Hands up, everybody here who hates audience participation?
I can’t stand it. It chills me to the core. Whenever I hear those fateful words, ‘Let’s have the house lights up’, or where the comedian on stage starts asking people in the front row what they do and where they come from, my heart sinks with dread. I get sweaty palms and a pounding heartbeat. ‘Oh dear God,’ I pray – which, as an atheist, gives you some idea of the degree of my discomfort – ‘Oh dear God, please don’t let the person on stage pick me.’
I don’t want my theatrical or comedy experiences to be interactive. I want to sit there, eat my Maltesers, laugh at the funny bits, clap at the end, then go home without having had to engage in spontenaous banter with someone who is deliberately mis-hearing what I say for ‘comic’ effect. I didn’t pay my ten quid or whatever to be publically humiliated, I paid my ten quid or whatever to be entertained. In as passive a way as possible.
It’s why you would have to attach electrodes to my nipples to get me to go to a pantomime. And once you’d got me there, you’d have to stick 1000 volts through those electrodes to get me to enjoy it. I mean, I have friends who write and perform in pantos, I’m sure they’re excellent, but they’re not for me. I’m willing, at a push, to clap in time to something, but that’s as far as I’ll go.
But if the people on stage start talking to the audience – then you should talk back at them. Heckle them mercilessly. Take the piss out of their clothes and haircut. Ask them what they do and where they came from. Because they started the bloody conversation.