It’s surprising that there are any “hecklers'' left after so many of them have been DESTROYED, DEVASTATED or EVISCERATED by every stand-up comedian with a YouTube channel and a knack for hyperbole. If your only exposure to comedy was through short chunks of crowd work posted on TikTok or Reddit, you’d think that comedy clubs would be littered with the DECAPITATED corpses of ornery audience members who dared to step into the chamber of comedians like Akaash Singh, who recently went viral for “roasting” a “heckler” who had the audacity to sit silently during his show.

In a TikTok post that has amassed more than 10 million views, Singh, the co-host of the Flagrant 2 podcast and an Andrew Schulz collaborator, unleashed his fury on an unresponsive and unenthused audience member who committed the unforgivable sins of not finding the night’s acts particularly funny and speaking only when spoken to. 

@akaashsinghcomedy

Videos like this are part of a tiring trend in which internet comedians crack the algorithm that decides what content will pop up on the most “recommended” pages and then run a lucrative format into the ground. Crowd work does well, and comedians clapping back at rude, disruptive and disrespectful audience members does even better, as proven by those videos of veteran stand-ups like Bill Burr and Jimmy Carr delivering legendary rants that regularly return to the front page of Reddit and YouTube. The spontaneity and karmic justice of a drunk a-hole getting professionally torn apart ticks all the boxes of clickability, which means that crafty comics with limited material will seek out the slightest excuse to start a fight with their audience.

It’s pretty embarrassing, though, when the only funny line in a “Heckler Destruction” video comes from the heckler himself — in Singh’s video, the unnamed audience member’s response to the burn of “You look like you read a lot of books” with the comeback of “Yeah, I wish I was reading one right now,” is the closest it comes to cleverness. Singh’s “roast” was just a montage of two-months-late Queen Elizabeth jokes that made no apparent impression on the stone-faced Brit who dared to quietly look at his own hand and do nothing at all to interrupt the experience for the rest of the audience.

The video achieved Singh’s goal of virality, but the online reaction to the unimpressive exchange has been mostly negative. Most commenters on TikTok, Reddit and YouTube have echoed the sentiment that Singh’s meltdown made the “heckler” look better than himself. “Imagine being owned by someone that said and did nothing,” wrote one YouTube user, which is a better roast than anything Singh is capable of writing. 

Though the reception has been negative, the internet hasn’t been nearly as vindictive toward Singh as he was toward his silent “heckler.” After all, the best way to get under Singh’s skin is to just sit there quietly and ignore him. 

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