Everyone who has ever gotten on stage to do stand-up needs to watch Jamie Kennedy's movie, Heckler. Why? It says so much about what it means to be a comedian, and what it means to read another person's words.
You may have noted- I don't bash people as a rule. I've been heckled three times in a 24 year career. That's either saying that my audience just falls asleep when I bore them, or that I am too busy ignoring people- when actually, they're a lot f my act. I adore playing with people- and although I'm not as swift as Jimmy Brogan, I tend to make the audience my pal... or I just go away, head held low, knowing I didn't accomplish the goal of making people happy. Life goes on...
I've had great sets, and I've had full months of bad sets. I mean last year, when I was prepping for Comed-o-Therapy, I asked pal Bill Word if I could play his room to test out new stuff. The good part is that I got to work out a lot of material. The bad part is that the room is full of comedians, and want-to-be comedians, and they sat at the FAR WALL of the room..leaving a vast empty pool of seats which made my type of comedy very difficult to do. For the first time in my comedy career, I spent days bombing. Days. I mean nights. I even had a crappy night with my pal Martin Moreno at his room- where seven people, ready to hear about my vagina, were regailed with gimpy stuff they weren't sober enough to get- I didn't read them right, and I did miserably. Two weeks later, when Richard Villa had me in the bullet position, (first up), I did pretty well at the Improv, and felt a lot better... not quite as defeated.... and had some great laughs, too.
Flash forward to this year, and I'm doing a few rooms in Los Angeles, and Vegas. Fortunately, I'm not hearing crickets, and things are flowing. I had one not-so-perfect, but great times at Friday Night show with David Corrado, Grace Fraga, and Dana Snow. But, I saw Jamie's movie at the store- and thought- yes, I would very much like to see this, especially with a mix of Hutchens, Emery, and Maria Bamford. I think every comic should see Lenny Bruce, The Aristocrats, and Heckler. Maybe you can see that movie with Tom Hanks and Sally Field, because George Wallace in the hospital scene is worth the rental- but the first three listed, see.
When you go on stage in a college in Ohio, and there are fifty-one football and baseball players expecting you to do sports jokes, and you were told it was a benefit for the alumni association- but you're getting paid- it's sort of like living the movie, Heckler. It's a lot of people staring up at you- "Who's the CHICK?", then figuring out you're okay when you mention Larry Bird, and suddenly you can do your own material again. When you sit and write a three hour monologue for ten minutes of usable material- it's exactly why you do comedy- and it's why you're glad you do it.
Jamie Masada is one of the funniest part of the extras. He's seen EVERYONE, (me included), and knows ALL of the come-backs to people who mouth off to a comic. His brother was still alive and booking the Laugh Factory when I was there- but watching him brought me right back to the days when I would sit by a waitress wondering if I could go up that night- and hearing Jamie in the background saying, "I don't know if you can be regular yet." If that doesn't make you regular, nothing will.
I never have met Jamie Kennedy, that I remember. I met most of the people in this little flick. I met them when we were on rosters together, or when we were in lines waiting to be called for Open Mic's at the Store back in the 80's, or at the Santa Monica Improv, (rip), waiting to hear Lonow tell us one more time, "I'm not sure yet." People like Slayton were up there, doing amazing things, and Carrie Snow, and Taylor Negron, and my personal comedy god, Charles Fleischer- blowing people off the planet with just how fast and funny each is.
Everyone who spoke truly gets the point of being on stage. They get what it's like to be destroyed by someone's comments. It's a standard rule with me, words aren't to be wasted, and they are to be cherished. If you start your conversation with what you hate in the world, or whom, then you are just saying, "I don't like my life too much and I want you to be miserable too."
The guys shown to be critics are just so boring to me. They should be to anyone who loves comedy. Critics of comedy are generally people who never got picked by Masada, Mitzi, or Lonow to do stage time. They're generally people who couldn't get hired by the local A.M. radio station, started a podcast, and used enough naughty words to get noticed by the keywords on google. Basically, they're just people who didn't get to be the bully, or class clown, so use words to be both. Just sad. Sad. Sad. Sad.
Loved Heckler also because it was a great way to see Emery editing again. He's a great human, and a super pal, and just all out talented. I hope he gets a lot more work...he's got a great eye. That's all - and if you need no other reason, watch for Jen Kober. She's amazing.