Laugh Out Loud
Stand-up star Chris Ramsey, 27, knows all about dealing with unwanted audience interaction. The star of BBC2’s smash-hit Geordie sitcom Hebburn tells us how he confronts hecklers and keeps smiling.
At a gig, you have to respond if someone shouts “You’re shit!” If you ignore heckles, you lose the respect of the crowd. Which is the worst thing for a comedian. Always think ahead. When someone heckles, I give a quick reaction and let the crowd laugh, and during that time my brain tries to get five steps ahead like a chess player. If the hecklers are a couple, I’m asking myself, “Right, what’s their relationship? Does one of them like the show more than the other? How can I play each of these things against each other?”
No matter how annoyed you are, you cannot let it show. Otherwise, you’re just having an argument with somebody on stage. If it looks like you’re getting upset, the crowd becomes really antsy. It’s like a game of Swingball against someone you know you’re better at Swingball than. So you hit it lightly and they hit back. Then you hit it lightly again and they hit back. And then you just wallop it and wallop it and wallop it until the ball goes round to the top and they have to leave your garden.
Never beg. The next worst thing to ignoring a heckler is pleading with them. I’ve seen guys start cowering away, saying “Come on guys, please be quiet.” No one wants to see that. Want to know how to laugh anything off? Tell as many people as you can immediately. Yesterday, I was pushing my bins up the drive and the lid blew up, smashing into the bridge of my nose. I thought I was going to cry. I could see there were people looking out of their windows at me. So I went in and told everyone about it on Twitter.