Stand-up comedian, Nish Kumar, has more than a few tales of heckling woe to tell.
Nish began his career as one member of a Durham University sketch group called The Durham Review. They’d do three end of term shows a year and take the best of those shows to Edinburgh Fringe Festival in the summer. Edinburgh is where he’s experienced his toughest crowds.
In a particularly rowdy club the promoter was running an hour behind schedule. Instead of the rough-looking heavy metal band the crowd were expecting, a nervous young Asian man crept onto the stage, to comprehensive booing.
“I was having quite a difficult month at that moment in Edinburgh and something snapped in me. I told them, “I’m not leaving, I’m doing ten minutes, that’s what I’ve been booked to do and I don’t care, I’m not even going to do jokes anymore.”
Nish continued to berate the crowd, before settling down to read them a full ten minutes of a science fiction novel he ‘borrowed’ from an audience member.
“They were getting more and more angry, and then the bar staff starting telling me to fuck off. But I did my ten minutes and was like I’m outta here. I wasn’t even being paid so there was no reason for me to endanger my life in that way.”
Another time he wasn’t so controlled…
“I once called a woman in the audience a c*nt. It’s the thing I regret most. Her and her friends were outrageously drunk and were just hell bent on ruining my show… I had to stop and be like, “Guys, we are in a 60-seater box in Edinburgh and you just can’t do it. If you want to go I’m absolutely happy to refund you.” They were very angry and they waited outside to shout at me.”
Watch Nish’s angry riposte to hecklers below.
Be sure to check out the full feature with James Acaster in XCity Life magazine.