Heckler's Heaven


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In 1994 a northside pool hall called “The Cue Club” hosted a weekly comedy open mic night called Heckler’s Heaven. What made this night unique was the fact that it was created to allow the audience to give the performers feedback. Typical open mic nights at the time were usually attended almost exclusively by other comedians. Beside the fact that many had heard each other perform many times, they tended to give polite applause and laughter, even when it might not be warranted. At Heckler’s Heaven, the performers found a true audience of non-comedians and found true reactions to their material and delivery. The format was simple. 3 members of the audience were given rubber chickens. 3 other members were given a scorecard. Each comedian was given 3 minutes to get into their set. After the 3-minute safe period, if any of the judges were not impressed with the comic, they could throw their chicken on the stage. When the 3rd chicken landed, the comic was done. If the comic survived their entire 7-minute set, they were given a score. At the end of the night the comedian with the highest score was awarded $100 cash. Heckler’s Heaven became a go to for amateur and professional comics that came into Chicago. Television and Movie Star Craig Robinson often mentions Heckler’s Heaven in his origin story. Deon Cole of ABC’s “Blackish” performed at the Cue Club Heckler’s Heaven as did SiriusXM Host Godfrey and many others that went on to have successful careers in comedy. W. Kamau Bell even mentions Heckler’s Heaven in his book, The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell. The original producer of Heckler’s Heaven is rebooting the show beginning October 22, 2018 in the South Loop at Refuge Live!, 416 S. Clark St., Chicago. This version will be a little less confrontational in that the chickens have been replaced with lights. When a comic see his 3 lights have been turned off, they can still finish their set but they will get no score. The highest score will still win the $100 prize. The show will be hosted by local comedian ERIC OREN. My name is Eric Oren, a comedian, writer, and filmmaker. Eric has years of experience running open mics and has produced and hosted Stand-Up open mics at several clubs/bars throughout the city including the Annoyance Comedy theater, pH Comedy Theater (now closed), The Bar Ten doors, The Second City and more!  As a working comedian, he has a real understanding of what makes open mics successful and how to create lasting rooms. He also brings a desire to see new comics shine.