The Heckler

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.

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 guy's 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. Overlaps with I Shall Taunt You if the intention is to provoke the target into doing something stupid. Not related to the firearms company Heckler&Koch.


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    Comic Books 
  • 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!"
  • Shadow of the Bat #38, Tears of a Clown, The Joker celebrates his anniversary of the day he was a still sane, but hapless comedian, and was thrown out of an exclusive Stand-Up Comedy club for an unfunny act the patrons mercilessly heckled. Being desperately poor, this marks his Start of Darkness as he agreed to provide to his family by pulling a job for the Red Hood gang. So The Joker kidnaps all the patrons and reenacts his act with control collars that will kill them when they laugh. The funny thing is that the patrons are really hardcore Stand-Up Comedy fans, so they have seen (and heckled) so many acts that nobody remembers the act of a bad comedian. Given The Joker has a Multiple-Choice Past, he cannot even be sure that this Start of Darkness really happened.
    They throw me out, and I had a wife and an unborn child… or it was two cows and a goat? Sometimes it's so confusing…

    Fan Works 

  • 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.
  • 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 chicken out before even getting on stage and ends up becoming his manager.
  • 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.
  • When Steve Madden steps up to the microphone at Stratton Oakmont during The Wolf of Wall Street and holds up the latest model of his shoes, one of the female brokers calls out "They're fat girl's shoes!"
  • A Night at the Opera: Driftwood heckles the opera shamelessly while Tomasso and Fiorello are disrupting it in the pit and on stage. Boogie boogie boogie!

  • Great Expectations: After Mr. Wopsle moves to London to pursue his dream of professional acting, Pip and Herbert go to see him as the title character in a terrible production of Hamlet. The rest of the audience — particularly "a sulky man" in the front row of the gallery — heckles the players mercilessly, to Pip's embarrassment.
    On his taking the recorders, — very like a little black flute that had just been played in the orchestra and handed out at the door, — he was called upon unanimously for Rule Britannia. When he recommended the player not to saw the air thus, the sulky man said, "And don't you do it, neither; you're a deal worse than him!"

    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!"
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Bo' Selecta!: When Richard begins to describe his difficulties with the Bear. The Bear seizes a perfect opportunity.
    Richard: My name’s Richard —
    Bear: —and I’m gay.
    Richard: I recently —
    Bear: —found out I’m gay.
    Richard: Anything I say or do, he thinks I’m a —
    Bear: — That he’s a bender.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • A problem faced by politicians in more than one instance in Bloom County.

    Stand-up Comedy 
  • 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.
  • 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!"
  • 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 Pfizer." His subsequent mockery of the guy for trying to heckle him was met with rapt applause.
    "I love when somebody nuts up and thinks they're gonna heckle me. I do this for a living, motherfucker!"
  • During a Monty Python performance in New York, a fan let a firework off in the theatre. This ruined the act until the security guards hustled the pyrotechnician 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?
    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?
  • Bill Burr is famous for his swift and brutal responses to hecklers. After an audience booed every other comedian offstage and pissed him off something fierce, one set in Philadelphia consisted of nothing but Burr tearing the crowd a new asshole for his entire eleven-minute set, even counting down each minute to let them know he wasn't leaving 'til he was done. By about the halfway mark, most of crowd had started cheering him on.
  • Bobcat Goldthwait tends to attract a lot of (usually drunk) hecklers. Including this gem.
  • David Cross also tends to attract drunk hecklers, for some reason.
  • Michael Richard (of Seinfeld fame) became embroiled in a major scandal when his response to a heckler veered off into hardcore racist territory.

    Visual Novel 
  • Steins;Gate: Okabe attends Dr. Nakabachi's and Kurisu's speeches at the beginning of the story and upon hearing something he doesn't like instantly begins heckling them. The difference between the two is obvious: His objections to the former are completely valid and is nearly escorted out before Kurisu pulls him aside, and the latter knows exactly what she's talking about, stops someone from removing him and turns it back around on him to make him look like a complete fool.

    Web Animation 
  • In Ultra Fast Pony, every time Mayor Mare gives a speech, a voice in the crowd shouts insults at her. When she tries to call the heckler out, he goes quiet and blends into the crowd.

    Western Animation 
  • 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 love to talk, 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.
    Joker: Funny guy...
    Batman: Can't say the same for you. [shoves the Joker so that his gut hits a table]
    Joker: Impudent brat. Who do you think you're talking to?
    Batman: Not a comedian, I'll tell you that.
    Joker: [draws a laser pistol] Shut your mouth!
    [Few lines later, Batman is hiding in the shadows]
    Batman: I mean, joy buzzers, squirting flowers? Lame! Where's the "A" material? Make a face, drop your pants, something!
    Joker: Show yourself!
    Batman: You make me laugh. But only 'cause I think you're kinda pathetic. [mimics the Joker's laugh]
    Joker: Stop that!
    Batman: So you fell in a tank of acid, got your skin bleached and decided to become a supervillain. What, you couldn't get a job as a rodeo clown? [laughs mockingly]
    Joker: [grabs some grenades] Don't you dare laugh at me!...
    Batman: [laughs harder] Why? I thought the Joker always wanted to make Batman laugh!
    Joker: [throwing grenades] YOU'RE NOT BATMAN!!!
  • Batman: The Animated Series:
    • In the episode "Feat of Clay", Roland Daggett is 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 goes on a long rant about its rumored addictive qualities and becomes violent over it, eventually revealing herself to be Clayface.
    • In "Joker's Favor", Charlie Collins realizes the only way to truly inspire fear into the Joker is stealing his act by menacing Joker's only dream: his The Only One Allowed to Defeat You Final Battle with Batman.
  • 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).
    • Another Simpsons example shows Reiner Wolfcastle doing stand-up comedy. Hecklers were killed off with various ordnance.
    • In "Judge Me Tender", Moe heckles Krusty's lackluster judging stint at an ugly dog contest. Krusty responds by letting him be the judge, and Moe ends up being praised for his punchlines.
  • 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.
  • In 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.
    • The 1930 short Fiddling Around has a Running Gag of an offscreen heckler laughing at Mickey's violin performance. Finally, Mickey mocks the heckler's laughter, and he razzes him in response.
  • Drawn Together did this occasionally, with an off-screen man's voice answering rhetorical questions with a loud "YOU SUCK."
    • He also interjects in the episode where Toot says she knows what will fix her problems: "Yeah, ice cream, lardass!"
  • 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.
    • Applejack acts as a more playful variant in "Sleepless In Ponyville", pointing out the plot errors in Rainbow Dash's campfire story sentence by sentence.
    • "Make New Friends But Keep Discord" has Maud Pie doing this to Discord's Epic Fail of a stand up routine. To Discord's consternation, her deadpan wisecrack is the only thing getting the laughs.
  • Brickleberry: Woody becomes one at a rally for a female governor candidate. His behavior results in her approving a highway that runs straight through Brickleberry.
  • Metalocalypse: In one episode one causes Pickles to have a complete breakdown.
  • Thomas the Tank Engine: Diesel is usually to be found making fun of whatever the spotlighted engine is doing, often triggering their insecurities.

Statler: You know, it's a great honor to be included alongside the world's best hecklers.
Waldorf: Too bad we're stuck with the rest of them!
Both: Do-ho-ho-ho-hoh!