Went to a comedy show last night for inspiration. I saw this vet, who's been on Letterman, not only get heckled, but do an incredibly poor job of dealing with said heckler. And it ruined his set.
There are two kinds of heckler's - the kind that think they are helping the show and the kind that are just out to disrupt the show. The interesting thing about the dude from last night was that he started out as the former, but due to the comic's poor ability in dealing with him, soon became the latter.
At the beginning of his set, the comic was talking to an audience member when the heckler made a comment, somewhat rude, but also borderline funny. I would've just acknowledged it and moved on, hoping the heckler quit. But the comic didn't. He shot an insult back. Before you can say "This set is toast," the comic and heckler were just trading insults...not even trying to be funny, just "You're a d**k" and "How'd you like it if I kicked your a**?" kinda stuff.
As a comic, I know that before you just start throwing out insults (without punchlines) you better have the audience behind you. He didn't.
The comic never really got into any kind of rhythm. The awkwardness permeated the rest of his set, which was pretty much DOA.