Saturday, October 17, 2009

Heckler: A documentary by Jamie Kennedy. About hecklers.

Comedians are more sensitive that you might imagine

I went to see Lewis Black. He performed at the Hult Center in Eugene, Oregon. A huge crowd was there.

There was an opening act--another comedian. I don't remember his name. Sorry. But his main job seemed to be to draw out the hecklers and smack them down so Lewis Black wouldn't have to do it himself.

These were nice hecklers. They weren't shouting abuse. They were greeting him----they were just so happy to be there. He said it was nice to be in Eugene, and they yelled "GO DUCKS!" Then someone explained why they shouted "Go Ducks".

He did smack them down. Their jokes were bad. Their name wasn't on the marquis. People didn't come to hear them. He climbed down and sat in the audience and yelled something to show that heckling was bad.


Lewis Black came out. He was on stage for about 30 seconds when someone in back yelled as loud as he could, "YOU SUCK, BLACK! YOU'RE A DEGENERATE!"

I didn't make out what else he said. My impression was that it was politically motivated.

Lewis Black waited with a look of disgust on his face. Security hustled the idiot out.

So. Someone paid at least $24 to get in, just to yell briefly at Lewis Black and get thrown out. Maybe he thought they'd let him stay. Like it was a town hall meeting. I assumed the guy was very proud of himself and would rush home to brag about it on the internet. But when I searched Google, I found nothing about it.

But I did stumble upon something else. The movie Heckler, a documentary by someone called Jamie Kennedy. I got it from Netflix. It was interesting.

It started out with hecklers in comedy clubs. Some trying to be funny. Some trying to be mean. How comedians cut them down and shut them up.

"You're bald!" a woman shouted at a bald comedian.

"You have a bull dyke hair cut. I didn't say anything about that."

The documentary quickly moved on to talk about movie critics, especially those on the internet. Lewis Black referred to them as "Mr Fatty Fuck sitting in his basement".

Some critics did, indeed, say terribly unkind things about Jamie Kennedy.

Kennedy interviewed a few of them. He seemed hurt and sullen. Sulked his way through the interviews. The critics seemed to enjoy the attention.

One critic didn't understand what the problem was. His review had called for Kennedy to be "stopped". Another was completely obnoxious.

Now, here's the thing. I never heard of Jamie Kennedy. Watching this movie, I got the idea that he was a struggling comedian. That he was doing okay at stand-up and had managed to get some movie roles, but he was struggling against all odds. I imagined him and his friends setting out with little more than a camcorder to make this documentary.

When Kennedy talked to the critics and hecklers, he would say, "Don't you want me to improve?" Couldn't they give him constructive criticism? It made it sound like he was a beginner who needed advice from hecklers.

Then I look at Kennedy has a long list of producer and acting credits.

The thing about comedians is that they always talk very tough. I guess it comes from dealing with hecklers. They're foul-mouthed and verbally aggressive. But Carrot Top is the only one with the muscle to back it up.

The real shocker from this documentary is that wealthy celebrities actually read blogs.

In defense of hecklers, sort of

Look at Borat. Sacha Baron Cohen. Or Baron Sacha Cohen. Whatever his name is.

Much was made of a scene in Borat where he gets on stage in some place and sings an anti-Semitic song he claims comes from Kazakhstan. Something about throwing Jews down a well. Cohen claimed he had thus exposed the audience's shocking anti-Semitism.

Now, Cohen had gone into this place with a camera crew. In the unlikely event that anyone there was actually fooled into thinking he really was from Kazakhstan, they made everyone sign a release form which spelled out the fact that he wasn't. They knew they were in a movie, they knew it was a joke, and when he started in with the Jewish stuff, it was obvious that Cohen was himself Jewish. So they were polite and played along. And to thank them, Cohen smeared them all as anti-Semites because they didn't shout him down.

And in defense of the critics

Now it turns out that not even Jamie Kennedy could stand Son of the Mask. That's the movie critics attacked him for. He admitted it was no good. It won the Golden Raspberry Award for worst sequel or remake. It cost $84 million and grossed $17 million domestically. By all accounts, it was a terrible movie and, by all accounts, Jamie Kennedy did a lousy job starring in it.

Okay, the movie was on TV, I saw part of it. Jamie Kennedy was horrible! Absolutely terrible! He SHOULD be stopped! He was absolutely the worst actor I've ever seen. Ever. No one could possibly see this movie and conclude that Jamie Kennedy is anything but the worst actor in the world. Bad beyond the bounds of credibility.

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