Having been a highly effective heckler (to the point I was paid for it)
and also as someone who was good at ejecting hecklers from
and stripclubs, I have a little perspective on the subject.
Here's my advice:
Go to an open microphone stand-up comedy night somewhere and
actually invite the crowd (and the other performers) to heckle you.
Have them really aim for below the belt. Tell them you'll buy a drink
for the person who ends up as the best heckler.
If you're feeling especially brave, invite them to mess with your timing and rhythm.
Even if you're shortloaded with stock insult lines from joke books,
you'll be severely tested.
It might be the most painful experience of your career, but when you
are lying in bed later that night, with insomnia, you will replay the
torture over and over again and eventually commit to memory what
timing you should have used, what you should have done and what
you should have said.
You'll learn that the best way to handle a heckler, however, is to insult
them quickly, effortlessly and with a line that was CLEARLY made up
on the spot.
Having the audience on your side is good, but even if you don't have
them, a great retort can instantly win them over, especially if you can
do it without breaking a sweat.
Remember, the audience is there not only to be entertained by you,
but they are counting on you to police the jerks in the crowd.
If they throw an insult at you, and if no one laughed, casually point out the
lack of crowd response BUT quickly get back to your program
so as not to bait.
if you sense you have the clout, ask the audience by a round of applause
whether they want the heckler to shut the hell up.
If they clap, you've castrated them.
If it is a woman heckling you, don't cut her an ounce
slack even if you're chivalrous by nature.
If after ripping her throat open, she calls you a sexist or changes
tack from one of caustic banter to moral high ground, you've effectively
Also, try to avoid cliches as much as possible.
No one wants to hear. "I don't go where YOU work and rock the slurpee
no audience older than 5th graders wants you to repeat the heckler's
line in the voice of a sarcastic tard.
Also, try to avoid the more common Bill O'Reilly tactics as they are
usually old hat to anyone who's ever seen a college debate.
Never attack weight, old age or race.
With insults, be original. Be quick. Be high-brow--even if your act isn't.
and finally, if you're not at all witty or quick on your feet, just make
puppy eyes at them, put your finger vertically to your lips, stare at
them for over fifteen straight monotonous seconds and then simply
and gently say "shhhhh."