Comedy Lessons | A Word About Hecklers

Comedy Lessons is a series in my comedy blog that deals with individual solutions to problems that arise in the pursuit of a career in stand up comedy or comedy writing. These comedy lessons are a direct response to situations that have happened to myself while performing live or to my colleagues or students and what lessons can be derived from those particular situations. Make sense? Here we go!

HecklerOne of the important comedy lessons a comedian should learn is about Hecklers. This subject, in itself, should be a multi-part series, because of the variety of conditions that cause a heckler to heckle in the first place and the multitude of ways in which a comedian can respond.

First of all a heckler is any person who calls out something in the middle of a comedian’s show. Why does a heckler do this?

I’ve put together three reasons:

  1. To engage
  2. To endorse
  3. To embarrass

1. To Engage: Most hecklers, in my experience aren’t trying to ruin the show. They want to be involved. They want to engage with you. Most really think they are helping you. Almost all hecklers who have called out something in my show come up to me at the end of the show and say something like, “see, I was just trying to help you…and it worked, huh?”

You want to say, “No Jethro. It didn’t help. If I was seeking help on where to get a new water heater for my double-wide, I would call on you. If I was looking for advice on the nearest crack house, you’d be the first guy I’d go to. If I needed a “how-to” guide to get on the fast-track to gum-disease, I’d already have you on speed dial.”

But I don’t say that because, secretly, I’m appreciative. Any heckler gives me a chance to hone my skills at ad-lib, to be quick on my feet. When a heckler pipes up, I have to realize that I am in the middle of one of the most challenging comedy lessons available. It’s comedy without a net. I’m flying high and I do or die on my own. It’s comedy “Survivor.” And it’s an absolute rush.

2. To Endorse: Some hecklers are in it to espouse their brilliance…or yours! They’ll say something like, “Yeah, I did that!” or “Dude that was f**cking wrong…funny, but wrong! This kind of just adds to the show. It makes it more like it’s you and a pack of your pals having a good time drinking beer together and that’s okay.

3. To Embarrass: Then there comes the occasional heckler that wants to embarrass. He or she is usually drunk, is seeking negative attention or they are nervous. What? Nervous? Yes! There is psychology in comedy that states, “The audience is in whatever state the performer is in…” and we’re not talking geography. What this means is, if the performer is nervous, then the audience is nervous, they don’t know they are nervous, they just feel deeply uncomfortable. They deal with this by calling out something to deal with their discomfort. Picture a good-ole boy sitting watching your show, you’re nervous-he’s nervous. This makes him uncomfortable so he shouts out, “YOU SUCK!”  Other people laugh because it was surprising but it helped them feel better as well. Now the good-ole boy feels better and he gets some negative attention.

The comedy lesson to learn here is that hecklers are unavoidable. You can write an prepare some heckle lines to deal with certain situations. Like if someone is with a group of people and says something, I might respond, “So what’s going on there? (Referring to his table). Are these all your friends, or are you the only one in the trailer park who has a car? Because I’ve seen your house and I love what you’ve done with the Michelins.”

I have a bunch of standard heckle lines that I’ve written and used over the years. Some are pretty cutting.

A biker who was sitting in front row at a comedy show wanting to engage, continuously. He was with a very sexy biker chick in a low cut top and he kept referring to her as his “old-lady.” Finally he said something that was kinda mean. Now, because he was directly mean to me, I now have Carte Blanche from the audience to slay him. After the audience groaned at what he said I thought for a moment, then said, “You know, Harley Davidson patented the sound of their motorcycles? The sound has a patent!”

At this point the audience was curious…what’s Harley Davidson owning a patent on a sound have to do with anything?

Then I said, “I wonder who owns the queef. Because I f**cked your wife last night, and I think I owe some royalties.”

That resulted in laughs, followed by a solid applause break and a thumbs up from the biker.

Hecklers are one of the biggest, on the job, comedy lessons you can get for free. In a nutshell, I try to treat my hecklers like my closest friends. Because, if you think about it, most of the heckles sound like something your friends might say to you when you’re hanging out. If you can deal with them with a smile and a clever retort, you can keep the energy of the room at the mood and level for which they hired you—Fun and FUNNY!

 

**Need some help coming up with some heckle lines? Go to my Comedy Lessons Page and sign up for a Skype Lesson with me and I’ll help you one-on-one!**

Artists Performance Space

performers_hideoutIf you are looking for a space for your acting classes, improv classes or any performance-based group or workshop, then come and see The Stand Up Comedy Clinic’s Artists Performance Space. It’s 1,100 square feet of performance space specifically arranged for a performance-based or workshop-style class.

The Stand Up Comedy Clinic’s Artists Performance Space is located right in the heart of Burbank at 1213 W. Magnolia Blvd. It’s an easy-to-find space that is centrally located to make it convenient for those coming from downtown or the Valley, allowing you to increase your client-reach to the northwestern region of Los Angeles.

The Stand Up Comedy Clinic’s Artist Performance Space features, a full 20’ x 8’ stage with plenty of lighting, a 1200w state of the art sound system with microphone, lounge/office in front with solid mahogany door to contain the sound and seating for up to 40!

Jerry Corley currently teaches his stand up comedy classes there on Monday and Tuesday nights, leaving the Artists Performance Space available for use Wednesday through Sunday nights as well as some availability during the day and the weekends.

The rates at the Artists Performance Space are priced below most other performance space rentals.

Artists Performance Space History

The Artists Performance Space was previously occupied by Hines and Hunt Entertainment for 14 years and was subsequently taken over by Jerry Corley’s Stand Up Comedy Clinic. So, for those of you who believe in the performance aura or spirit, the Artists Performance Space breathes with entertainment. This makes it a perfect environment for creative individuals who are serious about exploring their craft in the arts.

Artists Performance Space Location

1213 W. Magnolia Blvd.JC Bellyroom-22
Burbank, CA 91506
818-621-6633

Artists Performance Space Rates

Wed. – Fri. (Evenings)  -  $20.00/HR.
Sat & Sun. (Day) – $25.00/HR.
Sat & Sun. (Evenings)  -  $20.00

**All night or after-hour sessions also available by arrangement**

**Payments can be made by PayPal, Check or Cash**

Please Call Jerry Corley at 818-621-6633 to preview and check availability.

 

The Artists Performance Space is designed and maintained by performers for performers so you know you’ll be treated right. Call for a preview today!

Getting The Gigs On Late Night T.V.

I saw this article on how to get gigs on late night T.V. and I just had to post it for you guys to read. It’s got some really great insight from some pretty heavy hitters in the business. Take your time and read it. It won’t take long. Don’t forget to write down the names of the bookers. You should do this each and every time you read an article in the paper or hear something on T.V. about a booker. Write the name down and start building a database. Sometimes these guys move from show to show.

I remember, the talent coordinator from A&E’s “An Evening At The Improv” like me a lot. We lost touch then I found out he moved to FX. He was casting a completely different (episodic) T.V. show. I had his name in my database. I saw he was casting this show. The mere fact that I wrote down his name recalled it in my mind the next time I saw it. I sent him a picture and resume and told him I was a fan of the show and I would love to read for any role he thought I might be right for. He called me in on a job and I booked the gig! And you know what the beauty of if was? I did it myself!

Please enjoy the article then do me a big favor and leave a comment on my blog or click “Recommend” at the top of this post! Thanks!

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How To Write Comedy and Make Some Cash

So you want to know how write comedy and make some cash? This is a no-brainer. I spent the weekend talking to Ari Ecker and Joe Yakacki, couple of funny entrepreneurs in New York. They’ve started a website called FunnyforMoney.com, it’s a new concept that allows you write punchlines and win some cash. I’ve looked in to it and it’s totally legit.

This is how it works:

Each week Funny for Money posts some straight lines, based on the news (sounds like what we do in class right?). You then write some punchlines and record them on your webcam. Upload the lines and people vote on your punchline. If you win, you get $100. Not bad for doing something that you do every week as an exercise in class. You know it and I know it; most of our students could win hands-down!

They’ve gotten some venture capitalists to back them because they believe that they can turn this into a big deal for television or further it on the web. I think it’s a great idea. It’s like Dancing with the Stars meets America’s Funniest Home Videos.

Students are always asking me about how to write comedy and make money. This could be one way to do that. It’s not going to be a ton of money but when the site goes live, the monthly grand prize goes up to $10,000. That could buy some beer, huh? I’m thinking about adding this to the curriculum. Make it a weekly thing. You sign up you record punchlines and we see who wins. So what are you waiting for? CLICK HERE to sign up or you can click their logo. Just tell them Jerry sponsored you.

And that’s one way to learn how to write comedy and make some cash.

How To Be A Famous Comedian (Pt. 3)

As we stated in the earlier versions, the path on how to be a famous comedian can be tricky and evasive. Even if there were clear, concise, sure-fire steps one could take in learning how to be a famous comedian and even if you followed those steps to the letter, there is no guarantee that you would become a famous comedian. Believe it or not, even if the steps were known by everyone, only two percent of the readers of the steps would follow them and even less than that would achieve a level of fame that would fit our perceived definition of “famous.”

That being said, there are steps you can take to reach a level of success in comedy. In my view, when you reach a level of success in which you are supporting yourself in a comfortable manner by telling jokes for a living, you have become successful, or certainly reached a milestone of sorts, in your journey on how to become a famous comedian.

“Famous,” in this regard becomes relative to one’s definition.

You should be careful in setting your own definition of “famous.” Your desire for wanting to learn how to be a famous comedian should also be in place for the right reasons. Fame for the pure sake of fame is hollow. You wind up in the same category as “Balloon Boy’s” father, Tarek and Michaele Salahi, the White House party crashers or some wiry, crack addict who gets on a segment of Jerry Springer called, “Pimp My Bride!”

Becoming a comedian is a lot of work. It’s not easy. But it is thrilling! I’ve been a comedian for 25 years. I’ve reached a level of success where I am making decent living doing comedy. I haven’t worked a full-time day job in a very, very long time. I’ve almost forgotten what that’s like. I love what I do and everyday I get to wake up and say, “today I get to write jokes.” I love the challenge of finding something to write about everyday, soliciting work, selling jokes and getting up on stage and performing. I absolutely thrive in the work and the challenge.

If there were steps in learning how to be a famous comedian, they would go something like this:

  • Master the the techniques in crafting comedy material (CLICK HERE and watch in real-time as I write 15 jokes in 30 minutes!)
  • Write strong material, from a unique original perspective. Must have structure and regular solid laugh points (every 18-20 secs.).
  • Perform as much as possible. Get smooth. Get solid.
  • Get on television. (You do this by getting good and getting seen, either in clubs, festivals or submitting yourself to the shows and following up). and if that fails…
  • Set yourself on fire at the Oscars or throw a pie in the face of Rupert Murdoch!

In other words, if you are getting into comedy just to be a famous comedian, don’t! It’s a long journey and has to be done for the right reasons. You’ve got to absolutely love it and you’ve got to be willing to do the work for the sake of doing the best work possible. If you’re doing it for the fame and to get on T.V., it would be easier to build your T.V. appearances by impregnating your sister and getting a slot on Jerry Springer.