When I was in college, (University, for the nederlanders in the zaal) I was a part of an improv-troupe/sketch-comedy/live music organization at Northwestern called The Mee-Ow Show. Formed some 28 years ago, it is a continuing tradition of parody and satire that gives rise to plenty of diverse talent. It was the Mee-Ow Show that christened the comedic instincts of Jon Rosenfeld and Andrew Moskos, who went on to become the founders of Boom Chicago. Tons of film and television talent has come out of Mee-Ow, and yet very few of the people who ever get famous give a shout out to the company. For me, it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. Anyway, last night's corporate show was at the university in Utrecht, for 500 students. And it felt like I was doing a Mee-Ow Show. The layout of the building was straight-up-shanely pavilion, complete with support columns that blocked the sight-lines of some of the audience members. Nothing is better than doing a show for college kids. I think Woody Allen says something like that in Annie Hall. Every time we said a line, we had to pause for 10 seconds while the laughter poured through the crowd, and then ended in cheers of recognition. Even the fraternity kids were just complimentary and supportive.
So, what happens between college and adulthood that turns an audience member into an asshole? Why do we constantly get people who think it's their job to try and derail the show? Certainly these people were once part of a supportive audience; they must have been a part of some crowd some time that was just happy to watch and cheer a show. But when they come to the Leidseplein theatre, they're determined to thwart the flow of communication -- and sometimes, they're not even drunk when they do it. Is Boom just a magnet for the uneducated, and what we're witnessing is the heightened character of the insecure high-school boy? I'm not referring to the British people, either. For them, heckling is a cultural thing ... or at least, that's what I've been told. It's apparently a part of all comedy shows in England -- they want to heckle, so that they can be heckled back. Fine. But there are plenty of non-brits who just enjoy ruining things.
Mind you, this is musing, not complaining. I'm just thinking about it out-loud (or out-write, as it were?). We have great shows and plenty of fantastic audiences. It's just so refreshing to do a show for a university again, where there's no battle, and nothing to prove. Everyone in that room is ready to have fun. That's the understanding when you come in. It was such a great show.