The Five Rules of How to Be A Stand-Up Comedy Audience
Yes, there are rules. There have always been rules. The problem is most of you don't know them and for the most part the clubs won't tell them to you, because they don't want to alienate you from taking full advantage of that two drink minimum. But believe me when I say that all the comics and the fine people who work at the comedy clubs know the rules, so I figured it was time to pass them officially on to YOU! Ain't I nice?
1. Get to the club at least 15 minutes before showtime. I know the ticket and the website say the show is at 8pm. And you have a hectic life of Facebooking and Twittering and Digging and Tumblring and hey, you may even be one of those humans lucky enough to have a job, but as Malcolm X said, "On time is already late."* You know how you are, you need to sit down and unwind for a second. You wanna adjust your coat on your seat just right. You need to pee. You wanna look at the menu and ask questions, like "Oooh! Punch Line Punch? That sounds interesting! What's in that?... Is the pasta made in house?... NACHOS?" Also, the human brain can't handle rushing into a comedy club, sitting down, and immediately laughing. And you know you hate being sat in the front of the comedy club. And you know who hates it more? Everybody else in the audience, which is why those are the only seats available. And you know who hates it more than that? The opening comic onstage right now who is just happy to get through all the announcements, wants to get to their jokes, and now has to negotiate whether or not the rest of the audience can hear you arguing with the door guy about if there are any other seats available.
2. If you don't want to pay the two drink minimum, then stay home. Yes, as a comic I hate them too. But they exist, like Justin Beiber, so just like with him, either deal with it or steer clear. Your cocktail server has many other better things to do than to argue with you over the why there is a two drink minimum. And no, it doesn't matter if you're not thirsty. Buy two drinks. It doesn't matter if you "don't drink." Have a coke and a smile or buy an overpriced bottle of water. You have left your house so the rules are not your own anymore. And no, nachos and a drink don't count as two beverages, unless they do.**
3. Do your research! I heard Janeane Garofalo said that comedy is the only kind of performance where people will go see it without knowing who is on the bill.*** I would add to this, AND THEN THEY COMPLAIN WHEN THEY DON'T LIKE IT! In this era, you have no reason to not know who you are seeing at a comedy club. If you are going to spend your hard earned money (or those "free tickets" that you won) on comedy then take a second and Google the names on the flippin' show. That way you won't be tempted to yell out 15 minutes into the headliners set, "Say something funny," when he's been saying funny things for 15 minutes.**** Comedy is subjective. Subject yourself to it before you go. P.S. Fuck you, Goldstar Events and Groupon, and any other website that devalues entertainment and then lets people rate the thing as if getting cheap or free tickets makes you Roger Ebert.
4. Don't heckle. Seriously don't. You're not good at it. You're just gonna ruin everyone's good time OR you're gonna make a bad time worse. Again, comedy is subjective. Vote with your feet. I LOOOOOVE seeing people politely walking out during my set. It is a mature response. It says that humans can agree to disagree. Imagine that!
5. Tip the waitstaff. Do it like people are encouraged to vote in Chicago, early and often. And tip the waitstaff well. Because if you can't afford to go outside, then you should stay home. There is plenty of free online comedy for you to peruse. I hear there's a new clip going 'round where somebody doesn't do something as well as we think they should do it even though most of us can't do what they are doing even half as good as they do it. Go Google it now!***** See, wasn't that funny? And it was free. Tipping well means at least fifteen percent ON EVERYTHING. Yes sometimes a dollar a drink makes sense when you are in a bar and the bartender only had to move six inches to get your drink, but in a comedy club, those people have to move and squeeze through people and get yelled at because the comic isn't funny even though that has nothing to do with serving drinks. You say you can't figure out 15%? Well, your fancy phone can. And oh yeah...
6. TURN OFF YOUR FANCY PHONE! That doesn't mean everybody else should but you don't have to. That means YOU! If you can't have your phone off for two hours, then get back to the White House, Mr. President. Your country needs you. Also this will prevent your insatiable need to text and Facebook and...*****
*I have no idea if he said that. But I do remember something about him setting his watch 5 minutes ahead of time.
** Some clubs have a two ITEM minimum.
*** I have heard this attributed to many people, but I first heard it from her.
****It happened. To me. At Rooster T. Feathers. Friday show. My wife and her relatives were there. No it wasn't my wife or her relatives who said it. Maybe they just thought it.
*****I think this week it is Rebecca Black. Or was that last week already?
******I guess there are six rules.... OOOH! No, there's seven: Nobody cares if it's your birthday... or anniversary... and especially nobody cares if you are getting married soon. All we really want to do is tell jokes. Isn't that enough? After all it is called a Comedy Club, not a Take Care of All Your Individual Needs As You See Fit Club. That is what your iPad 2 is for.*******
*******Apple, can I have a free iPad 2?
"Kamau's Komedy Korner" is a weekly blog column about San Francisco comedy. Check back next Wednesday for more.