...don't piss off your fellow comedians...
Comedy Rule of Etiquette #1: The "Host - Comedian - Host relationship".
When attending most any booked show, as an audience member, you may not notice the subtleties that carry on amongst the comedians throughout the show.
For one, "the handing off of the mic," like a baton in a relay. You can't just hand it off when you finish your set and jump off stage. You can, but immediately you're telegraphing to every comic in the room that you're an amateur. (And believe me this is a habit I'm trying to work on.) But you need to think of the mic as a very fragile Fabergé egg. In essence, you, as a comic, need to always hand it off with a lot of soft fluffy pillow in between.
Think of it as filler.
The host introduces you, "Hey, and now for your next comic..." [The audience claps.]
Then the comedian walks up to the stage and gives props to the host, "Give it up for your host..."[The audience claps.]
Pay attention, this is what most amateurs miss!
Then when you finish your set, you re-give it up for your host, "Once again, give it up for your host..."
And your host obliges by showing respect for you by giving the audience your last acknowledgment. "[Comic's name], everybody!" [Again, the audience claps.]
By this time, I'm saying in my head, as an audience member, "Alright, alright already. Enough with the ass-kissing. We get it. You're all great, friendly, and courteous comedians." But actually, I don't think it's fair to say it's ass-kissing. Just space filler.
Just in case you missed that, here's the sped up version, the pattern you'll notice throughout the night at a booked* show:
Host: Give it up for our next comedian!
Comedian #1: Give it up for our host! [Finishes his/her set] Give it up for our host!
Host: [Comedian #1's name], everybody! [Host may or may not tell jokes] Give it up for our next comedian!
Comedian #2: Give it up for our host! [Finishes his/her set] Give it up for our host!
Host: [Comedian #2's name], everybody! [Host may or may not tell jokes] Give it up for our next comedian!
...and so on, and so forth...
What I mean to say about the ass-kissing is that I believe it's a falsified notion. In actuality, I believe it's filling the space in time when no one is speaking. It's like radio. Radio stations don't like any dead-air. But this is all just speculation. I haven't done the research yet. I need to ask hosts why they do it.
I, personally, hate excessive and superfluous clapping--like at awards shows. It could be just plain indolence on my behalf. (I don't like having to do more than necessary.) But again, it fits in with the false compliment post I mentioned early. I may have enjoyed the set. But do I need to clap twice to show my appreciation. And what does my clapping prove?
As a comic, when I approach the stage, I enjoy the silence. It lets me know people are paying attention and it's time for me to get "into the zone."
Ahh, the zone! I miss the zone. I used to enter the zone in basketball, soccer, and other sports in high school. And of course you can do no wrong when you've entered the zone. You're in lockstep with that special vibration in the air. It's like you hit all the electromagnetic waves and they do the work for you. The magic just happens and it flows out of you. I can't wait to do this enough times, where I can "enter the zone" on stage. When it happens, watch out! You'll be hooked!
Rule of Etiquette #2: Watch for the light!
Don't go over the allotted time given to you. More specifically, watch for the light! (Again a habit I have yet to ingrain into my comedy persona.) If you go over your time, the people in line after you, now have to wait even longer (the difference of the time you went over by) to get on stage. This "running over your time" can become extremely irksome if other comics have another show to head off to or have a job they need to get to early next morning. My point is, just be conscious of this. And you can even ask, "How much time do I have?" in the middle of your set just to make sure.
Again, I'm still learning. So to avoid this I always try to be the "headliner," which if you haven't figured out the irony by now is fairly funny to be called at the open mic. In open mics, I ask to be last on the list. That way if I go over, no one really cares because they've already their time on stage.
It's very necessary that you don't piss off your fellow comedians. This also goes for club owners, GMs (general managers), and Hosts, respectively. Hosts may very well be your fellow comedian buddy that was coming up the rankings with you at those many open mics you attended.
Rule of Etiquette #3: Stick around after your set!
Make every effort to stay after your set. Every comedian needs an audience to perform in front of (even if the audience is comprised of other comedians). Note: Comedians typically make the worst audience because they're so cerebral and partly because they're probably not even paying attention to you on stage. (They're probably thinking about their own set.)
But once you head off stage, stick around. Say you can't stick around the entire show, but you do have the flexibility to stay a little bit. Comedy etiquette says "3 comedians after you." What does that mean? Stick around and wait until after 3 comedians after you have performed. Simple is as simple does.
* I mention a booked show versus an open mic, which are two completely different structures all together.