News / Comedy

5 reasons why you should never heckle at a comedy show

UP Comedy Club interior
Photograph: Courtesy of Second City

Heckling sucks. It's not funny, cute or helpful. Hecklers don’t make a show better; they stop it cold. Believe it or not, comedians hate hecklers. Dealing with a drunk moron is not necessarily part of a comic's game plan when he or she steps on a stage. Sure, most pros can cope with hecklers and shut them down, but that's comes from years of dealing with assholes who just don't seem to understand the basic concept that they should never speak up.

Here are five reasons to never heckle.

1. It's not helping. The number one misconception is that shouted out (usually drunken) verbal abuse is somehow helpful to a comedian. This is nonsense. Heckling is not helpful or sought after. It doesn't make the show better and it's not showing anybody how clever you are. You want to help? Keep your comments to yourself.

2. It's not crowd work for the comic. Crowd work is crowd work. Heckling is heckling and never the two shall meet. Crowd work will always be initiated by the comedian. If comedians want your opinion on a topic they will ask you. Sure, lots of comics do great crowd work, and it can be the funniest part of the show, but it's always their job to start and control it.

3. It's not funny. The heckler is never as funny as they think they are. Again, it's an uninvited interruption. It throws the comic of his or her timing, can break concentration and can stop a great show in its tracks. Sure, the shutting down of a heckler by the comic can be super funny, but that has way more to do with a comedian's skill set then heckler being a jerk. Which leads into the next reason.

4. The comic hates it. Some comedians are so good at dealing with hecklers that it might seem like it contributes to the show, or that the comic enjoyed the interaction. Comics are good at dealing with this because they have to be, not because they enjoy it. And it takes years of dealing with dumb comments.

5. It's flat out disrespectful. Above all the rest, heckling is just disrespectful to the comedian, the crowd and the venue. Some clubs have a zero tolerance policy. Do you really want to get kicked out of a club because you or your friend couldn't shut up? Also it pisses other people off. I've seen a heckler get a beer dumped on her head by other patrons. I've also seen fistfights and security ejections induced by hecklers. Bottom line is that if you don't like a comedian's material there is a simple way to show your disapproval: Silence. There's no better way to for a comedian to figure out that they are on the wrong tack than an absence of laughter.

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