Defined by What We Hated

Michael Addis performed as a drummer 20 years ago in Playground Slap, a top original San Diego band of their day (they reunited a few months ago, sans Addis).

More recently, the former SDSU film student (who never graduated) directed the feature documentary Heckler. In it, Addis follows comedian Jamie Kennedy on a stand-up tour as he elaborates on the surge in heckling in recent years, discussing the topic with Bill Maher, David Cross, Dave Attell, Patton Oswalt, Mike Ditka, Rob Zombie, George Lucas, and Carrot Top, among others.

"I remember being more of a heckler than a hecklee," recalls Addis of his SD musician days. "Our band was partially defined by what we hated. We were motivated by the bands in San Diego we deemed crappy (and we did heckle those bands frequently). In that respect, we were the kind of heckler/critics that I speak highly of in my documentary: those who don't get caught in the rut of criticizing without creating; those who are constructive in that they want art to improve and are angry when it falls below high standards."

In the film, Jewel, who has long been sharp-tongued in retorts to hecklers and press jibes, offers her perspective on heckling. Addis knew her from her early SD days when she was thick with his friend and her quasi-mentor Steve Poltz.

"I've always liked her and was friends with her back in the day. She's a good and confident woman, and every time we got together, I was struck by how you really couldn't ask for a better role model for girls....

"She says some very funny, interesting things in our movie.... And speaking of which, the dumb criticism people have of her teeth is what made me want to put her in the movie. The fact that the press has focused on the lack of straightness in her choppers is a perfect example of why the fourth estate is in such bad shape nowadays -- go after Jewel's teeth. It's a lot easier than doing actual journalism."

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