I’ve only written one or two entries on here about hecklers, but Don’t Wear Shorts on Stage gives plenty of tips. This week I had something rare happen though. A heckler actually got a laugh from the crowd. Uh oh! Here’s what happened..
I was doing my sales pitch about my book and saying that I would sign them and the headliner would be signing autographs. I then mentioned that the previous night we had signed a girl’s boob. An older man, stage right, who had been piping up here and there yelled out, “What was his name?” The crowd laughed. In retrospect I could’ve responded with something cheap and easy like, “I don’t know, what do you call your boy?” but didn’t have anything at the time. It’s better to just let him get his laugh than to try and respond and fail miserably. What if I stumbled or the comeback didn’t make sense? This can happen, so like I said, I let his joke breathe. After that died down I went into my own premeditated heckler material that I’ve used before. It didn’t relate to his comment, but it got a lot of laughs and I had the audience back on my side. Most importantly he shut up.
So what happens if you can’t think of anything to say? I’ve heard a few comics say, “It was your joke, but I still get credit for all laughs while I’m on stage,” or “Keep doing my job, but I’m the one who gets paid.” Sure these don’t have the mean comeback pop you want to destroy a heckler with, but they will get laughs from the audience. If the heckler continues you can cut him off with, “OK, shut it down… etc.”
By then hopefully a doorman or someone at the club has become aware of the situation. If it’s a one-nighter bar, you’ll have to defend yourself, but then again your limitations on what you can say are removed too.
For more tips on odd little situations like these as well as everything else you could possibly ask about comedy, order Don’t Wear Shorts on Stage.