The End of Satire?

by Michael Schultz on January 10, 2015

Perhaps the foremost reason I write in this space and why I wrote HECKLE: NOTES FROM THE PEANUT GALLERY, is to talk about ‘protest’ and ‘satire’….seriously.

I was not aware of Charlie Hebdo until all hell broke loose last week in Paris. Now the world is an even ‘tighter’ place questioning the act of protest and everyone knows about Charlie….the world is holding its ‘breath’ a little more often. Perhaps the best cartoon was one showing a terrorist with a gun in front of a fallen artist…..the caption? ” He drew first”. Even in tragedy – satire and protest.

One of the quotes from the Muslim side of the equation bears repeating – ” The prophet said that at the end of time, the blood of a martyr will be weighed against the ink of a scholar – and the ink of the scholar will be more heavy.” As much as that might favour the freedom of speech and protest, the most frightening context is “at the end of time”.

Are we headed to an all out religious war? Is satire blasphemous? Many democratic countries have their own version of Charlie Hebdo. In Canada it has been FRANK magazine. These acts of violence are troubling because they are happening more often and with little predictability. Will going out in a crowd be a liability in the future – or even now? Will we be safe?

There is a line of thought that suggests that using this satire through cartoons is the provocation. That said, it might be time to take a look at what tends to stir up the ‘pot’. But can you ever placate the ‘extremist’? And what’s with all these young guys opting for this as a career choice?

Bill Maher provides an interesting slant on Jimmy Kimmel – the day of the shooting in Paris at Charlie Hebdo:

Cosby at the Bud

by Michael Schultz on January 9, 2015

Bill Cosby rolled into London, Ontario with his warm hat in the cold weather for a show last night. There was protest outside and inside the Budweiser Centre. A member of the audience yelled out that he was a ‘rapist’. Cosby managed to placate and otherwise diffuse the situation. The heckler was led out of the building. Obviously the ushers had been warned and readied. Here’s the CBC rendition:

As someone pointed out, protesters are trying to be both ‘judge and jury’. It will be interesting to see how his other Ontario shows go. One ultimate message is that ‘disruptive’ hecklers will not be tolerated. Apparently there were a few empty seats in the house but the tickets were probably already paid for and Bill leaves town with his contract fulfilled.

Booing Denmark

by Michael Schultz on January 4, 2015

Canada’s junior hockey team 2014-15 beat Denmark recently 8-0 in the annual tourney. GLOBE sportswriter Cathal Kelly put it well. He talks about the ‘passive-aggressive’ nature of the Canadian spectators. Canadian fans met the Denmark players with ‘half-hearted booing’. As Kelly puts it the Canadian fans jeered with the spirit of ” we hate you, but we still sort of like you. Also, we hate you.”

Even more observant, Kelly contends that this tourney has not been about hockey – rather it’s been about the crowd. Toronto has been more vocal than Montreal. Perhaps too it’s all about the price of tickets – the fans have to yell at a higher level equating with the inflated prices at the gate. Check the pulse of the crowd at the game:

Looks like Canadian sweater sales are off the chart.

But the real point is – will Canada’s Juniors go all the way this year? Give Canada an extra goal advantage for having home turf.


by Michael Schultz on January 4, 2015

When I was a young guy (aka teen) growing up in the 60s  I remember listening to Bill Cosby. I loved his album, Why is There Air? ( answer: to blow up basketballs , volleyballs etc)

I also remember a friend of mine impersonating him flawlessly as we travelled on a bus along the 401 highway. I honestly liked Cosby’s humour. If he was on Jack Paar, I tried to stay up to see him.Here is Cosby doing his Noah skit – “Right”.

Last year was a bad year for the Cos. There have been many allegations of his abuse against women. Now in 2015 he plans to come to Canada. Womens’ groups are planning to get quite vocal in the audience to protest him.

This Thursday’s show in London , Ontario will be somewhat telling – major heckling and protest is planned for Cosby before the show outside the venue. It remains to be seen whether the show itself will get derailed by an outspoken audience.

Cosby should be enjoying the golden years in a lifetime achievement fashion. It’s sad to see this happen to him. He’s had other family trials. Maybe he’ll redeem himself. Maybe not.



Start Spreading the News……..

by Michael Schultz on January 4, 2015

New York, New York….almost went this there this past November  to see some Broadway….check in with John Pizzarelli uptown at the Carlyle….but cancelled it…..and not for the following reason. Although it does signal another reason not to go out in public.

It’s bad enough that theatre goers need to be reminded to turn off the cell phone. Now chaos is reigning on Broadway and off with the intrusion of people heckling the stage. As Broadway increasingly relies on celebrity casting ( Pia Catton, New York – THE GLOBE AND MAIL “When celebrity upstages Broadway shows”, January 3, 2015), theatres are faced with dealing with more shouting out.

One example cited was Hugh Jackman in The River. Jackman is applauded everytime he enters a scene and after.’Fans’ are yelling out like they are at the sing-a-long version of Sound of Music. Yikes.

Apparently these ‘interruptions are on the rise. Why is it that people feel compelled to speak out at performances? Do people want to be seen? My wife and I were at the Bookshelf Cinema recently watching the terrific new film Foxcatcher. Some guy behind us was calling out throughout the film…heckling the screen. Towards the end of the movie another audience member told him to shut up. The air was tense for a few moments….would they come to blows? Sometimes you don’t speak for all of us. When you’re out in public you are out of your easy chair and not in front of the TV mister.

Now once safe stage doors used by actors to enter and exit the theatre are guarded against over the top fans.As a teacher I think it has everything to do with the leniency at school and blatant lack of discipline and respect. People get out there and simply do not know how to act.When the audience becomes even more important that the stage, we’ve lost something. Now, if the show is a real stinker, perhaps some well-placed heckling is warranted.

Perhaps  the best place to leave the commentary is in the press or on You Tube like this:

There is a time and place for everything…theatre goers need to know it’s not the time or place to bare their soul if they are sitting in Row C , Seat 15.

And then there’s the Bill Cosby episode….stay tuned.


“Yeah, yeah”

by Michael Schultz on December 28, 2014

Here’s a good one….found this one today and believe it is a very clever heckle indeed:

” The eminent linguistic philosopher J.L. Austin of Oxford once gave a lecture in which he asserted that there were many languages in which a double negative makes a positive, but none in which a double positive makes a negative – to which the Columbia philosopher Sidney Morgenbesser, sitting in the audience, sarcastically replied, “Yeah, yeah”.

I particularly liked this one – having spent two summers (96,97) teaching at Oxford.

With a Little Help from My Friends

by Michael Schultz on December 24, 2014

Joe Cocker died this past week. Sad to see ole Joe go. Never saw him in concert but who can forget Woodstock (1969)? I liked the Mad Dogs and Englishmen film ( a terrific bit of music). Joe was living in Colorado – had a few acres and even ran a cafe….nice.

They say imitation is the highest form of flattery. In a positive way, it allows us to heckle others. John Belushi’s imitation of Cocker both in the Lemmings show (circa 1973) and on Saturday Night Live are bang on and lots of fun to watch. This imitation is part parody – part celebration – all fun, and is called ‘Lonely at the Bottom’.


The Interview

by Michael Schultz on December 20, 2014

It takes a good Canadian lad to shake the world order. Seth Rogen’s (Sony’s) The Interview is about a couple of journalists who go to interview North Korea and to assassinate often mocked KIm Jong-un ( I am the un the un the un they call the 7th son).

As we know – Sony has pulled the movie from distribution. They’ve been hacked. They have been threatened. Obama says that “we cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States. Because if somebody is able to intimidate folks out of releasing a satirical movie,imagine what they start doing when they see a documentary that they don’t like, or news reports that they don’t like.” The North Koreans can be easily pissed off let’s face it. That said, the movie does provoke. With the shoe on the other foot, imagine if North Korea or China did a film about Obama’s assassination because he was considered evil?

The movie banners have come down in Hollywood- no Christmas receipts for The Interview. Sony has to figure out how or even if they will get the movie out there.  One interesting comment on Sony ( and their apparent ‘wimping out’) has been that “they’re not in the free-speech business. They’re in the entertainment business.” The ‘war’ of words seems to remain in the ‘cyber sphere’. Let’s hope it stays there. Maybe “Little Kim” would feel a little more tolerant if Sony promised a percentage of the gate?

Being a good Canadian lad, Rogen found himself filming in Vancouver…’s Canadian soil made to look like North Korea:

Hold tight…..stay vigilant. Watch out for guided missiles. The Interview – an act of war? Heckling to the max?

Merchant of Venom – Timing, Talent and Testicles…

by Michael Schultz on December 19, 2014

Comedian Don Rickles is still out there at age 88. He’s got a one hour special coming out on CBC as part of Just for Laughs.

His style has been described as ‘insult comedy’. Sometimes it’s politically incorrect. Rickles figures as long as the laughs keep coming he must be doing something right.

In a recent interview he talked about hecklers at his shows:

” I was always good at being able to be funny, standing on my feet and by the seat of my pants. I worked in joints where there were hecklers…so when I worked those places, I had to talk to the people and I used to talk in my sense of humour and they called it ‘insult’.” Rickles defends himself by admitting that it was never hurtful. His ‘merchant of venom’ label has become his trademark style.

Jerry Seinfeld, in a tribute to Rickles called One Night Stand, says Rickles has the 3 Ts of comedy – “timing, talent and testicles”. Rickles also pits himself against the audience.

Here’s the link to the CBC show:

Here’s a good one!

by Michael Schultz on December 18, 2014