My One Good Heckler Story
The words were leaving my mouth and there was nothing I could do to stop them. I didn’t have time to think “Is this a good idea?”
I’m sure a lot of us have stories that involve a moment like this. You ask a lady about the baby you think she’s pregnant with and then all of a sudden OH NO WHAT HAVE I DONE?! She’s not pregnant. She’s just gassy. Then you’re just stuck there in the awkwardness willing to do anything to escape.
It’s bad enough when you have a moment like this when you’re alone, but can you imagine if it happens when you’re on stage? In front of a lot of people? Doing standup? And your name is Taylor Johnson? Can you imagine?!
I’ll tell you right now that this isn’t a story where it all goes terribly wrong. This is the one time it all went perfect.
I was performing at a youth ministry’s comedy night. For the most part the show was going great except for one kid who thought he was funnier than me. He must have been a junior or senior and he always had a line to yell out to one up my jokes.
To put it plainly this kid was a heckler.
He seemed like a really cool kid. I don’t think he was doing it maliciously. I don’t think he even thought he was a heckler. He might have thought he was “helping” the show, but MAN it’s hard to perform with someone “helping.” It can mess up the flow and the timing. And it’s really distracting.
Then this happened.
Me: I’d like to tell you the story of my first kiss.
Heckler: Your mom doesn’t count.
Me: No. But yours does.
The crowd went wild. Even the heckler started laughing and gave me a look like, “you got me, sir. You win.” The student’s youth pastor even came up to me later with a “THAT WAS AWESOME!”
I don’t think I can fully explain how explosive the reaction was. It was like I was Lebron James and I just dunked on a dragon to win America’s freedom. I’m surprised no one ripped their shirt off or yelled “WORLDSTAR” or shot fireworks. It’s not even that good of a joke. It’s pretty easy. But for some reason in that moment it was incredible.
And let me admit that I recognized in the moment those words were leaving my mouth that it could have gone very differently. What if his mom was dead?! What if he was just visiting the church and I embarrassed him so bad that he never came back?
But it worked. And it was funny.
A few weeks later I was doing standup in east Texas and almost the exact same scenario happened. I told the crowd I was going to talk about my first kiss and a kid yelled that my mom didn’t count. Only this time it felt like time slowed down and I was able to examine the situation before words flew out. I saw able to see and consider the fact that the student heckling me was the smallest, sweetest, most innocent 6th grade boy. And I bit my tongue.
It might sound silly but little moments like that help me measure my growth in Christ.
I can look at that and think “Wow! If I didn’t have wisdom and self control I would have said the same line and that kid probably wouldn’t have been able to handle it. I would have ruined that kid’s night for a cheap laugh.”
Isn’t it exciting when when you see yourself becoming less of an idiot? Yes. It is.