weren't furtile grounds to get your ass kicked like in today's society.  Nobody embodied that style quite like a young man from Motown by the name of El DeBarge.  It was during this time that he and his family (DeBarge) gave us the gift of a song called "Rhythm of The Night"...Never heard it?  Have a listen:

Beautiful right?  I can't imagine a situation where that song wouldn't make you happy.  Unless of course, it became all anybody remembered you for.  The DeBarge family over time became consumed by drug use and illegal drug trafficking in the late 80's, but recently after a 16 year sabitical, El made a return.  Showing his more mature porfotlio of work with a Grammy nominated album Second Chance.  Unfortunately soon after, he relapsed, cut his tour short, and voluntarily checked himself into rehab.

 ...Now I'm no Dr. Drew, nor do I know El.  But from the outside looking in, I would say that nobody takes a 16 YEAR sabatical unless they were hoping that by returning a decade-and-a-half later...somebody would forget their old work, and let him do something new.  I'm willing to bet all I own, that El, on the heels of an amazing new album, began going on tour, and all people wanted to hear, after 16 gaddamn YEARS was Rhythm of The Night!  He's just trying to get through his new set one more night, and people are shouting out:

 "El! We Love You!!!!!  Do Rhythm of the Night!"

 EL: "Thank you, but I would like to do songs from my new album Seco-


 EL: "Well I really don't want to do that aga-


 EL: "Um...I'll be right back."


Look, I'm not famous by any means, and it is nice to be appreciated for my old material.  But El's story resonates with me in a way that I can truly see right through.  Think about it this way:  How would you like it if everywhere you went, your friends requested you to live in the past???

 You: "Hey Guys this is my new boyfriend, Brad"

 Your Friends: "Booo!  What happened to Eric?  He was our favorite!  Do Eric again!"

 You: "But this is who I love now.  Eric broke my heart and I'd like to forget that whole pa-

 Your Friends: "ERIC!  ERIC! ERIC!"

 You: "[sigh]...I'll be right back."

You might not get back with Eric, but you're gonna want a drink.

All I'm sayin' is that has to SUCK for musicians!  And I'm not even a musician, I'm a comic.  These are jokes, not songs.   They are not timeless, they have their run, and I move on.  I don't want to be known for shit I don't like doing anymore. So when people shout out old jokes and NOBODY knows me?...It's a little out of context.  If I'm doing political humor during the election cycle, and you want me to do my old joke about a fried chicken cereal, so you shout out "Negr-O's!!!"...people are gonna look at you crazy, and I won't help.  So chill buddy!  I'm telling you this for your own good, because I'll just act like I don't know what you're talking about...and they'll probly kick your racist soundin' ass out.

  A-3) Drunk Asshole (a.k.a. Intoxicated Male) 

Now, there's a great if not guaranteed chance that alcohol plays a huge part in every heckling asshole that will be defined in this piece, however, for THIS particular asshole, alcohol doesn't just play a huge part, it is the executive producer, editor, writer, and plays every character except for the helpless female love interest, similar to Eddie Murphy in Coming To America.  The drunken asshole, or A-3 for short, is poorly equipped for the bright lights of the comedy show, and is used to shouting shit at his television in the presence of everyone or no one, as the evening sees fit.  But when he's in public, and people start responding back, he goes mental rinse-cycle on you.  He's in a dream-like state where he can literally see the words staggering out of his face.  He doesn't know why he's shouting useless information out, or even what it means.  He knew at one point sure, but that was .04 sec ago, and those words were ordered by his ass instead of his brain, so he had no time to get the order right before his mouth sent out what it saw on the order screen.  [DING] "Pick-It-Up!"  He's like a defenseless wide receiver running over the middle who can't quite locate the ball, and the waiter who keeps handing him drinks is like the quarterback that led him a little too far into the defense with the pass.  Now he's getting hit by EVERYBODY.  The comic spears him from stage with remarks, the audience hates him now they're shouting at him, the bouncer has him in a full-nelson making him look like Jesus on the cross as he's being escorted out of the club with multiple people slapping his exposed belly on the way out of the room, cheering like ancient Romans in the coliseum.  It's a bloodbath!  You must kick this guy out immediately, because at NO point, is he gonna compose himself and get it together.  He's just taaaalkinanslurrrrrinnnn"WHATHAPPENEDTOMICHAELJACKSON?!" Did he just ask what happened to Michael Jackson?  Yea, he did.  Kick his drunk ass out.

  A-4) Drunk Assholette (a.k.a. Intoxicated Female, Drunk Bitch)

My comic friend Carl Lee says it best:

 "We was all havin' a good time before yo azz decided to have one more drink!"

Now the drunk assholette is not exclusive to comedy shows, and must therefore not be forceably dismissed in the way that an A-3 must be.  She knows exactly why she's talking so much.  She, NEEDS attention.  And will say anything to make sure the attention stays on her...and that's when she's SOBER.  Add a Jager Bomb to that mix and the highly explosive A-4 must now be handled in a much more delicate manner for a few reasons:

#1) She knows she can't be punched.  That's why intoxicated women talk so much trash.  Because they know the cards are stacked against you as a male.  One bad reaction, and you're off the Miami Dolphins, or banned from the BET Music Awards, or you're arrested on Jersey Shore, etc.  Point is, you actually have to apply reason to a drunken situation that can't be solved with agression.  But just because it can be done theoretically, doesn't mean it should be attempted literally.  Reasoning with an A-4 is like applying nail polish to a wolverine:  It ain't gonna be smooth!

#2) Nobody likes a bully.  Even if you were simply trying to outwit her, she won't get it.  You're just gonna make her feel stupid, which makes her feel threatened, and now either her boyfriend, or girlfriends (because let's face it, an A-4 is probably part of a bachelorette party.  You know, the women who group-whoop at everything, wear tiara-style headgear adorned with peckers, drink from phallic straws, take group photos in public bathrooms, and somehow still demand your utmost respect with a straight face when they get liquored up?  Yea, them), or even the other audience members will come to their side the moment you make them cry.

It can get ugly real fast, so just remember you can say anything as long as they don't start the waterworks.  Once they do, people get stupid and forget that this person is ruining their night too.  Fellas, if you've never been to a comedy club picture this memorable scenario:  You're hanging out with a drunk girl at a bar, and somehow you all leave the club together, and somehow her friends don't follow, and you think you're home free...then she realizes her friends just let her go with some stranger, which makes her feel like they don't care, so she starts all of a sudden you look like a rapist pervert to everyone that walks past you all?...Yea, imagine that feeling, but on a stage.  Umhm.  So don't do it.  The best thing to do in this situation is find the most sober friend of hers in the group, and guilt them into removing their friend out of the building.  It's not fail-proof, but it has worked for me, and it beats 5 years probation and community service, any day! ...And her drunk ass will probably pass out before they can kick her out, so you don't need to be anywhere NEAR her.  Let security handle it.

A-5) The Wannabe-Comic Asshole (a.k.a. The Helper)

Which brings me to my last goober of the bunch.  This guy (Yes, it's ALWAYS a guy.) can be drunk OR sober.  He also cleverly disguises himself to his friends under different self-proclaimed identities:

 "See? I'm more of an intellectual." or "I'm kind of a comedy purist."...Nope.  He's a wanna-be comic asshole.

  The kind of person who sits next to you and whispers extra punchlines in your ear while the show is still going on.  You see, he's not heckling by any means, he's just enhancing the show for you with his commentary, various asides, and much better endings to the actual comedian's jokes.  He doesn't hear a pause in the performer's delivery as a necessity for comedic timing, he hears an opportunity for himself to guide the attention of the audience to where it rightfully belongs: His surprisingly sharp sense of humor.  Because in his warped, unchecked, narcissistic mind, he has just blown you AWAY.  He wouldn't be surprised if you walked up to him after the show and asked him to write for you.  If the XX's guy was here, he would ask him to be in his next commercial, or at least oversee the final product for authenticity.  While your attention is on the comedian, this guy is just waiting for that perfect moment to interject.  That's what it is too, a thoughtful interjection.  He wouldn't flat-out interrupt like a jerk.  He doesn't do that, because he knows that's not how comedy works.  SUCH a gentlemen.

Let me tell you the origin story of this Asshole Supernova Supreme:  He's the self-proclaimed funniest guy in the office.  He watches the most YouTube videos at home so he pretty much knows what there is to know about the art.  Not realizing that even his unique, cynical take on comedy is just a microwave mix of regurgitated beliefs sent out over the TMZ, camera phone-centric newscycle:

 "It's all pretty simple really.  Dane Cook is a thief.  Louis C.K. is responsible for every joke ever written, and Brian Regan basically just says everyday stuff.  I think of that stuff all the time, why does he get paid?"

 It's hazard pay for dealing with wannabe comic assholes like you.  The only thing keeping a comic from putting their hands on you is that they probably haven't gotten their paycheck yet.  You're not helping.  Your date hates you.  You're an idiot for trying.  The absolute Balls-Involved to think your comments in any way shape or form somehow assist a comic, or that we enjoy it when you interject, is intellectually incredible.  Do you think we sit at home and write jokes hoping that some douchebag finally cashes in those Free Comedy Show tickets he won from a work auction?...Cuz you're RIGHT!  We DO!  Fair warning though, I'm kind of a sarcasm purist?  So stop using me to try to impress your date, tuck your insecure penis back between your legs Silence of The Lambs-style for a moment and take this message to heart.

I know that some of you men reading may look at A-5 here and say "That's not a fair assessment, it's not just guys." No, it is.  If you see a woman at a show who fits this description, she's an A-4 who came to the show late.  Just give her time...or better yet, just give her no more alcohol.

So there you have it!  The 5 Assholes of Heckling.  I'm sure people may disagree with my rankings based on their own experiences...or maybe I NAILED it...Yea, I so did.  And I don't know if you noticed, but my issues run pretty deep with these people as you go further up the Douchey Decimal System.  A-5's more than anyone.  Mainly because they're so quick to discredit what they see people do.  Or say "I've seen it before."  Maybe you have, but have you DONE it before?  I'm betting you haven't.  Quite frankly, I get that mentality.  You think you know better than everyone else, or you could add something better if you felt like it.  Who's to say you can't?  You just might.  I did.  So technically, there's not much difference in our belief systems.  The only true difference between you and I, is that I actually went out and did it.  You sit and judge without ever taking the leap.  It's not because you were too smart, you were just too scared.  Until then, I'll always be a comic, and you'll always be a drunk, heckling, wannabe-comic asshole...[mic drop]

Stay Douchey My Friends. ...Now I'M out!

1 comment

Add comment