I don't get many hecklers now but answering them is an art form in itself.

PAUL DANIELS

Heckling

Heckling Origins


The origin of the term ‘heckler’ lies in the textile industry where it referred to the workers tasked with smoothing out flax or hemp fibres using a heckle comb. By the early 19th century Dundee’s hecklers had gained a reputation as the most belligerent element in the textiles workforce. One local employer noted that they effectively controlled the trade dictating wages, conditions and bonuses, the latter most commonly taking the form of drink. The heckling shop was known as an arena of ‘violent harangue and ferocious debate’, and the unlucky heckler assigned to read the daily news to the others would do well to complete the task without interruption. It seems that it was from here that the term came to apply to the already established Scottish practice of publicly questioning parliamentary candidates.
 
A good heckle can stop a performer in their tracks, though a good response can enhance their reputation.
 
 

Heckling in Cricket


  • During a 1991 Adelaide Test, batsman Javed Miandad called bowler Merv Hughes, ‘a fat bus conducter’. A few balls later, Merv bowled Javed out and celebrated by running across the field shouting, ‘Tickets please’.
  • When Raman Subba Row allowed the ball to slip through his legs, he apologised to bowler Fred Trueman by saying, ‘I should’ve kept my legs together, Fred’. ‘So should your mother’ he replied.
  • Australian Rod Marsh taunted Ian Botham as he took guard in an Ashes match with the words, ‘So how’s your wife and my kids?’
  • In a county game against Glamorgan, Greg Thomas attempted to sledge Viv Richards after he had played and missed at several balls in a row, telling Richards: ‘It's red, round and weighs about five ounces, in case you were wondering.’ Richards hammered the next delivery out of the ground and into a nearby river. Turning to the bowler, he commented: ‘Greg, you know what it looks like, now go and find it.’
MERV HUGHES (to England cricketer Graeme Hick)

Mate, if you just turn the bat over, you'll find the instructions on the other side.

Heckle Retorts


  • Jo Brand was once greeted on stage with a cry of, ‘Don’t get your tits out!’
  • Frank Skinner was heckled by a blind man who shouted, ‘Get off, you bastard!’ followed by, ‘Has he gone yet?’
  • Kirk Douglas’ late son Eric had an ill-fated stand-up career. He once lost it on stage and took to shouting, ‘I’m Kirk Douglas’ son’ in response to the audience’s heckles. One audience member stood up and said, ‘No, I’m Kirk Douglas’ son’, followed by another and another . . .
Political Heckles:
Political Heckles:
  • Harold Wilson silenced a racist heckler who demanded to know why Wilson supported ‘savages’ in Rhodesia, with the retort, ‘My friend, we don’t support savages, we just allow them to come to our meetings.’
  • Harold Wilson responded to having eggs thrown at him by saying that at least people, ‘can afford eggs to throw under Labour.’
  • 18th century politician John Wilkes was heckled by a man who cried, ‘Vote for you? I’d sooner vote for the Devil’. Wilkes replied with, ‘And what if your friend is not standing?’
Political Heckles:
  • Harold Wilson silenced a racist heckler who demanded to know why Wilson supported ‘savages’ in Rhodesia, with the retort, ‘My friend, we don’t support savages, we just allow them to come to our meetings.’
  • Harold Wilson responded to having eggs thrown at him by saying that at least people, ‘can afford eggs to throw under Labour.’
  • 18th century politician John Wilkes was heckled by a man who cried, ‘Vote for you? I’d sooner vote for the Devil’. Wilkes replied with, ‘And what if your friend is not standing?’
  • Harold Wilson silenced a racist heckler who demanded to know why Wilson supported ‘savages’ in Rhodesia, with the retort, ‘My friend, we don’t support savages, we just allow them to come to our meetings.’
  • Harold Wilson responded to having eggs thrown at him by saying that at least people, ‘can afford eggs to throw under Labour.’
  • 18th century politician John Wilkes was heckled by a man who cried, ‘Vote for you? I’d sooner vote for the Devil’. Wilkes replied with, ‘And what if your friend is not standing?’
Political Heckles:

 

Heckling at the Theatre


There is a long tradition of booing new productions in opera, as the audiences tend to be more conservative in their tastes than the directors. 18th and 19th century playwrights often employed the seemingly foolproof tactic of filling their audiences with supporters and sycophants to ward off hecklers. Charles Lamb did this for the first night of his 1806 Drury Lane production of ‘Mr H’ but then went against convention by leading the booing within minutes of the curtain going up.

ALBEN W. BARKLEY (1877-1956)

The best audience is intelligent, well-educated and a little drunk.

Kentish Fire is a kind of applause specifically meant to drown out a speaker whom the audience dislike.

A 'gallithumpian' was a heckler or troublemaker at parliamentary elections in the late 18th century.

Heckle is the proper word for a shiny long feather found on the neck of a cockrel.
 

Jack Benny rejected a girl on a double-date. She and her friends heckled Jack throughout a gig the next night. The girl later became his wife.

The comedian Bob Monkhouse, once waded into a cabaret audience and punched a heckler instead of retorting.

Dundee hecklers were textile workers who combed fibres out of flax with heckling combs to make linen.

In Homer’s Iliad, the soldier Thersites heckled Agamemnon complaining that the Trojan war was about plunder instead of honour. Odysseus clubbed him unconscious.

Andrew Meyer, a 21-year-old student at the Florida University, heckled John Kerry, the former presidential candidate and was tasered by police. officers.