Behind The Desk #47: How To Heckle
Brandon Hirsch | May 25, 2012 | 12:45PM |

Brandon Wetherbee hosts the talk show/podcast You, Me, Them, Everybody the first two Friday’s of the month at the Wonderland Ballroom and in Brooklyn and Chicago once a month. Listen to it online at He’ll be at the Wonderland Ballroom on June 1 hosting YMTE Live with co-host Jenn Tisdale and guests Ed Ugel, stand up comic Russ Green and a set from Andrew Grossman.

Disclaimer: This is not a plea for everyone to try to take the stage at an open mic. If anything, it’s meant to scare sensitive souls away from the odd form of torture that is stand-up comedy. If you want to speak into a microphone and muse, consider storytelling. The performers are nicer, the crowds are more receptive and you’ll have a healthy lifestyle. Anyone brave/dumb enough to try their hand at stand up or something like it will do it regardless of some column. This also isn’t meant to silence the crowd. Maybe it is.

The crowd needs to be respectful. Whether in an arena, theater, club, bar or black box theater, no one is there to listen to the person that bought the ticket. The ticket-holder, while very important, should not feel free to utter their thoughts and feelings out loud during the show. Ever. Unless you’re at a magic show. Why are you at a magic show?

If you’re not going to be respectful, why are you there? Really? There are many bars you can drink at. Go there. It’s fine if you leave during the show. In fact, it’s extremely appreciated if you leave during a show. The performer will figure it out. There are multiple reasons to leave a show. The form of entertainment isn’t good. You hate what’s being said on stage. Your ex/ guy that you might have made out with that one time there were shots involved just showed up. All of that is fine. It’s much better if you leave than spout some quip, that’s not good. You know what, let’s say it is good. You’re the one percent (#occupy) that added to a show with something off the cuff. Now do it again. Nope. That’s not how it works. You may get one good line in, but the second one will bomb and now it’s awful for everyone. Now you feel bad and the crowd feels awkward and you’ve oddly validated the performer. The opposite of good has happened.

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Friday 04/21
Paul Rodriguez LIVE from Original Latin Kings of Comedy @ Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse
$25 / $25
Longtime comedian Paul Rodriguez has been making audiences laugh all over the world (in Spanish and English) for nearly three decades with his unique brand of humor that is a perfect blend of his Latin heritage, the American dream and his undeniable universal appeal. As an actor and comedian, Paul Rodriguez’s multi-faceted career includes starring roles and featured appearances in over 45 films and countless television series and comedy specials. Voted one of the most influential Hispanics in America and awarded the Ruben Salazar Award by The National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States, Rodriguez has remained a constant force in his community and the world of comedy throughout his career. Rodriguez's film credits include "Without Men" with Eva Longoria and Christian Slater; "Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore;" "The Deported," "I’m Not Like That No More"with comedian Felipe Esparza (2010 "Last Comic Standing" winner), Disney’s blockbuster hit "Beverly Hills Chihuahua," "The World’s Fastest Indian," "A Cinderella Story," "How to Get the Man's Foot Outta Your Ass," "Ali," "Tortilla Soup," "Crocodile Dundee in LA," "Rat Race," "Bloodwork," "Chasing Papi"and "D.C. Cab," among others. The multifaceted entertainer recently wrote and performed his first-ever one-man show "Just for the Record," which is now available on DVD. In this tell-all theatrical piece, Rodriguez takes audiences on a journey through his remarkable life, including his childhood in Mexico, to his family's move to Compton, California (where he grew up), his illustrious career and the significant relationships and moments that helped shape his life along the way. Rodriguez has hosted several hit series, including the entertainment talk show "El Show de Paul Rodriguez," an entertainment talk show for Univision which reached over 50 markets throughout the United States and an international audience in over 17 countries in Central and South America. His additional hosting credits include the The NCLR ALMA Awards, The Tejano Music Awards, Showtime’s Latino Laugh Festival and his own television specials "Back to School" and "Behind Bars." He recently hosted "Mis Videos Locos with Paul Rodriguez” on Tr3s: MTV, Música y Más. As an accomplished writer, director and producer for television, motion pictures and feature shows, Rodriguez has several hit projects to his credit including the comedy concert film "The Original Latin Kings of Comedy," which he executive produced and starred in along with Cheech Marin, George Lopez and Carlos Mencia; the feature film "A Million to Juan,"which he also wrote, directed and starred in; six comedy specials for HBO including "Loco Slam, " "Live in San Quentin" and "Idiots and Armadillos." As executive producer, he recently struck comedy again with his Comedy Central stand-up concert DVD, “Comedy Rehab.” In addition to his many hit comedy specials in English, Rodriguez has the distinguished credit of performing the first-ever one-hour standup comedy special in Spanish, "Dime Con Quien Andas,"for Telemundo. Among his many credits, Rodriguez has also made guest appearances on several Late Night shows including "The Wanda Sykes Show,""The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," "Last Call with Carson Daly,"and "Politically Incorrect." Additionally, he has guest starred in several television series including "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," "Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List," "Shaken Not Stirred," DIRECTV’s"S upreme Court of Comedy,"Showtime's original series "Resurrection Boulevard"and"American Family." He has also lent his voice to popular animated series including "King of the Hill,""Dora the Explorer" and "The Proud Family." Rodriguez’s first big break came while doing comedy warm-ups for Norman Lear's show "Gloria."Lear ultimately wrote and developed a weekly series for Rodriguez entitled "a.k.a. Pablo," which is enshrined at the Smithsonian and holds the distinct honor for being the first television show about a Mexican American family on mainstream American television.
>>>>>>>>>>>> Ok, back to the article! >>>>>>>>>>>>

This isn’t meant to discourage interaction. Not at all. Anyone that’s worth their salt (that’s a weird saying) appreciates criticism. There are just appropriate ways to do it. Screaming something from crowd is the worst form of feedback. You’re not at a Richard Pryor concert and it’s not 1982. You are not meant to be part of the act. Unless you’re at an improv show. I don’t understand those.

The goal for a show is for everyone to leave happy that they left their house and spent money in the outside world. The performers job is to be well equipped to make that happen. It’s like the Boy Scouts motto or something. I wasn’t a Boy Scout. My mom thought I’d get molested a lot (not even close to a little, A LOT, like at least 80% of the time getting molested) so I wasn’t a Boy Scout. But their motto, ‘Be Prepared,’ rings true in this scenario. If the performer is not
prepared, the show will suffer. You do not need to point that out. When you interrupt a bombing act with a not prepared line, the performer will justify their performance with, “Man, the crowd really sucked.” Trust me. These performers are nuts. Anything that can be used as a scape-goat will be used as a reason to go up yet again. In a way, you’re making horrible things happen to good crowds.

So let’s say you attend a show and it’s sub par and you want to let everyone know that the performer, venue, bartender, sound guy, busboy, dishwasher, etc. is awful and should never leave the house again? Twitter. Yes, tweet at everyone and god. Tell the world that what you witnessed should be avoided at all costs. @ the performer. They will read the tweet. It will eat them alive and, if it works, help them consider their life path.

If you hate me, this column, my talk show, the way I part my hair, the idea of words, tweet @YMTE about why I suck. Really. This, sadly, will stick with me more than anything you could scream from a crowd. When I hear someone talking in a crowd, I dismiss them. I have to. This isn’t about any one individual. It doesn’t matter if the room is half empty or packed, it’s impossible to cater to someone that heckles. It’s not worth doing. Twitter feedback, that’s what kills.

Use the technology that hate created to heckle the right way. Screams become inaudible after a few times on stage. Unless you’re really nuts. Those people become magicians. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful night.

Recent Comments:
  • william alberque says:

    I recall two ripostes John Cooper Clarke used on hecklers to great effect:

    1. Your bus leaves in ten minutes…be under it.
    2. I can’t hear you mate, your mouth’s full of shit.