Handling Hecklers

Gaby Dunn is an aspiring female comedian who came to my attention because she recently posted about an onstage experience with an aggressive heckler.  This is the kind of thing that normally files under my news radar, but I follow several comedians on (Dam You!!) Twitter, so I get more “inside baseball” news from that scene that the average Tim.  I am attracted to the humor and quick witted intellect of comedians because I recognize those same traits in myself.  My family and friends think I would find myself in a crises of cognitive dissonance if I took a census regarding the collective mindset on the aforementioned trait similarities, so don’t look for a Poll Daddy link in that regard any time soon.  But I digress.

Gaby is crabby.  Outtakes from her story:

Then, I start my actual set and do my first two jokes, which go pretty okay. I start another joke that is vaguely sexual – not crude, not crass – mainly silly and that goes well too. The next joke I do is about my boyfriend.

Rim shot! So far so good….

As I start the joke, someone yells, “Does your boyfriend know?” referring to the sexuality joke I’d just told.

I gotta go listen to these jokes, but I digress.

I start to tell the joke about my boyfriend again, and at the midway point, the same voice yells something else derogatory about my boyfriend, homophobic and misogynistic towards me

Who the hell does this guy think he is, trying to get away with such politically incorrect bullshit? A Republican presidential candidate?  Or a comedian? Seriously though, it isn’t  suppose to be his act.

“Sir, if you’re gonna talk to me, you need to come to the front because I can’t see you.” I think calling him out like this will shut him up.

Yeah, and half the country thinks Jeebus is gonna come riding down on a unicorn and sweep them all up to Heaven before Obama gets re-elected (they pray), but we have reality to deal with.  After all, this is comedy we’re dealing with. Next time think “Danger Will Robinson, Danger!”

NOPE. Instead, he marches to the front and now I see he’s a TERRIFYING looking crazy man I hadn’t noticed in the crowd. He comes way too close to the stage and in my fear, I gesture that he needs to sit in the front, not come on stage with me which seems to be his plan.

He comes to the front when you told him to?  What kind of special crazy is that?  Is this a comedy show or The Price is Right?  But I digress.

I am horrified. He’s completely derailed the act I’ve worked hard on, ruined a night of me doing my job which I’d spent all day looking forward to (and I’d waited an hour to get on stage), embarrassed me and made me feel worthless in front of my friends at the show and my fellow comics and is really, really scaring me.

The hurt of that extra lonely hour waiting to get onstage really put the story in perspective for me.  Inviting this nutjob to the fore, instead of evicting him and mocking him relentlessly as they tazed his whimpering ass on the way out, cost you street cred and the adulation of the crowd.  Google Youtube for proper comedic responses in similar situations.  Gaby buckles to the pressure and leaves the stage without finishing her set.

“Now, because of you, no one’s gonna hear the punchline of that joke. ”Then, I get off stage.

Believe it or not, this is the point in the story where things started to go truly wrong for Gaby.  Something that makes even her interminable one hour green-room delay pale in comparison.

The creepy guy is waiting for me at the bar.

There is no way for me to get to the door without him seeing me. I am supposed to meet my boyfriend at a cafe four blocks away, but if I walk out alone, he’ll follow me. I am trapped.

I prefer a large, friendly-yet protective canine as a travel companion in those situations, but a gun, tazer, pepper-spray or swift kick in the balls is obviously more widely employed.  While pepper spray and tazers hardly ever shit on the carpet, neither will greet you with rapturous affections at every opportunity like the aforementioned.  Advice to Gaby and any other females, comedian or otherwise, man up.  Not to be confused with “my man is four blocks away and can’t help me”.  Please take this opportunity to assume personal responsibility for own personal protection Gaby!  This is not an advertisement for the NRA, because as I mentioned, I prefer dogs to guns.  Dogs sleep lighter than guns.

Best wishes on Gaby Dunn’s future success in comedy.