We’re almost at the beginning of a brand new decade and here are a few habits some of your favourite stand-up comedians want you to leave behind in 2019. Right at the outset, they’d like to add that (on the whole) they’re grateful that you show up, laugh at all the right bits, subscribe to their YouTube channel and show them a whole lot of love on Instagram. However, they also unanimously agree that it would be nice not to have your phone ring loudly when they’re mid-joke. At the taping of their all-important comedy special. Three times in a row. We’re looking at you, Savitri; please turn the goddamn ringer off.
We reached out to a bunch of comedians, but they told us what they desire from you on account of strict anonymity. After all, they don’t want you to hold a grudge or something. Plus, etiquettes are etiquettes, right? So here goes:
1. Stop checking your phone constantly
Not only is the bright white light distracting, it immediately turns the comedian’s attention on you—please know that they will address this and you may not like it. Moreover, it’s rude. If you’ve bought a ticket, the least you can do is pay attention. Lots of hard work, and probably months of anguish, has gone into the making of that one punchline. So listen first, DM later.
2. Do not record and upload bits, WTF
In fact, using your phone at a comedy show is generally frowned upon, especially if you start uploading bits (especially the really funny bits) from a comedian’s set to social media. Chances are they’re planning to cull a whole bunch of video content for YouTube and Instagram from their set (or even release an entire special) so help them keep it under wraps!
3. Do. Not. Complete. Their. Jokes.
Please stop yelling out the punchline from the back, Raj. So you’ve heard the joke before but 99% of the audience hasn’t. Don’t ruin it for everyone. In the same vein, please don’t interrupt a comedian while they’re setting up a joke. Don’t answer obviously rhetorical questions with wise-ass answers. If you’re keen on experimenting with some of your own material, sign up for an open mic near you. Maybe that’ll give you some perspective as well.
4. Don’t expect a brand new set every time you go for a show
Writing jokes is hard work, and no matter how effortless or spontaneous a comedian makes it look, this shit takes time. Today, stand-up comedians are extremely transparent with their followers and often use social media to address the differences between an open mic, a trial show and a proper special. Be mindful of these and pay heed to their announcements; if they’re going out of their way to tell you when not to buy a ticket, you should probably listen. If you do go for a show twice, please do not send them messages letting them know that it wasn’t ‘fresh’ and that you were bored. It’s the same show, Lata; you were warned.
5. Understand what kind of show you’re going for
If you’ve already dipped your toes in the scene, spend a little bit of time learning about the kinds of formats your favourite stand-up comedian is currently experimenting with. Don’t hold out for the bigger shows, support them at open mics just as enthusiastically as you would at a fancy-schmancy theatre. Not only will it be a brand new experience for you, it’ll give them a big boost of confidence to see a packed venue right before they test out their newest jokes.
6. So watch more live comedy!
Lastly, helping rack up views on YouTube and IGTV is great but please don’t stop buying tickets! As one comedian poignantly pointed out, it’s difficult to perform for an audience that isn’t there. The industry has grown so much over the last 10 years primarily because of the burgeoning community of paying comedy-lovers in India, and there’s no reason to stop now. Here’s looking at you, Ravi. Thanks for buying a ticket, we hope you enjoy the show.