Monthly Archives: February 2013

How to be a responsible comedy audience member

If you’re reading this blog, I can assume you have either some interest in stand-up comedy.  That, or beer or any other ridiculous thing I feel that the internet needs my opinions on.  Or you’re my mom.  Hi mom.  Sorry I don’t visit as much as you’d like me to.  But let’s say you have some curiosity about stand-up comedy or my opinions on it.

The last blog entry I wrote detailed how a comic should act at an open mic.  If you haven’t read it, scroll below this one.  Sitting in the crowd, there’s few things worse than seeing someone break simple rules that exist to make the whole experience less awkward for everyone.  Because it is awkward… one person grabbing a microphone and sharing their innermost thoughts in the hopes of amusing you bears such a high chance of failure that will leave the audience wanting to be somewhere else.

Sometimes, the audience itself can be a barrier to the greater enjoyment of the show.  There are some simple things that audiences can do to make sure that their experiences will be as pleasurable as possible.  Most of the time an MC tries to condense this down instead of dragging it out as much as I have, but you came to my site to read this, so now you’re prisoner till I reach the video at the end.  Yea.  Now you have to finish.

Sit down, get comfortable, and prepare to be entertained.  Like an LSD trip, your attitude going into a comedy show is going to have a big impact on how the next couple of hours go.  If you sit there, arms crossed, thinking to yourself “I seriously doubt that these people are going to be able to entertain me,” there’s a huge chance that you’re going to experience a self-fulfilling prophecy.  If you really want to have fun, you’re going to have an absolute blast.  If you’re a miserable son of a bitch who didn’t want to come in the first place and would rather have an IV stream of Busch Light into your arm as you sit on the couch, stay home.

Express your approval through laughter, and your disapproval by silence.  Nothing else, unless specifically called for (for example, if a comic says “by round of applause… ” and then asks a question).  The first part is fairly simple.  Comics have prepared some material to present to you in the form of a monologue with the occasional breaks for your laughter.  If a comic says something funny, laugh your ass off.  That’s what you just paid for, right?  If he or she didn’t say something funny, sit in your chair quietly and stare holes through them with your eyes.  Don’t heckle.  Here’s why: if a comic is bombing and you heckle him, that takes the pressure away from them and gives them an escape route.  If you really don’t like something a comic says, be quiet and let them stew in the broth of their own failure.  Alone.  In the spotlight.

Don’t heckle.  Don’t shout shit out, don’t try to help the comic.  Even if you think the comic is doing a great job, don’t say anything or try to help.  The comic has a specific plan he doesn’t want you interrupting.  If he or she asks you a question, feel free to respond.  Otherwise, the comic is going to think you’re trying to derail him or her and then you’ve become a target to destroy so the show may proceed to the point the comic was trying to reach.  Now your feelings are hurt and no one is happy.

If you liked a comic, let them know after the show.  Now that you’ve finished the show, you’ve paid your tab and left your server a huge tip, stop by and talk to the comic on the way out.  We work really hard to amuse you guys and if someone comes up and tells us, it really makes the whole night amazing.  Your laughter and applause are like a drug to us.  But that can be a fleeting experience.  When you come up to us after the show, shake our hand, buy some merchandise, it let’s us know “yea, that really did just happen, you didn’t hallucinate them enjoying you because the lights were so bright.

Don’t be a douche.  Maybe you don’t know what that means.  You’re good.  Just put a little extra Axe bodyspray on your Affliction shirt.

-Don’t bring cats to comedy shows either.

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The [Now Written] Unwritten Rules of a Comedy Open-Mic

In the past, I’ve hosted comedy open mic nights and found myself getting incredibly frustrated about similar habits a lot of shitty new comics had.  When a venue contacted me a few years ago to run their comedy open mic night, I put together a list of rules for my show that I actually codified into paper and made every comic read before letting them on my show.  Some of them ignored these rules and were not welcomed back, though most comics took these rules to heart if they needed to be told so at all.  Below are the rules that I feel every comic should follow when attending a comedy workshop.

-Do not disrespect the house.  They have been nice to us to let us perform here, recognize that, don’t say anything dumb that will make the venue reconsider giving people a mic and PA system to talk into.
-Don’t harass people in the audience.  Consider the fine line that does exist between crowd work and being an asshole with a microphone in your hand.  They’re there to laugh, not to be abused.  Also, as this show is a work in progress.  As such, a lot of people in the crowd might not even know a comedy show was planned.  Unless they’re really asking for attention, leave them alone.

-When you are given the light, your time has come to a close.  Go ahead and rap that shit up, B.  While you don’t have to stop talking and flee the spotlight, don’t go on to a new subject.  Finish your thought and dismount.
-You can curse; however, do not use foul language for the mere sake of using foul language.  Have a point to it.  Saying “motherfucker” and “god damn” between every word and at the end of every sentence expedites the aforementioned illumination (See above statement).
-Don’t hack.  If you want to say some other comedian’s jokes, save that for when you’re sitting around the water cooler at work.  This will also cause you to go into the light.  The point of going to an open mic is to make you a better comic.  You’ll never be better telling someone else’s jokes.
-Before and after you go on, show the performer on stage the respect and attention you would want while on stage.  Keep your personal conversations to a minimum, and if you are going to talk, do it in a way that’s not distracting to the show.  You want everyone’s attention while you’re on stage.  Don’t fuck it up for the next guy.
-This is a show.  While open mics are a great opportunity to hone new material, bear in mind people have to watch it.  Be funny.  Don’t try to shock people or do jokes that only you would ever find funny.  A groan is not as good as a laugh, and a “what the hell was that?” is pointless.

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