Medium – Rare

June 20, 2014 -

John Heald

It is very rare for me to get heckled. Not because I am so funny that nobody has the courage to take me on. Oh no, it’s just that the type of shows I do and the fact that most are audience participation-based, it most often never happens. So when I do get heckled it is something worth writing about. Two nights ago I came out to introduce the hypnotist and the moment I started talking about nice weather and what a glorious day it had been, the heckling started from a few rows back. It was nothing dramatic but stated with, “Stop talking, get on with the show, will ya?” The audience looked at him, some laughed nervously; most ignored him. I obviously could not, it had been loud and clear and I had no choice but to comment.

 I was on stage and standing behind the microphone stand, so I said, “Who said that?” and then continued with, “Let me move to the side of this microphone stand so you can see me.” Now obviously this referred to my size and, by doing a self-deprecating joke, I hoped it would stop him from doing any more heckles. It didn’t. As the audience laughed at my microphone stand joke, my heckler started again and took it up a few gears

 “When they put teeth in your mouth, they spoiled a perfectly good ass,” he shouted.

OK, now that wasn’t nice and so I had two choices here. Ignore him or go to war with him. I took a breath and simply said, “Maybe Jack – our hypnotist – can hypnotise you into being warm and cuddly and maybe a tad sober.”

 Giggles from the audience. But that was a huge mistake on my part because the heckler shouted,

“That’s a fake British accent,” he slurred and then he raised the volume even more and said, “Is that a fat suit you’re wearing?” OK, not a great line from him but it made me mad especially as I have lost weight since joining Carnival Miracle through diet and exercise. The audience was now turning on him and some telling him to shut up, including the lady next to him who was obviously a wife, partner or friend because she was trying to put her hand over his mouth. But she failed and now the heckler carried on.

 I was a nano-second — and I mean a nano-second — away from saying the old fat comedian joke of: “I’m only fat because every time I’m with your wife, she gives me a chocolate chip cookie.” But…….because the wife was probably sitting next to him and because of the fact that there were many kids in the room and because of the fact that the joke I made when my fly was open got me into trouble and because the audience were about to lynch him…….I simply introduced the entertainer and the show started.

 By now many of you will have realised what happens next. Yep, you’re right. He started heckling the hypnotist as he was trying to put people “under” and that was that. Accompanied by one of our security staff who I had called the moment I was off stage, I went to his seat and asked him to leave. He looked like he was for a moment going to be combative but his wife gave him no choice and grabbing his arm, pulled him down the row to the aisle and out of the theatre. Many of the audience applauded. I have not seen the guest since and no doubt he had a few too many, it’s as simple as that. I sort of live in the hope that, before the end of the cruise, he will come and apologise but so far he has not.

 Our Punchliner comedians go through far more of this than I do and they are far more skilled than I am in how to put a heckler down. Plus, they too have that uncensored rating to protect them. There are many, many good lines I have heard over the years but the most effective is owned by the brilliant comedian Al Ernst who I once heard tell a heckler; “That sounded funny when you thought it in your head, didn’t it? Thank you but I don’t need your help – I’m pretty good at this. But if I get stuck later, I know where you’re at.”

 Please don’t heckle me but it is time for today’s Q and A….here we go

 Linda Petrie asks:

 Hello John, we ran into you a few times on the Carnival Sunshine in February.  First time was in the steakhouse, first night, and you commented on “how lovely” I looked – that was so sweet of you – it impressed my husband also.  We have been married 42 years, so love those compliments. Later, during the cruise, we visited with you again and talked about the Carnival Splendor cruise a few years ago where the young lady “took you down” on stage – we often smile about that – you said you still have the bruises to show for it. Cruising again September 27 out of Fort Lauderdale on the Carnival Freedom and will hit Platinum. Thank you for all the memories you have given us.  Hope we have many more cruises ahead of us. It is our pleasure to cruise with Carnival.

 John says:

 Hello Linda Petrie

What a wonderful post. I am so glad that you have taken the time to write and I hope you had the most fantastic time on your cruise. Congratulations also on reaching platinum and I hope you will let me know your cabin number closer to the cruise so I can send you a little something. Thanks again for writing and I hope you are both doing well. Best wishes.


 Vaughn Ahearn asks:

 Check out Matt Hochberg’s RCI blog. It is how one should be written IMHO. You could learn so much.

 John says:

 Hello Vaughn Ahearn

I will have a look when time allows and I am sure it is a wonderful read and, certainly, I wish him all the best with it. Thank you for letting me know; that was very kind of you. Best wishes.


 Greg Penglis asks:

 My dream is to be one of the world’s best cruise directors. Currently I’m a tour guide in San Francisco.  Got almost six years full time on a microphone including in depth discussions of the city and ridiculous comic improvs.  I’ve also played guitar for years and hope to do so on board with the dance bands, and to join the solo guitarist at the main bar for cool duets. I had been a flight instructor for years and I’m used to handling emergencies.  So if this works out to become a cruise director, I’ll probably take the ship’s officer exams as well to be even more qualified if necessary.  And I’ve written a book on flight instruction, and several articles and columns, so yes I’d love to do my own Carnival blog. I can’t work onboard until my daughter graduates high school next year and has her life planned out for college.  Then I will have no attachments and can sail the oceans indefinitely. How best should I go about applying to Carnival?  How far in advance should I start the process?  Can I be both entertainment staff working up to cruise director, and still play guitar and sing on board with the other groups or soloists?  Thank you so much for your help.  Any other place you can direct me at Carnival would be greatly appreciated.  I’ve got the regular Carnival career website, I was just hoping to find a mentor and learn more.

Thank you,

Greg Penglis

 John says:

 Hello Greg Penglis

I want to thank you for writing and I can see how determined you are to succeed which is great. Please go to our new web site which has full information on the job and how to apply. The job will start as cruise staff so you can learn all about the job and shipboard life. Many current CDs have done this and fast-tracked to the cruise director position. So, I wish you much success and I am here if you have any questions. Best wishes.


 Theresa Leggett asks:

 Hi John: I have asked this once before here and also when I received the survey upon my return from my cruise, but have not received an answer.  I hope you can help because this made no sense to me.  I was on the May 4 Carnival Breeze cruise and will say had a wonderful time for the second year in a row.  I purchased the Cheers program, like I did in 2013 on the Carnival Breeze. What is bothering me is that most bartenders on the 2014 cruise said they were not permitted to make me a rum and Diet Coke in a tall glass.  For example, pour one shot of rum in a tall glass and fill the remainder of the glass with diet coke.  I don’t understand this.  I could order a drink such as a Frog’s Island Ice Tea which contains several shots of liquor and it is served in a tall glass, but I was not able to get one shot of liquor in a tall glass with Diet Coke.   Diet Coke doesn’t count toward the 15-drink limit in the Cheers program so I don’t know what the reasoning is.  On several occasions, I would purchase a rum and coke in the small glass, wait five minutes and go back to the bar for a Diet Coke, which was served in a tall glass and mix the two together.  Please provide me with an answer.  Thank you.

 John says:

 Hello Theresa Leggett

I’ve been exchanging emails with Eddie Allen, our VP of beverage operations, and he confirms that you can and should have been able to and apologies that you were told this was not the case. I truly appreciate you telling me and he will make sure the message is received and understood. Thanks then for letting us know and I do hope you had a great cruise. Best wishes.


 Janet Hickey asks:

 Hi John, I love your blog. We are cruising August 22 on Carnival Liberty, this will be our eighth cruise and it is for our 35th anniversary.  We are actually going to see Antonio, the bartender, before he retires.  We heard that he is retiring soon and we would like to decorate his bar for that wonderful occasion.  Can you let me know if we can do that or if that is not allowed.  Either way we will have a great time and enjoy our visit.  Keep up the good work.  You are AWESOME!!!!!

 John says:

 Hello Janet Hickey

That is marvelous that you are going on to be with Antonio for his retirement and I am sure that the management will have no problem in you doing some kind of decoration or tribute. Drop me a note on my page please two days before the cruise so I can let them know and please include your cabin number. Have a brilliant time. Best wishes.


 Chris Villanueva asks:

 You sent us strawberries and a ship on a stick for our anniversary cruise on Carnival Splendor but have a question. Have you actually tried the champagne you sent for our anniversary? You should because it tastes like s**t. On Celebrity they sent us a bottle of Prosecco. Just saying you should try it because, if you did, you would be embarrassed. We asked to swap it for a six-pack of Bud but were told “NO”!!!

 John says:

 Hello Chris Villanueva

I do hope you had a wonderful cruise and I am glad you appreciated the chocolate strawberries and the trophy. I have not tried the champagne as I don’t drink alcohol but I know many people that I have sent it to seem to enjoy it. Thanks for sailing with us and I hope we see you again soon. Best wishes.


 Thelma Bennett asks:

 Why is it as if the customer service at Carnival call center has gotten worse? You can ask the question and depending on who answers the phone as to what answer you will get. I am a PLATINUM guest and I don’t recall having as much trouble as I have had with my last

booking. My booking with canceled in error and no real explanation were given.

 John says:

 Hello Thelma Bennett

I am so sorry to read this and I will ask my colleagues to look into what happened and help you accordingly. Thank you for letting me know and thank you for your loyalty and hope to see you soon. Best wishes.


 David Endicott asks:

 This is from a thread on Cruise Critic about cruise salaries. Here is what’s written about your job Heald: The cruise director is in charge of all on-board entertainment, creates, coordinates, and implements all the daily activities, acting master of ceremonies at social activities and evening shows. Professional entertainment background preferred or 2-5 years on board working your way up from an entry-level cruise staff position. Public speaking, delegate responsibilities and strong organizational abilities required. Fluent English Language skills required. Salary range: $3,800-$7,500 U.S. per month, depending on the cruise line. Apparently years ago cruise directors kept the profits on the bingo for most of their salary but now it is a salaried position. Care to comment, Heald?

 John says:

 Hello David Endicott

Just like most companies can’t comment publicly on their employees’ compensation, I really cannot comment on salary, mine or any other Carnival employee as I am sure you understand. As for “cruise directors kept the profits on the bingo for most of their salary” I can tell you that at no time during my 24 years in the chair has that ever been true. I am very lucky to have this job and I appreciate everything Carnival does for me. Best wishes.


 Joyce Ward asks:

 My DH and I are both platinum VIP with us both spending thousands of dollars for our 14 cruises. We are both sick to the stomach that Carnival has decided to slap us hard across the face with the Faster to the Fun $50 VIP you give just anyone. These people get on the ship the same time as us platinum VIPs and have the same perks that we have spent time and big $$$ to achieve. This is so wrong on so many levels. I am outraged as is my DH and eight other couples we play cribbage with all of who are from The Villages and are platinum important people with Carnival. You will lose us all if this continues.

 John says:

 Hello Joyce Ward

Thanks so very much for taking the time to write and with much passion. It should be noted that the Faster to the Fun program is only for 15 cabins per cruise and that some of the benefits that you receive, they do not. Plus we have added the benefit of your cabin being ready upon embarkation starting and your luggage being delivered first. It really should not impact your cruise in anyway and I hope, then, that you will have many more cruises with us and please let me know if there is anything I can do for you. Best wishes.


 Jamie McCarty asks:

 Hey John! First off, let me say I LOVE cruising, and Carnival is the only cruise line I’ve been on.  I will be sailing on my seventh cruise on Carnival Magic in October, 130 days to be exact. I have two quick questions for you.  Is Carnival ever gonna serve biscuits and gravy on the breakfast buffet? Has Carnival considered adding hard apple cider to the alcohol list? That is becoming widely popular in the US, plus it’s very yummy! Thank you very much!

 John says:

 Hello Jamie McCarthy

Thanks for those very kind words and we do actually serve biscuits and gravy on a couple of ships, Carnival Fantasy and Carnival Fascination, I think, but I will confirm. I am not sure how good they are so, hopefully, someone will comment below. We have Wild Orchard and Strongbow on our ships now and as you said, they are very popular indeed. I hope we see you soon and please let me know if there is anything I can do for you. Best wishes.


 JoAnn Otto asks:

 Hi John,

Our family just got of the Carnival Liberty on June 7. My husband and I have been on a few cruises and have always had a wonderful time, this time was no exception except for a person at guest services. My son who was on his first cruise, was checking his account on the kiosk and it said to see guest services immediately. So he went over and told the guy that he got the message, this guy brought up my sons account and said…”It’s not my job to offer you financial advice but you spend too much time in the casino.” My son told him he just wants to know why he had to come to the desk. The guy told my son he needs to call his credit card company to authorize the charges and the call would be free. I was shocked when he told me this. I went down the last evening of the cruise to get more no. 2 tags and this same guy said to me, “Didn’t you get some in your cabin?” I said, “Yes but I need four more.” He replied, “So you are a heavy packer?” — which is none of his business what I pack. I have never on all the cruises had a person treat me in this way. We did have his name but can’t find it right now. I just wanted you to be aware of this and maybe address it to someone. I am thinking his name was Puji or something like that. But everything else was WONDERFUL. Thank you

 John says:

 Hello JoAnn Otto

I do apologise for this and it appears that the guest services associate was attempting some mild humour which maybe he should not have done. I do appreciate you bringing this to my attention and I will send this to the guest services manager on the ship to look into. Apologies again and I do hope you had a wonderful time and that we see you again soon. Best wishes.


 Dawn Falk asks:

 John: We are sailing on the Carnival Pride June 29 and I would like to know if we can bring our own Diet Coke on board. I have seen other guests bring on bottle water.  Thanks

 John says:

 Hello Dawn Falk

Yes you can bring 12 cans per adult. Let me know if you have any questions and have a great cruise. Best wishes.


 Marty Eastman asks:

 I read your comment about chewing tobacco which was very disrespectful to a tradition that has been handed down from father to son for many generations. I was banned from using it in the casino on my Carnival Magic cruise, so you can imagine how angry I was. I am a proud Texan and proud Texans are not to be messed with. I have a cruise booked in January back on the same boat and if assurances cannot be made that I can chew and spit my tobacco as is my constitutional my right as a Texan and as an Americanm I will take my business across the street.

 John says:

 Hello Marty Eastman

Thanks so much for writing. I am sorry that you are so upset by this and you raise an interesting point. I have checked with a few casino managers around the fleet and it seems we do not have a blanket rule about this with some saying they will not allow it and other managers saying they are not sure. I have asked the beards in Miami to see what they have to say and, of course, I will let you know. I would imagine though that we will not allow it in the casinos in future days but let me confirm this. I hope you will still join us and that you will remember all the fun you had on the ship. Best wishes.


 That’s all for today

 Before a Carnival ship can take guests on board for a brilliant cruise vacation, the ship’s builders, in the presence of many Carnival beards dressed in high visibility jackets, perform many tests. Sea trials are done, engines are tested in all kinds of conditions and each weld is checked and double checked. The result of this exhaustive testing is remarkable and by and large, cruise ships are very resilient in all kinds of conditions. You can take them through the extreme cold of Alaska. You can sail them through heavy rain and you can leave it docked in the Caribbean sun. And still, all of its things will work when the captain says, “Let’s go.” And right now work and tests are being dine on each new piece of metal that will be joined together to, eventually, in 2016 become Carnival Vista and from what I heard about her today…..she is going to be absolutely brilliant.

 In Tracy Arm Fjord I had a table for one in the steakhouse. I don’t get to go very often but, before the shows, I thought I would sneak in and have a quick meal. I say quickly because I called ahead and told the lovely hostess, Nora Bollockov, what I would like to order. She found me a quiet table upstairs and as soon as I sat down, my superb tuna tartartartartartar arrived …………. with extra wasabi. And soon after my well done (yes, yes, I know it’s dry and I should have it cooked medium but I am British and I like my meat burnt not just waved in front of a sodding candle for a few minutes) cowboy steak (minus the hat) arrived, joined on the plate by asparagus and grilled onions. No carbs again………whose a good boy then, John?

 A table for one gives you time for reflection and outside of the usual ponderings about how much of my life is spent away from the ones I love my mind actually fell to the steak on my plate. You see, I could not help but wonder who was the first person to eat a cow? Which chap holding his spear said, “You know what? If I kill this, peel of its skin and place it above a fire for a few hours, I bet it would be very tasty.” Who was the first person who opened up an oyster and thought, “Mmm. If I put that slimy dollop in my mouth, I shall be to get aroused and have rumnpy pumpy all night long.” How about cigars? How many different types of leafs were smoked before someone found tobacco? Surely someone must have tried to smoke a rose or sunflower before finding tobacco? And how did they make it into a cigar or cigarette? And who was the first person to discover that peeing on someone is good for jelly fish stings? I bet he was French. Yep, those were my thoughts last night as I ate a wonderful cowboy steak and enjoyed the excellent service that can always be found in our steakhouses.

 One more thing before I go.


Sent: Thursday, June 19, 2014 7:57 AM



Subject: Guest request for meeting with the Cruise Director

Good day John

Miss_________ of cabin **** would like you to contact her. Guest has requested because she wants to have a lounge for her to do some talk to guests. Miss_________ is a from The American Association of Psychics and Mediums, “tTat is what her business card she left for you John says and also that she is famous from TV shows. I will leave this card in your box John if you or Dee can collect and call her please

Kind Regards,

Guest Services Associate

Carnival Miracle/Carnival Cruise Lines

 Yep, here we are again. I had one of these requests some years ago I seem to remember. I have not called Miss——– yet but will do so and unfortunately I will have to say “no.” I am sure what she does provides a comfort to many who have lost loved ones but I am afraid that it just isn’t right for a “Fun Ship” cruise vacation. Can you imagine the Fun Times?

 2:00pm                                    John’s Marriage Show                                    Phantom Theatre

                                                Slot Tournament $500 prize              Casino Deck 2 Midship

2:30pm                                    General Knowledge Trivia                 Fountainhead Cafe

3:00pm                                    Tea Time and Music                          Bacchus Dining Room

3:30pm                                    Contact Your Dead Relatives             Mad Hatters Lounge


As I said, I am not knocking what she says and what she does but I have to say no for obvious reasons. Besides and I say this respectfully….. I personally don’t need a medium……I speak to my Dad every day.

 Your friend,


Hi, I’m John, and this is my blog. So please don’t mistake my opinions — or those of my dear friends, fans or commenters — for those of Carnival Cruise Line or Carnival Corporation. My apologies in advance for anything I may say that upsets you, but this disclaimer covers Carnival and puts the blame directly on me………….. bugger.