MATT DAVIS does not mince words.
Davis, a stand-up comic who first went on stage at age 17 and has worked with heavyweights like Dave Attell and Dave Chapelle, responded to the first question of this installment of Inside Jokes with an answer that can only be described as epic. The man’s reply contains too many paragraphs for the purposes (and space allowances) of this writing, but I will include four gems from it in this space and you can visit my Facebook page to read the entire transcript. I’ve read it twice and I’m still blown away.
The sheer volume of words Davis produced less than 24 hours after I sent him these questions was pretty astounding, or maybe I just read slow. Whatever. I could have never come up with answers as funny, compelling or, yes, lengthy as Davis’ if my deadline was two weeks from now.
Read on for the most detailed heckler description I’ve ever put in my brain, not quite barbecue with comic Rory Scovel and fatback and banana pudding references.
Also, don’t forget about The Best Tweet I Can Find In Five Minutes at the end.
TC: We became Facebook friends a few days ago. Is the Facebook happy birthday wish the most hollow, soulless, “I care only enough to send you a public email” message or should I focus my hate on something more important?
MD: Gem No. 1: The Facebucket happy birthday message is an integral part of the Me Monster psychology that drives much of “social media.” (And I use quotations around that phrase because I wish to convey the air quotes and hackneyed British accent I used when saying it aloud as I typed).
Gem No. 2: From news boards to message boards to all the Alt dot groups, we arrived at genre-specific forums hosted on top-level domains. (And if you replace “genre-specific” with “niche,” I will fill your intestines with live wasps.)
Gem No. 3: Where Myspace faltered, Facebook succeeded. Facebook filtered down the information you see — even going so far as to alter algorithms based on your previously-clicked content to show you more of those type of posts and fewer posts from opposing views. If you click a lot of Fox News links, you’re missing some from Huffpost … and vice versa. It’s tailored — increasingly — to you, for you and about your interests, purging the unnecessary garbage that could be categorized as a new experience or opposing point of view.
Gem No. 4 (Davis answers the second part of my question directly): Focus your hate wherever you’d like, but remember that one massive solar flare can wipe all this digital shit off the planet forever. And once it’s all gone, then where will you focus your hatred? Probably best to go ahead and find a real world thing to hate.
TC: I have watched your stand-up clips many times and I keep coming back to you destroying that heckler in Harrisburg, Pa. (Not safe for work, if anyone cares about such things.) How often do hecklers interrupt your shows and how much fun is it to shut them down the way good comics do?
MD: Contrary to what people may think, based on videos such as that one, I don’t enjoy dealing with hecklers, loud drunks, over-excited lunatics or the hopeless, socially-ignorant uncouth.
When I come to a venue to do a show, that’s what I want to do: The material I have prepared and have been working on.
As far as how often, less than you’d think, but more than most people realize. The problem here is the word “heckler.” More often than not — like in the clip you mention — it’s someone drunk and chatty at a table. In the Harrisburg scenario, that woman had been talking and randomly commenting through both open acts and a guest spot.
When I got on stage, she wasn’t in the room — I assume she was vomiting or doing meth in the bathroom — so I had a good 20 minutes without her. The clip picks up a few minutes after her train-wrecked self sat back down. She was just an inconsiderate drunken asshole, and not just to me or the other performers, but to the audience that was genuinely trying to listen. That’s the more common scenario, and in many clubs it ends in a swift removal of the offending party — as it should — and they are always amazed or angry that they are being asked to leave.
The upset or offended “heckler” is a real oddity. This is a person who disagrees with, or doesn’t see the humor in, something said and instead of just waiting for the next joke, or after disliking several then simply acknowledging this isn’t their thing and leaving, they instead decide it is up to them to voice their unsolicited opinion. I imagine in their jumbled brain they feel they are going to “correct” it, and sway the speaker to see things their way. I don’t know if that’s megalomania, narcissism, or something far more complicated, but I do see the irony of someone who stands on stage and asks a room full of people to listen to their quips throwing those words about.
As far as “fun shutting them down?” Sure. There’s a bit of fun in there, but it’s overshadowed by the annoyance of having to deal with it in the first place instead of just going back to being an audience and a performer enjoying each other.
TC: Gun to your head — Eddie Murphy “Raw” or Doug Stanhope “No Refunds”?:
MD: First off, if you literally put a gun to my head, I would do nothing. Most people never pull the trigger, unless they panic. So I’d bluff call that one. And even if you did follow through, I’m fine with that too. I could use the rest.
Figuratively, as you intended, I do like “Raw,” but it’s one-dimensional. Funny, filthy, and great, but Doug’s “No Refunds” has a grittier, more personal tinge, which I prefer. And to that note, my gun-to-the-head selection is probably Richard Pryor’s “Live on the Sunset Strip.” The last track, “Hospital,” should be required viewing.
TC: We’re both Southern born and bred. (Davis is from Alabama; Castleberry is from North Carolina.) Fatback is my favorite Southern food. What Southern culinary treat tops your list?
MD: I like soul food, greens and all. Fried catfish with hot sauce…basically, the more bottom- feeding an animal is, or raised in shit a vegetable is, the more I want to bread it, throw it in grease and pretend it’s food.
The hard part about traveling is that I find myself in situations where someone takes me to a BBQ or “soul food” restaurant far, far away from even an inkling of how to prepare it. Rory Scovel (he’s originally from North Carolina) and I ate a BBQ sandwich out of a food truck in Montreal this year that had a giant wedge of onion and lettuce on it. Two bites in and we exchanged a silent, Southern glance of disapproval in ourselves for even thinking this would be a good idea.
My favorite Southern thing of all time is banana pudding. I consider it a dessert, an entree, an appetizer and a lube, and so should everyone else.
(NOTE: Some of the parenthetical phrases in this interview are mine and some are Davis’ so good luck figuring out which is which.)
Here it is, The Best Tweet I Can Find In Five Minutes:
They’re coming out with new chewable ADHD pills. I didn’t know so many people were having trouble snorting them. Unroll your dollars, kids!
— Annie Lederman (@annielederman) October 23, 2012
You can follow @Castleberry74 or not. No one is the boss of you.