EXPERT AUDIENCE ANALYSIS BY AN OBSESSIVE THEATRE PROFESSIONAL

Afternoon, Toxaholics.

Yes, it is the afternoon of 1st Critic’s Performance Day (yay!) and an eerie calm has befallen the DiPietro household (I’m relaxed, dog is snoring.) The Toxic actors and band and crew have been rockin’ it for two weeks now, so I feel as if we’re totally ready for the press to take a look at us — so bring it on (and please press, remember that I absolutely LOVE you all.)

Now, since the critics will be coming to every performance this week, I will be in the back of the theatre pacing hyperventilatingvomiting sitting, watching how well the audience reacts to each and every moment of our show.

“But why will you be analyzing the audience,” you ask, wisely but with warmth.

“Because,” I answer, annoyed but not showing it, “every audience has its own personality, and I would hope that each critic gets to see Toxic with the most enthusiastic audience possible.”

Now, having sat in the back of theatres many, many times over the years, I’ve become an expert at analyzing the audience. So I’ve prepared this easy-to-read guide so when I tell you how the show went, I can use a simple “catch-phrase” to describe the audience in attendence

1 – THE HYEANAS. These folks have come to laugh and have a good time, and damn it, they do. And they’re very vocal about it. They laugh from the first moments of the show till the last. These crowds tend to be mostly made up of Italians, Jews, African-Americans, Gay Dudes, and New Jersey Cops — the aforementioned folks are also known as “David & Joe’s Peeps.” They laugh loudly, they applaud loudly, and they often talk back to the characters on stage as if they are real people.

2 – THE PROVE-IT-TO-ME’S: These folks are all urban dwellers who have seen way too many shows in their lifetimes and have spent at least two hours of their lives in a deep conversation as to who was better in “Gypsy,” Patti or Bernadette. It takes them a long time to start laughing at a show (hence, the prove-it-to-me attitude) but once they realize that what they’re watching is not crap, they generally warm up and have a good time. As a side note, I’ve dated many of these people and they happen to be terrible in bed.

3. THE WHAT DID HE SAY, HARRY? SENIORS: These are the senior citizens who make up a typical matinee audience. And let me say, THANK GOD FOR THE MATINEE SENIORS, because without them, shows wouldn’t make enough money to run. They are dedicated theatregoers who love theatre, and more than once during a performance one of them will lean into another and loudly ask, “What did he say, Harry?” Harry will then, in turn, repeat the missed line even louder, making the actors wonder if there’s an echo in the theatre that’s throwing back their lines thirty seconds after they’ve said them. They tend to be very quiet audiences but VERY appreciative audiences and I absolutely love them. They rarely give standing ovations because most of them can no longer stand.

4. THE I’M-REALLY-ENJOYING-THIS-BUT-I’M-NOT-GOING-TO-LAUGH-SO-I-CAN-DRIVE-THE-AUTHOR-CRAZY CROWD: Okay, although I love ALL audience members, just as I love ALL critics, this group is not my favorite. They sit and watch and oftentimes they jump to their feet and applaud as soon as the show is over, but they barely react during the show — just some limp laughing here and there. Then when they leave they say things like, “That was the funniest show I’ve ever seen.” While I am glad that they’re happy, I have died a little bit inside.

Okay, Toxaholic, I gotta run to the theatre now! While I’m gone, please memorize the above list so I don’t have to go over it again when I get back. Okay, bye.

Okay, I’m back! Five hours in earth time has passed and I’ve just returned from our first critic’s performance.

“How’d it go?” you wonder, as you lean into your laptop, your breathing now heavy, your anticipation now overflowing.

It went superbly, I am happy to report! Nick, Nancy, Sarah, Matt and Demond were as funny as ever. and the band rocked the house. As for the audience, they were — drumroll, please — Hyeanas! (See, I no longer have to explain what that means to you because you are now theatre lingo savvy. Aren’t you something!!) One of the actors said to me that the cast felt like they were surfing tonight — they were just riding the waves of laughter. Thank you, happy Hyeana audience!

Oh yeah, also in attendance in the audience today was my uber-agent, Scott Yoselow. Now Scott is remarkably sane for an agent and, more importantly, he also has one of best and heartiest laughs in town (the other best laugh in town belongs to Memphis producer Randy Adams.) If ever David and I secretly recorded a presentation of one of our shows (which we would never do because it’s strictly against Actor’s Equity rules and if you ever break their rules they, like, come and take your pets and children.) But we can always hear Scott’s and Randy laughing louder than anyone else on the presentation recordings, if such recordings existed, which they don’t, so we can’t hear them. Anyway, my point only is that they laugh really loud and I could hear Scott laughing super loud tonight. So back off, Equity!

It’s after midnight now, so only four days till Opening Night —

Loving you though never feeling I have to say I’m sorry,
Joe