Created By: KJMackley on January 7, 2013 Last Edited By: Arivne on April 12, 2013

The Heckler

the one in the audience looking for attention

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The Heckler is someone who interrupts some type of performance or activity with their own commentary, disrupting the way it was originally intended to go. Usually it is intentional, a way to get attention and possibly discredit whatever they are heckling.

If done right, it can turn into a successful "The Reason You Suck" Speech that gets the audience on your side. If done poorly, you end up looking like an idiot who ran into the wall. This character is a good way to involve conflict, as their very nature is about disrupting the intended activity they were involved with. Thus they may either be used to help poke holes in the bad guys claims or are put into place so the heroes can knock down their claims.

Naturally Truth in Television. It should be noted that 90 percent of the time when someone gets the courage to heckle it does not end well for them. The reason being is that often they make their move on private property where they can be asked to leave for disruptive conduct. At other times they are trying to heckle someone who has the microphone, thus few people can hear their comments but everyone can hear the responses. It is part of the business with stand-up comics and are usually prepared for it, incidents like with Michael Richards are really fairly rare.

Compare Off the Rails, Insult Comic and MSTing.


  • In the climax of Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, Terry was struggling to fend off The Joker and asked Bruce for advice, being told about Joker's vanity and to ignore it. Terry opted for the complete opposite, becoming a heckler to mock the various tricks Joker used and calling him pathetic for fixating on the original Batman for so long.
  • The Eddie Murphy remake of The Nutty Professor had his character have to deal with the same Insult Comic (played by Dave Chappelle) twice. The first time the comic went on a "You so fat" monologue that he was too shy and mild-mannered to fight back. Following his transformation he encountered the same comic and proceeded to heckle him, having such outlandish energy nobody could keep up. After the comic used a "Your momma so fat" joke, he responded by exhausting all possible fat jokes to the point the comic was about to cry.

Live-Action TV
  • Famously made into an entire series through Mystery Science Theater 3000. The show was staged as though the audience member at home was watching a bad movie in a theater, with the characters silhouetted in the bottom corner cracking jokes at the expense of the movie's poor writing, acting or production values.
  • In an episode of Home Improvement Randy wrote an article in the school paper based on the poor pollution record of Tool Time's sponsor and Tim's employer Binford Tools. It was a rather damning article that eventually got the Tool Time audience riled up during a Q&A session because of one insistent person. One particularly funny response was one person complaining about "all that smoke coming out of that stack" and Tim and Al glance at each other before exclaiming together "It's a smoke stack!"

Western Animation
  • In the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Feat of Clay" Roland Daggett was promoting a new miracle facial cream that can turn your face into putty on an infomercial show. During the Q&A a woman from the audience went on a long rant about its rumored addictive qualities and became violent over it, eventually revealing herself to be Clayface.

Community Feedback Replies: 15
  • January 7, 2013
    • Bart, and often Homer act as such in The Simpsons, usually for petty attention seeking reasons or one of their rivals being in the spotlight (in "Bart Star" Flanders became coach of Bart's football team, leading Homer to chastise him relentlessly during each game, until Flanders finally snapped and made him coach instead).
    • Done by Peter in an episode of Family Guy after he gets completely drunk during a comedy show. Similar to the above, the comedian finally loses patience and goads him to give it a shot himself, with the expected results.
  • January 7, 2013
    • On the Classic Disney Short "Magician Mickey", Mickey Mouse is a Stage Magician being heckled by Donald Duck. Mickey responds by making Donald part of the act and performing humiliating magic tricks on him.
    • In one episode of Seinfeld, one of Elaine's friends goes to see Jerry's act and starts heckling him for no reason. Jerry gets even by going to where she works to heckle her back.
    • Statler And Waldorf from The Muppet Show. Their whole schtick is to make fun of how bad the show is, and it is implied that it's the only reason they go to the show at all. Usually they keep their comments to themselves, except when Fozzie takes the stage; their insults get more laughs from the audience than Fozzie's jokes.
  • January 7, 2013
    comedian Billy Connolly went to town on a heckler at one of his recorded gigs. His comeback was "I'm the man up here with the microphone, Jimmy. You are the one that's got to shout yourself hoarse. Nae contest. In fact, the only reason why I'm talkin' to ye now is so as the bouncers can get a fix on ye. You've only got one line left before you're oot on your arse, so you'd best make it a guid one!"
  • January 7, 2013
    I know I've seen this on ykttw before, but I'm not finding it anywhere.

    • WKRP In Cincinnati: During an Imagine Spot Venus becomes a famous tv comedian a la Johnny Carson and gets heckled in his opening monologue. He realizes partway through that it's Johnny Fever, his fellow DJ, who is heckling him.
    • Andy Kaufman did a bit where he got heckled for repeating material, including the heckler informing the audience that he was a plant and the whole thing was scripted, including the part where the heckler tells the audience that he's a plant and it's scripted.
  • January 7, 2013
    • A hilarious scene in The Simpsons shows Reiner Wolfcastle doing stand-up comedy. Hecklers were killed off with various ordnance.
  • January 7, 2013
    • In the My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic episode "Boast Busters", Applejack, Spike Rarity and Rainbow Dash all heckle The Great and Powerful Trixie's act (or at least complain about it loudly in audible distance), believing her to be an egomaniac. She retaliates by daring them to better her in feats, of which she humiliates them all one by one.
  • January 8, 2013
    • In an episode of Welcome Back Kotter Mr. Kotter goes to an Open Mic night at a club to try his hand at standup comedy. He gets heckled and loses his nerve, until he starts talking about his students.
    • In the film Mr Satuday Night young Buddy Young goes on the vaudeville stage and gets heckled, almost chickening out until he starts heckling back. This becomes his stage persona. He and his brother were supposed to go on as a team, but his brother did checken out before even getting on stage and ends up becoming his manager.
  • January 8, 2013
    • The end of Lenny Henry's graphic novel Lenny Henry and the Quest for the Big Woof portrays comedy as a warzone, with "incoming fire" of "Who writes your jokes? Noah?" and Lenny returning fire with a lobbed grenade and "Sit back in your chair, pal -- We'll plug it in!"
  • January 8, 2013
    • Subverted on an episode of Bones, where a repeat heckler who seems like he might have been stalking a murdered comedian turns out to have been part of the act.
  • January 12, 2013
    In the audio recording of Christopher Titus' special "Neverlution" he went on to talk about America's obsession with medication for everything and in response to his comment "We all have highs and lows" an audience member called out "This show is a low." Titus' comeback was "Wow, you must have a lot of stock in (specific drug, audio is unclear)." His subsequent mockery of the guy for trying to heckle him was met with rapt applause.
  • January 17, 2013
    In Happy Gilmore "Shooter" McGavin hired one of his rabid fans to heckle Happy while he golfs, knowing Happy did not have the discipline to ignore him. This leads into the most beloved scene of the movie where instead of taking his anger out on the heckler, Happy ends up in a fight with his golfing partner Bob Barker.
  • January 19, 2013
    During a live stage performance in New York, an over-excited Monty Python fan let a firework off in the theatre. This ruined Eric Idle and Graham Chapman's delivery of lines until the smoke and noise and audience alarm faded away.As burly security guards hustled the hapless amateur pyrotechnician up the asile and out of the theatre, Graham Chapman reminded everyone that they were doing the Argument sketch by going into the bit where you walk into the office and the man behind the desk starts abusing you. "Snotty-faced heap of parrot droppings!" was the least of it, as an angry Chapman really went to town with some of the most fulsomely obscene insults ever heard, even in New York.

    On another New York performance, the Pythons were in the middle of the Bruces sketch when an eighteen-inch long sex aid was thrown onto the stage. John Cleese picked it up, examined it from every angle, and said in an Australian accent:

    What the bloody hell's this, Bruce?

    To which Michael Palin (Bruce) ad-libbed

    I think from the look of it, it's one of those tiny American penises, Bruce!

    You could be right, Bruce. Blooody small, isn't it?
  • April 12, 2013
    I added a fifth and final hat. Someone who isn't new, can you make this a big-boy page?
  • April 12, 2013
    Namespaced and italicized the work names in the examples, added media type classifications, etc.
  • April 12, 2013
    I'll give it another day and then launch it.