Over the years, I have had the great pleasure of attending many stand-up comedy shows. I have always been a firm believer that laughter is the best medicine and that a good dose of belly laughs can be a welcomed break from the seriousness of the world.
I have been most fortunate in being able to catch a few shows a year, whether they featured major icons of comedy or rising young stars who were able to successfully guide us into taking a step back and have a chuckle at the silliness that surrounds us.
I would even add to the mix certain musical artists who share so many funny stories between sets of music that you aren’t sure whether you saw stand-up comedy with a side order of music or music with a side order of stand-up comedy.
Either way, I am most grateful for the artists who have the knack for telling a funny story and made a few hundred or a few thousand people laugh. It’s an incredible talent and a joy to behold!
To me, the show that will always be remembered most fondly is a Just for Laughs Gala in Montreal hosted by the legendary Joan Rivers, a couple of years before her passing.
But over the years, I have had many eyeball rolling moments at audience members. I often ask myself if they’ve ever been to a comedy show as they seem to break every unwritten rule about attending a comedy show and in some cases, annoying the rest of the audience.
To help set the record straight, here are my suggestions of things you should NEVER do at a comedy show:
1- Sit in the front row
I completely appreciate a fan’s enthusiasm for wanting to get front row tickets to see a comedy icon up close. The challenge is that when you are that close to the comedian, they can see you too, and you may become part of the routine without really wanting to be. I have seen comedians relentlessly pick on audience members in the front rows. If you get embarrassed easily, I would suggest avoiding the front rows.
2- Arrive late
I don’t think it matters whether the babysitter was late, whether you were stuck in traffic or whether the restaurant was busy, I have seen comedians stop the show and lecture the latecomers in punctuality. If you get embarrassed easily, I would suggest arriving early.
3- Leave your cell phone on
It doesn’t seem to matter how many times they announce warnings about turning off cell phones before the show starts, there’s always someone who seems to forget… and who seems to get a call in the middle of the show. I have seen some not-so-shy comedians turn into mean sixth grade teachers and either confiscate the phone or to take the call and make fun of the person who left their cell phone on. If you get embarrassed easily, I would suggest turning off the cell phone completely.
4- To keep a conversation going with the comedian
When a comedian asks something like “How’s everyone tonight?” or “Where are you from?” they aren’t looking for someone’s life story. But inevitably, what should be a one word answer often turns into an “it’s complicated” kind of story, which becomes material for the comedian. If you get embarrassed easily, speak only when spoken to, and keep your answers short.
5- Say “I don’t get it”
At one show in particular, I couldn’t get over how the person in front of me kept leaning over to their friend and saying “I don’t get it”… and the friend started explaining the joke. If you don’t understand a joke, just let it go. By the time your friend finishes explaining the one you missed, the comedian will already be setting up the next joke.
6- Ask your friend “What did he/she say?”
Sometimes comedians speak quickly, sometimes they set up the next joke while you are laughing, and sometimes they are laughing themselves. Either way, don’t get too hung up on something you missed because in today’s rapid-fire style of joke-telling, there is another funny story coming up. Plus that discussion you are having is disturbing to the people around you.
7- Tell your friend “That reminds me of my aunt’s cousin’s brother’s girlfriend who…”
I’m sorry but you’re not the comedian. I didn’t pay my hard earned money to hear your lame story.
8- Leave to go to the bathroom/concession and return to ask “What did I miss?”
I’ll never forget a group sitting in front of us at the Amy Schumer show who likely enjoyed a few adult beverages before the show and who walked in with large glasses of beer to enjoy during the show. Inevitably, at one point, nature called. When they returned to their seats, they asked their friends “what did we miss?” and the friends actually recapped the jokes one-by-one. By the time they were done, they had missed 3 more jokes, which had them asking “What did she just say?” (Please refer to point 6 above)
9- Talk loudly
That same group sitting in front of us at Amy Schumer didn’t seem to have much in the way of volume control or indoor voices. I mustered up my courage to shush them a couple of times, but they were likely too inebriated to notice. For the sake of the guests around you, please don’t make the show all about you and if you absolutely must make a passing comment to a friend, please whisper.
Even though they often warn audience members to please turn of cameras, cell phones or sometimes please avoid flash photography, there’s still someone in every audience who takes a flash picture because they don’t know how to turn the flash off. Similarly, I recall a lady at a Jann Arden concert who was trying to take pictures with her camera and when the camera wasn’t cooperating, she actually pulled out the instruction booklet that was folded like a road map, which she proceeded to unfold completely to find the answer to get her camera working.
Why don’t you just enjoy the moment, and not worry about recording the show.
But one thing you must do when attending a comedy show is to have fun! Have great time at the show, and please be considerate to allow the folks around you to have a great time as well.
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Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,