For the last month I've been performing to groups of people every day at The Edinburgh Fringe Festival. From the soul-sucking, luke warm chuckles of nine people to the sweat dripping, packed out roars of 140, every person in every show behaves in a different way.
There is a common law amongst comedians (and all performers to an extent) that you should never blame your audience, but, there should perhaps also be an additional law for audiences that If you're going to come and watch something, for goodness sake, don't be a cunt.
So, with that in mind, here are just a few handy tips for how to be part of a good audience:
1) If you are at a comedy gig and you are with a friend, you don't need to look at them to validate your own sense of humour. Just look forward and enjoy it, if your friend isn't enjoying it, or doesn't get it, that is a shame, they are broken, enjoy your night safe in the knowledge that you are correct.
2) If you are in the cinema, there is literally no need to eat anything. I was in the cinema the other day and someone smuggled in some bombay mix. Possibly the crunchiest and smelliest food, they may as well have brought in shit on toast. Cinema is an escape from your everyday life. Remember life at home? Great, there are crisps there, now sit still, enjoy the film and shut the fuck up with your crunching.
3) If you are in a group of mates on a stag do, hen do, work party, birthday party or similar, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DON'T GO AND BE AN AUDIENCE. There is no such thing as a 'well behaved drunk', you are just delaying your chance of fingering Sally from accounts and that hilarious moment when 'Big Steve' puts that shot of sambuca in his eye.
4) If you are a TV production company, don't decide to film a comedy show with the audience standing up, you are already presenting the acts with a room full of people who are frustrated and tired. Comedy clubs, theatres, cinemas seem to have nailed the equation of people + seats + show = suitable audience.
5) If you really like a thing, but aren't sure that your friend will like that thing, don't invite your friend to that thing with you. They'll turn up, not really enjoy the thing, and you will leave having also not enjoyed that thing, thus creating a weird atmosphere, where half the audience are now totally hating that thing and their friends for inviting them.
6) If you cannot last one or two hours without checking your phone, don't go and attempt to be in an audience. No-one wants to see your phone screen strobing every three minutes. If you wait, you will get outside to find you have two texts and one missed call and that will make you feel the most popular man alive. Well done.
7) If you are in a small audience, that does not mean what you are about to see is total dog shit, chances are you about to witness something very good that a lot of people don't know about. You sat there with a face like a weeping anus isn't helping anyone. Enjoy yourself.
8) Going to a comedy gig? Comedians have punchlines as a way to define the end of a joke or routine, don't then repeat that punchline to your friend because you found it amusing, the correct response is laughter, followed by sshh.
9) SHUT UP. There is literally no need to say anything from the moment something starts to when it finishes. Unless your cock has just fallen off or there's a tarantula in your pint, but in an ideal situation, just point at the incident and pull the appropriate face.
8) Are you a nice person who appreciates good performances? Can you sit still, quietly, respond in the correct places and be good company to your fellow humans? Well done, you are the perfect audience member, now go forth and multiply!
Right, I think you are now ready to go and enjoy entertainment.
If not, then just stay in, re-read this article, look at your friend, see if they are enjoying it, get up, go for a piss, carry on reading, repeat a few key points and laugh out loud, take a photo of it with your phone, talk a bit, invite your drunk mates over, let them look at it, then for the sake of actors, musicians, comedians and decent people everywhere, promise us that you will never try and be an audience again.