There’s One In Every Crowd – So Why Fret?

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When it comes to distractions while performing, entertainers tend to feel the pea beneath the mattress. I wish I had a nickel for each time I directed my attention the one person in the audience who doesn’t seem to “get” it. One of the most-challenging aspects of live performance is learning not to focus on the disinterested man, the disengaged woman and distracting 3-year old heckler.

Every speaker and entertainer need to decide who in the audience they want to win over. One has a choice: to direct your attention to the gal in the front row who’s clearly not “rolling with it” or to the vast majority of the audience who is.

When you “have the floor”, it’s natural to be hypersensitive to the least little distraction. One example from memory: I was performing in a cavernous theater before a large audience when a woman in the front row began crinkling the plastic wrapper of the lozenge she had just placed in her mouth. It was barely audible to me, let alone the rest of the audience. I decided, however, that it was important to make her (and therefore the rest of the audience) aware of it and that would she kindly refrain from it?

The audience’s reaction: What the hell is this guy referring to? The fact is, no one in the audience was paying any attention to it because they were paying attention to me. I had earned their attention by being interesting – and I threw it away when I drew their attention to the busy fingers of the woman in the front row.

There will always be distractions from time to time – a glass will shatter on the floor, for example – which would be awkward to let pass without any comment. But unless you’re absolutely certain that something which occurs “outside the lines” requires commentary from you, nine times out of ten you won’t regret ignoring it.

Return to or watch me juggle (now-banned) plastic grocery bags on The Tonight Show.

3 thoughts on “There’s One In Every Crowd – So Why Fret?

  1. David, you are so right and have proven that taking the higher road is the right thing to do. I’ve been in an entertainment situation where the entertainer thought it was cute to “call someone out” because they were not engaged. What a mistake that was and how uncomfortable for the whole audience. I deal with that sometimes in my profession. It’s uncomfortable for me, but I remind myself I have no idea what this person is dealing with in their life. Thank you for this wonderful article.

  2. As a card-carrying control freak – as any person with mobility and self-care limits should be – (irony alert on and off) I needed this today, Dave…Thanks!

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