Hecklers Gone Wild!

I’ve been doing stand-up comedy for right about four months now and I’ve been fortunate enough to have never been heckled. A few friends have joked that they were going to come to my show and heckle me. My response was always the same: “Don’t. I don’t get paid. I will jump off stage and kill you.” For some reason none of them have shown up at a show. Well, it turns out that’s not true, because if I was ever going to jump off stage and kill someone it would have been at this show last week, and I didn’t.

The night started off odd as around nine o’clock, when the open mic at 37th and Zen usually starts, the club was empty. And I don’t mean empty like sparse, I mean there were literally four comics, four employees, and 1 customer. Two of the comics left, understandably so, leaving just me and the host, Tim “The Big 44″ Loulies. It was looking like we weren’t going to get to do any comedy, since there’s not much point playing to an empty room. We hung out for a little while and a group of about ten of my friends and friends of other friends showed up, along with some other random folks and comedian Derek Williams. Since we now had an audience, we decided we’d put on a show. Of course, then we couldn’t get the microphone to work and had to get Traylor, the only employee who knows how to work the audio stuff well, and just generally a cool dude, to come and set it up. We started around 10:30, a full hour and a half after when the show is supposed to start.

Because of the late start, lack of comics, and generally loose atmosphere, rules were kind of off for the night and everyone was allowed to do their material for as long as they wanted, or until they ran out. 44 started things off great as usual, but lost everyone a little with his political humor, which is a shame because his political stuff is incredibly funny. I think people are just dumb. (Which is mean to say since most of the crowd was made up of my friends, but come on guys, that stuff was great.) Next he let a guy named DeWayne go up and sort of talk extemporaneously about not having a left leg anymore. The guy was kind of funny in the way that drunks amputees are sometimes. I didn’t realize it until today, but later in the evening when I tried out a newer bit about a woman with no arms asking for a fork nobody laughed because that guy had gone up and was still at the club. I get it, but that’s stupid because I know the stuff is funny. Again, people are just uptight.

After that guy 44 forced my good buddy Travis Jones to go up and I’m glad he did. I first started doing stand-up because Travis said he’d do it with me, but he’s only gone up three or four times. He was very, very funny, especially his material about dating and strip clubs.

It didn’t happen much during Travis’ set, but at some point during the guy with one leg’s time, a couple of guys sitting at a table in the back of the room started talking loudly, interrupting the show. Mostly the bigger of the two, a guy who was about 6′3″ 250 plus pounds, was the one being disruptive, constantly repeating “Oh baby” as the people on stage were saying things. After Travis Derek Williams, who had already performed once that night at a different venue, came up and went into his stuff. The guys in the back became more bold and started directly addressing Derek. You could tell it was throwing him off his game a little, but he did a great job of keeping his composure, talking back with them a little, but mostly ignoring them. At some point during Derek’s set 44 went over and issued a challenge to the loudmouths: If you think you’re so funny get on stage. It’s a common challenge to hecklers, because most of them are cowards who just want to piss all over a show from the back and would never get on stage, but these two actually accepted his challenge. Unfortunately, this did nothing to quiet them and they did their best to disrupt Derek’s set.

Once Derek finished his material, 44 invited Christian, the bigger of the hecklers onto the stage. About a minute after he started talking I realized, not only was he drunk, but he was probably also on cocaine. Other people have guessed he was high on Red Bull since he mentioned it several times, but I’m pretty sure it was Columbian gold. He proceeded to flutter about the stage in a non-stop salvo of nonsense, basically muttering to himself as we all watched him with dead silence. About halfway through Travis told me to start recording it, so I have some of this fool’s time on stage that you can watch:

It’s worse than it looks because that went on about twice as long. It’s also worth mentioning that early in the set he was pulling out the contents of his pockets in the worst attempt at prop comedy ever. At one point he pulled out a couple of bullets and placed them on the table on stage. It was pointed out later that this should have been the cue to usher the guy out of the club, but really nobody could have been expected to think he was anything more than some drunk idiot with a few bullets and a phone charger in his pocket.

After he got off the stage 44 let his little buddy, who couldn’t have been more than 5′2″ tall, go up. I recorded his set too, but it’s not even worth watching. All he really said was “Norfolk sucks,” which is not only untrue, but also not funny. After him, 44 let a drunk girl, who apparently was the guy without a leg’s girlfriend, go up with her friend Deaf Nate, who is, yes, deaf. The hecklers started up again with their “Oh baby”s but it didn’t phase her since she was just drunkenly rambling.

So this is what I get to go up after, about half an hour’s worth of coked up drunks and a ventriloquist show with a drunk girl and a deaf dude. Needless to say, the room is not primed for comedy at this point. I made my first mistake with how I started the set; I’m not going to sit here and pretend like I can remember everything I said, but basically I commented on how fucked the night had gotten and how much it sucked that I had to follow the coked up dudes from Night at the Roxbury. I think I would have been fine right there, but then I kept going and asked if they didn’t have a drug deal to get to and leave us all alone. That’s when the big guy started yelling stuff at me. I can’t even tell you what. I know he kept saying I was fat, which was dumb because not only was he as fat as me, or fatter, but the beginning of one of my jokes was “I’m fat” and he kept talking about my shirt, which had an x-ray of a dog with a bunch of school supplies inside of him (the dog ate my homework…). Oddly, earlier in the evening when I had walked by him he seemed to love my shirt.

He stopped jawing at me for a little while and I got to do some jokes, most of which were going really well. I was throwing out every one of my jokes I could remember and a few new ones, which went over really well. But, douchebaggery always wins out in the end and the guy had to start talking again. This time I just put the mic down by my side and let him talk for a while before going back to my material. I won’t lie, that shit was distracting and it was pissing me off and from that point on I really wasn’t doing well. And, like I said, I tried to do amputee jokes whith an amputee in the room, which will probably never work out well. 44 got the guy to settle down for a little while and even though I wasn’t feeling it anymore I had to keep going since the audience was basically all there for me. And when else am I going to get unlimited time for stand-up?

There’s something I’ve noticed about drunk people: You can say something to them at one point in the night that will roll off of them at the time, but hours and hours later, for no reason whatsoever, it will suddenly piss them off and they want to fight you over it. Well, I think that’s what happened with Christian. Out of nowhere in the middle of a joke he jumped up out of his chair and started yelling at me. He was calling me all kinds of names, I can’t remember what specifically but I’m sure they were really intelligent and poignant, and telling me if I had such a problem with him I should come fight him. Again, I just dropped the mic and let him talk, which must have pissed him off more because he proceeded to stalk angrily toward the stage, informing me that he was a greenbelt in some form of martial art nobody has ever heard of and that his cousin was Somebody Van Halen. Not Eddie Van Halen, the one you’ve heard of, but some other Van Halen. Not that it would matter if it was Eddie Van Halen, cause that had nothing to do with him acting ridiculous at a bar.

So he runs up to the front of the bar and keeps yelling at me, telling me to get off the stage and fight him. Honestly, I wanted to fight him. Even more honestly, at about three different points in trying to do my set all I wanted to do was set down the microphone, run to the back of the room, and kick his ass. But, I’m an adult. Adults don’t get into fights. If adults do get into fights they go to jail, or at the very least have a bunch of annoying paperwork to fill out.

Now, at this point, nobody had moved. This guy was right up at the edge up the stage yelling up at me and everybody is just watching him. A few of my best friends in the world are sitting a few feet away happily watching as a crazy man stalked toward me and confronted me. Thanks, guys. Christian makes an attempt to grab the microphone out of my hand, to say what is anyone’s guess, but I easily swiped it out of his reach. This caused him to make a fellatio gesture toward my crotch, which was right at his eye level, and say, “I’ll talk into your microphone.” I could spend the rest of my life pondering it and I’d never figure out how he thought threatening to suck my dick was an aggressive gesture.

Now is when 44, Traylor, who is built like a mac truck, and Bradford, the club’s manager, who is built like the opposite of a mac truck, jumped in front of Christian and corralled him away from the stage. This other guy, who I’d never met, and later found out was named Keith, jumped up on stage with me, looked at me and said, “I got your back.” I kind of dumbly nodded, but in my head I was thinking, “Who are you? …I love you…Don’t leave me.”

The intervention only pissed Christian off more and he decided that everything wrong with the world was my doing. As the group pushed him out, with little Bradford in the front doing most of the pushing as he yelled for the bartender to call the cops, he continued to salvo me with insults and baseless challenges. While they were getting him and his friend to leave I wandered over, put the mic back on its stand, and took a seat on the stool at the back of the stage, watching the action and shaking my head.

When they came back, without Christian and his little coked up friend, the crowd cheered for me, with Traylor loudly shouting my name to egg them on. It was very flattering but all I wanted to do was get off stage. They wanted me to keep going, so I did a horrible rendition of my Helper Monkey joke, which is one of my favorites and usually fun to do, before basically running off stage.

So I went from never being heckled to having a guy try to fight me on stage. It’s like losing your virginity to Megan Fox; it’s way too much to handle for your first time. 44 later asked me if I was scared, and I had to honestly tell him that I was nervous because the situation was uncomfortable, but I wasn’t scared, because I knew the guy wasn’t going to hit me. If someone is going to hit you, they do it, they don’t talk about it or tell you to hit them. That’s what coked up pussies do.

This story has become a little bit of a local legend in the last week, but I’m sure once something else more interesting happens nobody will really remember it but the folks who were there. Of course, there were very few people there, so maybe it won’t be remember at all. And anything worth doing requires that you keep doing it, so I got right back on the horse the next night at Cozzy’s and killed, while talking a little about this experience:

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