Tales From The Clint: The Heckler

THE TRAVELS & TRIALS OF A GINGER-BEARDED SONGWRITER IN TEXAS

This past week was filled with quite a few shows, a few hundred miles of driving, the Texas Reds Festival in Bryan and my first sober heckler at a show, which may have been a bucket list item, I’m still deciding.

What The Heckler

There I was at Alamo Beer in downtown, San Antonio, playing a solo show at one of my favorite venues in Texas. The dark clouds of rain had passed safely by, leaving the night air to myself and my Martin. All in all, it was a great night of music, albeit with one slight hiccup.

When you’ve been playing shows for a few years, you’ve more than likely experienced a few interruptions from inebriated listeners. It just happens. I’ve had more than a few in my lifetime. But a sober heckler? That was new for me. And to be fair, she wasn’t successful at it, and because she wasn’t drunk seemed to be self-aware enough to leave it at one disruption. But Clint, how do you know she was sober? Call it one of the odd skills you develop as a gigging musician.

The following is a mostly-true transcription of what happened:

*Clint Tomerlin finishes his new song to whatever word describes applause that’s somewhere between polite and thunderous*
Clint: “Thanks, guys! That one will probably be on my next record. Speaking of, I have my current CD available for sale tonight.”
Lady: *Loudly scoffs* “WHATEVER!”
*Clint shifts his eyes to the lady who yelled out, thinking she must not be yelling that out to him*
Clint: “I have some shirts and hats, too.”
Lady Turned Heckler: “Yeah, NO THANKS!”
*Clint flashes a look of understanding*
Clint: “Hey, I don’t come to where you work and *word not found* with you.”
Friend of Lady Turned Heckler: “Sorry!”
*The Heckler scoffs one last time for good measure*
Clint: “Cool… that was really awkward.”
*Everyone sits in the awkward silence*
Clint: “Here’s a song about Armadillos…”

Okay, so it was mostly awkward for everyone involved and not very dramatic. But isn’t the whole concept of heckling interesting? Do people do it for the attention? Do they want to feel superior to the performer? Is it because they honestly hate your art? Personally, I’ve sat through bands and songwriters that I did not enjoy, and music can be very personal, especially when it comes to preference and taste, but I respect anyone who gets on a stage and puts themselves and their art out there. And I know I’m not the only one; hecklers are a momentary vocal minority is all.

Dr. Heckle & Mrs. Hyde

At the end of the day, it was a blip of a blip. I continued the show without incident, and she went back to whatever it is that brought her out that night, since it obviously wasn’t the music. I woke up the next morning and prepared for my next show, she woke up that morning and more than likely got on Facebook, trying to remember what she had planned that weekend.

But right now, in the moment, I’d like to think that she’s off somewhere , maybe at wherever she works, pondering the way she handles herself in public. Did she hate that ginger-bearded fellow’s music, or does she hate herself? Is there more to being out with your friends than being the loudest and most sarcastic? And as soon as she reaches an epiphany on her social graces, someone interrupts her, bringing her back to her job and current task at hand. As she gets up from her desk to make the long trek to the water cooler, a song pops into her head. She starts to hum along, trying to think of the words…

All she can remember is something about Armadillos.

– CT

One Comment on “Tales From The Clint: The Heckler”

  1. You hit the nail on the head, Mr. Tomerlin. Heckling is for those without talent who somehow think (a) they’re as good as, or better than, the show at hand, and (b) they’re entitled to be a part of it. I know this because I’ve been a heckler. I was at a hockey game at the end of the season. Maybe 5,000 fans were scattered throughout the 16,005-seat arena, so everyone could hear what everyone was saying, on the ice or in the stands. It was weird. The referee was a guy named Wally Harris, whom I despised as he always seemed prejudiced against “my” team. At an opportune moment of silence, I yelled, “Hey Wally! You’re ugly and your mother dresses you funny!” I’m fairly certain all 5,000 fans laughed at the insult. Even Mr. Harris, hands on his knees, Turned and looked in my direction with a smile on his face, shook his head slowly, and began chuckling. I thought I was better than the show at hand; I believed myself to be entitled to prove it. Anecdotal, certainly; pretty darn convincing nevertheless.

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