Good on ya, Amy

Amy Winehouse is in the news again for bad behaviour – this time for punching an audience member in the front row of her gig at Glastonbury. While I can’t bring myself to condone Amy’s previous misdeeds, I applaud her for that one. Let’s assume that Amy isn’t barking mad and there is a reason for her clocking this person. Some say it was because an audience member dared to touch her beehive hairdo but from what I saw it’s more likely the person said something. If that’s the case, then every comedian in the world is sitting back saying, “Good on ya, Amy.”

Regular shouting hecklers are a pain but at least it happens in open court. The audience can hear both sides of the duel between the comedian and the heckler. The comedian usually wins and the peer pressure of the group shuts the disrupter up. A heckler in the front row is a comedic nightmare. The problem is that since a front row heckler is so close, it’s usually only the performer and a handful of people around him** (usually the asshole’s friends) that can hear what’s being said. On stage, if you use your regular heckle comeback lines, like the oldie but goodie, “It’s a shame when cousins marry,” the audience wonders what you are going on about. If you have to get real heavy on him, then the audience wonders why you are being so mean. What usually happened is that you either have to ignore him, in which case he ruins you timing all night or you flip out. It looks like Amy flipped and I thought she did it really well. It would be inaccurate to say she didn’t miss a beat cause she literally did but only a couple. She threw an elbow and two really good jabs and was back on-tempo by the end of the bar. I’ve come close to belting someone in a front row but never had the guts – well done Amy.

JL

**I say him because most asshole hecklers are men but there are exceptions. I once worked with Robin Williams at London’s Comedy Store. I was MCing and Robin was of course on last. There had been a horrible, drunken, stupid, female, front row heckler that had been tripping up comedians all night.

When she heckled Robin he stopped and asked, “Why are you heckling me?”

The woman answered, “I love you.”

Robin replied by holding an imaginary rifle up to his eye, “That’s like Oswald saying, ‘I really respect you Mr. President.’”

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