How to Deal with Heckler's...One Man's View

CandidPicker

Because Opportunity Seldom Knocks Twice
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Some years ago when I was younger and more foolish, I made an observation of how older and better musicians handled rowdy crowds and hecklers.

Most times, we realized that heckler's were merely pushing the musician's buttons, so the common concept of handling rowdy crowds was this...

Many times, the audience would be feeling pumped knowing the alcohol was flowing, and the dance floor would be filled. Although it was difficult to hear above the band, between songs it was common for the lead singer to "talk up" the next song with a little backstory. The band had just played Jimi's "Angel," and had just launched into EVH's, "Eruption." The crowd energy was palpable.

It was at this point that the rowdier patrons might heckle the band, with lame song requests, like "Free Bird!" or "Smoke on the Water!"

The entire band knew they were being heckled, but as was the custom of the times, the band could not shout down the heckler because it would only encourage them more.

What did the house band do?

The bass player would signal to switch songs mid-song. Although I don't recall what the keywords were, the band would break into several stanzas of the "Mr. Ed Theme." And then, without batting an eyelash, break back into the original song. It served its purpose.

The heckler was embarrassed, and cooperative patrons took pictures as he flashed the bird and stormed out. These were times when bands were more professional and used humor to defeat their adversaries instead of brute bouncer force.

Today, there are bound to be a few smart alecks who heckle the band, but if one isn't accustomed to this, it takes time to gain confidence and begin to feel comfortable on stage. It took quite some time in my instance; my hope is that rather than over react or overdo it, repay the slight with some kindness...although the repayment may be a double-edged sword...and though I still need to learn the Munster's Theme song someday...no bad feelings intended to our friend's named Ed...
 

bodia

Authorities said.....best leave it.....unsolved
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This reminds me of a Gallagher show I was at with a buddy, and his wife. It was easily 30 years ago. Gallagher has a rare quiet moment, and my buddy yells out "FREEBIRD". Without missing a beat, Gallagher looks up, and replies, "You know, I have to appreciate a guy that's fast enough to speak his mind, but slow enough to get seats in the last row." The place went nuts. And, no, we weren't in the last row. We were in the 2nd to last row in the balcony!
 

Warrenwood

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One of the best heckler-shootdowns I ever saw was during Steve Martin's "Wild and Crazy Guy" tour. He was recording the show for the album and a heckler yells out something I couldn't understand. Without a beat Martin said "Yeah, I remember my first beer" and points to the heckler. Audience fell over laughing at the heckler. He left it on the album.

So one night in a bar gig we had a heckler. tried to ignore him, but he was pretty plastered. Finally some snarky drummer (hmmm... wonder who...) remembered Steve Martin and said to the heckler, "Sorry guy, you're not losing your virginity tonight." Audience fell apart laughing, but he was pretty angry. He tried to climb up on stage but was too drunk and fell backwards onto a table. He sat down, passed out from being drunk and slept through the show.
 

DreamTheaterRules

Not falling for the banana in the tailpipe
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Not sure what else we've tried. "Yes, sir, thank you! Have a sparkling day!"

Bob, Bob, Bob, Bob, BOB! We’ve got to work on this. This is not good enough! We have to do better.

Personally, I like “Well, you just ruined it! With that one remark, you now have no chance of losing your virginity tonight, sir.” I’d personally add a ”Sorry man, I thought you really had a chance this time!” But that’s just me. ;)
 

CandidPicker

Because Opportunity Seldom Knocks Twice
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I'm sure there are folks who will try to break your balls. I'm polite enough to signal to the server to refill the man's cup. You gotta remember that folks work up a thirst (especially on hot summer nights). The customer can pay for his own drink. That way, I reason that the customer needed attention. If that's what he wanted, the server took care of him. We both walk off happier.
 

DreamTheaterRules

Not falling for the banana in the tailpipe
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I guess it depends on what you consider "heckling." I'm with Boogie in not thinking that "Freebird" is heckling. I've done it often myself, and I'd never heckle a band or musician. If someone was actually heckling me, or as you say "trying to break my balls," I'd probably fire back some insults like I mentioned above. If they were just yelling "Freebird" I'd probably laugh and enjoy it.
 

CandidPicker

Because Opportunity Seldom Knocks Twice
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I guess it depends on what you consider "heckling." I'm with Boogie in not thinking that "Freebird" is heckling. I've done it often myself, and I'd never heckle a band or musician. If someone was actually heckling me, or as you say "trying to break my balls," I'd probably fire back some insults like I mentioned above. If they were just yelling "Freebird" I'd probably laugh and enjoy it.

Understood. If you're speaking between song breaks and someone heckles you, the best method I've seen used is humor. If it's calling out overplayed worn-out song titles, we reserve the right to play "Short People." It's somewhat a hidden reference, but do some research and find out what it means.
 

Boogie

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Understood. If you're speaking between song breaks and someone heckles you, the best method I've seen used is humor. If it's calling out overplayed worn-out song titles, we reserve the right to play "Short People." It's somewhat a hidden reference, but do some research and find out what it means.
I prefer the term “mental midgets” but that one word is not a kind way to describe the altitude Impared. You can do the research.
 
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