What would be a word for non-malicious heckling, as when an audience member shouts something at the performer/speaker, but the statement isn't aggressive or attacking them in any way. (Brief, unsolicited audience participation.)

I have seen 'heckling' used as a blanket term for this, but without context the connotations of the word are negative.

  • Slagging in my dialect, but I think its connotations are more sharply negative in some other places and it is unknown in yet others. – Jon Hanna Jun 12 '14 at 11:00
  • A not-so-common locution--although it used to be quite common--is the good-natured expression "Hear, hear," meaning ""Listen to what's being said, because I agree with it and second the motion." It's another way of saying "Amen!", or "I agree," or "So be it." – rhetorician Jun 12 '14 at 11:10
  • @Jon Hanna: "slagging" is stronger than "heckling" in my dialect. – Martin McCallion Jun 12 '14 at 11:38
  • @MartinMcCallion yeah I thought so. Ribbing would cover much of what slagging means here, but not quite so applicable to heckling. It's worth considering that some performers dislike "good natured" heckling more than aggressive heckling; they find it just as distracting, but if they tell the person to piss off they look like the bad guy. – Jon Hanna Jun 12 '14 at 11:50
  • @JonHanna Please present rib as an answer, not just as a comment. It is the best answer so far, IMO. Josh and tease are also good answers. All of these express good-natured mocking or making fun of something/someone playfully. – Drew Jun 12 '14 at 17:30

Banter: The playful and friendly exchange of teasing remarks


Badinage: Humourous or witty conversation

  • 3
    Maybe repartee if it's good natured and the speaker retorts. – Ilythya Jun 12 '14 at 15:11
  • Banter was exactly what I had in mind, and repartee is a good, less colloquial alternative. – benxyzzy Jun 13 '14 at 22:37

It's not clear from your example if this falls in this category, but there is a style of interaction between speaker and audience named Call and Response, which Collins defines as "a form of interaction between a speaker and one or more listeners, in which every utterance of the speaker elicits a verbal or non-verbal response from the listener or listeners."

It is particularly characteristic of African and African Diaspora cultures, and many people who are used to call-and-response settings will continue the response side even in situations where the speaker may not be soliciting or expecting that form of audience interaction.


(I'm including this as a separate answer because it covers an entirely different situation)

Outburst - a sudden, unplanned verbal interruption, usually motivated by a strong emotion.


Some of the following may be relevant, although several of the verbs have slightly negative connotations.
chaff, “To use light, idle language by way of fun or ridicule; to banter”
josh, “To tease someone in a kindly fashion”
needle, “To tease in order to provoke; to poke fun at”
quiz, “(archaic) To hoax; to chaff or mock with pretended seriousness of discourse; to make sport of, as by obscure questions”
kibitz, “To give unsolicited or unwanted advice or make unhelpful or idle comments”

One who kibitzes is a kibitzer, “A person who offers unsolicited views, advice, or criticism”. Kibitzing during a speech is indeed a form of non-malicious heckling, although the speaker might prefer to do without extraneous advice.

  • +1 for joshing, this is the first word that came to mind when I read the question and is the only one I've seen that is really both one-way and not negative. – pavja2 Jun 12 '14 at 16:51

Providing laudation

Giving accolades

Chiming kudos

Giving approbation

  • Fanfare
  • Hurrahs
  • Exultation
  • Encouragement ...

My favorite term for this though is talking smack. It is certainly slang but it is more modern and used in America. You talk smack to friends. You can playfully talk smack to a comedian on stage.

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