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FICTION
The Heckler
Craig Fishbane

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It became part of the joke almost from the minute Amy Schumer posted George’s picture on her Instagram page. A blogger identified him as Mr. George H. Carlin of Oyster Bay and the incident made headlines in every magazine from Buzzfeed to Variety: Amy Schumer Heckled by George Carlin. Even Lena Dunham weighed in with a Shouts & Murmurs piece in the New Yorker.

Most people would have cowered from shame at the exposure but George seemed to revel in the notoriety. He gladly appeared on Tosh.O and Entertainment Tonight to serve as a punchline. When Conan O’Brien asked if his parents had purposely named him after the legendary comedian, George conceded that his parents didn’t actually have much of a sense of humor. The crack went viral on You Tube.

There had been some concern that George’s newfound infamy would have a negative impact on business but each week dozens of unsolicited patrons showed up at his office, eager to purchase an insurance policy from a local celebrity. Within a month, George had been promoted to regional vice president of sales.

It seemed that George’s stardom would fade after a lackluster interview with Trevor Noah but then a five-year-old video emerged of George heckling Louis C.K. at Caroline’s. Within a week, George found himself explaining to Stephen Colbert how he was not, in fact, a frustrated comic. The audience loved it when George said that he actually wanted be a doctor but just wasn’t smart enough.

George found himself appearing with everyone from Seth Meyers to Jeff Foxworthy.  Gilbert Gottfried did an impeccable imitation the night he was inducted into the Friar’s club. The New York Post ran the story of how George walked up to the podium and announced that he wasn’t leaving until he had sold an insurance policy to everyone in the room. 

Amy Schumer showed up at George’s office the next day. She stood with hands on hips, waiting for George to adjust his glasses. When she finally received a gasp of recognition, she told George that she wanted to give him the chance to thank her in person for creating his entire career.  

She asked George if he understood that he owed his success entirely to two things: his accidental name and her substantial fame. She reminded George that if she had only ignored him that night at the comedy club, he would just be another schmuck trying to get through life in a decent suit.

While George admitted to himself that there was something valid about these accusations, all he was concerned with right now was keeping the phone steady in his right hand. He recorded Amy Schumer’s every word, including the admonishment, which she repeated three times—liberally adding profanity for emphasis—that if it were not for her, the world would never have heard of George Carlin.

The video started trending an hour later on Facebook.


Craig Fishbane is the author of On the Proper Role of Desire. His work has also appeared in New World Writing, Gravel, the Manhattanville Review, The Nervous Breakdown and the New York Quarterly. He can be reached at his website: https://craigfishbane.wordpress.com/