Five For Fighting: Comics Vs. Hecklers

There are hecklers at almost every comedy show. They are not to be encouraged and never welcome. They are a nuisance. They change the rhythm of the show because they want attention.

And they never win for two reasons: 1. They don't have a microphone. 2. They usually haven't been listening.

So the attack is inherently weak. Only those in the heckler's immediate vicinity can hear what he or she has to say, and usually, it is nothing damning. And yet they're still capable of pissing off comics who have spent years honing an ability to make fun of people. But if you heckle at a comedy show, you're essentially bringing a knife to a gun fight.

The only time a heckler can win—and the only time I've ever seen a heckler win—is when they listen to the comic. If you pay attention, a comic will usually reveal some type of pain or personal tragedy and try to make that funny. Expose that raw nerve and you've made a game of it. Make fun of the comic for being bald or fat or ugly or poor, and you've found the perfect spot to poke the bear.

So I encourage you, audience members of the world, to be quiet. Or, at least, listen closely so that you can make deeply personal shots! Not every heckler is a smart heckler, though. Here are five videos of those who did not take this sage advice.

5. Amy Schumer vs. Atlanta Heckler
Amy houses this lady. It's like Foreman vs. Frazier by the end, with the drunk in the front playing the role of Smokin' Joe. It's funny: when it comes to hecklers, they're almost always young men and middle-aged women. Why such a bizarre cross-section? I look forward to Malcolm Gladwell's upcoming New Yorker essay about how these two seemingly disparate groups are united by a common thread.

4. Arj Barker vs. Chicago Heckler
This charming lady gets indignant about what a "gym" is—HOMOPHONES MAKE MY THINKBOX BURN! GRRRR!—and gets defensive after drawing attention to herself. It gets uncomfortable.

3. David Cross vs. Hippy Heckler
The heckler is upset that David Cross didn't support his favorite independent bookstore by arranging a signing there, so he leads with his social agenda and gets totally drubbed. It can't feel good when strangers are shouting, "Shut the fuck up!" at you.

2. Zach Galifianakis vs. Nurse Heckler
Mr. Galifianakis (you may know him as Seth's brother) actually welcomes the heckler on stage and lets her speak directly into the microphone. You're NEVER supposed to concede the mic, and yet he still wins. He provides what is by far the most gentlemanly verbal curbing in this series.

1. Patton Oswalt vs. Rooster Heckler
Two minutes in, a guy lets out a weird chicken noise because he can't deal with the pacing on Oswalt's joke. He must be out of his mind. Oswalt will always eat your bones. This one was so good—and pulled such a great crowd reaction—that it ended up on his album.