Observing Audience Response
The good thing about going to the movies or theatre is that you are participating in a shared experience. This is especially
true when something is a cultural event and not just a piece of entertainment. For example, you wouldn't want to see the
latest installment of Star Wars alone at home. It's interesting to observe audience response and to feel everyone laughing or
being scared at exactly the same moment. Audiences very often behave like one big creature. They jump at the same time in
Jaws and cry at the same moment in Titanic.
Comedy clubs are little microcosms of life. I think that stand up comedians are the bravest people on the planet. They step
out into the spotlight in front of a crowd who are really close to the stage. It must be like a gladiator going out in the
Coliseum to face the lions. The audience response in these clubs can be unpredictable, and they're more forgiving if they
have a few beers inside them. If the comic loses them with a joke that offends, it's hard to get them back.
There's nothing to beat a live stage show in the theatre. The anticipation is electric, then the star walks on and the
audience response is to go berserk. No wonder the Beatles gave up touring in 1966 when you consider that they couldn't even
hear themselves play. I think it would be more daunting to play in front of 300 people than 50,000. With small audiences, you
can see the whites of their eyes. It must be great though, to feel the audience response from a large arena or rock festival.
That's a lot of energy to absorb.
Every time a new show is launched on TV, it has to be tested on a sample panel of viewers. Ratings are everything and
audience response must be gauged before further investment is put into a show. Sometimes, movies are tested out too, by
showing alternative endings to see which one gets the better audience response. All this testing is not an exact science, but
it must point the way and help with direction. Sometimes an audience response
is responsible for million dollar budget decisions. Of course, some storylines can't be altered. The Titanic sunk and we
can't do anything about that.
We all like to sit in and chill on the sofa with a bottle of wine and the latest blockbuster DVD. It will never beat the
experience of seeing something with other people. All the wide screens and surround sound in the world can't compete with the
audience response of gasps and ooohs at the local multiplex.
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