Social media exploded this weekend after Vice President-elect Mike, or “Michael” Pence got booed by audience members during a performance of the hit Broadway musical Hamilton. The cast won praise for its curtain-call speech directed at Pence, though others—including the incoming President—lambasted the actors for booing him, which, you know, they didn’t do, but apparently we’re living in a “post-truth” world or whatever. But what everyone seems to be ignoring is that I’ve been booing politicians in all kinds of situations since the cast of Hamilton was in short pants. Here are my personal favorites.
When my awesome son Darren graduated from Boston College in 2005, you better believe I was there and expecting the best for my brilliant boy. So imagine my surprise when I learned that the commencement speaker was to be none other than Scott Brown, who not only hit on my wife during trivia night at Sandy’s Bar and Grille one time, but also ran against Elizabeth Warren, who I hit on during karaoke night at Sandy’s Bar and Grille one other time. Suffice it to say, I had enough reasons to hate the guy. He had barely begun to speak—“Graduates, professors, families!”—when I booed him right there. The ceremony continued, but he heard me. He heard me.
Oh, this was a good boo. I was lucky enough to sit behind the Baroness Thatcher during opening night of the stellar War Horse. Set during World War I, War Horse follows a thoroughbred horse named Joey who has numerous adventures over the course of the war, as he is passed from owner to owner before finally returning to the family farm. It’s really sad. But also inspirational. Anyway, I managed to lean forward and whisper a “boo” in Thatcher’s ear. She turned around and booed right back at me. We both agreed on this.
Yes, technically my booing of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford occurred before his political career took off, but that didn’t stop me from telling the guy what I thought of him as we faced off on the ice. Yes, technically it wasn’t even either of us playing against each other, but my brother Amos against Rob’s friend, Toronto hockey whiz-kid Derrick LePage. Yes, Rob didn’t know Amos was just getting used to his new skates when he leaned over the rink and spilled a little mustard from his hot dog. Yes, I didn’t wait for Amos to slip on the mustard before booing Rob Ford. Sue me.
I’ve watched the Huck Bass-Off against his political adversaries on several occasions, but I never felt compelled to speak up until a 1980 set between him and Duff McKagen. McKagen and Huck were tied up, and Huck knew he had to do something drastic, I’ll admit it. But the solution was not to slip in a low bended E during Duff’s turn, a move that had been outlawed by Bassmasters since 1972. Sad. I booed him good, and I saw the shame manifest in the flush in his cheeks. Mike Huckabee is a good guy. He should have known better. But boo-ees get booed. That’s the way it works. Also, he’s not actually a good guy.
I confronted Newt Gingrich on the field. He was smoking a cigarette, and so was I. “So you found me,” he intoned. I nodded. “And yet,” he said, “in your arrogance you believe I do not know why you have come here.” I held my ground; he was simply baiting me, trying my capacity for anger, the last effort of a desperate man. “No, Newt,” I replied, “you’ve always known. And so have I.” He smirked: “Indeed, boy. Indeed.” He paced, to and fro, to and fro. “But what can one ‘boo’ do against me. Me!” He laughed his raspy laugh. “One childish ‘boo’ will not undo Newt of Gingrich. It will only reveal your own weakness.” I nodded. “Perhaps,” I said. “But when you’re booing a grade A fascist doucher, who cares?” A flash of fear glimmered in Newt’s eye. “Boo,” I said, as a single tear rolled down Newt’s face. Then, later, he impeached Bill Clinton, and even later became a key player in the Trump campaign and administration, and I really started to doubt whether I was making any difference at all. It was a real bummer, especially the 2000-2008 part of things.
I’m booing him now, too, from a distance. Fuck that guy.
Graham Techler is a New York-based writer and actor. Follow him at @grahamtechler.