This past weekend I went to a Pro Wrestling show in Monaca. You know, because I was all done solving the mystery of the Higgs-Boson constant. This show was billed as Extreme Rising with many of the favorite wrestlers from my youth: Stevie Richards, The Blue Meanie, Perry Saturn, Shane Douglas, Rhyno, Sabu and my favorite New Jack.
I like to think that comedians are pretty similar to pro wrestlers. They travel from town to town, put on a show for a little bit of money and their contributions to society are heavily under-appreciated. So I felt a little kinship walking into the Community College of Beaver County Golden Dome. I saw Perry Saturn’s trying to sell his t-shirts, Rhyno posing for pictures with fans, and the club promoter checking the audio levels. It felt all too familiar. I must have got caught up in the pre-show atmosphere because I felt a real urge to pace nervously back-stage. But I was going to be a spectator now, so the pressure was off.
The first several matches were great, lots of good action accompanied by some hilarious/incendiary mic work. The peak of the night came in the middle of the card when two lightweights put on an aerial display. The crowd was really into it. The following match had high expectations too. It was Sabu against Devin Storm in what was billed as an “Extreme Rematch.”
Keep in mind, both Sabu and Devin Storm have been brutalizing their bodies 200x a year for the past two decades. They’ve broken bones, received concussions and smashed their faces with steel chairs all for our entertainment. Sometimes I’ll complain about my chair at work not being ergonomic and slightly uncomfortable. Then I think about poor Sabu’s working environment.
What I’m saying is that compared to the expectations, the match was slow. Pretty boring. The crowd was lulled into a quiet murmur while the two combatants struggled their way through. And not two minutes went by before a heckler showed his greasy little head.
I tried to pay no attention to the heckler, but it was impossible his sarcastic commentary rang through the Golden Dome. He continued harassing every wrestler throughout the rest of the event. Even if the rest of the crowd was into what was happening in the ring, they were quickly snapped back into apathy by the constant heckles.
“This. Is. Boring.”
“Did you guys get the AARP discount to wrestler tonight?”
“This would have been better in 1997!”
I noticed people gradually paying more attention to the heckler than to the matches they paid to see. Some people were laughing, others annoyed. But the heckler’s mission had been accomplished. He had diverted all of the attention onto himself.
This is what I realized: Being a heckler takes absolutely no skill or risk. This guy went to a focal area of attention (a wrestling ring in this case) and chipped off pieces of that energy and slipped them into his pocket. It takes skill and dedication and time to make it into that wrestling ring. It takes no skill to shout obnoxious things to people who in theory he was there to support. He probably found it easy to be bold while, cloaked in anonymity, another shadowy face in the crowd. He’d never, in a million years, say that to anyone’s face.
I won’t go as far as to say he ruined the show but he definitely made it more difficult to enjoy. I wanted revenge for these performers. But I’m a comedian. I can only use my words. I would have rather done something like this to the guy:
But I didn’t.