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Old 12-07-10, 04:30 PM   #1
Butterfly Man
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Butterfly Hecklers

Friend or foe; a heckler can be either one. How you deal with a heckler being the determining factor. Yes, even an abusive drunk can become an asset to your show… all I had to do was drop my pants and sing Jambalaya with a wino in Halifax once; we killed ‘em.

The most difficult situation for me was getting heckled too early before I established my character and got the audience on my side. Actually, that wasn’t much of a problem either probably because I was always looking for trouble and more often than not, I found it.

Something about me just pisses people off. Not a great thing when you’re trying to win over a crowd. Looking like a bald Jiminy Cricket with two insects stuck to his skull does have its disadvantages. But look at it like I do, use your imagination and never look in a mirror. In my mind I’m a young Jack Nicholson who’s a great fukin’ juggler.

Hecklers surrounded me during my very first street shows in New Orleans and in some ways they became my security blanket for an otherwise rather banal juggling act. They breathed life into my show and made me who I am… the king of dicks (some say).

I never knew why I was so good with hecklers but it was probably because I like them so much. I treated them mercilessly; like I would my best friend… maybe that’s why I spend so much time alone these days. Aw, it’s probably because I live so far away… yeah, that's gotta be it.

Hey, like ANY volunteer, the secret to turning it all around with a heckler is to: LISTEN TO WHAT THEY SAY. If a performer can USE whatever the heckler says… well he, more often than not, turns that potential tragedy into comedy and, unless I’m mistaken, that's what clowns are supposed to DO, right?

Gazzo and I went head-to-head once in ’88 and his line “The best part of you went down yer fatha’s leg!” was countered with my, “At least I got a father and not 100 suspects.” Gazzo was left drooling and I’m not saying there is any connection here but he had a stroke exactly 7 years later.

Yes, I would’ve been nothing without hecklers. Think Rumble without his nose, think Martin without his wit, think Gazzo without his balls… wait, strike that last one, too easy.

The only danger, and if you are savvy, you can use that, is when facing your possible death. I picked on 4 badass guys biker guys one night and went though the first two before I looked at the third. The third had an American Indian looking head whose face looked like an LA freeway interchange of wrinkles and scars. I saw his alpha+ personality and with simply a squeaky “OK!” went on to the 4th guy instead. It worked; my proof lies in the fact that I’m still alive today.

There are a plethora of heckler anecdotes that swirl in my brain when I think about this topic.Someday, remind me to tell you about the guy who heckled me in Dundalk and the three days that followed. I still get cards from his girlfriend.Or, better yet, listen to others make up their own bullshit tales about me; even I don’t believe I did some of that shit. Of course, I did do a lot of drugs in the early ‘80’s and that's all kinda a blur… so.

I wrote a story once about being heckled by 40+ stand-up comics. It was the ultimate test for me and I passed with flying butterflies… in fact, the lines delivered back and forth that day were so memorable they could be put in a book.

Oh wait, I did that once. I wonder what happened to that.

It must be around here… somewhere.
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Old 12-07-10, 04:35 PM   #2
martin ewen
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Lurk I know you are but what am I?


I don't speak while performing so hecklers can never usually get the better of me although one time in Perth some smart-ass kid with a couple of friends passed by and smirked and out of the corner of his mouth said, “Dick on a stick.” and they fell over laughing and it hurt my feelings and I wanted to torture him to death over weeks.
Cos I'm very sensitive like that. That was over a decade ago. NEVER FORGET!

If you talk in your show I guess it's a live by the sword, die by the sword kinda thing.
The only wisdom I have if your show is aggressive is that you will notice that they guy who mouths off at you is never the leader. The leader is happy where he is. It's always the omega or someone in the lower half of the pecking order. By mouthing off they want to elevate their position and cutting them an new a-hole simply cements their position. You pick on the alpha and you are in for a disproportionate response. He or she will defend their status to the death. I'm speaking of passing people rather than heckles coming from a fixed audience. A fixed audience is your omega and you are alpha so it's you who have to defend to the death in that situation.

Because I don't talk I have the advantage in that I can be more obscene and graphic in response to any language or comment made. If they are teenage I mime popping pimples, I pull my pants out and look down then weep. A roll of the eyes and a couple of wrist flicks proclaims 'wanker' in any language. I then move on, if required, to illustrating the tiny size of my hecklers penis as compared to the size of their mouth. Most people realise they simply cannot win at this point.

David Holder and I along with Chris and Peter from Hoopal held an impromptu heckling workshop while hanging out in Lyttelton during the Christchurch Buskers fest one year.
Here's the winning heckler response. I'll leave you guessing whose it was.

“No, no leave him, he's got a right to be angry.
You see earlier today I was actually at his mothers place, yeah that's right, I was at his mums place and I was pissing on her face, [gasp] Oh come on, you people, let me explain. I wasn't actually pissing on her face, no I was just visiting and went to the toilet and she had all these magazines in the bathroom next to the toilet
and the top one was 'The Face', it's a British magazine, you might know it. And anyway it's embarrassing but I kinda sprayed a little and it hit her magazines there by the toilet and the top one was 'The Face'.
That's all, I mean I wasn't actually pissing on her face.
[perfect pause, then offhand..]
No, no, she was tied up in the bedroom covered in dogshit.”

Beat that!
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