The art of comedy Aikido.
In my previous blog, Handling Hecklers – Part 3, I discussed using heckler lines to get heckler to back down and shut up. In this blog, Handling Hecklers – Part 4, I offer several more tips for dealing with obnoxious morons.
Never Invite the Heckler on Stage
Guess why I know about this. When I was first beginning back in the mid-70's in San Francisco, I was working at a hole-in-the-wall club known as the Holy City Zoo. I was being heckled mercilessly when I lost my temper and said, “If you think you can do any better, then come up and try.” This one did. He pushed me out of the way and proceeded to tell one really funny joke. The guy running the open mike night came over, I thought to help me, but instead he told the heckler to get off stage, then turned on me and yelled, “There are t
Let’s play Audience Whack-a-Mole.
In my previous blog, Handling Hecklers – Part 2, I discussed keeping the proper state of mind when dealing with rude audience members. In this blog, Handling Hecklers – Part 3, I offer several hecklers lines to help purge the scourge.
Use Hecklers Lines
Heckler lines aren’t as easy to use as you might think. Just because you have a series of great insults memorized doesn’t mean that that’s all there is to handling hecklers. It’s a whole psychological game that you’ll need to learn. Be prepared with a variety of comebacks to fit the different kinds of heckles. You can write them yourself or get them from insult joke books.
“Out of millions of sperm, you were the quickest?”
Tag it or bag it.
One of the most important and powerful comedy secret in a comedian’s arsenal to get laughs is the Tag. A tag is punch after a punch without a new setup. For instance this Jerry Seinfeld joke:
Setup: “Bozo the Clown. Do we really need ‘the Clown’? Are we going to confuse him with…”
Punch: “Bozo the Tax Attorney?”
Tag1: “Bozo the Pope?”
Notice how Seinfeld created a clear Setup and Punch, and then added another Punch that didn’t require a new Setup. By not using a new Setup, he was able to get two laughs off the original Setup. This is how Tags work.
This comedy secret doesn’t have to stop there. When doing story telling comedy, the story is the through line of the routine, but it can be constructed with a Setup, Punch,
Go from a night of horror to just a nightmare.
Open mics are one the most important and distressing periods all fledgling comedians go through. It’s important because comedians need to learn to get over their fear of bombing, deal with the lights, handle being ignored, face abject failure, cope with their anger, all in the quest to learn to be funny.
If that didn’t discourage you, this will. Open mics are equally distressing. The comics running them often don’t care about anything, but their own stage time. They’re held in loud bars with drunken hecklers or in empty coffee houses. The audience is usually other comics working on their material while waiting to go up. There’s no front row because the comics sit as far from the stage as they can. And the regular customers are having loud personal conversations without any regard for the performers.
Are you missing what's right in front of you?
I’ve taught stand-up comedy for more than three decades. There are lessons I’ve learned about being funny that also apply to other aspects of life. But often we just don’t think to use them when we're not performing.
For example, here’s something I teach my students:
Do the show that’s in front of you … not the one in your head.
I know this lesson very well because I remind my students of it in almost every class. Yet, I don’t always apply it in other contexts. Like the time I designed for my wife and me a wonderful week-long jaunt up the California coast, from Los Angeles to San Francisco. I’d spent a great deal of time on research and booking B&Bs, remote cabins, and cliff side hotels. Alas, when we got to our first stop, San Luis Obispo, the car broke down. It was on a Saturday evening. The closest car repair shop couldn’t get the required part until Monday and our car wouldn’t be fixed until Tuesday.
I was upset and frustr
In my previous blog, Greg Dean Comedy Tips 9: Assumptions and Joke Writing - Part 2, I explained how understanding assumptions lead to uncovering more joke mechanisms. In this blog, Greg Dean Comedy Tips 9: Assumptions and Joke Writing - Part 3, I’ll discuss the mechanism between the target assumption and reinterpretation, and how this lead to creating my original joke writing system The Joke Prospector.
Greg Dean Comedy Tips 10:
Assumptions and Joke Writing - Part 3
After a year of teaching joke structure wi
In my previous blog, Greg Dean Comedy Tips 8: Assumptions and Joke Writing - Part 1, I showed the process I went through to understand the assumption’s role in joke structure. In this blog, Greg Dean Comedy Tips 9: Assumptions and Joke Writing - Part 2, I’ll explain how assumptions lead to uncovering corresponding joke mechanism in the punch.
Greg Dean Comedy Tips 9:
In my previous blog, Greg Dean Comedy Tips 7: Understanding Joke Misdirection - Part 3, I examined how misdirection works with Existing Information Jokes in the Immediate Environment. In this blog, Greg Dean Comedy Tips 8: Assumptions and Joke Writing - Part 1, I’ll demonstrate the role of assumptions in all jokes.
Greg Dean Comedy Tips 8:
Assumptions and Joke Writing - Part 1
When I became a stand-up comedy teacher in 1982, I had a c
In my previous blog, Greg Dean Comedy Tip 6: Understanding Joke Misdirection – Part 2, I explained the role of misdirection in Common Knowledge Jokes. In this blog, Greg Dean Comedy Tip 7: Understanding Joke Misdirection – Part 3, I’ll examine how misdirection works with Existing Information Jokes in the Immediate Environment.
Greg Dean Comedy Tip 7:
In my previous blog, Greg Dean Comedy Tip 5: Joke Misdirection - Part 1, I explained the role of misdirection in jokes. In this blog, Greg Dean Comedy Tip 6: Joke Misdirection – Part 2, I’ll examine how misdirection works with Existing Information jokes from Common Knowledge.
Greg Dean Comedy Tip 6:
Understanding Misdirection – Part 2