I was lucky enough to make it to both shows, and very enjoyable they were. Sadly, both shows were also slightly marred by people who clearly don't understand how a live comedy show works. Incredible, I know... So let's remind them of the basics, shall we?
1. Stand-up comedy is LIVE PERFORMANCE. It is not the telly in your living room, a football match or a drunken chat amongst friends.
2. The comedian is a performer, who has lines to remember, whilst at the same time having bright lights shined in his/her face and a sea of expectant faces staring at him/her, who have paid to be entertained. This is actually bloody stressful (have you ever tried it yourself?) and thus the comedian is deserving of our respect (whatever we may think of his/her material)
3. This means you shouldn't just shout whatever you want, whenever you want at the acts, because unlike the people on the telly, THEY CAN HEAR YOU and in most cases it will distract them from their job of entertaining you.
4. The same goes for just talking away amongst yourselves. If you just came out to drink and chat all night, why on earth are you in the audience of a comedy show?
5. Many acts encourage audience participation, generally looking for a springboard for some banter or an ad-libbed segue into their next routine. Some, like Pat Monahan, base entire shows on messing about with the audience. This is the exception though. Most acts only want your contribution IF THEY ASK YOU FOR IT DIRECTLY. If this happens, knock yourself out!
6. If not, your job is to listen and laugh. And as if by magic, the more you listen, the more you will laugh. This is the way to get involved in a show, because a comedy show is, generally speaking, a journey through a comedian's mind. Some are pretty easy to follow, some most certainly are not, but just like every journey you've ever taken in your life, if you're not paying attention to where you're going, you can find yourself lost and frustrated. Likewise, the more complex the journey, the more rewarding it often is when you reach your destination, so stick with it.
7. The final thing to remember is that unless you are the billed performer, NOBODY IN THE ROOM HAS PAID TO HEAR YOU. If you feel you are not being entertained, go somewhere else. The more distracting and destructive input you have in the show, the more people you are going to piss off. Nobody likes having their evening ruined, especially when they have paid good money to be entertained and have fun.
You may now continue to laugh responsibly.
If it's funny.
Otherwise, applaud politely and leave at the next available opportunity.
Er, I'm just going to shuffle away now...