“Your opinion is irrelevant”…how hecklers can ruin a night.

I am a great fan of live comedy. I am even greater fan of the Auckland International Comedy Festival which brings high quality comedy acts from all around the world to little old New Zealand on the edge of the earth. I am not however a fan of hecklers.

On Friday night I experienced the worst hecklers I have ever seen, and to be honest, it was bloody embarrassing for everyone there. A good comedian thrives on their audience, there is even such a thing as a “good heckler” I reckon; someone who is witty, clever, and knows when to stop. What I saw on Friday night was not a group of good hecklers, it was a group of grown adults who should know better, who got ridiculously drunk before the comedy even started and yelled irrelevant, rude abuse at the comedians on the bill for the night.

It was a small venue in a small village. Maybe that made the heckling more obvious but what I do know is that I wasn’t the only person in that room annoyed with them, and it went on for way too long.

The comedy bill included three comedians and an MC with an interval. It wasn’t until the final international comedian actually insisted on this group being removed that something was done, and in my opinion that was way too late. The management of the venue should have removed them at the interval or even before. There are lessons to be learnt here.

Their jibes, insults and idiotic comments threw the first comedian off his rhythm. It wasn’t an enjoyable experience. The second guy dealt with them a little better and the MC verged on directly insulting them as the heckling got worse. I felt no sympathy for them. I was clearly on the side of the comedians.

Maybe they misunderstood how comedy works; you go with an open mind, you expect to be entertained, you listen, you laugh, you feel good. You don’t go so drunk you are slurring your words, falling off your seat and yell abuse at someone whose job it is to entertain you. Your ticket money does not give you that right and your presence there does not give you the right to annoy a room full of people who are there to be entertained and do know how comedy works.

The final comedian dealt with them good and proper, as I mentioned earlier. The hecklers didn’t understand the subtlety of his humour, of his insults directed at them, the rest of the audience did. I can only hope he doesn’t judge the whole of New Zealand comedy audiences based on the behaviour of this handful. I’m pretty sure he won’t.

Once they left we could get on with the real business of enjoying the comedy of the night, just a shame there was only about half an hour of a two hour show left. Even once they had been ejected from the room they tried to ruin the show. Yep, that’s right, grown women pulling faces like scolded children in the window behind the stage. Embarrassing.

I hope these hecklers woke up in the morning with sore heads and realised what utter idiots they were. I hope their friends have a good look at themselves and think why didn’t they do something. I hope this venue does have more comedy shows in the future, without these idiots present.


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