For the inaugural entry of FAQ’d by Shaq, Shaq MacNeil answers the most frequently asked questions about heckling stand-up comedians.
Shaq, why do people heckle comedians?
As an expert, I can say with confidence that people tend to heckle for one of four reasons:
1) They got too drunk and forgot that the show does not have an audience participation element.
2) They genuinely don’t know that stand-up comedy does not have an audience participation element. (Crowd-work is the exception. However, during crowd-work, audience replies should be as concise as possible.)
3) They heard something they didn’t like and think it is their duty to derail the show or else civilization might end.
4) They (not so-)secretly want to be the one on stage.
Shaq, how do people feel about hecklers?
To be honest, people aren’t that into it. Worst case scenario, heckling derails the show and everyone’s upset safe for maybe the heckler.
Best case scenario, the heckler is eviscerated by the comedian but your heart breaks while you watch them dejectedly gather things and try to slip out unnoticed.
Shaq, when is it appropriate to heckle a stand-up comedian?
Probably never. It’s very rude. Just let them do their thing and you can complain about them incessantly on social media and to your friends.
Or even better, you can bottle up what you’d like to express, sowing the seeds for future intimacy issues like a normal person.
But Shaq, sometimes I really just got to heck, ya know?
If you really feel the need to heckle someone, perhaps you just shouldn’t go to comedy shows.
Perhaps you should find a cause that you’re really passionate about and heckle politicians making public appearances. That’s really the only instance I can think of wherein it’s appropriate to heckle someone because their decisions could end up affecting your life if you don’t make your voice heard.
I know that sitting through a comedian you’re not feeling is excruciating, but it’s only 8 to 45 minutes of your life. It’s gone, it sucked, who cares?
So Shaq, what now?