Outstanding Advice, No Target Audience

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Digging through some old bookmarks I read the following, from Jerry Seinfeld, on how to handle hecklers:

Image via Wikipedia.
Very early on in my career, I hit upon this idea of being the Heckle Therapist. So that when people would say something nasty, I would immediately become very sympathetic to them and try to help them with their problem and try to work out what was upsetting them, and try to be very understanding with their anger. It opened up this whole fun avenue for me as a comedian, and no one had ever seen that before. Some of my comedian friends used to call me -- what did they say? -- that I would counsel the heckler instead of fighting them. Instead of fighting them, I would say "You seem so upset, and I know that's not what you wanted to have happen tonight. Let's talk about your problem" and the audience would find it funny and it would really discombobulate the heckler too, because I wouldn't go against them, I would take their side.
Interestingly, this advice occurred in a column about how Republican candidates ought to handle Donald Trump. Although the field included people I would have considered voting for, that's more a reflection of the sad state of our culture than anything else. For a rational candidate genuinely interested in doing the actual job of a President, rather than power or prestige, this would have been outstanding advice. Unfortunately, every single candidate in that election, either wanted power and prestige alone, or was a mixed case. As such, we had a case of pearls before swine. But isn't it funny to imagine how a candidate who isn't a second-hander could have fared?

-- CAV

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