Look, we need audiences, and they need us. Crowd work is important for any stand-up. It’s part of the deal, and here are some things that I’ve noticed are true most of the time.
Stay positive. There are always more of them than you, so they will always win a fight. Keep it fun, even if they’re being assholes.
If somebody says something really loud, acknowledge it. If you think it’s annoying, everyone else does too. Ask them to be quiet while you work.
If someone seems too drunk, they ARE. They are too drunk. Say that to everyone and they’ll appreciate it. And if you stay positive (see above) they’ll be fine.
Sometimes you have to resign yourself to having a shitty set. If the crowd is too out of control, sometimes it’s all you can do to get a few laughs and get the hell outta Dodge. Do your best, and just know that if your best sucks that night, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad comic.
If you interact with someone at the beginning of your show/set, do it again. Audiences love patterns.
Even if you’re in hostile territory, someone will like you. And even if you’re doing fine, someone will not even flinch. Find those people and hold on tight. Audiences love it when you know exactly how you’re doing.
Realize that crowd work might be a significant portion of your set. Stand-up is the only performance art in which people pay to see you be you, so don’t sweat it if you don’t get to your great material about Kesha. If you have a good set doing mostly crowd work, and people are laughing, then that’s a win.
Okay I think that’s it for now. I think these things about crowd work are true, but as always, the most important thing is to crush the room and leave no doubt. Thanks for reading, and come see pretty good crowd work every Saturday at 9 pm at The Village Lantern.