The title today is a little misleading
because there really aren’t any official rules for an audience at a
comedy show, especially one with no cover charge. Think of these
instead as a way for you, the civilian, to make the night fun for
yourself, the crowd, and the comics.

1. Don’t Talk. Should be obvious, but
isn’t. If you absolutely must say something to someone in your
group, use your <inside voice> and keep it brief. If you’d
like to have long conversations with your friends, there are hundreds
of other, better places to do so.

2. Don’t Use Your Phone. Should also
be obvious, but isn’t. Buddhists have it all wrong; if we were truly
One we wouldn’t be so desperate to be connected at all times. Try
living off the grid for a couple of hours. At least put it on silent
and check it during the breaks, not the show.

3. If You Hear a Joke You Found Funny,
Laugh Out Loud.
A guy once told me after a show, “I feel bad
because when I’m in the club and I like a joke, I don’t laugh, I just
smile.” He should feel bad. No comic ever went home thinking,
“What a great set I had! Everyone was smiling!” If you like the
joke, express yourself audibly. If you are Swedish or otherwise
naturally afraid of being an individual, alcohol helps.

4. Don’t Heckle. Ever. Any questions?

– “What do I do if I don’t like the

Don’t laugh. Take a little break, go
get a drink, step outside for a smoke or some fresh air, maybe
you’ll like the next comic. Just because you don’t like the comic,
it doesn’t mean the comic is bad. I hate Pop Country, for example,
but it’s called Pop Country for a reason.

– “But heckling is popular in the

So is boiling everything. They
certainly do love to heckle. They heckle in Parliament, for
Christ’s sake. But if you’re not sitting in a Soho club then this
argument isn’t valid, now is it?

– “Standup is supposed to be
give-and-take with the crowd! Heckling adds to the night!”

It never adds, only subtracts. If a
comic gets 6-8 min of stage time, the comic plans 6-8 min of
material. The comic might be good and fast enough to turn your
inane comment into Comedy Gold, but whatever time is spent on you
is time removed from the planned material.

Bottom line: If you want to
participate in a show, write three minutes of material and ask club
owners for stage time. Otherwise, limit your involvement to
laughing and applauding.

5. If You Have a Chance to Tell a Comic
After a Show That You Enjoyed Yourself, Do So!
Comics may be broken
people but we’re still people. We won’t bite, we appreciate a clap
on the back. Go right up and say, “I had a great time, thanks, I
thought you were very funny!”

Then- this is extremely important- if
you are not going to offer money and/or sex, just walk away. I don’t
want to sound ungrateful, you did a wonderful thing, and I know you
have the best of intentions, but chances are you’re going to screw it

Example: Guy walks up to me after a
show, says, “I thought you were really funny!” Great so far!
But he continued, “I loved your joke about porcupines!” I don’t
have a joke about porcupines.

To recap: laugh and don’t talk too
much. By following these simple rules, you’ll not only ensure a
wonderful evening for all, you might just save a life!