With just over a month to go to the publication of my next book I wanted to share one of my favorite chapters with you all. I have added it below so have a read and enjoy.
The Act Assassin
The ultimate heckler and heckles.
You are on stage, the heckler has you in his sights he shouts something at you, you respond and suddenly “Bam” you have just lost.
It’s as simple and as quick as that. The heckler has said something and before you even register what it is, it’s over.
You start to sweat and look around you for some sort of support. The audience are jeering and now you have other people heckling you, although you can’t make out the words as your brain is in hyperdrive but coming up blank.
You start to panic and feel a bit sick, all your worst fears have happened at once.
The MC is looking at you for some sort of signal. You have nowhere to turn and no one to help you.
The audience has turned on you and start to boo and hiss, someone starts a chant,
“OFF, OFF, OFF, OFF, OFF, OFF, OFF, OFF”.
Not nice and it leaves a terrible feeling in your stomach.
It has not happened to me but I saw it happen once, and I am so pleased it was not aimed at me.
A true “Act Assassin” is extremely RARE, but they do happen.
There are two types of “Act Assassin”.
The lucky hitter.
The professional assassin.
The lucky hitter
This will be someone who says the right thing at the right time, he will say something that just slays you.
He may not mean it to, but once done, it’s done.
The odds of this happening are very low though, you have many factors on your side like noise, attention etc.
The heckler has to be heard by all or most of the audience and also more importantly understood, however with the right timing and the right voice it can happen.
You have been warned.
The professional assassin
This guy is more likely. He gets his kicks from doing this as often as he can, his heckles will be twice as strong, destructive and will inflict maximum damage.
He has worked on lines and manipulates situations, especially in venues where you may be regularly booked and he knows your act.
I have seen them destroy the confidence of the performer and kill the act completely.
You can stop it, right up until the moment that it happens, then it’s too late and there is nothing you can do.
When it does happen, it will be so fast that you won’t know what hit you, one minute you are doing your normal show, the next you’re getting laughed off stage, all your self-respect destroyed and confidence blown.
So how do you deal with this?
If it’s a true assassin heckle and they are calling for you to get off, then that may be your only course of action and you put it down to experience and hope that it won’t come back to haunt you with other bookers.
One of my favourite stories is kind of an act assassin even though the comedian brought it on himself, let me explain.
Kirk Douglas’s son Eric, half brother to legendary actor Michael, had been trying his hand at comedy.
He wasn’t that bad and had managed to get himself a 30 minute spot at a London comedy club.
The crowd that night were not a forgiving group however and he was dying a death, people were heckling and he was getting more and more frustrated until finally he snapped and shouted into the microphone,
“Dammit, you can not do this to me, don’t you people know who I am, I am Kirk Douglas’s son”.
At this point the main heckler in the front row jumped up and shouted,
“NO, I am Kirk Douglas’s son”,
referring to the iconic "I'm Spartacus" scene of the 1960 film starring Kirk Douglas.
Within seconds everyone was on their feet shouting the same thing. I was told that people were still shouting it five minutes after he had left the stage.
You may notice a similarity in the two stories above, in both situations the attitude of the performer was ultimately the main reason for his downfall.
If the first performer had stuck to the rules, done the correct amount of time and got off when he was supposed to, the situation would never have arisen.
If Eric had maintained his composure, earned their respect rather than demanding it and not panicked, he may well have survived the situation with some dignity.