heckler defense [Was: long walk]

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Mon May 17 17:01:00 UTC 2010

One of the hits for "long walk on a short pier" might be worth mining
further (doubtless a syndicated piece).


The Milwaukee Journal - Dec 20, 1948
How to Outwit Heckler (Who's Also a Spender) Without Insulting Him. By
Erskine Johnson. p. 3/5-6 [Journal Final] [GNA p. 43 of 46]

Hollywood, Calif.--Night club heckling is having a postwar comeback.
Hecklers who try to break up an act no longer are catapulted into
gutters by bouncers, as they were during the wild spending war years.
Today's bouncers are busy throwing people into night clubs--and once
again the heckler, if he's also a spender, is welcome.
So the class will please come to order for today's lessons: "Hecklers
and How to Bury 'Em." Our professor: Phil Foster, night club comedian
for the last 15 years.
But before Phil tells how he murders you hecklers, here's the way he
classified America's night club audiences:
Eastern: Vicious. Midwestern and West: Playful. Southern: A plain fight.

Murder in the South
"Southern night club audiences," he told me, "are murder. They're the
worst hecklers in America. It's a fight all through the act and
sometimes a fist fight after the act."
Now let's start the lesson, professor.
A heckler is trying to break up your act with verbal insults. What happens?
"We don't try to bury him immediately." Phil said. "We let the audience
get mad first." By the time the guy is shouting, we have the audience in
sympathy and then we bury him."
"But how do we bury him?"

This Will Kill Him
"In several ways," Phil said. "With such lines as:
" 'I've only got five minutes to make a fool of myself. But you've got
all night.
" 'I'd like to introduce a very famous entertainer. You've heard and
seen him many times--tonight. You all know how a lot of people started
in show business. But I'm wondering how this guy started out to be an
" 'Waiter, please bring this man a glass of laryngitis. This room isn't
intimate--it's fresh.
" 'You're not only ugly, but you've got a personality to match. He came
in with an empty stomach and it worked up to his head. Why don't you
take a long walk on a short pier? Why don't you stick you head out the
window--feet first?'' "

Cantor's Classic
But these, Phil said, are stock lines. There are occasions that call for
a much finer, more artistic and more subtle technique.
Like the time when Eddie Cantor was starting out and somebody threw a
penny on the stage. Cantor's classic was:
"Only one kind of animal throws a scent."
And comic Henny Youngman's reply to a noisy heckler:
"I don't know what I'd do without you but I'd rather."
The worst type of heckler, Phil said, is a vicious female. "Nine times
out of ten," he said, "you have to become vulgar to compete with her."
The easiest heckler to bury, he said, is a loud drunk. "I can always
quiet him down by buying him a drink. Then I make him buy me a drink and
that usually sobers him up."

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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