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Friday, September 29, 2006

How To Deal With Hecklers

My name is Stevie Mack and I've been performing Stand Up Comedy since 1991. I've been on TV and in Movies, but most of my experience comes from being on stage in front of a live audience, comedy clubs, colleges, parties...etc. The main thing to remember about comedy is, HAVE FUN!
When on stage performing Stand Up Comedy, it's just you and the audience. You really want that audience to be WITH you. One of the biggest challenges for the comic is the heckler. A heckler can do one of two things, (1.) Ruin your performance and break your connection with the audience (2.) Give you a great target to point all the attention of the audiance to...and take the heat off of you!
I f you have a polished routine from beginning to end and a limited time to perform, the last thing you want is some person or animal (dogs, cats, pigs, etc) in the audience blurting out words and/or sounds to interrupt your "flow". I witnessed this time and again happening to comics at various venues and I made mental and written notes on how I would deal with hecklers in my own performance. There is a difference between a heckler (an intentional interrupter) and an unintentional interruption. The first can be rude, throw you off ballance and make you the culprit if you don't respond the right way...the latter can throw you off ballance, make you be rude and make you the culprit if you don't respond the right way.
Let's deal with the first, a real heckler. Say you are in the middle of a routine and out comes this loud sound of words or out-of-sync loud laughter from an audiance member...oh God! What to do?!? Obviously this person is starving for attention, so let's give them a little. The main objective here is to HAVE FUN! But now, it's at his/her expense, not with the punchline of your polished routine. At this point your routine has been punctured and the wind has been taken out of it's sails, so the only way to get back on course is to deal with this interuption and move on to your next joke or if you're lucky p, pick up where you left off.
1st RESPONSE TO HECKLER: "We're here to have fun and want you to shut up...so, audiance on the count of three, let's tell him to SHUT UP! One, two, three..SHUT UP!!"

2nd RESPONSE TO HECKLER: " Sir, this is my job, why do you keep interrupting me? I don't come down to your job (multiple choice) (A) playing with the Slurpee machine (B) kicking the aluminum cans off the truck (C) slapping the d#!!s out your mouth!"

That should do the trick, but if you need more heckler jokes, email me and I've got tons of them.
Now let's look at how to deal with an unintentional interruption. If something happens while you're on stage and it is obvious that it was unintentional or not ill intended, the best way to deal with it is improv without malice. Improvisational skills come natural to some people and not to others. But there is a way to improve on your improv. Try going on stage and use only improv skills sometimes...make funny observations about the stage set up, someone's hair, clothes or about your own attire, look or persona. Don;t be rude, insulting or obnoxious, just a humorous observation and you'll find it easier in the future to deal with unexpected occurrences. Most of all...HAVE FUN!
Sincerely Your friend,
Comedian Stevie Mack

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