Everyone’s a Critic

Last night Roger and I had the chance to watch Heckler, a sort of documentary on heckling. This is a subject that is close to my heart for many reasons: 1) I used to work in a comedy club, 2) I dislike heckling but I find the behavior interesting, and 3) I love studying human behavior and it is part of the reason I enjoy writing.

Moreover, the movie covered much more than just hecklers, it also delved into critics as a whole including but not limited to film critics and bloggers. Basically analyzing and slightly degrading individuals who have opinions and choose to broadcast them in one way or another. Interesting perspective, at times, that allowed me to be a bit introspective; hopefully without becoming hypocritical.

I have an opinion just as everyone else in this world. As a blogger and a writer, I chose to express my opinions through my website, tweets, verbally to friends, and in personal writings that may or may not become public one day. I am a critic. I view the world in a subjective manner. Rarely does any critic take an objective view.

I am not a heckler… the difference (which was surprisingly not discussed in the film) is in the means of the critique, not the motive. A heckler voices their opinions during the performance whether it be a stand-up performance, live TV show, theater, or sports, thereby interrupting or interfering with the performance at hand. The motive, which was covered in the film, can range from verbalizing personal opinion (“This sucks”) to attention seeking to the belief that they are actually helping the performance to downright hatred.

The heckler is usually drunk, but always acting inappropriately. The heckler in my mind is an uncontrolled critic who doesn’t know or doesn’t accept the role in which he or she is placed. The one on stage, with the mic, is the one with ultimate power. They are the ones getting paid; while the heckler usually paid to watch, yes, watch not participate. Those are the rules, written or not.

I also believe that it is up to the club/venue to help control this behavior, not the performer. However, the performer should have some capacity to stand up to the heckler, but ultimately the venue should be responsible for saying, “This is not acceptable.”

I truly enjoy my role as a critic, but I have also set some ground rules for myself:
1. I am not out to offend.
2. I attempt to look at the work, not the individual.
3. My opinion is my own.
4. I will never claim to represent others.

That being said, the movie, Heckler is worth a watch. A subplot of the film shows Jamie Kennedy as he takes on the world of hecklers and critics who have adverse opinions of his work. The interviews of stand ups, musicians, club owners, film creators and celebrities are provocative and fascinating. The live shots of performers on stage being heckled was stirring, particularly watching comic legend Bill Hicks oust a chatty woman from the club. Big fans of Lewis Black will appreciate his insight to critics and hecklers. Thank you Michael Addis at your attempt to show the world that heckling is not ok.

If you do watch this movie, you need to check out the deleted scenes, particularly the phone call to Bob Saget. I was dying… Great footage that didn’t make the film since it didn’t really fit, but hilarious none the less.

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