How to be a good audience

So many times lately, my experience when out at public performances has been less than optimal due to certain audience members whose behavior is less than ideal. I have been tempted to bring a pillow with which to smother fellow spectators. Audiences just don't know how to behave. Maybe it's the result of a generation being raised on TV and video, where the show is the same regardless of what you do.

The greatest and most common sin, naturally, is talking. Movie patrons, apparently spoiled by the advent of the VCR, jabber endlessly during the film. Folks, you are not at home on your couch -- maybe you should be. Please refrain from asking your date what is going to happen next, commenting on the set decoration, or whatever other mindless blather you should really save until the post-movie cup of decaf.

Band audiences can also be annoying. Usually the loud volume of rock serves to drown out most audience chatter, but when a band reduces their volume and plays an acoustic number, the audience doesn't seem to make a corresponding reduction in their output. If you bust blab during the show, move away from the stage.

The exception to being a quiet audience member is going to a comedy club. They say laughter burns calories -- well if you go to see live comedy and you don't laugh it's like going to the gym and not working out. If it's funny, give a giggle. But saying you shouldn't be silent doesn't mean you can heckle. A heckler always thinks they're helping to make the show funnier, and they're always wrong. If you want to try to do the comedian's job, go to an open mike and get on stage. So no matter how many drinks you've had, keep your heckles to yourself.

Why do classical music fans all have the same dry cough? Is is an environmental illness endemic to symphony halls? And the cure -- crinkling cellophane cough drop wrappers -- is worse than the disease.

Shifting gears to another sort of concert, slamdancing is a baby that is no longer cute. People will slam to Enya these days. Why must the pit be right in front of the stage? The jocks getting their jollies having a rugby scrum aren't watching the band, so why must they occupy the spot with the best view in the house? Go slam in some corner by the back of the room. Almost as bad are the bitter non-slammers who shove at the edge of the mosh-pits, espeically when they shove other bystanders who happen to be thrown off balance by boorish slammers. I see mostly slam and not much dancing in most mosh pits. I find a good fake seisure will usually calm a mosh pit right down.

I find Fugazi audiences particularly tiresome. There's usually a contingent of morons who don't realize Fugazi have hand-picked the opening acts, who may be musically rather different. These fans have musical one-track minds; they say "who invited this bnad" -- well, just your heroes Fugazi, you dope. Why doesn't Fugazi get out onstage first and introduce their protoges instead of making them sacrificial victims?

Another specific example: I can't understand the people who walk out of Andy Warhol movies. Didn't they realize when they bought the ticket that it would be long and dull? What will they be able to do with the remaining hour of their evening that's more worthwhile than looking at some of the great art of the 20th century? Don't they know that one of Warhol's mottos was "leave them wanting less"? Don't they know some things are better in retrospect, but you won't have a retrospect if you don't experience it in the first place? Just think of watching the film as looking at a painting for an hour and a half, without other art patrons getting between you and it.

I hope you've paid attention -- it'll be good practice for being attentive next time you're an audience member.


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