Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Two kinds of audiences


F

or Comics, there are two types of audiences:
- Comedian audiences
- Regular audiences (a.k.a. "real" audiences)

I had the pleasure of playing to both one Thursday night. Playing to one audience and then the other back to back is like night and day.

Let's describe the first and most likely, the one you are least familiar with: "The Comedian audience"

To be a standup comedian, you must be the least bit cerebral. You probably imagine yourself (and your life) in a vastly different arena from where everyone else sees you and your life--perhaps life in general. It takes a certain kind of angle, aspect, skewed point of view to be able to take everyday ordinary topics and twist them into something no one has ever imagined. Clearly, there is an art to this.

...we thank God everyday that there are more of you than there are of them...

I'm sure writers/authors/journalists/bloggers can relate. When they write, they too are communicating to you from a specific angle. But the methods comedians use, it has to be quick, pithy, witty (ideally) and hopefully can make you laugh.

So think about it: You are now a comedian on stage in front of an audience completely composed of cerebral, over-thinking, over-analyzing bastards. All these goofs are listening to your jokes and DECIDING on whether or not it's funny. They are consciously and unconsciously twisting them in their overworked overanalytical minds--perhaps to maybe to steal the joke later on, re-angle the joke in their favor, or to sit and think about the question, "Is that joke really funny?" The point is, this comedian audience is hard to entertain mainly because they're not there to be entertained. To them they are there to cut, dissect, and tear your jokes apart in their head. Maybe even put it back together in a better niftier form.

It's essentially playing to an audience who is constantly thinking, "How can they make a better mouse trap?"

Can you now see the difference between playing a comedian audience versus playing your regular/real audience?

The satisfaction and accomplishment lies in you, the comedian, being able to make a group of curmudgeonly comedians laugh. If you can get the littlest, smirk, grimace, or hum out of them, then that registers as a roar and applause break1 in a regular room. There's a proportion that goes into play as well. (Did you think I was going to leave the math analogies behind? But they worked so well, in previous posts!)

A smirk or huff from a comedian audience registers as a cackle, uproarious laughter in a regular audience.

If you haven't figured out by now what a regular/real audience is, it's your non-comedian--the basic everyday, garden variety audience member. (i.e. "You") And we Thank God everyday that there are more of you than there are of them.

1Applause Break - Regarded as a positive thing in a comedian's performance. Simply a break in his routine interrupted by an audience's applause. [Return]


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2 comments:

The Girl Detective said...

Cool post - I never thought about the way comedians react to comedy. What you're saying makes a lot of sense. It reminds me of the way I, a fiction writer, respond to novels. If I like what I'm reading, it's impossible to simply let myself like it; I have to figure out what exactly the author is doing right so that I can replicate it in my own work. And then I sit around wondering why my fiction writing friends' reactions to my work are never as enthusiastic as I'd like.

Sidhusaaheb said...

I have no experience in this field, but might it be possible that if a comedian is having fun on stage, regardless of what the audience reaction is 'expected' to be, the audience is bound to relate to the comedian and, therefore, enjoy themselves too?

What if the performer performs because he/she loves to do that and not because he/she wants to elicit a particular kind of reaction from the audience?