Act to Defend the
Posted 10-21-13, 3:45 pm, under a LinkedIn
discussion about the next stand-up act trashing the previous act on stage:
As you know, it is a cheap shot for a comic in the audience to heckle the guy
Cheap shots can feel like you have been hit below the belt.
Exception—if the guy on stage attacks a comic in the audience by name.
Then, all bets are off:
Don't be afraid to trash-talk a loud-mouthed, but now very defeated opponent.
In your example, I'd advise the comic being trashed by the next comic up to defend
Even if the initial attack takes him totally off guard, and he goofs up his
If you goof up your counter-attack,
you might end up taking one on the chin.
But you can always Monday-morning-quarterback your goof up,
and make plans so you can do much better next time.
Note: comics often do not take the time
required to properly prepare
their Act to Defend the Act.
This might be because you really only get a good heckle about once every 10 performances.
Therefore, prompting yourself to do this recommended homework before 24 hours
goes by is critical.
Because that encounter will still be fresh in your mind.
Keep after it, trying to come up with several good counter-punch jokes.
Because if a similar heckle comes at you from a different angle and in a different
it can prove very awkward trying to cram a square peg into a round hole.
Having several options will also create the illusion of brilliant improvisation.
Tip: only improvise in a Battle of Wits if what you come up with spontaneously
is much better than what you already have prepared.
But if it is a marginally better squelch, no: stick with what you already know
I agree with you that his defending counter-heckles should still be governed
by his stage persona:
Teasing bullies is allowed!
But this problem will come up time-and-again throughout his stand-up comedy career,
often without any warning.
As I said, this is the "Act to Defend the Act,"
and needs as much attention in its development as the act itself,
and the earlier he gets cracking at it,
the better in the long run:
If only comedy training was taken as seriously as that for the Sweet Science.
Same deal if the MC screws up your intro, and essential if he or she pronounces
your name incorrectly.
•Your name is your Brand, and must be defended:
Anyone not know this guy's name?
Therefore, write down all the ways that anyone has ever mispronounced your name,
•and have appropriate come-backs at the ready:
If you don't like the way the MC wrapped your introduction,
a good joke, like a good uppercut in boxing, can get their instant respect.
Yes: handing written introductions to:
•or Meeting Planners who want
to introduce you at a corporate event
is a very good idea.
If the introducer takes me aside and asks permission to introduce me in a different
way, I say,
"Sure. Only my entire series-of-opening-jokes completely depends on your
using this written introduction word-for-word.
If you decide not to use it,
I will have no choice but to make my opening jokes all about . . . you."
That usually scares them to death!
However, if the guy or gal doing the introduction is a real pro,
and seems to know what they are doing:
•in most circumstances, I'd let them give it a shot.
As "a lawyer who defends himself has a fool for a client,"
so a promoter who writes his own promotion is equally foolish.
Once a member of the California State Assembly introduced me his own way.
•Later on, I stole some of his best lines for my future written introductions:
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