A sharp comeback can work wonders, writes John Costello
When darts champ Phil 'The Power' Taylor stormed off stage during a match last week it was obvious his drunken hecklers had hit bullseye.
The jabbing jibes targeting his weight saw the sport's most famous player, who has 15 world championships under his belt, stun fans as he exited his semi-final match in disgust. Taylor, who is 51, is currently on a diet and has lost three stone.
But while Taylor no doubt felt hard done by, it is not only dumpy darts players who are now considered fair game by hecklers.
Super model Gisele Bündchen was ridiculed so much by American football fans after her hubby's team crashed to defeat in the Super Bowl this year that she was caught on camera using the f-word as she cursed back in frustration.
Russell Brand also boiled over when a heckler called out his ex-wife Katy Perry's name as he performed on stage.
The comedian furiously singled out the loud mouth by turning the stage lights on him, leaping off stage and shouting: "Let's see how your mental illness looks in the daylight."
"I suppose you expect it when you are a comedian," says stand-up and Father Ted star Joe Rooney, "but as a darts player or supermodel? I don't think it is something that you would be used to."
But while other professionals may be unprepared, comedians always have a quip or two on stand by.
"I remember one fat comedian," says Rooney, "who was heckled by someone asking him why he was fat. He replied, 'Because every time I am with your mother she gives me a biscuit'."
In an attempt to underline just why it is rarely a good idea to take the mickey out of the man on stage, comic Rufus Hound compiled the book Stand Up Put Downs.
Taylor could have learnt a thing or two from the tome, which contains some of the greatest comedic comebacks that have left hecklers sitting stone-faced in their seats.
Take comedian Jo Brand and how she handled the heckler who shouted "You fat cow" from the aisles -- "I deliberately keep my weight up so that a tosser like you won't fancy me."
However, even comedians can get caught off guard.
When British comic Jim Tavare arrived on stage saying, "Good evening, I'm a schizophrenic," one witty wag shouted loudly in response, "Why don't you both get lost?"
All that was left for the comic to do was applaud with the rest of the audience.
While they may be closely associated with those looking to get combative with comedians, politicians are the profession most likely to bear the brunt of pithy putdowns.
But few have been as gifted as Winston Churchill when it comes to the killer comeback.
One of his most memorable was when Lady Astor confronted him saying: "Winston, if you were my husband, I'd poison your tea." Churchill replied, "If I were your husband, I'd drink it."
And while TD Mick Wallace is no Churchill, he too has become infamous for one of his quips. He may not have intended for Fine Gael deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor to hear his "Miss Piggy has toned it down a bit today" comment, but the microphones in Dáil Éireann ensured his softly spoken heckle became headline news and was dubbed PiggyGate.
Surprisingly, however, there are those that believe sometimes silence can be golden when it comes to dealing with heckles.
"I think it is often the case that female politicians are scrutinised for what they wear and how they look," says Deputy O'Connor, who chose not to reply to the remark. "This is something our male politicians don't have to contend with. So the problems facing the country is what is most important to me and not some silly comments the boys made in the back corner."
Social media now means it is the Age of the Insult and open season the world over for pithy putdowns.
One of his most recent tweets was the somewhat enthusiastic: "I think skateboarding and breakdancing should be an Olympic sport!"
It was a matter of minutes before comedian Frankie Boyle burst his bubble by replying on Twitter -- "Or intergender boxing. You'd be in with a chance of a medal there mate."