No Laughing Matter

Some people do not laugh.

Some cannot, some will not. The first may be very sad and the second damnable, but in any case there is no point in trying to get a yok out of either group – it will not be forthcoming.

What you may get is a howl of pain or a torrent of abuse, and depending upon the circumstances, there may be no way of deflecting it. You might be reduced to running for your life.

This must be a stressful thing for professional comedians who depend upon a good audience reaction for their income. We amateurs are never going to get paid, but we still want to avoid slings and arrows. What to do?

a. Hire good writers – or learn to write well yourself. And then stick to the script. It’s like driving through roadworks – follow the lines set down and don’t hit the barriers on either side.

b. Read the room adequately. You’ll not be able to see every heckler or enemy, but careful observation will see what the tenor of the place is. If they are all grimsters, save the jokes for another audience.

c. Make it brief. One good one, well received, is better than a half hour routine that is booed.

d. Cut away quick if it starts to go wrong. Slight wobbles can turn into thrashing balls of destruction if you keep trying to correct them. Just say thank you very much and beetle off.

e. If you are heckled, just carry on. Eventually a heckler has to either shut up or take the stage themselves and then you can go for a drink and a pee while they sweat it out. You get the booze – they get the boo’s.

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