“3 STICKS OF BUTTER?!?! IT’S GONNA BE A BIG CAKE!!”
The examples given above are what could be considered a “good” heckle. Heckling has evolved in our culture and formed its own meaning. The act of heckling is a form of comradery and is dominantly fed by skill. There are many forms of heckling; this article will address what heckling is and is not, how to give a rebuttal, heckling in our culture, and heckling in a professional setting.
Let’s start off with heckling in a professional environment. I have been on both sides of the fence, both flow community and professional. Most of the time the heckler at a show wants attention. They have the “look at me, look at me! Daddy didn’t hug me enough!!! Look at me!!!” mentality. A technique I have found to combat this is, if they want the show, give it to them. Recently, I was doing a pirate gig, and some drunkard came right beside the stage while pelvic thrusting and wooting and hollering blatantly trying to be the “cool guy”. I put both fans in my hand, stopped, and pointed to him and yelled to the audience “EVERYONE LOOK AT THIS GUY! ISNT HE COOL?!??! I MEAN SERIOUSLY WOW YOU’RE SO TALENTED, PLEASE DON’T STOP, I’LL WAIT UNTIL YOU’RE DONE”. When you give the stage to the heckler, you destroy the heckler. The heckler only exists out of their own fear to take the stage themselves. Most of the time, the heckler will leave with his tail tucked between his snockered ass. The audience is on your side, they will all give him dirty looks, and you just destroyed the heckler.
Heckling done right in the flow community is a different entity altogether. To be heckled is a show of friendship and actually a compliment because you don’t heckle someone who is new, you heckle skilled spinners or those closest to you. I have many memories of my friends and I sitting at the edge of the burn circle, taking turns spinning for each other and heckling each other. It’s almost a game, try to break your friend’s concentration and get a laugh out of them. It’s a new way of going “woooohoooo! you’re so good, wow you’re amazing!” What are we, overly-excited soccer moms?
For those of you who are not used to heckling, or don’t quite understand it, I have a rough translation of things you might hear:
“Do it again, with about 60% percent less shit”
– This means your skills are impeccable, mind-blowing even, and I know if you try that toss again, you will adequately catch it this time.
“Where’s your 3rd poi?”
– You are such a ground-breaking and innovative spinner, everything you do I want more of THAT.
“Take off your pants! Do a backbend buzz-saw!”
– A bit of an outdated heckle. Put more thought in it & try again.
Sometimes you come across people who genuinely do not like heckling, and that’s fine, we as a community should respect that. If you are one of those people, MAKE IT KNOWN. Don’t shrug it off, then bitch about it for hours on end. You have a few options. You can completely ignore it, hecklers need to be fed- if you feed them, they’ll want more (kind of like a wook version of “If you give a mouse a cookie.”). You can let them know with a glare of death, or just say “Hey, I don’t appreciate the heckles guys”. Most of the time if they’re not a prick they will stop. My favorite thing to do is respond with an even better rebuttal heckle. Break the 4th wall! You got the fire, you make the rules. The attention is on you, so own it.
To give a rebuttal properly, first you must identify your heckler, what their quirks are, & what stands out about them, either spinning or personality-wise. If you know someone is a heckler before hand, make a primitive strike and think of what you will say to them. I have a fond memory at Flame Festival where Teddy Petrosky, Lux Luminous, Drex and a few other close friends of mine were all heckling me HARDCORE. Drex said something and I couldn’t quite hear it, but could tell it was him. I responded with “what’s that Drexxy? I can’t hear you, could you speak up? I like your voice, I downloaded the audiobook of your first 500 tech blogs you have, I jerk off, then go to sleep to the sound of your voice frequently”. BOOSH!!! There are various ways to rebut a heckler. Make it a game, it’s really fun!
Heckling in the internet flow community can be funny, but as of recent, I have seen it turn negatively. We are supposed to be a supportive community, but then you watch videos and see people comment like “ your flow isn’t good” or “ go practice more”. There is a fine line between constructive criticism and being a troll. Making fun of someone with malintent is not being supportive, it’s being a prick. Individuals who do this most likely got made fun of in high school and want to be a “cool kid” in the flow community. In the words of my aunt, “Don’t become what you hate the most”.Learn the difference between a friendly heckle and your ego reacting, or taking something personal. For reasons like the above, some measures have been taken to make sure people’s feelings don’t get hurt. Taking away heckling at an event is like taking a part of the soul that allows us to express friendship. It is in my personal opinion that heckling is a quintessential part of our community; don’t be a dick and ruin it for the rest of us.