I’ve been at hundreds of concerts and club shows over the years, and am always amazed that people pay good money to see an artist and then spend the evening ignoring the act and talking loudly with their friends. Yelling over each others voices, cackling and gabbing and gossiping like they’re sitting around their apartment, oblivious to the fact that the rest of us paid good money to be entertained by a professional.
Some of these people are just stupid and don’t realize whet they’re doing. Others are rude and don’t care what they’re doing. Many are trying to call attention to themselves. And then there’s the interactive jerks – the ones who scream “Free Bird!” at the top of their lungs at every concert, or who yell out at a comedy club think they’re funnier than the professional comedian who is on stage. All of these dolts are hecklers, and in Dante’s Inferno there’s a special room for them in the circles of Hell, right between politicians and lobbyists, so they can hear mindless chirpy chatter for all eternity. (Boy, won’t they be surprised when they finally sober up!)
Bands can just play louder, but comedians are up there virtually naked – no guitar to throw, no wall of amps to drown out the idiocy, just a person with a microphone who’s basically had the gauntlet thrown down. If you curl up and fold, the audience will probably eat you alive. Some comics ignore them, while others look at it as a god-given right to get medieval on their asses. Joe Matarese is clearly in the latter camp.
When A Comedian Attacks is, as advertised, “11 tracks of real hecklers being put in their place” and features a smorgasboard of the idiot types above – the clueless talkers, the rude commenters and the drunks who decide that the pairing of alcohol and a limited vocabulary is a good battle plan. Tracks range from fairly funny to absolutely cringe-inducing as Matarese – who admits he has to react – pounces on the usually deserving idiot. A very dim guy questions whether a joke is based upon a true story…in the middle of the joke! A table of English tourists argue with each other when the check arrives at their table. Drunk guys try to defend their drunker girlfriends. It’s all like chum to a shark, albeit a well prepared shark with a full arsenal. On Shark Week the mantra is “the best shark repellent is humans using their head“. Clearly these hecklers didn’t get the message.
My favorite clip might be the private party gig where a fellow comic is sitting right by the microphone as Joe loses it. He got a double bonus, laughing at both the idiots in the room and his friend onstage coming more unglued by the minute. Matarese admits that most comedians secretly love watching other comics go mental; he even thanks Bill Burr in the credits for legitimizing the idea of this CD in the first place. Joe introduces each clip with a brief set-up about what led up to the snapping point which successfully paints the picture for the listener. Priceless!
I first saw Joe Matarese on Comedy Central and fell apart; his special is hilarious. A veteran of the comedy festival and club scene, he’s a frequent guest on Howard Stern and the late night talk shows. Grab this CD and enjoy the carnage, and if you’re interested in his more conventional performance material, check out his two other CDs (Quiet Please and Fixing Joe). Both are now on my must-get list; a brand new CD should be coming along later this year as well.
Joe’s debut on David Letterman.
Here’s Joe’s website where you can pick up CDs, check tour dates and watch more clips.
Joe’s MySpace site for more clips and information.