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11 things not to do at a comedy show

Written by
Steve Hofstetter

You’re a wonderful audience member. I’m even considering bringing you on the road as permanent crowd. But your friend is an idiot. To prevent them from embarrassing you, here’s a handy crib sheet you should give them.

11. Do not get blitzed. You wouldn’t get sloshed halfway through Les Miserables, so why disrespect other live theatre? There’s a two-drink minimum at most comedy clubs, but that’s not a challenge. If you can handle your booze, please partake (it’s what pays our salaries). Otherwise, your second drink should be a bottle of water.

10. Don’t answer rhetorical questions. You know what I mean?

9. Don’t order loudly. Point to what you want quietly when possible. Know that if there’s one group of people that are experts at understanding gestures, it’s cocktail servers.

8. Don’t be verbose. If a comedian asks you a question, don’t give them a long explanation. You’re not on a first date with them. They’re just asking as a springboard to something else. Anything else.

7. Don’t text. You know how sometimes you come home and use your phone as a flashlight? That’s because it lights up a dark room. Science!

6. Do not wear something that draws a ton of attention to yourself. Comedians who casually pick on people are jerks. That said, I once had a guy sitting in the front row in a suit of armor fashioned from beer cans. Impressive, but distracting—and I had to address it or I’d seem blind. Our job is to point out the ills of society. Don’t be one of them.

5. Don’t discuss the show during the show. Comedy is an evocative art, and will make you have a lot of thoughts. Have them, hold on to them, and after the show, release them into the wild.

4. Don’t leave your ringer on. Seriously, did you just get a phone?

3. Do not interrupt. Maybe you’re funny. Maybe you’re professionally funny. Maybe you’re at someone else’s show. Don’t cut a racecar driver’s breaks just to see if they can still win. You will likely get run over in the process.

2. Don’t buy the wrong tickets. Comedy is an expansive art form with multiple genres, so make sure you’re seeing what you like. Don’t ever complain that Bill Burr is too angry, that Kathy Griffin is too gossipy, that Chris Rock is too political, or that Carlos Mencia does too many jokes similar to Bill Burr, Kathy Griffin, and Chris Rock.

1. Don’t get selectively offended. Every joke has a victim, and YOU’VE chosen to see a comedy show. If you laugh when someone else is the victim, you’re a hypocrite if you get offended when it’s your turn. Occasionally comedians can be intolerant assholes spreading fear and hate. So buy a ticket to see one of the thousands of amazing comedians instead.

And continue to be the wonderful crowd member I know you are!

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