The Rules.

I’m sure I’m not the first to come up with the idea of a list of rules or guidelines for stand-up comedians.  Unfortunately, this idea runs counter to comedic philosophy.  In the comedy world, you are constantly told that there are no rules or that any rules are meant to be broken.  It’s a world where for every rule, you can find several exceptions.  And yet, I still find the need to make a list of rules – rules of etiquette that I feel should be obvious.  Keep in mind, I don’t dare fancy myself an authority on this stuff.  I’m a simple comedian, trying to make it big.  If I were an expert, I’d be big already, right?  I’m still learning, still growing, so maybe I’m still new enough to think there should be some rules.  Here’s my first one:

Rule number 1: Don’t insult people just for coming to see you perform.

I see this all the time.  There’s a show that’s not well attended and there are only five people in the audience.  Five kind-hearted normal people who came out to have a good time, see some comedy and have a chuckle.  These are not five people who came out to be berated and insulted for not being 40 people.  They can’t help it.  These are the people who showed up.  When comedians take out their aggression on a small crowd for not being a bigger crowd, it makes me cringe.  It makes everyone uncomfortable and makes these poor innocent people not ever want to see live comedy again.

This happens: The comedian will come out and say, “Look at you five idiots.  Why are you here?  Didn’t you losers have anything better to do tonight?”  No, they paid to come out and see you entertain them.  They should be thanked.  They shouldn’t have to defend themselves for being a small audience.  Again, that’s not their fault.  It’s like throwing a birthday party to which no one comes and then yelling at the one friend who does show up.  It defies logic, it’s uncomfortable and it’s rude.

Unless they make it abundantly clear that they deserve otherwise, always be nice to your audience.  Your small audience of today is your big audience of tomorrow.  Each one of those five people could have five friends who have five friends and you need that kind of exponential admiration to fill Giant’s Stadium one day.  So be nice.