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Hecklers, Part 2: Examples

[UPDATE: When I originally posted this post, I attached the wrong Patrice O’Neal video. In the one I accidentally attached, he wasn’t dealing with an especially narcissistic woman at all. I corrected that and replaced it with the video of the episode I was actually referring to.]

I just want to clear up some things up front. Some people think that my last two posts were somehow advocating people to seek out confrontation with narcissists and try to destroy them at their own game. This isn’t the case. What this post as well as the last two posts are doing is simply describing rather than prescribing. In fact, I even gave some warnings of the downside of trying to beat the narcissists at their own game. The worst being, you end up adopting many of the nasty aspects of the narcissist yourself. At the end of this post I added a video by Sam Vaknin that describes this mechanism, which he calls narcissistic contagion.

A while back, I recommended the movie Darling. In it, one of the main characters turns the table on the narcissist by doing what I describe in the last few posts: he goes from appealing to her sense of decency and guilt and instead just shames her. He sleeps with her, then tosses her out, all while treating her like something fundamentally flawed and repulsive. Since all Cluster Bs, especially narcissists, are shame-motivated, this is their Achilles heel. She totally disintegrates, as you can see in the clip below.

But the most important thing in this clip is to see what the process of turning the narcissist’s game back on the narcissist does to the man. Note the exchange around 1:18:

Diane: It doesn’t put me off, you know. Being vile to me doesn’t put me off.

Robert: It puts me off. It disgusts me.

Diane: What does?

Robert: To hear myself. To hear the way I want to treat you. I don’t want to feel like this
a moment longer than I have to.

It goes back to what Vaknin said in the video I posted earlier. It’s foolish to believe you can beat the narcissist at their own game without ending up adopting some of the very same traits that disgusted you about the narcissist. And some people, like Robert in the movie, can’t stand the idea of becoming the very thing they hate, which is something he realizes as he’s abusing her. He realizes how empty the revenge is and just wants to get her out of his life for good, hence he speeds her off to the airport.

Another thing to note is how Diana says “It doesn’t put me off you know. Being vile to me doesn’t put me off.” Because narcissists are shame-based and deep down hate themselves, they can only respect people who treat them as badly as they treat other people. That’s why many times when you a narcissist does fall head over heels for someone and ends up in the one-down position in a relationship, it’s usually to someone who is as big an asshole to them as they were to everyone else. But for most of us, paying such a price for revenge would be like giving up a chunk of our soul. Many don’t want to pay that price and drag ourselves down to that level.

So again, understand, I’m not trying to rally people on to try to confront, manipulate, and outmaneuver narcissists in their lives. They have much more practice at manipulation, needless drama, and evil behavior, plus they are more emotionally and physically comfortable at behaving without empty and being cruel.

That being said, I know there are times where confronting a narcissist is unavoidable. Maybe you are feeling cornered or in a position where you can’t just walk away for whatever reason. Maybe you are in a position where if you do take the high road, it will just lead to more problems down the line. Maybe you are just sick of always taking the high road and refuse to do it any more and want for once to be on the asshole side of the equation. Maybe you just want closure. Who knows? If you know the risks and still want to go ahead with it, more power to you.

Now, on to the examples:

Cracked had a great article called The 10 Most Satisfying Cases of Hecklers Getting Destroyed. It has 10 Youtube clips of comedians expertly destroying hecklers, with written commentary accompanying every video. Important to note is how my discussion of guilt versus shame comes into play, because note that they never appeal to the sense of guilt of the heckler. They attack the heckler by shaming instead. Shame is about appearing defective in one’s own eyes and worse, before an audience. Humiliation is a big part of shame.

The article makes an observation that I made last post:

If this list is a core sample of heckling as a whole, you’ll notice that the two most likely people to butt fuck an act are drunk men and pretty girls … who are also drunk.

Like I said, drunks and pretty girls are huge narcissists, which is why I think these videos are great examples of how to deal with narcissists,

The other thing to note is that in some of these clips, the comedians may seem to be using guilt because they are making lecturing the hecklers on how reprehensible and tacky and impolite their actions are. But this is not what is actually happening. What they’re actually doing is using toxic guilt. Toxic guilt is when you examine someone’s actions, but you’re discussing these actions to “reveal” that the person’s identity, the core of his very self, is fundamentally defective and inferior, especially in front of an audience. Toxic guilt is guilt that is fused with and results in shame. Even though the comedians may sometimes be using logic, they are not seriously expecting to sway the heckler with the logic. Even though the comedians may sometimes be making the heckler aware of how bad his actions were, they are not seriously expecting the heckler’s conscience and sense of guilt to be swayed. The real purpose is to humiliate and shame.

The true master of confronting via toxic guilt was Patrice O’Neal. His social intelligence, ability to read human nature, and confrontation skills were astounding. He was so good at confronting narcissistic women that he seemed to make that his target demographic. He not only knew how to confront them in the ways I described, he seemed to truly enjoy it. He had a show called the Black Phillip show, and you can find every episode of it here. The best episodes however, are the ones whenever he had a very narcissistic woman to play off of though, like the episode below:

The female guest in the studio is incredibly arrogant and annoying. Patrice keeps mentioning her “sickness” and how he’s going to enjoy curing it. Then he proceeds to beat her over the head with confrontational logic and unflinching aggression. This is something he does on his show often. But you can tell that he never actually seems to seriously expect the logic to sway her on an intellectual level. He is using his logic to embarrass her, throw her off-balance, enrage, and humiliate her. It’s really a shame attack disguised as a logic or guilt attack. Patrice, however, is a master, and I doubt any of us could do this as expertly and effortlessly as he does. But even more important, I don’t know how many of us would want to.

First off, Patrice obviously has a lot of his own arrogance and bullying issues. He’s a perfect example of someone who adopted a lot of narcissistic traits in order to combat narcissists. But second, and most importantly, the whole exercise is incredibly draining. Even just listening to it all is draining. I tried to do marathon listening sessions of his radio show and the constant confrontations he would have with narcissistic women just drained the hell out of me even as an observer, and I couldn’t imagine myself having the patience to actually be a participant firsthand in such exhausting, lengthy drama. I’d personally rather just move on and get the peace of mind of avoiding the lengthy, head-butting session.

Patrice, however, really seemed to thrive on the drama and the sport of it. He would often describe women as bunnies, deers, and bears (this is a description of personalities and temperaments, not appearances. A slim, supermodel 10 could be a bear just as easily as a big fat woman). He would proudly call himself a “bear hunter.” He claimed hunting bears and breaking them in was his forte. In his main relationship, he would describe how he had to be vigilant to maintain his dominant position in the relationship dynamic and how if he was nice too long she would start to creep up the disrespect levels again. Even though he was good at it, it just seemed like a major waste of mental energy that sapped up a lot of his time and attention that could have been put to better, more productive uses. It goes back to the means/end paradox I mentioned in an earlier post. In that post I described how for a normal person, peace of mind and no drama is the goal, and occasional drama is just a means to that goal, but for the narcissist the drama itself is the goal. Listening to Patrice made me wonder if the reason he was so good at dealing with narcissistic people was because for him drama was a goal also, so he had the endurance to deal with narcissists head-on for long stretches.

It’s just another example of the warnings I mentioned before. Confronting emotional vampires is risky because (1) it often leads to you becoming more of a vampire yourself and (2) most of us aren’t equipped with the tools and experiences needed to play the same game as the narcissist, and would be disgusted with ourselves if we did develop those tools and experiences.

UPDATE: Commenter Kevin reminded me of a scene from the Louie TV show that I thought was a great illustration of shame vs. guilt, even if it is fictional. In the clip below, note how he shames the narcissistic heckler and demolishes her, then look at how he changes tactics and appeals to her sense of guilt later on outside and it backfires on him:

18 Responses to “Hecklers, Part 2: Examples”

  1. Do you know when in the Black Phillip video you posted above that the confrontation with the woman in the audience starts, so I can skip right to it?

    There aren’t any particularly good clips online, but I’ve heard Louis C.K. is really good at dealing with hecklers too. I’m paraphrasing, but he’s said he’s gotten to the point where he’ll joke around with them a bit, but then just very matter-of-factly tell them that they’re selfish and mean spirited, even if they don’t realize it themselves, and they’re ruining the show for everyone else. One time he said that to a woman and she blew up at him after the show.

  2. Oh, there’s also a good Patton Oswalt clip where he actually calls out two girls who are talking in the audience for being narcissistic:

    He says it about 3:10 into the clip: “Wow, she actually flipped me off for getting mad at her for talking during the show. Isn’t that awesome? That’s like a level of narcissism, that even like Paris Hilton would be like, “Wooowwww”…”

  3. Do you know when in the Black Phillip video you posted above that the confrontation with the woman in the audience starts, so I can skip right to it?

    It’s not a woman in the audience. It’s a talk radio show and the woman is there bantering with him for the full duration of the clip.

    There aren’t any particularly good clips online

    What you described happened in an episode of Louis CK’s show Louie. I don’t know if he was reenacting a true story that really happened to him or if it was totally fictional and created for the show, but what you describe can be seen here:

  4. Hey T, I’m curious: have you had the chance to check out the TV show, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia?” It’s a funny show in it’s own right, but the central characters, in particular, are a literal goldmine of narcissistic behavior and thought patterns.

  5. Patrice O’Neal would also self-sabotage, as mentioned in the linked video. In hindsight, it’s clear that based on his level of talent he should’ve been a much bigger name than he really was. It’s possible that he substituted superficial wins in his personal relationships for actual wins in advancing his career.

  6. Although he says he’s not a woman hater, he does come off as one -I was immediately turned off by his references to women as “bitches” and “bitches all think the same way.”

    Kathleen Roll – he refers to her as a “hole” right off the bat, then makes fun of her age, her clothing, & sweating before she even gets to talk. I’d immediately be super upset at being talked to like that.

    She seemed absolutely fine to the point I got disgusted and stopped listening (22:55), just asking general questions to him and giving decent, calm explanations. She tries to say things and he jumps all over her when she tries to explain herself with exclamations like “You aren’t honest! your primal instincts are not in honesty because you are a woman! You can’t talk or have any reason because women grow up without needing that skill! etc etc” Jesus Christ, he seems to me from this radio clip like he’s the arrogant, narcissistic, annoying one.

    Maybe you can further explain where she actually gets narcissistic and annoying — a particular part of the segment perhaps?

  7. In this Louis CK interview he briefly speaks about his approach to hecklers.

    Looks like he based the heckling scene from his show on his real life experiences. In the show he even writes himself as saying the comeback he says he always wanted to use, but never got a chance to say.

    I’ve read interviews where he talks about this stuff too, but I couldn’t begin to remember on what site I saw them.

  8. Kevin, Veritas, I was wondering why you guys kept asking me to tell you exactly where the narcissistic takedown began. I didn’t realize I actually posted the wrong episode. You guys are right, the woman in the video I posted actually wasn’t that narcissistic. I’ve since corrected it, so you can now see who I was actually referring to.

  9. Alex, you are right about It’s Always Sunny. I also think Seinfeld is a good example of low-level narcissistic behavior. Another good example, believe it or not, is the new cartoon The Looney Tunes Show, which is Bug Bunny and Daffy Duck, but in a sitcom. The Daffy Duck character is a textbook narcissist.

    S: I have actually thought that about Patrice, that the mental energy he devoted to seeking out and dominating drama really could be at the heart of why he wasn’t more popular, because the man was easily a genius. There is no reason why a Jimmy Fallon should be a megastar and Patrice wasn’t. I really think you hit the nail on the head. I realized how damaging mental drama is and how related to self-sabotage from observing someone from my past named Saima. This girl had everything given to her on a silver platter and was unbelievably spoiled, but thanks to her addiction to drama and her incessant need to create and maintain it, she had no energy left over to put toward any constructive, life-improving actions. For someone like Patrice who is overflowing with talent and brilliance, even with all the drama he still has enough leftover to make power moves which is why he still managed to be successful anyway, even though it wasn’t as successful as he COULD be. For the Saimas of the world though, who are of mildly clever and only slightly above average but otherwise not as unique and talented as they believe themselves to be, every bit of unnecessary drama can really ruin them and lead to irreversible self-sabotage.

  10. Now that you mention it, thinking back on all of the old Daffy Duck cartoons from the golden age of animation, there is a certain point where being an over-compensatory narcissist became his primary schtick.

    I remember that in his really early toons from around the 30′s/40′s, he was just a silly, capricious loon. Then sometime around the 50′s or 60′s, IIRC, his entire persona morphed into being constantly bitter towards Bugs Bunny and feeling entitled to Bugs’ fame and coolness (without anything to back it up of course); basically trying too hard to be and/or undermine Bugs with predictably comically disastrous results.

  11. T: One thing about initiating and winning these little battles with narcissistic women behaving badly is that it provides immediate gratification, immediate ego boosts, immediate feelings of power—however these victories are built on sand! No matter how much effort Patrice pours into these women, they are quieted for only a few moments before starting up again. His efforts, and arguments, and “use of logic,” are ultimately Sisyphean. Even in his personal relationships he states that he has to stay vigilant, likening himself to a master in a dojo–at all times, never resting, like a superhero. Just to keep a woman! It’s no wonder he couldn’t focus on his career properly, with the cuckoos he would be keeping at home.

    Patrice O’Neal, it should also be noted, was a very overweight man, and his obesity was a definite factor in his death. It’s reasonable to assume that even in his eating habits he seemed to place the priority on the immediate gratification and pleasant feelings provided by, perhaps, unhealthy fare, to the detriment of his long-term health. Patrice was immensely talented and intelligent, a comedic genius, but it didn’t protect him from the flaws in his personality; his inability to sidestep immediate short-term gains in favor of long-term gains seemed to do him in, both career-wise, and health-wise.

  12. S: I strongly agree with you. I think unlike most people he could compensate by using enormous talent and an extreme amount of a specific type of social intelligence that allowed him to get as far as he did. I think he was definitely addicted to the psychological payoffs that came from dominating pointless dramas. He was admittedly quite good at it but you had to wonder if the price he had to pay in mental energy was truly worth it.

  13. There is another variety of heckler which is quite common: lonely old drunks. They’re probably the easiest to deal with, often you can just politely ask them to be quiet, perhaps twice, and they will settle down.

    In general the impression I get is that hecklers are extreme examples of those people who think they’re smarter than everyone and that successful people are mostly idiots. In his mind the stand-up is a regular person and if he wanted to get on stage and engage an audience and make them laugh, he could – he just “doesn’t want to.” In his mind he could also get rich if he wanted to, get a super hot girlfriend if he wanted to – whatever – he just hasn’t bothered. He’s sure he’s smarter than the comedian and can’t understand why he isn’t getting that respect, so he tries to alpha-male him.

  14. Aaron, while I agree with your analysis I wouldn’t call old lonely drunks another variety of hecklers but rather a subset of the drunks category.

  15. I would agree that Patrice, despite his comedic genius definitely has some issues with women. I think most healthy guys avoid dramatic, narcissistic women like the plague and not actively seek them out in a relationship like a “bear” hunter. My guess is that he grew up with a mother that fit the profile and probably a few ex-girlfriends, therefore its his primary attraction imprint that he hasn’t overcome. He’s extremely attracted to these women and continues to seek them out so that he can have the victories now that he couldn’t have when he was younger.

    I think you’re absolutely right about his use of toxic guilt and I would agree its the most devastating way of destroying narcissists. Its useful in situations beyond your control, eg. dealing with hecklers while you’re trying to finish your set. But by actively seeking women out to date to use it on makes him a co-dependent who is addicted to the toxic emotions from a narcissistic/co-dependent relationship.

  16. RLD:

    I wouldn’t call Patrice a codependent in the traditional sense of the word. He definitely has adopted a lot of narcissistic traits that help him deal with narcissistic women (note: saying someone has narcissistic traits is not the same as saying they suffer from full-blown clinical narcissism. I have no idea whether Patrice or the women he deals with are clinical narcissists. Just want to make that clear).

    Of course at the end of the day, people who act outwardly narcissistic tend to be using grandiosity and cockiness to cover up a shame-filled core that secretly has a lot of the neediness and need for approval that a codependent does, and people who act outwardly codependent tend to be using self-effacement and debasement to cover up a shame filled core that secretly has a lot of the grandiosity and beliefs about being unique that a narcissist does, so you are probably not totally off about speculating that there are elements of codependency in Patrice’s behavior. I just wouldn’t label him a codependent as an overall diagnosis, even though like all people who can behave narcissistically he does have some underlying codependent traits.

    Also, I wouldn’t assume his mother was a narcissist. I just don’t know enough about him and it’s just too easy an assumption to jump to. For example he didn’t know his father and his father appears to have taken no interest in him. This could be childhood trauma and narcissistic injury, the primary inferiority, that fuels much of his behavior. His mother also may have been smothering or overcompensating with attention or affection to make up for the guilt she felt at not being able to provide him with a good father. There can be any number of circumstances that lead to his type of behavior, so I don’t want to just “blame” his mother haphazardly.

  17. The last Comedy Central Roast I watched was Charlie Sheen’s. Patrice was on the panel and almost everyone who spoke joked about how Patrice was dying of diabetes. Shortly after the roast Patrice died. I was so disgusted I vowed never to watch another roast. I still remember how chilled I was by the cold, dead eyes of so many of the “comedians”. I’m sure a variety of personality disorders were well represented.


    narcissism and some other serious issues taken to an extreme. Guilt tripping does nothing, but shame works as you describe.