Recently I did a gig where I MC’d a bar comedy show. Normally I’m the feature or headline act. It was fun, however as the first act, it’s really had to “crush it”. There are a few reasons for this.
First, as host, it’s not your show. It’s your show, but it’s not your show. Second, the audience is COLD and you need to really get them to switch from hang out mode to show mode. This is made harder by the fact that the room doesn’t change into show mode (i.e. lights don’t dim, etc). The final thing is that everyone is still eating, so it’s harder to get them to laugh with food in their mouths.
Add the normal first act in a bar show challenges to the place having a PA set up horribly and the stage in the darkest spot of the room. All of this made it a challenging room.
I opened with a verbal bit that’s goal it to unite the room, it did it OK, then moved on. This is one of those gigs where as the first act you really have to just keep moving forward until they finish their dinner. That’s what I did. And about minute 11 of 15 I finally got them warmed up and they were a great audience for the next two acts.
I guess the lesson here is don’t bail on your audience, always give it 100%. Eventually they’ll come around…