Today's topic was inspired by a group discussion on LinkedIn.com
where the questioner had only been dealing with intended and unintended heckling.
My comment was:
Sounds like your "crowd work" to date has been reactive:
"calling someone out for heckling or scolding someone being too loud in general".
Instead, try pro-actively provoking the audience with questions that cannot be answered "yes" or "no."
Once you have settled on the question you want to ask,
imagine yourself in the audience hearing your question.
How might you answer that question with a heckle?
Next, imagine yourself in the audience as different characters:
How might they each answer your question with a heckle?
You only have 1-2 set up lines/joke with the second or third sentence being your punchline.
The audience does not give you any credit for improvising.
In other words, the illusion your memorized and staged material creates is that you are making-it-all-up-as-you-go-along.
Therefore, when you are actually making it up, . . ..
Many comics think that the standards change when they improvise and therefore, add way too many set up lines.
That in turn kills their laugh pattern.
But you already knew that, right?
1) Your question is the first set up line.
2) Their answering or heckling will either be a joke of their own or yet another set up line.
3) Either way, the third line will be:
•your joke which must get more response than their joke (if they answer or heckle with a joke)
or the bit will not build.
That's the basic work behind Working The Crowd.
Of course, there's a lot more to it than I could ever fit into one web page.
For more tips on "Working the Crowd" that preview
my much more extensive treatment within my "Home Study Program," go to my
Rich Internet Application (RIA):
"Tip-of-the-Day video jukebox." (TOD)
(Requires the Flash Player which is already on 98% of both Apple and Windows desktop & laptop computers.)
Note: Flash is not allowed on Apple iOS mobile devices like iPhone, iPodTouch and iPad.
For a video option on this topic which you can play on Apple iOS devices and/or a computer, check out:
"Working the crowd and Wading into the audience: taking advantage of hecklers"
Video on Microphone technique:
"When I walk amongst them!"
Meanwhile, if you are on a computer, visit my TOD:
A new video tip every day will automatically launch in the right-hand column.
Do not be alarmed!
Click the link to "Home Study Program: audio/workbooks" (HSP)in the left-hand column.
This will stop the Tip-of-the-Day video from playing in the right-hand column,
and replace that video with this "Jim Richardson's Home Study Program" menu.
(See screen shot with blue box around "Home Study Program" link with blue arrow pointing to the menu.)
Next, click link to "Improvisation: Thinking on Your Feet."
(See another blue box around that link down in the menu column.):
That will replace the HSP menu with this Table of Contents
for "Improvisation: Thinking on Your Feet."
To see "3 Videos Previews," click that link (see link boxed in blue):
That will replace that Table of Contents with this menu for these three video clips:
"Type of question to avoid asking & Why" (5:54)
"How to channel audience suggestions for control" (6:21)
"How to stop non-stop hecklers" (6:11)
Still want to learn
more about how different comics effectively use improvisation in their performances?
OK: go ahead and click the link in the TOD's left-hand column:
"Multi-media: Coach Says newsletter" which will bring up "Coach Says," Vol. 2, issue i:
(This RIA also requires the Flash Player which is already on 98% of Apple and Windows computers.)
Click the play button on the home page (see blue arrow in screenshot below) to watch on cover page i:
"Jim Richardson compares improvisation: Improv groups vs. Stand-up Comics" (1:00)
Note: if this sounds a little radical, it was the end of my speech and I had less than a minute to reply.
Not to worry: I expand on the very next page.
Read my follow-up "Editorial: Improv—Myth vs. Reality," pages ii-vi
where I compare different uses of Improvisation during the stand-up comedy acts of the three top comics coming out of San Francisco in the late 1970's,
Bill Rafferty, Jim Giovanni and Robin Williams.
I introduce the editorial with another video clip on page ii, "Mount Rushmore of Stand-Up Comedy" (:54).
And be careful that you do not miss "Q&A," page viii (second page of Q&A),
right-hand column on "Dealing with Hecklers, Roasts, Delivery, etc."