Saturday, during the late New York show for the Comedians of Comedy, the arguably funniest line came from the audience. And with a bill featuring David Cross, Brian Posehn and Eugene Mirman, that’s saying something. It requires a bit of set-up, but it’s a great story and a good lesson for those who think they have something to say. Here’s how it happened.
- First, during Patton Oswalt‘s initial set he confessed a desire to defend Bill O’Reilly during the controversy about his surprise that a visit to Harlem’s Sylvia restaurant was a civilized experience. Why? Because it was obvious the Bill O’Reilly is retarded.
- Later, Maria Bamford performed, showing the range of her voice to skewer everyone from her Mother to a rest of the planet, with a surprising tour of dialects. As she was going into her closing bit, about going to comedy clubs and “working on an act that could appeal to everybody”, a man from the audience yelled, “Keep working!” The Bammer got past the rude interruption quite nicely, going into the bit which satirized the barren relationship comedy from some female stand-ups.
- Patton came to the stage immediately after. From my angle, it looked like he may have jumped in just to get a chance to slam the heckler. Patton started laying into the douchebag. The douchebag gave his best defense of his outburst that he could possibly manage: “she sucks!” It continued like that for a moment, until another audience member yelled “Patton! Lay off him! He’s obviously retarded!” A brilliant callback that pleases Patton so much, he collapses prone on the stage. He describes his experience at that moment akin to Jesus rubbing his belly.
So what have we learned? Don’t heckle. Instead, contribute.
Best way to do that: laughter. But if you must say something, look for your shot, play with what’s come before and build on it, not tear it down.