“look ma, i’m funny!”

how to be a good improv show audience.

I do improv comedy. It’s what I do on the weekends. It’s not all I do, but it has been a big part of my life for the past year. I’ve seen many shows. Good ones, terrible ones. But one thing remains the same… unless the audience is a good audience, you don’t have a great show.

I figure you may one day end up seeing an improv show, maybe mine, maybe someone else’s… and it’s important to let you know just how critical the audience is to each and every show. Without the audience, there’s no show.

When the audience is lame, the show is lame.
If you suck, we will suck.

I don’t want you to suck. So, here’s a way to make sure that the show you see is some of the best comedy ever.

note: i cannot help it if you went to see a crap comedy troupe. if they suck, they suck, and it’s not your fault. if you were following all the pamie rules and the show still sucked, take a deep breath, wipe your eyes, and get on a plane to austin and come see monks’ night out.

The audience’s role in an improv show: to shout suggestions when needed to propel the scene or to set up the joke. Examples: locations, relationships, objects, words, occupations, fictional characters. This is interactive theatre.

The Rules

1. Laugh. Nothing is worse than the person sitting in the audience who doesn’t want to laugh because he/she’d feel like a dork, so he/she sits there with his/her arms crossed and smirking. Sometimes this person will look away or down when the urge to laugh. Just laugh. That’s what you paid your money for. If we aren’t funny, then we aren’t funny. But if we are, let us know. We’re just doing it for you.

2. Give Suggestions. There’s nothing worse than that deer-in-headlights look some audiences give when we ask for a suggestion and they just sit there quietly and don’t talk. They don’t want to embarrass themselves in front of others. Just shout it out, the faster and louder the better. When you have fun, we have fun, and when we have fun, you have fun. Don’t worry about sounding or looking silly. The object is to have fun, after all.

3. Don’t be cute. Be clever, but not cute. It is not your job to make everyone laugh. If you make a joke to show how funny you are you risk the scene being terrible. When we ask for a word to rhyme, don’t give us “orange.” Don’t be That Guy. Don’t ruin the show for others by being so terribly cute.

4. Don’t be like everyone else. We get many of the same suggestions every single night. Here is a list of things that an improv troupe will respect you for if you don’t shout them (got that? that’s worded strangely, just don’t shout these things and it will all be cool:)

we say: “Can I get an occupation?”
“GYNECOLOGIST!”
“PROCTOLOGIST!”

we say: “Can I get a harmless, every day object?”
“BLENDER!”
“SPATULA!”

we say, “Can I get something you buy at the store?”
“TAMPONS!”
“TOILET PAPER!”

we say: “Can I get a film style please?”
“BLAXPLOITATION!”
“WOMEN IN PRISON!”

we say: “Can I get a celebrity?”
“MONICA LEWINSKY!”
“BILL CLINTON!”

we say: “Can I get a work of fiction?”
“MOBY DICK!”
“TOM SAWYER!”

(it never fails, I don’t know why)

we say: “Can I get a period in history like the Civil War or the Renaissance?”
“CIVIL WAR!”
“RENAISSANCE!”

And so forth. As you can see, you already know where those jokes are going. The fun is making us work, watching us think.. Making a joke out of Oprah killing people (“now you’re the color purple”). You don’t have to make the jokes for us…When we use an example like Civil War or Renaissance, it’s because we get it all the time, and we are trying to make you say something different…

5. Don’t Jump Up On Stage. Don’t! Don’t do it! I don’t care how drunk you are, unless we ask you to join us, let us do the work. Have fun at your seat. Don’t try to impress the crowd. Open mic is on Thursdays.

6. Don’t get defensive when we make fun of you. You’d laugh if Jerry Seinfeld was doing it, we’re just doing the same thing. If we do a whole sketch about your mother because you accidentally said something, then it’s because we are making you a part of the show. It’s a compliment.

7. Turn off cell phones and pagers. And for God’s sake, if the damn phone goes off during the show DON’T ANSWER IT. We will only make fun of you, and it distracts from the show.

8. If you have to talk, do it quietly. Everyone else at the bar came to see the show. Please don’t make them see yours. If it’s that good, then charge them money to come to your house and listen to your drunken ramble.

9. Heckle if you must, but make it intelligent. “Look at those tits!” only makes your friends at your table laugh. We’ll get you back… worse.

10. Have fun. Laugh when something’s funny. Applaud if you’re really impressed. Shout out a suggestion if you have one. Whoop it up. Don’t look pained because you feel silly being at a place called the Ha-Ha Hole or the Velveeta Room. We know how it feels. We do it every night.

11. If you hate it, leave. The performers should know when they are stinky. They won’t be upset if you go.

If you see the improv performers make a joke about your suggestion, it could be because they hear it often and they have pat jokes for those responses. Do you know how many times I’ve told panty jokes? “A Priest, a Rabbi and some panties walk into a bar. A couple walk over to the jukebox and start playing “Close to You.” The panties grab the priest and say, “Hey, Preetht, they’re playing our thong!”

We just want you to like us. Don’t hate us from the start. Get drunk. Shake your butt. Watch us work.

With these rules in mind, you should have a great time at an improv show… Tell ’em pamie sent ya.

word count to demonstrate pamie’s word skills:

use of word “laugh”: 8
use of word “fun”: 10
use of word “show”: 17
use of word “word”: 8 10

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