I had a strange experience the other day. I played a room that wasn’t ideal for comedy. That’s not strange in itself. As many comedians might tell you about bad rooms:
Thing is… this isn’t the first time I’ve seen a room like this, and it probably won’t be the last…
When I say a bad room, I might mean a lot of things. In this case, I specifically mean there were a number of things not working in favour of focusing an audience on the performance of the comic on stage. On top of that, the audience weren’t entirely trying to focus on the comic.
To be fair to the person running the gig, they were doing their best and circumstances just happened to be working against them. This isn’t about the gig itself.
I came away delighted. I found the gig a confidence boost, and some funny stuff happened which still makes me smile. That’s the unusual thing.
So What’s the Secret?
Every gig is an opportunity for a one off set of events that are naturally funny in the moment. Even though we write and rehearse, it’s essential to be in the moment and find the funny that’s unique to that room on that night.
Otherwise, you may as well just send in a YouTube link of a great gig you once played for people to watch when they have a moment.
In every gig, the secret is to find the groove with the room, whatever you need to do, and do what you think will resonate. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Easy gigs won’t teach you many of the skills you need. Harder ones will.
How Do You Deal with a Room That’s Not Listening?
Make them listen. Engage. Don’t hide inside your set. Modify your behaviour, the dynamics of your performance, the way you use the microphone, to bombard them with your performance one moment, and then draw them in the next.
And maybe that works.
And maybe it doesn’t and you go home feeling a bit stupid.