Robin Williams Responds to a Heckle


One of the finest responses to a heckle that I have ever seen was given by Robin Williams; fine because it wasn’t mean or cruel – just accurate.

It was in 1987 in a tiny room above a London pub. Robin Williams had been booked to appear at a concert for the Prince’s Trust (at the London Palladium) and was doing a try-out gig beforehand. Word went around the comedy community and soon the pub was packed with comedians, including one who was well known to us all: not only for his self-appointed role as arbiter of our comedy morality but also for his enthusiastic use of herbal substances.

Robin Williams came on stage at about midnight and proceeded to give us a Master Class on what stand-up comedy is and how best to perform it – i.e., not like us. He was half-way through a particularly brilliant routine when the self appointed arbiter of comedy morality decided to give him some tips – a decision not helped by his having drunk a massive amount of brandy.

“Yeah man,” he boomed, “Yeah. That’s … you see … what you should do is … that’s … when you perform at the Trince’s Prust …”

“Meanwhile, “ said Robin Williams, “In the House of Lords the marijuana debate continues.”

The Freewheeling book is here © John Dowie 2013