Heckling is a great thing provided it is witty. A good heckle should reduce the speaker to stunned silence and everyone around them to fits of laughter. Of course heckling was invented in Scotland, which will come as no surprise to you if you´ve ever watched a live show here or been to a football match.
Upon starting some research for this I found the following definition of heckling from a Guardian article -
"The primary definition refers to processes in the textile trade, where to heckle was to tease or comb out flax or hemp fibres, to go through them, as might be said, with a fine-tooth comb. The leap across to the secondary meaning - to interrupt political speakers with awkward or embarrassing questions - was made in Scotland, and specifically perhaps in Dundee, a famously radical town where the hecklers who combed the flax had established a reputation as the most radical and stroppy element in the workforce."
Heckling was originally reserved for political speakers and really good heckles would sometimes be reported in the newspaper. Sadly modern politicians are so frightened of having to argue their case that they tend to vet questions before they are allowed to be asked or to only appear in public when the audience is sympathetic. Remember 82-year old labour party member Walter Wolfgang? He was ejected forcibly from the party conference for shouting "nonsense".
Harold Wilson was making a speech in the dockyard town of Chatham. After talking up Chatham for a while Wilson asked what he meant to be a purely rhetorical question: "And why am I saying all this?"
To which a voice from the back of the hall replied, "Because you are in Chatham".
House of Commons, Michael Heseltine was getting worked up in defence of fox-hunting and asked, "What do we mean by flushing out?"
Labour´s Denis MacShane, shouted, "Ask Mrs Thatcher!"
Although you no longer get many decent political heckles you do find some gems at stand-up comedy or music gigs and football matches. You also get the same heckles repeated over and over which were probably funny originally but are somewhat tired now.
Comedian: "Where are you going?"
Heckler: "I thought I´d go for a piss before the comedian came on."
Billy Connolly: "Don´t tell me how to do my job! I don´t come to your work and tell you how to sweep up!" (there are loads of variations of this).
Heckler: "Fuck off, you fat cunt"
Comedian: "Look mate. There´s a reason I´m so fat. It´s because every time I go round and fuck your mum she gives me a piece of cake".
"At a U2 concert in Glasgow, Bono asks the audience for some quiet. Then in the silence, he starts to slowly clap his hands. Holding the audience in total silence, he says into the microphone, "Every time I clap my hands, a child in Africa dies."
A voice from near the front pierces the silence: "Well, stop clapping your fucking hands then!"
Kirk Douglas´s lesser-known son Eric was in the UK a few years ago, trying to make his mark in stand-up comedy. He was going down badly, so grabbed the mic and said: "What´s wrong with you? Don´t you know who I am? I´m the son of Kirk Douglas!"
There was absolute silence, then someone at the back stood up and said: "No - I´m the son of Kirk Douglas!"
Within seconds, the whole audience was doing it.
Heckler: "You´re shit!"
Jo Brand: "Oh we have a comedian in the house."
Heckler: "We fucking wish."
Bill Bailey was at a Whitney Houston gig in New York in winter and witnessed this. Whitney sauntered on stage a full hour late in a massive fur coat. She walked up to the mic and said, "I'd just like to say, that I love each and every one of you."
And then a huge black guy behind him shouted "SING, bitch!"
David Baddiel got the this heckle shouted at him "Everybody hates you. Surely you remember that from school?"
Heckler: "Show us your cock"
Comedian: "I will if you show me your brain cell"
Heckler: "Least it´ll be bigger than your cock"
Billy Connolly "You should get an agent pal, why sit in the dark handlin yersel!"
Dylan Moran in Glasgow. He comes on stage with a bottle of wine and explains he´s just played in Italy.
Heckler: "Dylan, you´re not in Italy now why are you drinking wine? Why not have a scottish drink?"
Moran: "A Scottish drink? What, like a pint of temazepam?"
Mighty Boosh Noel´s baddie character "the Hitcher" had just come on, being his usual evil Cockney self. The audience started booing and hissing instinctively like it was a pantomime, so the Hitcher delivered the line "Bah... every boo just goes to make my erection that little bit harder!!" The booing then silenced and got replaced by laughter and grossed-out "eeeww"s. That was apart from one bloke who was still apparently booing. So the Hitcher continued with "Don´t keep booing after I´ve just explained that concept, you fucking PERVERT!"
Mighty Boosh Julian is playing the part of the afro-topped character Rudi. He utters the trademark line "I go by many names..." and some tit in the audience shouts out "TWAT!!". Julian kicks off his comeback with "Quiet, or I´ll chuck a bucket of cocks at you" which gets a few good laughs. He carries on "There´ll be so many cocks you´ll be sucking on them for 15 years.....it´ll be like your childhood all over again."
What Steve Martin replied to a heckler on one of his albums: "Thank you. I remember my first beer, too."
Bill Hicks: "Please quit yellin that. It´s not funny, it´s not clever; it´s stupid, it´s repetitive. Why the fuck would you continue to yell that? I´m serious."
Another heckler: "Kevin Matthews!"
Hicks: "Okay, Kevin Matthews. What does that mean now? Now what does it mean? I understand where it comes from, so do you. Now what does it all mean? What is the culmination of yelling that?"
Heckler: "Jimmy Shorts!"
Hicks: "Jimmy Shorts. He´s not here. He´s not gonna be here, now what? Now where are we? We´re here with you interrupting me again, you fucking idiot! That´s ... you see where we´re at? We´re here at the same point again, where you, the FUCKING PEON MASSES, can once again ruin anyone who tries to do anything because you don´t know how to do it on your own! That´s where we´re fuckin at! Once again, the useless wastes of fucking flesh that has ruined everything good in the goddamn world! That´s where we´re at! HITLER HAD THE RIGHT IDEA, HE WAS JUST AN UNDERACHIEVER! KILL THEM ALL, ADOLF, ALL OF EM! JEW, MEXICAN, AMERICAN WHITE, KILL THEM ALL! START OVER! THE EXPERIMENT DIDN´T WORK! RAIN FORTY DAYS, PLEEEASE FUCKING RAIN TO WASH THESE FUCKING TURDS OUT OF MY FUCKING LIFE! WASH THESE HUMAN WASTES OF FLESH AND BONE OFF THIS PLANET!! I PRAY TO YOU, GOD, KILL THESE FUCKING PEOPLE!!!!!"
Hicks drops the mike and storms off stage.
Heckler: "I don´t come here to think"
Bill Hicks: "Well tell me where you do go and I´ll meet you there."
The Mighty Boosh. Heckler in the upper circle starts shouting stuff like "who are ya?!" and "get on with it", so Noel Fielding says "Are you possessed......by a twat?"Return to Top