What to Do About Hecklers Bothering Your Venue's Performers

The heckler comes in three flavors: the loudmouth, the aspiring comic, and the inebriated. While most hecklers are annoying and disruptive, if you ever feel physically threatened as a performer, you should seek immediate assistance from the venue’s security or management. Hecklers are usually associated with comedians, but artists must also deal with them on occasion. In the world of comedy, annoying audience members are something we all see as being integrally related to the art form. When comedians find their own voice and begin performing in front of an audience, their capacity to deal with difficult individuals of the crowd grows along with them. However, because music heckling is uncommon, it can be a bruising experience for performers.


How do you bestow power on him? By recognizing him. You’re being interrupted by hecklers. They cause havoc with the show. Ignore them by moving to the opposite side of the stage and continuing with your performance. This will usually embarrass them, and they will cease. You’ll need to continue on to the next stage if they don’t.

Don’t Take it Personal

It’s possible that your first reaction is to lash out. You can be hell-bent on getting back at them if you sense they’ve gone too far or assaulted your integrity. Don’t. You’ll fall into their trap if you take the bait. The most common outcome of this strategy is that those listening leap to their feet and take sides with the individuals rather than the ideas. 

Be Gracious

Even to the heckler, be kind, nice, and pleasant. Never lose control of your emotions. Even if you think they’ve utterly spoiled your moment and you’re enraged on the inside, you won’t be able to regain control if you lose it. Maintaining a cool head, being polite, and getting your presentation back on track as quickly as possible is the best plan of action. 


Pull them aside during a break and have a sidebar talk if the heckler persists. “Hey, what’s going on with you?” is the time to address their conduct and just ask. This will give the person a better chance to open up, and you can then work through the difficulty together. You may need to ask them to quit the encounter altogether if the emotion or conduct is too debilitating. It’s vital to have this chat in private; it’s respectful to the person involved. Some individuals believe that stand-up comedy is something that anyone can do. However, it takes a lot of effort and time to become truly good at it. Jerry Seinfeld has been reported several times as saying that stand-up comedy should be treated as a job. Jerry Seinfeld routinely discusses how he writes jokes every day. If you don’t work at your job every day, you’ll get fired. Even then, stand-up comedians like Erin Alexis often take years to achieve success. Take a deep breath and remember that the person who is getting in your way is in pain or afraid, and is trying everything he can to feel good or safe. “I wonder what’s actually going on with this person?” question yourself as you shift your perspective.