Watching a masterful comedian navigate crowd work is a beautiful thing. Like a hunter, they are one step ahead of their prey. Leading them here, baiting them there. The stand-up comedian is artfully creating a theatre in which the audience is keenly aware of the risks. When done competently, crowd work is a beautiful thing.
Conversely, watching someone flounder around trying to get the audience to participate in crowd work is nearly unbearable. When should a new comic start working towards incorporating crowd work into their shows? It depends.
Some comics will tell you to wait until you have a solid act before you start working the crowd. I agree that you should always focus on creating great material. But it is unrealistic to think that you should have to wait several years before you begin working the crowd. I suggest finding opportunities to dip your toes in the water and test your skills.
In this episode we cover the ins and outs of crowd work.
Specifically, we talk about:
- How to select the best audience members
- Who to engage (and who not to)
- The importance of LISTENING in crowd work
- Where you should work the crowd first
- A “perfect spot” for crowd work for headliners
- One non-verbal technique to keep in mind
- How to create a space for “playing” in your show
- How to minimize failure with YES or NO questions
- The fun (and risk) of open-ended questions
After listening, we welcome any tips you may have on getting the most out of crowd work. Send them on to us SchoolOfLaughs@gmail.com.
This episode also contains our first “FIX-A-JOKE” segment. Lee Hardin provides us with a joke he wanted punched up. Thanks Lee! We want to help as many comics as possible. If you have a short joke (100 words or less) that you would like some feedback on please send it in! You can email the joke written out or send us an audio clip, or even a link to a YouTube video. We will get it on the show and get feedback for you, give out your web site and / or twitter handle to help you get your name out there. Our show is PG so please take that into consideration when selecting a joke.
If you enjoy this episode, you may want to check out this blog post “Should a HOST do CROWD WORK.”
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