Noisy and Inattentive audience

I have a question. Terri and I did one of our live shows last week at a restaurant in Fremont, Ohio. Usually, we do 2 sets. Unfortunately, during the second set, the majority of the people in the audience were sitting and talking rather loudly while we were performing. It was very noticeable. My question is: What is the best way to handle a loud talking audience of adults? This is something I have wondered about. Do you have any advice? Ron Butcher "R & T Puppets"

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Ron: Did the diners at the restaurant know in advance there would be entertainment during the time they dined? In other words, did they come to the restaurant with the idea they were going to eat and watch a show? Or did they come with the idea they would spend an evening sharing a meal and visiting with friends? Those are two totally different settings even though both would take place in the same venue.

Restaurants are a very difficult place to present a show. Diners can make it very difficult, especially when they'd rather visit than be entertained. I think the walkaround entertainer fares better in an informal restaurant setting. You soon learn who enjoys being entertained and who wants to be left alone.

Find those diners who are giving you their attention and focus your performance upon them. If you are being paid for your appearance, you owe management your best effort. But if there's no paycheck coming your way for the evening and you're under no other obligation, and diners are impolite and paying no heed, cut the show short and pack your bags. Clinton


  1. If doing that type of show where people talking, dining, while you are trying to perform, do not compete, but there will be some, so play to them in a quiet sort of way, with a lot of movement rather than verbal jokes, which is where the silent vent act or a fully loaded figure comes in handy, or magic in tandem with ventriloquism which does not require so much talk. When can't talk over them why try when clowning bits of business carry the show and not be so demanding on the crowd either in walk-around or on stage.

  2. Anonymous6/03/2010

    Sad view of our social graces today. Would that we would return to respectable behavior and courtesy extended. Perhaps the performer could weave those values into his skit and educate as well as entertain. Were not adults one time children who needed lesson in etiquite. Maybe they missed those lessons.

  3. This can be a problem when the audience is mixed, children and adults, and the adults feel that the show isn't for them. It is no excuse for their rudeness, but it happens, when a party is performed in a restaurant and everyone is in the same room, and the the children are out numbered by rude adults. All you can do is try to hold the attention of the children (that's what you are usually hired to do) even if the grown up, don't know how to behave.

  4. this year I have finally realized the answer on solving "talking during a show" dilemma, let me share what I have learned (with over 5000 shows under my belt since becoming a pro in "96) and the answer is ........ you can't, don't even try!

    Clinton's advise is the best, do the show, grab the check, wipe the dirt from your feet leave and don't look back.

  5. Anonymous6/03/2010

    When I have performed at banquets I request that I perform after the first course and before desert. This does two things - 1/allows the audience to talk while eating and 2/they are not sitting waiting to eat (ie, hurry up and finish because I'm starving!). From your question I don't know if that's what happened to you. However it does sound like they were being rude to me. Whether I was being paid or not I would politely cut the show short and leave.
    Geoffrey, Australia.