Friday, 1 April 2011

Open Mic Disasters #6: Hecklers

Poetry hecklers are a strange bunch. They differ greatly from your average comedy heckler in the sense that they’re much more unpredictable. A comedy heckler is usually a drunken idiot, whereas a poetry heckler is usually a drunken poet. A poetry heckle could take the form of a random word – “Dolphin!” for example, or “Osmosis!” This isn’t usually intended to be an insult to the performer but something that the heckler considers to be their contribution to the show. Some people seem to think the poet is speaking to them directly and will therefore attempt to engage them in conversation halfway through a set, eager to share with them their opinion on Wordsworth or the Arab-Israeli peace process.

Poetry hecklers rarely say anything insulting. In fact I’ve only witnessed one occasion where a performer was aggressively heckled, and in that case, the audience turned on the idiot before the poet had time to respond. This is one of the great things about doing poetry open mics: unless you’re extremely unlucky, no one is going to insult you. That’s very reassuring for a first time reader. You can be as clichéd or pretentious or just plain shit as you like – the audience will still applaud. At poetry gigs, particularly open mics, there’s a real sense of camaraderie – we’re all struggling writers and we’re all in this together. The only slight warning I’d give to a new performer is that poetry audiences can sometimes be a little over enthusiastic.

But there’s nothing wrong with that.

No comments:

Post a Comment