A live stand-up comedy show audience is the closest real life gets to the Internet mentality. Maybe it’s the booze. Maybe the atmosphere puts off an “act however you want without repercussions” vibe. But whatever the reason, every show ends up with some socially inept, attention-starved audience member talking back to the comic and fucking it all up for everyone else. I hate hecklers. I can’t imagine being the type of person who sits in the dark while a professional with a microphone is trying to perform and immediately thinks, “You know what this situation needs? My annoying fucking voice.”
So, I collect YouTube videos of comics giving hecklers a verbal beat-down. They’re tremendously satisfying, to the point that I would consider going into stand-up comedy just so I could some day shit all over a heckler. Until then, I’ll just have to admire the work of the masters:
#10. Matt Davis Deflates Cocky Kid
Normally, when a noisy table interrupts a comedian, he will try to incorporate it into his act and continue as best he can with the flow of his material. However, Matt Davis had already been warned by two other comedians that a particular table had been fucking up their sets for almost an hour. So when he took the stage, his dick was already wrapped with a sandpaper condom. As expected, the table started their idiocy, so he dropped his joke mid-sentence and pulled out his bitch-sticker. After a couple of small verbal jabs, Matt stopped the heckler cold by jamming a fist up into his colon and pulling out his sexual ego through his asshole:
“You see this man right here? I could piss this man off unbelievably, and he would sit there fucking quiet. You know why? He knows there is nothing I could say to him — with his gray hair and his gray beard — that will ever fuck up the pussy he brought with him. He fucking knows that. He owned that shit when he walked in the fucking door with it. But you gotta get lippy, coming back. Throw your peacock feathers up — put your chest the fuck out there, saying, ‘I’m a man, too.’ Which is hilarious because every woman in here over the age of 25 knows as loud as you’re barking, as big as you’re sounding, all they hear is tiny, tiny dick.”
When he demonstrates peacock feathers, it’s a thing of beauty.
We never see the heckler on camera, but you can just feel the air go out of him like a shanked Christmas lawn Santa. Watch the audience’s reaction when Matt’s tone of voice changes. There’s a collective “Oh shit, no he just didn’t” that sweeps the room like a human wave at a soccer game right before the riot. But the greatest thing is right after that rant — complete silence from that table. Total shutdown.
#9. Jamie Kennedy and the Server
Regardless of what you think of Jamie Kennedy, when he drops the act and deals with a dumbass audience member off the written script, it’s unfiltered artwork. This wasn’t just a normal set for Jamie — it was the taping of an actual televised show. He was doing a bit on waitresses, and five seconds after saying the word, some politically correct Tourette’s case shouted out, “Server! They’re called ‘servers.'” Assuming that’s her occupation, he lets out a string of light insults, including “I’d like you to serve your mouth shut” and “Serve you up these nuts.”
The insults themselves aren’t all that impressive, though they do make the audience belt out an “Oooohhh,” like Richie just told the Fonz to sit on it. The real beauty comes when he asks her where she serves, and she replies, “I’m not a server, I’m a nanny.” That’s when he drops the mic to his waistline and stares slack-jawed into space with a perfect look of “I refuse to believe a human can really be this fucking stupid” and says:
You can almost hear part of his brain die right there.
“She had to fucking interrupt the taping of my fucking show — not just a show, but the actual taping of the show — to say, ‘Server!’ … When the fuck did you become fucking Super Serve, defender of all crime? Why does that make you so goddamn mad?” But what I find most impressive is that the line that ends it all isn’t an insult or cursing or yelling. He just says in a deflated voice that seems almost ashamed to have taken part in the conversation, “Are we done?”
#8. Harry Terjanian and the Woman Who Thinks He’s Talking Directly to Her
If this list is a core sample of heckling as a whole, you’ll notice that the two most likely people to butt fuck an act are drunk men and pretty girls … who are also drunk. The latter is the case when Harry Terjanian kept getting interrupted by a woman who was actually responding to his jokes as if they were a conversation aimed directly at her. Because to answer Jamie Kennedy’s above mental question … yes, humans really can be exactly that fucking stupid. Harry asks the audience if they ever wonder if they’re going crazy and she, apparently having just left the house for the first time since her childhood abduction, responds, “A thousand times.” He finally has enough and responds, “Just because you’re drunk doesn’t mean you’re crazy. It just means you have no self-control.”
He transitions back to his story, but she still didn’t get the picture, because some people can only be taught a lesson via gunshot. Right after his punchline, she says, “Really?” And that’s when he loses it, saying, “Here’s the thing I love about you …” Finally realizing that she’s about to get the full brunt of his wrath, she interrupts and tries to end it on her terms with a pleading, “OK, OK, OK.” But it was too late. Harry locks her in like an S&M sex swing, saying, “Now you can’t leave.” Followed by hard, cold, blunt reality:
Technically, he says, “Ya’s can’t leave,” but being from the Midwest, I have no right to say it that way.
“I know you’re trying to have a good time, and you are having a good time … Here’s what it is: You’re pretty. And even in this fucking awful light, I can see that. No, don’t fucking hide, now. Get up there and show everyone your pretty face. And I’m sure you’re used to guys listening to your nonsense, but I’m not getting a blowjob from you tonight, so it doesn’t matter to me. Do you understand? Doesn’t matter how big your tits are, how well you use that mouth, I don’t give a fuck — so I don’t have to listen to the lawn mower ‘pap, pap, pap, pap, pap,’ I don’t care … That fucking poor bastard you’re with, his whole mission tonight is to make sure you get enough water so you don’t pass out on the way home.”
#7. Rob O’Reilly Answers Heckler’s Phone
You don’t have to be a professional stand-up to know that when you’re at a live performance of anything, shut off your goddamn phone. And if it does go off, if the call isn’t from your babysitter, your wife’s maternity doctor or the people dropping off your ransom demands, just close it and call them back later. Common sense, right? Not for a comedy crowd, because in a world where we’ve forgotten how humans behave outside the computer room, it happens all the goddamn time. Rob O’Reilly had it happen to him, but rather than giving the guy shit for answering the call in the front row, he took the call for him.
At first, the guy wouldn’t give him the phone, saying he didn’t want him talking to the woman on the other end. But Rob pointed out, “Oh, is that rude? Is that rude to try to talk to her?” He then puts her on speaker and transforms his voice into a stereotypical gay man. “This is Tyrone. Listen, I am lying in bed, and your boy has just been workin’ me. I just thought you should know about it. And by the way, you might want to stop by the clinic later.” When he comes clean with what’s going on (yes, she probably already knew from all the laughing in the background — though I would give anything to find out she thought he was having gay sex in front of a cackling audience), he tells her, “Your friend answered his phone in the front row.” She responds like a normal human with an actual soul: “Oh no!” And he wraps it up with the most casual, conversational tone ever, “What a dick, huh?”
#6. Kyle Cease Gets Directions
I’ve never seen someone handle hecklers as smoothly as Kyle Cease. Not only can he shut them down without setting them on fire, but he incorporates their idiocy into his act, making an entire funny bit on the spot. He is so good at it, he’s the only comedian I wish hecklers upon. Sorry, Kyle, but your pain is a small sacrifice to make for our collective amusement. You can see it here, when he’s trying to do a story about Catalina Island, making a general, absent-minded hand gesture as he says the name. Unfortunately, there are two of those “actually” type of fuckholes in the audience who point out that he’s motioning in the wrong direction, and now the whole flow of the joke is ruined.
For the next two minutes, Kyle constructs an entire routine out of which way Catalina Island is, and only resorts to one insult when he spots someone coming back from the restroom, and says, “You don’t even know which way fucking Catalina Island is because you were shitting.” When the person makes their guess, he pipes up, “Nope! He fucking said that way. But we have an outvote. Him and … two retarded girls say it’s this way.”
It’s even harder to tell what direction it is from behind a computer monitor.
By not giving in to anger and just using their stupidity as comedy fuel, he completely took them out of the picture. And it isn’t a fluke on his part. He has a good handful of these on his YouTube channel, and they are absolutely brilliant. Sometimes, I just sit back and masturbate to them.
#5. Joe Klocek Shows Him How It Feels
Enter Drunk Guy #431997. This walking polyp was basically a real-life version of an Internet commenter, trying to give “constructive feedback” to the comedian — even going as far as offering to be his manager and asking for a mic. After a few small exchanges, Klocek recognizes it as an easy kill and says, “OK, come on up.” What ensues is one of the most brutal, masterful pieces of destruction I’ve ever seen. He just allows the guy to embarrass himself into nonexistence, and he barely has to do more than just let the guy talk. It didn’t hurt that the guy was so wasted that he could fuck up a bowling ball.
Second by second, each word he slurs buries him a little deeper, and just when you think the guy has hit bedrock, Joe remembers that the guy is a mathematician and suggests, “Why don’t you give me some math problems? No blackboard, no calculator. I don’t even have my cellphone on me.” The guy is so drunk, he can’t come up with one, even though his fucking career is centered around it. This goes on for seven and a half minutes, until the heckler actually hangs his head in shame, completely defeated. Showing his humanity, Joe stops and says quietly, mercifully, “Would you like to sit down now?” The guy can’t even speak at that point. He just slowly nods his head, puts the mic back and takes his seat. It was like convincing the Hulk that he was his own enemy and then sitting back and watching him punch himself in the balls until he died.
#4. Joe Matarese Gets Heckled at a Fundraiser
Joe Matarese was doing a small gig in Michigan where pretty much the entire audience was filled with the souls of falsely executed prisoners, and in a former life, Joe was the guy under the black hood. Halfway through the set, he found out that it wasn’t just any old show — it was a fundraiser, and the audience was composed of the parents of the kids they were trying to earn money for. It’s at that point he realized that if they were acting this badly at a charity event, he had no chance of salvaging his act, so he just gave in and said, “The sad part about comedy: All it takes is 90 percent of the crowd to suck for it to be bad.”
And that was it. He went from person to person — each one a cheerleader mom — calling out their never-before-challenged bullshit. He tells the first woman, “I hope your kid’s not someone we’re trying to raise money for. Because she’s fucked. We can’t fix that. We can’t fix her, she’s bound for the pole. She will be stripping in weeks. You are an awful parent, ma’am.” Then on to the next woman, where he just chants, “No one wants to hear you,” while she rambles endlessly through it, as if he wasn’t completely drowning her out. One of those people who, no matter what she’s saying, truly thinks, “What I’m saying is important and must be heard because I am the exception to every rule.” And then point blank, “All you have to do to not get ripped on is shut the fuck up, it’s easy.”
He was one step away from just plugging his ears and singing, “La, la, la, I can’t hear you!”
Of course she doesn’t, because she’s special and nobody has really ever not allowed her to speak before. And just as it appears that he might step off of the stage and force feed her his car, he stops and explains, “I’ve gone to therapy, I can’t call you what I want to. It would feel really good, and it would be dead on correct … I don’t need to say it because you all know. Have you ever seen someone being such a ‘one’ that I don’t have to say it? That’s how much of a ‘one’ she is.”
So how is letting the hecklers control his act considered “shutting them down”? The people who had been battling him through the whole set gave him a standing ovation. He won.
Wait, is everyone in that audience fucking bipolar?
#3. Joe Rogan and the Penguin Girls
Nobody shuts down a heckler with more brutality than Joe Rogan. And don’t give me that shit about George Carlin or Bill Hicks. They were good with focused anger, and I’m a fan of both men. But Rogan is a goddamn insult artisan.
This was another case of the table of drunk, pretty girls interrupting the act by responding loudly to everything he was saying. He was attempting to make fun of some movie about penguins, when one girl started yelling, “Awwww, I love penguins!” He starts off by making fun of their voices, but she gets pissed off pretty fast and her drunken mind convinces her “Yell out ‘You don’t have a girlfriend.’ That’ll get him. You aren’t stupid at all. People love you.” She obeys her brain’s think-words, and Rogan finally just gives in and confronts her:
That’s Joe humping the bar stool. Nope, not joking.
“See, this is where you’re confused because I’m not your fucking boyfriend. I don’t have to put up with your stupid shit.” She repeats that she doesn’t believe he has a girlfriend, and he levels her: “Why don’t you believe that? Is it because you’re dumb? Or is it because you’re trying to be mean to me? You’re saying, ‘No girl would want you’ — check this out, how many girls would want to fuck me right now?” The crowd goes apeshit. But again, she’s not done. She makes a joke about him having a small dick, to which he replies, “I’ll wrap my dick around your neck and start you up like a fucking lawnmower.” And then a conversation finishing move so brutal, Mortal Kombat couldn’t display it without changing its ESRB rating:
“Don’t get confused on your place in the big picture. I’m not saying I’m anything special, but guess what, fuckface, you’re not either — we’re all humans. Just because you’re pretty? You’re pretty now, but you’re only like, what, 24? But talk to me when you’re 44, and you’re desperate and drunk, sitting behind the nickel slot machine. [Crowd applauds over his voice here] … just hoping to get fingered, and you can suck his dick and maybe go home and feel ‘somewhat worthy’ because he got ‘semi hard.'”
Rogan transforms himself into the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Except instead of being a building, its function is to make idiots cry.
I’ve watched that video probably a hundred times, and I swear my speakers permanently smell like sex now.
#2. Patton Oswalt Creates a Moment
Patton Oswalt was setting up a joke that takes quite a bit of skill and audience trust to pull off. He was creating a moment where you bring down the crowd to a normal, serious frame of mind by speaking quietly and interjecting some emotion into the story. Then, when you’re at exactly the right spot, you get louder and drive a punchline into their heads like a fucking railroad spike. Timing is absolutely everything here, and when some clueless jackoff screams “Woohoo!” in the middle of it, the whole thing is just obliterated.
That’s exactly what happened, and Patton immediately knew it was over, saying, “I love the guy who’s terrified at any kind of silence, like, ‘He’d better say pussy soon, or aaagh!’ … I’d hate to see you at a funeral or a wedding or something. ‘Skynyrd! Shit, I’m sorry. Sorry, man. It was like 20 seconds of quiet, I thought I was going to shit my pants. I got real scared. My mom told me if it was quiet for more than 15 minutes, then goblins come out of the ground and rape you. So I thought I’d — I was trying to protect everybody by yelling. I thought I would scream and make a weird chicken noise and scare the rape goblins away … Is everyone OK? Has no one been raped? Then I think I’m right. I think I just saved the whole room.”
Flawless logic, baby.
But even more cutting than that flurry of verbal elbows was when he kind of chuckled and said, “What a dumb douchebag.” If you press the play button on only one of these videos, make it this one. Because when Patton Oswalt gets that little to-himself chuckle when he drops an insult on someone, it’s exactly like the moment you hear a light saber come out somewhere off camera in Empire. You know some shit is about to go down, and someone is probably going to lose a hand at the end.
He then carefully explains to the clueless asshole in the audience how jokes work and how the timing and tone is crucial. And just as ballsy as his insults, he finishes the bit, just to show him what would have been awesome had he not randomly shouted nonsense during the story. Ending it with the greatest lines ever spoken by a comedian in the history of comedy: “You stupid douchenozzle. You truly don’t fucking get it, do you? You poor motherfucker. You’re gonna miss everything cool and die angry.”
There’s an entire philosophy in those words.
#1. Bill Burr Versus All of Philadelphia
I’m not going to quote a single thing Bill Burr says in this video because nothing I could say would do it justice. Besides, it’s not about what he’s saying. He was in a comedy concert called Opie and Anthony’s Traveling Virus in Philadelphia. After watching the two comedians before him get booed into the ground, he was already pissed off. So when he started his act to the same booing, he just dropped everything and tore into the audience. For his entire 11-minute set. The louder they booed, the more he ranted, counting off the minutes as he went. And every time they thought he was going to wrap it up and walk off the stage, he’d stop and say, “I have seven minutes left, and I’m doing all goddamn seven of them. Fuck you.”
He used comedy like a fucking weapon, and he made sure that none of them got any sort of enjoyment out of it. If they started to clap, he’d switch to making fun of their sports teams. If they got used to that, he’d insult their mothers. Then their city. Then their intelligence. He called them racists. And every minute, he called out how much time he had left, until the very end, when he said, “That’s my time. You guys … you guys were here, man.” Then he hung up the mic and left to the loudest cheers of the night.