The “Right” Audience

Posted on September 20, 2012. Filed under: storytelling, writing | Tags: , , , , |

I recently had the opportunity to perform the same story twice, for two different audiences, and I gotta say, it got a very different reaction from one to the other.

I first performed my engagement story for Better Said Than Done’s “Independence Day” show. Here’s the video:

It went over well. I mean, the audience was fine. They laughed, a little. It was an okay experience telling it and I felt like I told an okay story at the end of the night.

Last week I gave a presentation on storytelling for the Women’s Wedding Network, so it seemed like a good idea to tell a wedding, or at least engagement, related story. And you know what? It was a great idea.

They loved it. They laughed at every line, even in places I didn’t expect. It was a great story…for that audience.

I know the traditional rule in performance is that the audience shouldn’t matter, at least as far as the material is concerned. If you tell a joke and the audience doesn’t laugh – that’s not their fault, it’s yours. However, after comparing apples to apples as far as stories go, I have to say, sometimes it is the audience.

Now, an argument could be made that, since the wedding network crowd was intimately acquainted with the world of weddings, and a lot of my story related to that first wedding step, the engagement, that this was more a case of knowing your audience than anything else. And I could see how that makes sense. Audience number 2 could relate in a way that audience number 1 couldn’t.

So, maybe, as far as weighing the importance of audience goes, it might make sense to stack the deck whenever possible. Some stories are going to work better with some audiences and if you can figure out what type of audience you are performing for, it might give you a little edge. It certainly felt like I had an edge the second time round. And heck, I’ll take that over bombing any day!

My next storytelling show is September 29th, 2012 at Epicure Cafe. Details here. Should be fun to see if this audience is any better, I mean, if my new story is any better.


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