In search of the perfect audience

Hey Dave – I think I’m getting pretty good audience response while on stage. Even when I feel most of the crowd is with me I always notice the people not laughing. What would other comics do? Focus on the ones not laughing to get them with me or ignore them and just keep going? Thanks – A.J.

Hey A.J. – No lie. I was just talking with a comic about this. The conversation was about connecting with your fan base – both in performances and with marketing. Since you’re talking about being on stage, I’ll save the marketing thoughts from our conversation for the end of this FAQ And Answer

Not everybody!

I think most performers understand they’re not going to get 100% of an audience.

Okay, maybe if you’re a cult leader or a maniacal dictator. But even then I can imagine there would be someone in the crowd thinking he’d better pass on drinking the Kool Aid and get his passport updated for a permanent location change.

Unless you have the perfect audience (as rare as the perfect storm?) there will be someone who won’t think you’re funny. It’s the nature of the entertainment business. You could be the most popular and highest-paid performer in the world and there will always be someone, somewhere, that wouldn’t have any interest in going to your show.

I gave an example last week about how an audience might react if Justin Bieber opened a concert for The Rolling Stones. They don’t attract the same audience and there’s nothing (I can think of anyway) either act can do to change that.

Another example from last week was about Jerry Seinfeld. I’m still shocked about that one. If you missed it, just scroll down…

Not enjoying the show

Even though it’s not impossible, the odds are you’re not going to “get” 100% of the audience. So what should you do? Continue to entertain the ones enjoying your show – or concentrate on “getting” the ones obviously missing out on all the fun?

As a talent booker and club manager – in other words, working for a club owner and doing my best to keep him/her happy and profitable – I’d want as many people as possible to have fun because they will hopefully become returning (and paying) customers. So that means I wouldn’t want the comic to stop performing for the already-satisfied customers.

The comic might risk losing them in an effort to “get” the not-laughing people.

There’s also a risk the comic will never get the not-laughing people no matter how hard he/she works on entertaining them. This could cut the fun factor or even ruin the show for everyone else.


The comic and audience would be focused on the people not laughing. They’re obviously not having as much fun as everyone else and their attitude could change the “feeling” in the room. I’m sure we’ve all experienced times when an “attitude” can ruin a good time. If you’ve ever been a parent of a teenager (or remember being a teenager) you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.


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Comics and speakers know within a few minutes of going on stage what members of the audience are “with them” based on their response. They also recognize the ones that are not. It could have to do with someone’s taste in humor, language, topics – or even the way the comic or speaker looks.

Some may be laughing from the moment you start talking while others are others are waiting to be “won over.” Unfortunately, there’s also a good chance some won’t like you no matter what you say or do.

It’s like a roller coaster at an amusement park. Ask everyone to get on the ride. A few won’t want to. Are you going to delay the ride and try to coax and convince them they’ll have a great time while everyone else is sitting there – possibly getting bored while waiting for you to show them a fun time on the ride?


Take’em on a ride!

Take them on the ride and leave the few non-riding (non-laughing) stiffs behind. Not everyone wants to ride the roller coaster, just like not everyone is going to think you’re the next Jerry Seinfeld. So don’t waste your time or efforts trying to force them. Have fun with the ones who want to go with you.

As Steven Stills once sang: “Love the one you’re with.”

If you have the majority already laughing and a few not really with you, my thought (as a talent booker, manager and someone wanting to keep a club owner happy and profitable) is not to waste your energy and entertainment value on what might be a no-win situation.

To give it another perspective I’ll refer back to the conversation I mentioned earlier.

This was with a comedian friend concerning marketing. He told me there’s no reason to send his promotional material to someone – in his case a corporate event planner – that has made it clear she never hires comedians. What is he going to do – change her opinion?

Chances are he won’t.

So instead of spending the extra time and extra effort on a long shot, he feels it’s best to go right for the people who already like what he does (comedy). Then continue to find others, which should lead to more work.

I think this is good advice both in performing AND marketing.

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Thanks for reading and as always – keep laughing!!

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