Small Audiences Should Matter To Every Comedian
Here’s why I say that:
In the beginning, a new comedian is an unproven performer who is in the process of developing the highest level stand-up comedy act that they can.
Subsequently, most new comedians don’t get the opportunity to perform for 50-100+ audience members in the beginning.
As a matter of fact, most will be lucky if they are able to perform for a couple of dozen people.
Still, a comedian’s ability to entertain small audiences is very important for a number of reasons:
Talent professionals have a keen eye when it comes to determining the level a new comedian is performing at regardless of the audience size.
In other words, they can tell if a comedian is prepared and professional, can generate frequent laughs and know that those laughs won’t be the same with a small audience as it will a bigger one as a general rule.
Another thing that talent pros look at is consistency and improvement on subsequent performances.
As I mentioned in this article, comedy talent pros look at comedians who grab their attention over time. They are looking for consistency.
The reason is simple – some comedians can have a “hit and miss” track record with their stand-up comedy routine, meaning that sometimes they can do well and other times not so well regardless of the size of the audience they are performing for.
Probably one of the most detrimental things I have seen is when a comedian sees that an audience is small and subsequently delivers a halfhearted performance as a result.
Here are a couple of things to consider if becoming a professional comedian is your calling:
Don’t ever discount small audiences. The professional comedian is prepared to provide the highest level show possible no matter what the audience size is.
As a general rule, a comedian’s ability to kill a small audience usually means they will do even better given the opportunity to perform for bigger audiences.
And you never know who will be in an audience who can have an impact on your comedy career, no matter how small the audience may be.
Here's an example:
One of my students had set up a gig in Atlanta in conjunction with an interview for a writer for the Wall Street Journal. There were only 10 people in the audience. Certainly not optimal for a comedian.
But two of those people in the audience were producers for Jane Pauley’s Your Life Calling and the comedian ended up with his own segment for that show which aired on the Today Show.
It had a dramatic impact on his comedy career.
Every audience matters no matter how big or how small if you expect to become a pro comedian.
Related Article: Improving Performances As A New Comedian