Did a show earlier this week that was less than ideal setup. First show at this venue and the audience was in one long wide row. 20 people or so just lined up horizontally down the bar, like a receiving line or something.
Needless to say, every comic went up and commented about the setup and how weird it was and how they felt uncomfortable, etc. Show was fine but it never got hot.
After, I had an interesting convo with a gal at the show. She's not a comedy savvy person, just someone who showed up to see a show. And to her, it was strange that every comic kept talking about how weird it was. Because to her, it didn't feel weird at all. She was enjoying it. So was the person next to her. She just didn't get why each comic would go up there and talk about it being a shitty setup. If it wasn't for that, she never would have known anything bad was going on.
That was an interesting reminder to me of how much you lead the audience when you're onstage. If you keep talking about how weird it is, it will be weird. You're basically doubling down on the unpleasantness. On the other hand, you can ignore it and just keep going as if it's a great show.
It's a balance. You don't want to seem tone deaf while ignoring a shitty situation. But then again, you're prob not helping much if you dwell on it over and over.
Sandpaper Suit is NYC standup comic Matt Ruby's (now defunct) comedy blog. Keep in touch: Sign up for Matt's weekly Rubesletter. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You're the one making it weird
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Yah, just like the show doesn't become a "pile of fail" until the host says "this is a pile of fail". But we comics are so open and honest, it's tough to hide our true feelings during that time.
I would add, don't let anyone before you psych you out before you get on stage. The last person did his thing, now you do yours. You're not related and you're not a duo, so there's no reason you have to continue that person's low energy, unpolished delivery or negative perspective.
Think of it as the audience changing the channel.
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