There’s nothing worse than polling the audience. So many comics think that’s crowd work. Again, all they’re really doing is burning a topic, if they’re not going to follow up on it. We all have different skill sets. And if you’re a great joke writer, don’t think you need to add crowd work into your mix. You don’t need to. Just like how I don’t need to add one-liners into my act because I see somebody that’s great doing one-liners. So many young comics after they see me, or Todd Glass or Steve Iott, who’s more local, they’ll go, “Oh I got to start doing more crowd work.” No, no you don’t. Stick with what you’re doing, stick with what works for you. If eventually you figure out that’s what you want to do, then great. But don’t go out of your way to try crowd work if that’s not in your DNA.
In a way, it’s a little insulting to the guys who do it well. Like just the idea that you’re a comedian, “Yeah I’m gonna try doing crowd work too…” Why do you think you can do that? Because you saw somebody do it well? It’s the one thing that does kind of drive me nuts, when you see somebody really great at it, “Yeah I want to do that too.” That’s not what you do, so what are you talking about? I’d like to write great jokes too, I just don’t have that skill set.
Interesting to hear this p.o.v. from such a crowd work master. I get what he's saying, but a comic who's got ZERO crowd work skills is missing a tool on the tool belt IMO. And the only way you get better at it is by giving it a go.
It's especially helpful if you're frequently hosting shows or doing small/shitty rooms. When people are cold, it's nice to be able to do some non-material conversing that gets a few laughs and warms 'em up a bit. A little back-and-forth banter can serve as the foreplay that helps, um, grease the wheels.