Side Splitting Productions Blog

The Dilemma of the Drunk Patron

At this point in the evolution of standup comedy in most venues comedy is looked at as more of a way to boost food and beverage sales than an art form.  To be honest, it would be very hard for a comedy club to stay open without liquor sales.  Especially, when more and more venues give away tickets for free and hope to recoup the money on food and beverage sales.

Invariably you will get the patron or group of patrons who have been ordering drinks all night and now have become disruptive.  Many venues struggle with how to handle this situation.  They do not want to alienate the clientele that has been purchasing food and drinks all evening but they do not want the show to get out of control.

Some venues leave the comic to his own devices and hope he can control the situation from the stage.  Some good comedians can, many good comedians can't.  Some venues will work out a system with the comedians where they will let the comedian handle it but if it gets out of control they will have an understood phrase which means get the disruptive people out such as the comedian saying, "get that guy another round of water."  Some venues have no tolerance for disruptive patrons and will have the offending audience kicked out immediately.

As an owner of a venue you need to do a cost benefit analysis.  Is having somebody disrupt the show and potentially ruin the evening for the other patrons worth keeping the offending patron in the venue so they can purchase more drinks?  In the long run, if you plan on having comedy as a regular form of entertainment then you are better off asking the drunk patron to leave.  If you let the drunk control the night your comedy shows will get the reputation of being out of control and bar shows.  Even, if you are a bar owner you don't necessarily want that.  Is it better for the word to get out that drunk Ralph was hilarious or that comedian Mary was hilarious?  People will come back to your venue to see quality comedians.  People will not come back to see somebody get drunk and be disruptive.  They have a brother-in-law at Thanksgiving for that. 

Comedians do not want people kicked out either.  If a comedian had his choice the whole audience would stay to till the end of the show.  They certainly don't want the spectacle of having the venue staff kick people out during the show.  It ruins the mood and the flow.  Your best bet is to work something out with the comedians ahead of time should somebody become disruptive. 

If you bring in quality comedians, have affordable prices, and become known as a venue that is a great place for a date night out then there is no reason why you should not succeed.