Since 2004, Portland's Only Bar Trivia That Matters.
This I wrote after one of my most traumatic experiences ever with hecklers. I hope it serves as something of a public service announcement that, if you ever think it is appropriate to shout anything at a comedian or other performer when not solicited, you are wrong. Hecklers are several notches below rapists and white supremicists on the evil scale, but in the non-criminal realm, they are at the very top. Performers should be allowed to shoot them. So here ya go:
After a decade of doing Quizzy in the same bar, I didn't think it was possible that I need to explain the most basic tenets of what I do, or to ask for respect. Apparently I was delusional, so here we go:
Quizzy is my job. I am not standing up there asking those questions that I spend my time meticulously writing and then selecting and reworking for each crowd because I get free beer or I think it's a hoot. I'm doing it because it sustains my life. It's how I pay my bills, and it's the only functional method I've ever found of doing so.
I know everyone hates having a boss and adhering to a schedule, but I am literally incapable of it. That's why I do this. I actually could not function under those conditions, or keep my mouth from drawing the ire of some superior for long enough to be financially secure. I had at least 50 jobs in the 18 years before Quizzy, and the longest was 11 months (most of them I quit, though).
Anyone who knows me at all knows I can't sit still or follow a routine for very long. So I decided to do this. And just like anyone else, there are some non-negotiable conditions I have for performing my job (even if that job involves intoxication). For example: nobody should enter my office, talk over every sentence I attempt to utter, and then hop onto my desk, drop their pants, and take an enormous shit all over everything I do.
And if they do, and I calmly (and then less calmly) ask them not to several times? Well...
Here's a general rule you should follow, even if you've no idea what the hell I'm writing about:
If you encounter someone speaking into a microphone with a group of people who appear interested in what they are saying, shut the fuck up unless they say something that is contrary to your ethical standards. It is not your show. If you want to be part of a performance, create one of your own.
It is not just my financial livelihood that depends on what I do, it's my mental stability. If you've ever gotten laid off and been on unemployment, you can relate. For a while it's a dream-world, and then you realize that your sense of self-worth is tied to doing something that makes you feel like you're actually doing something.
I have a lot more leisure time (and a lot less money) than a lot of people I know, but every Sunday through Thursday I get to do the thing that gives me that self-worth. I have an easy job, by all accounts. All I have to do is find and construct questions that provoke thought in both myself and my fans, and do it in a way that might make people laugh. That's it. All I've ever cared about is getting a fucking laugh, for as long as I can remember (and well before, if you believe my mom). But that is absolutely impossible if someone is yelling over me.
In my mind, when someone assumes (despite the goddamn microphone in my hand) that it is them instead of me who is the focal point of my life's work, and they will not listen to the multiple pleas of both me and my audience, they are assaulting me. That might seem an extreme word to use, but I'm powerless to feel otherwise.
This basic idea has been acknowledged by every bar where I've ever plied my shtick (except Conquistador Lounge). Don't shit on what I'm doing, or I will shit back (my aim is excellent, by the way). It's called creative license, and every performer of any kind in the world has a right to it. So trust me: if I say something mean to you, you fucking begged for it. And if it offends you, you can easily remedy the situation by never, EVER coming back to play Quizzy again.