Bombing & Blaming

Bombing is okay. Blaming the audience is not.

Don’t say “tough crowd.” Don’t say our assholes are clenched too tight. Don’t say we need to loosen up. 

Lashing out at us tells us that a) you’re not good at this and, b) you’re taking it personally. It’s your job to make us laugh, Dr. Chuckles.

The audience doesn’t care if you bomb. Slog through your set as you rehearsed. That’s okay! We’ll forget about you the second you get off stage and the next guy bombs even harder. Truly. You aren’t that important.

Or call it out. But be honest about it. Just say you’re bombing. We’ll appreciate it. The second it’s out in the open we’ll relax and give you another shot.

No one walks into a comedy club, shells out $50 for cover, 2 drinks, tax, and tip and says “I can’t wait to be underwhelmed.” Even fewer people follow up by saying “and I hope the comic blames me for their misery.”





It’s not the audience; it’s us.

i just got back from watching two entire comedy shows. 4.5 hours of mostly shitty comedy.

I don’t use the word shitty lightly. Most of the time, I’m a “there’s a comedy type for everybody” kind of guy. But tonight I watched comic after comic get up on stage, try out a shitty joke, and then blame the audience for not laughing. They’d look towards the bar at their buddies

A good comic understands that they’re will be good and bad rooms. Good and bad audiences. Good and bad jokes. But they do their act and refine based on the audience response.

If they don’t laugh, don’t blame them.

If I have to sit through another comic make a joke about everyone’s asshole making a sucking sound when you bomb I’m going to kill myself.

So, wise Anthony. How do I remedy the situation? If the jokes I’m doing aren’t working, what should I do?

First, embrace the situation. Call it out. Say you’re bombing. The audience knows it before you do and the sooner you can call it out the sooner you can get back on their side.

But telling them over and over that they suck ostracizes them. It makes them feel like it’s their fault. And it’s not. It’s yours.


Comics shouldn’t blame the audience for their bombing because that turns a benign audience hostile.

I watched 25 comics bomb on Tuesday night. It’s okay. It happens to everyone [except me].

But most of them blamed the audience for their train wreck of a set.


Do your set as you rehearsed it and get off the stage.

If we bomb, it’s entirely our fault. No one walks into a comedy club, drops $15 for cover, $30 for two mediocre cocktails [I’m a picky drinker], and $8 for tax and tip and thinks “I can’t wait to be underwhelmed tonight!”

Blaming the audience tells the audience that you’re taking their silence personally. And you shouldn’t. The audience doesn’t want you to fail. They start out on our

If you’re not getting laughs, it’s entirely your fault.

Take responsibility for your act. One comic started out his set by asking if there were any MMA fans in the audience. No one made a sound. He made a joke about how no one was going to get this joke, but then he proceeded anyway.


If no one in the audience is going to get your joke, move on to other material.

Having made his joke about no one understanding his MMA jokes, he should have immediately proceeded to his material about having kids. Half the audience had kids, and even those of us without kids can sort of understand what it’s like to have kids [which is exactly why I don’t have kids].

Another comic got up and called out the situation. He said we were a quiet audience. But then he said it was his job to make us laugh. His entire set was crowd work trying to get us laughing. And he did!

Until the next comic got up, and then it was lulls for the rest of the evening.

Comics: Take responsibility for your performance. It’s not us; it’s you.

Blaming the audience turns a benign experience to a bad one.

They’re on our side to begin with.

This Tuesday I watched comic after comic bomb. Normally that’s okay. Comics bomb all the time. [Although 10 in a row may be some sort of record.]

But these guys and gals bombed, and then they blamed the audience.

Rookie move. [I say that because these guys are pros and should have known better.]

How is it the audience’s fault that your jokes didn’t land?

The audience wants you to succeed.

But so many fail.

And that’s actually okay!

As long as you fail the right way.

What is failing the right way vs failing the wrong way?

Failing the right way is performing your act and, upon realizing you’re bombing, you call it out and pivot to another topic. One comic tonight was telling jokes about MMA and parenting to a room full of 20s something women and me. Upon realizing he wasn’t connecting with the crowd, he switched to racial jokes. Those got laughs [because everyone’s a little racist]. Another comic was doing some crowd work and getting good laughs and then switched to salad tossing. The audience went cold. But, he made fun of himself for losing us at that point, made a joke of it, and went back to stuff that was working.

Failing the wrong way is performing your act and, upon realizing you’re tanking, you tell the audience to loosen up. You tell them that their assholes are making a giant sucking noise. [I’m not kidding, this happened with 6 separate comics tonight.]