This is why you definitely should not heckle Steve Hofstetter at his comedy show in Tampa
Stand-up comedy is an art, but taking down hecklers is more like a sport. Steve Hofstetter is the Lebron James of the game.
Hofstetter had been a moderately successful stand-up for years. He has made appearances on Craig Ferguson's old late night show, and Joe Rogan's extremely popular podcast, but his recognition got a massive boost when a video of him epically dismantling a heckler landed on the top spot of Reddit's front page recently. If you're not familiar with Reddit and what that means, just know that it's a ticket to instant Internet virality.
Hofstetter actually has more than 100 heckler vids on his YouTube channel, but that first viral one, in which a woman says he shouldn't joke about kids because he has none (4.3 million views), and another in which he devotes a full four minutes to a table of "drunk" talkers (4.1 million views), are his masterpieces. Helicopters, the Washington Redskins and vikings are involved.
Hofstetter performs tonight at the Pegasus Lounge in Tampa. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. and tickets are $15.
I got in touch with Hofstetter via email to ask what it's like to be the master of crowd control.
What is the key to dealing with hecklers?
Wait for the crowd to hate them more than you do. Then you can say anything and get away with it.
Remember your first heckler?
First one of note was in Livonia Michigan likely 2004-ish. It was 90 minutes of no laughs at all until finally he said 'you weren't being very nice.' I responded, 'Oh. Well, here's how tonight will work. I'm going to say many things. You're not going to agree with all of them. And I'm not going to give a f---.' And the audience erupted. I watched the tape later. Sixteen seconds of applause. That's when I realized that they wanted him to shut up more than I did.
How does landing on the front page of Reddit affect your life?
It is forever changed. Not just reddit, but the total vitality of that clip and a few subsequent ones. I went from hoping to get gigs to deciding which ones I take. It was a tipping point, for sure.
Any recommendations for drunk and/or belligerent people as far as more suitable activities? You know, instead of sitting in the front row at a comedy show.
I recommend hecklers watch stand-up on TV with a group of friends instead. That way they can yell all they want without hurting anyone's feelings. And they can feel validated because their dumb friends will laugh at their dumb comments. My point is that hecklers are dumb. Not sure if I made that clear.