Monday, September 5, 2011

Napalm Justice!

Like most stories where I lose my temper, this one starts off with me behaving myself. I was about to perform at the second stage of the night, a monthly open-mic that normally focuses on unplugged musicians, but this time had decided to book a friend of mine, Olek Szewczyk, in a half-hour feature spot. A few of the other locals had decided to head down with him, why just have one comedian, when you can have four? I managed to bully myself into the choice third slot behind my friend, and waited to go on stage.

The first act was this young musician, a pretty girl with a short skirt and an entrancing voice. Our little sidekick Sam was immediately twitterpated, Olek appropriately said something inappropriate, and I cynically tried to calculate how long it would take for her dreams to get crushed*. Olek eventually took the stage and awkwardly made his way through the first 25 minutes of his set.

Awkward is his specialty

It was a loud room of drunks in an indie bar, but the front several tables were paying attention and I thought he was doing an excellent job. He had just cracked a joke about having only five minutes left and had started on his closing bit, explaining an awkward conversation he had with his mother over her love of a vampire television show. It's not a filthy bit, I've heard worse on network television, and he was only two minutes into it when I heard this voice pipe up from behind me.

"Time to go," it was an older woman middle aged from the sound of it, and I assumed she was talking to a loud, drunk person behind us when she repeated herself. And then again. And again. It was on the fifth or so repeat, and when she had moved to stand almost immediately behind me, when the audience and Olek all suddenly realized that she was talking to him.

"Time to go." She was trying to use her Mom voice on him. At first I smirked, my traditional face for mocking people, in expectation of Olek's reply. What I did not realize at the time was this was the first time he had ever dealt with this situation before. Normally the rooms we play in are more under our control, I had just chased out an entire table of drunks at the previous room a couple of hours earlier when my MC decided he should just ignore them (I walked up, took the microphone away from him, and announced loud and clear the traditional mantra of every MC, 'sit down, shut up, have fun')**. Olek handled it quite well, allowing her to fully make an ass of herself, culminating in her demanding everyone to raise their hands who wanted Olek to get off the stage. Nobody did, he said something sarcastic, and we all stared at her as she backed down and went back to sit at the bar. I barely stopped myself from telling her what a bitch she was, somehow forcing myself to mumble it so as not to disrupt the show.

It was at this point that the girl running the show asked me if a musical duo could go up real quick because their specific audience had to leave. Of course I agreed and I watched Olek rally and finish on a high note. We all applauded and Olek came down to sit next to me. While the musical act, I never caught their name, spent the next ten minutes getting ready, Olek and I got into a discussion about whether or not he should apologize to his heckler.

"Fuck her," I told him. "Selfish people like her, who feel so self-important that they think a bar full of people literally half their age are as easily offended as they are, and are then subsequently bitchy enough about it to stand up and yell at someone who is almost finished with their act, only thrive because people are passive-aggressive in how they treat them." He decided to go and talk to her anyway, like a damn rookie, while I considered more permanent solutions to hecklers in general.

Nothing gets your point across like immediate violence

On a normal night this is where it would have left off; I would quietly judge Olek for capitulating with terrorists, which is exactly what I told him he was doing, while I distracted myself with my surroundings and desperately tried to enjoy the "music" from the stage.

But it didn't go that way or I wouldn't be writing about it.

It turns out the heckler was the reason I got bumped, specifically because she couldn't be bothered to sit through anybody else, and she honestly expected the rest of us to bend before her will. And that's when my switch flipped. You see, I am the stereotypical redhead when it comes to short fuses; I have exactly 15% of the average persons patience, especially when I'm completely sober, and my life is a series of struggles against my own impulses to stab random offenders in the neck with nearby utensils and writing implements. In the 3rd grade I threw over my desk and chucked all of my books at the teacher, when I was eleven I hit a neighborhood kid in the face with a rock because I heard he was bullying one of my younger siblings. I've matured as I've grown, but that seething anger at pretty much everything sometimes still looks out at the world and wants to watch it burn, especially when I'm on stage, which is probably why I almost never get heckled myself, ever.

Give this man some rum and/or a gun. SOLUTIONS!

Needless to say I, as I sat there and watched the burnt-out middle aged half of the musical act ramble on about how 'everything is just a dream, man', in between bad cover songs that the unnecessarily attractive daughter of our heckler could never remember the lines to, I just kept getting more and more upset. By the time it was finally my turn to get a microphone, I had no less than three minutes of specific and accurate observations on her and why she should hurry up and die already.

And it felt good. It felt good in the way that it always feels good to be justifiably angry***. I locked eyes with my prey and I told the whole room how I felt about her. She was already in a hurry to leave, but after I dedicated my set to her and started telling the most offensive jokes at my disposal, she couldn't flee fast enough. I felt like an anti-body protecting the host from disease and it took my entire set to another level.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I have to admit that for a moment I almost checked myself. After the second sentence the girl running the show went up to the heckler and started to apologize but, immediately after, the sound guy stood up and started to applaud when I explained how disrespectful she was being and the entire audience agreed with me, so I barreled on. And here's the thing, I'd do it again. Not necessarily to defend another comedian, he's since sobered up and regretted his apology, but because selfish people like that need angry people like me to keep them in line. We all secretly want the douche bags of this world to get punched in face, some of us were just born to help that happen.

*- Considering how cheerful her voice was when I complimented her on the way out of the bar, I cut my estimate in half.

**- Yes, exactly 'like a boss'.

***- Justification sold separately, not valid in all 50 states, use with care.