The first job I had when I moved to L.A. was being a bartender at the comedy club The Laugh Factory. As I stood behind the safety of the bar I remember thinking “I’m glad I’m not the one having to deal with hecklers”. But now that I work as a speaker I’m getting a little taste of what it feels like. Though speakers don’t get heckled nearly as much as comedians do, it still happens, and it’s a good idea to be prepared if it does.

I asked comedians and speakers how to handle a heckler:

“There’s a guaranteed way to avoid heckling in the first place – be riveting.
So many comedians get up there and try new jokes at important shows. The
time to try new stuff is in front of drunks at 1 AM in comedy clubs, not at
big paid events.

I have never been heckled per se, but one time in India, a very drunk woman
was yelling out incoherent things after everything I said. I completely
ignored her, and just talked over her. It’s easy to do because the comedian
has the microphone.

After my set, however, I did a T-shirt giveaway and she yelled out “What
size is it?” and without missing a beat, I said “It’s too small for you”.”

Dan Nainan – Dan Nainan

Dan got his start by taking a comedy class to get over the nervousness of speaking on stage in his job as a demo engineer with Intel Corporation. After leaving Intel to pursue comedy, he has toured with Russell Peters and other notable comedians. Dan has appeared on network television including “Last Comic Standing” as well as in feature films, on radio and in an Apple commercial. He just completed a comedy tour of India.


“To handle hecklers, I’ve found a couple of techniques that seem to work:

* During the Q&A session, I make a point of saying, “Any questions
related to the topic we just discussed?” as opposed to saying, “Any
questions?” Now when the heckler wants to take center stage and bring up
another topic, I can respond by saying, “Glad to discuss this offline at the
end. However, right now we are focused on [topic at hand].” (more…)