I consider myself pretty fortunate. I do hundreds of performances and speeches and most of them go well. But there is always ones that don’t go as smooth. And its hard to tell when they are going to come. I can wake up on the right side of the bed, arrive and feel great… I can even do a great performance – at least one that is similar to ones that go really well. But sometimes the crowd just doesn’t respond. They don’t laugh at the jokes, they don’t applaud at the punchlines, and they don’t put their hands in the air like you just don’t care.
The worst feeling is when you feel like the audience just doesn’t care.
It used to bother me. If the crowd wasn’t responding, I would react. My energy level would go down to that level. I wouldn’t do things that I would usually do, I’d go through the motions. But nowadays I’m a veteran. I’ve been in the position before. So I think of a few things…
When the audience doesn’t respond as they usually do, it makes me want to go harder. Be better. Not to force it, but to step my game up. I look at it as an opportunity.
I say to myself – It’s not me, its them. I’m not criticizing the audience, but I know that I have enough experience to know that my material is good, sometimes people just don’t connect. Just like a talented comedian might do a show that he has done hundreds of times and people don’t laugh. That’s not to say you don’t have to self-evaluate. I do, but I just don’t take it like its the end of the World.
And finally, I realize its not as bad as I think. People respond in different ways. Just because they aren’t outwardly showing their appreciation, it doesn’t mean that its not connecting. After the show, I had students come up and tell me that they enjoyed it.
But it also made me realize, sometimes its selfish to expect an outward showing of appreciation.
When I perform in front of younger audiences I’m almost guaranteed to get full crowd participation.
High school students? Not as much. But these are teens that may have some issues and things going on in their lives that I’m not aware of.
It’s times like this that I think of teachers. They often don’t get the response that they want. They might be appreciated years later, and they may never hear those words of appreciation.
As a performer, I’ve learned that you can’t look outside for validation.
Sometimes you have to turn in.