Heckler


Wednesday July 17th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   I’m only five years behind the times, but I finally made time to watch Jamie Kennedy’s movie “Heckler” today. I’d heard about it for a while and had been meaning to see it, but today was the day. I thought it was really well done, and it approaches a subject that breeds endless fascination.

   I started standup comedy in November of 1983, and have been dealing with hecklers and all of their misguided angst since…uh…well…let me see…oh yeah…November of 1983. It’s a subject that goes hand in hand with standup comedy like arguing goes with lovers. Nobody is immune.

   Anybody who ever does standup comedy for any length of time will have to deal with heckling at some point, but it’s not as bad as an outsider might think. It’s not like the stereotypical picture of dozens of people bringing in bags of rotten fruit to heave stageward en masse during the show.

   Usually it’s one lone booze fueled bozo who chooses to butt in and interrupt the show. Most of the time it’s easily nipped in the bud with one or two lines, but occasionally it gets ugly. I’ve had more than my share of those through the years, and can speak on the subject with great authority.

   Personally, hecklers bore me at this point. I’ve had so much experience with them, I feel like a 7th degree black belt walking through a bad neighborhood. I can handle myself with anyone, and I’m not afraid of confrontation. I don’t go looking for it, but if it happens to find me I am ready.

   Since I began teaching comedy classes in 1994, the three most often asked questions I get are:

 “When do I get paid?”

“When will I need a manager?”  

“What about hecklers?”

   None of these need to be dealt with by any newbie, but the heckler situation is the one that will come up first. There are proven ways to deal with them, and I pass on the secrets to my students as they need to know. It’s no big mystery, and it doesn’t need to be given a lot of useless worry.

   I thought Jamie Kennedy approached the topic extremely well. He interviewed a wide array of comics on all levels, and they added depth to the subject. I met Jamie a few times when I lived in Los Angeles when my roommate was a writer for his show “The Jamie Kennedy Experiment”.

   I found him to be laid back and unpretentious, just a guy doing his job. We didn’t hang out on a regular basis, but we did cross paths five or six times and I really liked the guy. He gets a lot of what I think is unfair criticism, and is often lumped in with acts like Pauly Shore or Carrot Top.

   It’s easy to trash someone’s work from behind a computer screen, but unless a person has been an actual entertainer I take zero stock in any critiques. Just a couple of days ago I was lambasting the new Seth Rogen movie, but I have been a performer my whole life so I don’t feel out of line.

   I especially liked the parts when Jamie Kennedy got to sit with some of his critics and actually pick apart what they wrote. I thought it was beautiful, but done with total class. Anyone who has been an entertainer has gotten ripped to shreds, and I have on countless occasions – usually by an ape that has never been on a stage even once. Kudos to Jamie Kennedy for addressing this topic.

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