An Open Letter to Hecklers

You think you can do this better? I dare you.

I dare you to try to write an original joke that’s actually funny. It’s harder than you think. That weird thing that happened to your dick might be concerning but it’s not funny. That time when you made a faux pas in the office – no one gives a damn.  Most statements that begin with “so I was drunk, right?” will only get you blank stares. Had a moment with the TSA? Chill, so has the rest of America. It’s been done before. Got anything else?

Came up with a set that’s funny, did you? How quaint. I hate to tell you, but as a comic you’re sense of humor is only one half of the equation and it’s not even the important half. And you’re new so it’s likely a steaming pile of rhinoceros turd. But since you’ve worked so hard on it, I dare you to memorize it. Practice it with different inflections, put the pauses in different places and try not to leave a pause after each punch line for the audience’s “raucous laughter” you’re so sure will follow (it probably won’t, sorry bro).

I dare you to sign up for an open mic…and actually perform for the full five minutes. Just you and a mic. And a spotlight that will likely stop you from seeing anything but white. (Kind of feels like you’re the asshole performing at the end of the tunnel.) Sometimes, you’ll be lucky enough to glimpse some seriously unimpressed faces staring back at you, impatient for you to actually begin to be funny. You’ll hear talking – it’s either your fellow comics or a good sign that people are bored with you. But, at least, talking means there’s an audience. Sometimes there isn’t. By the way, have you ever talked uninterrupted for five minutes? It’s a long fucking time.

I dare you to bomb. To keep talking at a crowd who wishes they could swipe left on you – for five minutes, for three hundred counts of one-one thousands. Watch people get up and leave during your set because you weren’t worth their time. Harsh, but it happens often.

I dare you to handle a heckler. You need to make sure you stay the authority figure onstage so you have to address whoever the drunk bastard is. Unless it’s a sober bastard, in which case, I’m sorry, but you’re probably a terrible comic. Keep in mind that your audience is a fickle mistress and if they see you rip a heckler a new one, they’re like to turn on you. Self-restraint is key, but not so much that you appear weak. I dare you to pick up exactly where you left off before you were interrupted, which was in the middle of a joke. That joke is probably ruined. Better get yourself back on track quickly, your audience is confused as to why you’re not funny. Recover or die.

I dare you to keep doing all of these things. Night after night. Can you handle the late nights after long days at the office? Can you do bad set after bad set and still come back for more? Do you still believe in whatever reason you walked up to the mic in the first place?

Then, after all that, I dare you to heckle another comic again.

Yeah. That’s what I thought.

Written By: Emerald Gearing

One thought on “An Open Letter to Hecklers

  1. You perfectly summed up all of the awful feelings of standing on stage by yourself. I actually got butterflies in my stomach.

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