Over the years I have been to numerous comedy gigs in numerous states of frivolity. I have been to many in a grumpy mood in the search of some light hearted solace to adorn my soon to be split sides. I have also arrived in such a state that I am surprised that the security staff even let me in.
This brings me onto my point, if I actually have one that is. How should you, the audience act at a comedy gig?
Last week I was at a mid week show in London. I was neither grumpy or in a state you will be pleased to hear. The MC on the night was intent on spelling out 'house rules' turn off your mobile phones, don't talk when the acts are on and don't get up to go for a drink or as it turns out a pee too. Even the most novice of comedy goer is used to being told to turn off your mobile phone in a similar setting when visiting the cinema so it's not fully alien to 99% of any crowd.
But I like being relaxed at a comedy gig. I like to feel part of the show and close to my friends and part of this is talking, getting up to go to the bar when I want to and not feeling like I need to cross my legs like a toddler who really does need the bathroom now mummy!
Of course if you are about to get up for a drink halfway through a comedians set and you are sitting in the middle of a row in the center of the audience you just wouldn't. But this MC really wanted total control. He told us to 'get up if we really had to' during his interludes and even then picked us off one by one as we snuck off to the loo or the bar. After an allocated break he was announced back onto the stage but people were busily chatting, ordering or peeing. People were retelling comedians jokes and thinking back to how their mate Matt always does that thing with the tea too, a real compliment to the gig and acts on show. All pleasantries. All relaxed. No grumpy people and no states. But this was not on. We should have stood to attention by all accounts upon his trumpeted return.
This was followed by an almost panto like re do of his entrance with us all making much more noise this time. Comedians have issues - we get it. But that wasn't it. It was an odd controlling scene which made me feel on edge. I always want comedy gigs to be as inviting and as accessible as they can so any 'first timers' have a great night and come back and pay again for their ticket and their drinks. After all that is how the MC and comedians on the bill get paid right?
People were not being rude and were not interrupting the main acts in any way. But the balance of power must remain it seemed. Well I would love to even out this seesaw. People come to comedy to relax have fun and to do what they want to do. And if that is in the normal unassuming way then I say let them drink, let them chat and let them pee! People weren't heckling but trying to feel part of something. The exclusive club's doors were thrown open long ago. They had to because if they didn't the club would have closed. MCs, comedians and promoters lets all take a step back and have fun... again!