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Laugh Til You Shriek

Recently I surprised my husband with tickets to his favorite comedian.  He had no idea where we were going and who we were seeing until we actually sat down in the theater and the opening act mentioned the big name. It was so hard to keep it secret for so long!  So the opening act started, who was pretty funny, and we heard it for the first time: the lady’s ginormous laughter who was seated right behind us.  This lady laughed at EVERYTHING, even things that did not seem very funny.  Her laugh was so loud and obnoxious that we couldn’t even hear what the comedian was saying.  This carried through to the main act.. at some point I must admit that I somehow blocked her out while trying to listen to the main act, but her laugh somehow made it through my wall eventually.  Everyone was turning around to look at this lady and she never took a hint—along with the screaming laughter there were loud “Oh My God’s!!!” and “No, He Didn’t!!!”. It was just insane.  Was there anything we could have done?  I mean, it’s a comedy show, and you’re supposed to laugh.. but how loud is TOO loud? 0911-15

That’s a good question for which I don’t know if I have an appropriate answer.   The woman most definitely had the ability to refrain from her verbal comments and to regulate her laughter to the non-shrieking decibel levels.   But true belly laughter is harder to rein in and by “belly laugh”, I mean the kind of laughter that overcomes you for short periods of time otherwise you would lose your breath.  It’s great in short bursts but just is not sustainable for an hour and a half.   During a comedy show, there is an expectation that jokes will be followed by a response from the audience and that the audience self regulates how long that period of laughter will be.   However, some comedians time the delivery of jokes to keep that laughter momentum going and that’s when you get instances where you miss the first part of new joke because the laughter from the previous one hasn’t really died done enough.  I really don’t know what to tell you since I do not know who the comedian was and whether this was a method of joke delivery he chose thus setting up the situation where someone just keeps laughing and laughing and laughing.  Let’s see what the readers think…


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  • Green123 September 14, 2015, 7:06 am

    “I mean, it’s a comedy show, and you’re supposed to laugh.. but how loud is TOO loud?”

    I think it’s so loud you can’t hear what the performer is saying, it’s too loud.

  • AS September 14, 2015, 7:10 am

    In my experience, comedians are good about giving pauses before delivering the next line, to give time for the laughter to die down. If you couldn’t hear sentences continually, then IMHO, she was laughing too much. (Telling her might result in missing more lines though).

  • LeeLee88 September 14, 2015, 7:28 am

    I’ve been in the same position, and usually the shrieker has calmed down a bit after a couple pointed glances from others, but sometimes, he/she seems hell bent on everyone knowing he/she finds this to be the FUNNIEST THING EVAR and doesn’t scale back. In that instance, I’ve just quietly simmered and tried my best to hear the comedian. It sucks when you’ve laid out the cash to hear the show and you can’t because of Screaming Mimi right behind you though.

  • another Laura September 14, 2015, 7:53 am

    Would it have been appropriate (or even possible) to turn around and very politely say “excuse me, it’s obivious you’re enjoying the show, but would it be possible for you to laugh just a bit more quietly? We’re having trouble hearing Comedian.” If you maintain a calm tone and pleasant smile while saying this, it could get the results you want without offending her (which, let’s face it, probably would NOT get you what you want). It’s easy to be oblivious to angry glares in a darkened room. If several (or even just one) people ask you, nicely, to quiet down, it would be harder to ignore.

  • starstruck September 14, 2015, 8:15 am

    I can see this being annoying, I’ve experienced this at the movies before but unfortunately I think its just one of those things u have to chalk up to just being in that type of setting, sorta like when in Rome. And maybe next time try sitting as far as possible from anyone else’s table. I know its no where near the same, but sometimes comedians sell copies of their performances. Maybe you could look into getting that one for your husband.

    • rachel September 15, 2015, 11:04 am

      This is a good idea. Any big comedians performances will be recorded and you can watch them till your hearts content. Seeing someone live is half experience, half bragging rights so it’s not a huge loss to miss a few jokes.

      • Snarkastic September 26, 2015, 11:48 pm

        Just a note, not all performers get taped specials (unless they make them on tour and sell them on their website, I guess). So, seeing your favorite comedian live is not so much for the bragging rights, but to hear new material.

  • Weaver September 14, 2015, 8:24 am

    I feel this is one of those awkward situations where it’s difficult to come up with a right answer, or a right way to handle it. I sympathise with you, OP, and I also agree with the admin that it partly depends on who the comedian was and how they tend to play the audience. In any case, while you sometimes can’t control laughter, you can control its volume to an extent, and you can certainly refrain from constant additional shrieked comments. I doubt this lady was behaving maliciously, but she was definitely behaving cluelessly.

    The trouble is, the fact that it was a comedy show clouds matters a bit. If someone was making that much noise in a cinema, for example, after a certain point it would be fair enough to ask her to keep it down a bit, but where do you draw the line in the OP’s situation? It’s a tricky one.

  • Angel September 14, 2015, 8:43 am

    I too find this a little hard to answer. If people are actually turning around to look at you that is usually enough for some people to take the hint. But this lady was not taking the hint so–I think the OP was well within her rights to say something–after the first 15 minutes or so. It is a comedy show and you are supposed to laugh–but I think there is a limit to how loud/rowdy people should be allowed to get. She could have said–excuse me but you are making it a little difficult for me to hear the show. If the lady still doesn’t listen then at least you tried. But I have a feeling that nobody has ever said anything to her before. Hence the hyena laughter lol. I have had similar issue in a relatively quiet restaurant. Our meal was ruined by one diner would absolutely NOT SHUT UP. He kept talking even while he was eating. It was so LOUD. His voice carried over the other diners. I really wish I would have said something. He had to have known that he was practically yelling. It’s a similar situation–you’re not expected to keep quiet in a restaurant, but if your voice is carrying above everyone else’s and it is affecting the enjoyment of everyone else, time to tone it down!

  • AFS September 14, 2015, 8:54 am

    I was in this exact situation at a well-known improv comedy theater in NYC. The laughter could be better described as braying–and at a volume that would induce hearing loss. The usher kindly told him to laugh more quietly.

    • rachel September 15, 2015, 11:06 am

      Agreed. Op could have found an usher and remedied this.

  • Matt September 14, 2015, 8:54 am

    It depends on what type of venue it is, but you could ask to be re-sat in a different location.

  • lkb September 14, 2015, 9:06 am

    I’ve got to wonder if the woman in question was a “plant” — someone there (either by the venue or the comedian) to stir up the audience response. Laughter is contagious, yes?

    It does seem that there was little the OP could do in this situation and it is unfortunate. My sympathies.

    We have a somewhat similar situation: Our local grocery superstore (food, clothes, automotive, etc.) has a greeter who has this raucous, insane-sounding laugh that he seems to use for everything. (“Hello.” “BWAAAAHAAAHAA!”) It can be heard in the far reaches of the store. While I understand part of his job is to greet people and make them feel welcome, on an off day when one is stressed, has a headache, etc., it is awful. Yet, there’s nothing to do about it other than avoid his entrance. Sigh.

    • GeenaG September 15, 2015, 10:54 am

      There is something to do about it; complain to the store manager every time you are subjected to it, that’s a ridiculous thing to have to put up with.

    • rachel September 15, 2015, 11:07 am

      Is there some reason you can’t tell a manager? That’s literally part of why they exist, to listen to grievances.

  • Weaver September 14, 2015, 9:06 am

    I actually encountered a similar situation myself quite recently, although it wasn’t as extreme as yours, OP. My husband had bought us tickets to a showing of Back To The Future at the Royal Albert Hall. This was a special July 4th event, where the film itself was shown on a large screen, but the entire orchestral score was played by a live orchestra in the pit, rather than being relayed via the soundtrack of the film itself. It’s wonderful to be able to watch all that familiar music being played live while you enjoy the movie!

    This wasn’t a particular anniversary for me and my husband, but the tickets weren’t cheap and it definitely counted as an out of the ordinary treat for us. For the most part, everything was wonderful, but the experience was slightly marred by a couple a few rows ahead of us. Their enthusiasm was…excessive. There were too many points during the performance where they both stood up, waved their arms around, and hollered their enthusiasm, while the rest of the audience were sitting, and expressing their appreciation much more briefly and quietly, in order to continue enjoying every bit of the orchestra’s performance and the film itself.

    Now I probably sound like a bit of a killjoy in the previous paragraph, but it’s a question of balance to my mind. There are points in any showing of BTTF nowadays where it’s expected that the audience will become part of the whole thing – for example when George McFly finds the courage to defend Lorraine and punch Biff, it’s a given that we’ll erupt in whoops and cheers. Many people also tend to joyously quote along out loud with the last lines “where we’re going, we don’t need roads”. It’s a nice way to feel connected with a whole bunch of strangers, and it provokes a warm atmosphere.

    However, there is a limit. I suppose the point of my rather long anecdote is that some people just don’t seem to be able to read social or crowd situations very well, and it’s always annoying to come across those people. People should have enough awareness to notice that they’re the only ones in a country mile making as much noise as they are.

    OP, I hope you were able to enjoy the event despite this excessive lady, and I’m sure your husband appreciated your wonderful gesture in any case. Maybe you can find as much humour in retelling the story of the amazing shrieking woman as you did in the comedy you paid for!

    (By the way, it may seem a little odd to Americans that a UK event involving a hugely popular US film would be deliberately held on July 4th, but as a general rule most UK citizens are very kindly disposed towards our friends across the pond, and we like to make the occasional nod to that friendship.) Plus, there are plenty of American ex-pats over here! Why not give them a chance to celebrate their homeland? 🙂

  • Lisa Marie September 14, 2015, 9:13 am

    I don’t know, I guess if she was that annoying and my dander got up I would have turned around and continued to stare at her until she got the hint and when she paused I would have said “Oh sorry, I thought you were part of the show.” maybe.

  • MamToreen September 14, 2015, 9:18 am

    I remember seeing a recording of a Victor Borge performance where one lady was doing that. He stopped, looked right at her, and said, “Madam, are you laying an egg?”

    • Amanda H. September 14, 2015, 7:40 pm

      I was reminded of an audio-only recording I have of one of Jeff Foxworthy’s performances which had a similar audience member. Foxworthy never addressed it, but the entire CD has this loud hooting laugh pop up quite frequently in the audience.

    • Wendy B September 14, 2015, 9:54 pm

      I was thinking of that precisely. He got the point across without being mean. And everyone laughed, including her (a bit quieter)!

      I think I might have asked the usher (if there was one) if we could be moved and explain the situation. At that point, he/she might have approached her as asked her to control her volume…it’s part of their job. Otherwise, I probably would have just gritted my teeth.

    • AJ September 15, 2015, 3:08 am

      Love this!!! 😀

    • Marozia September 15, 2015, 4:59 am

      Classic Victor Borge!!!
      My husband and I were at a comedy show and we had the braying audience member as well.
      After about the 3rd ‘braying’, the comedian looked straight at her, said ‘And thank goodness, someone finds my act hilarious’. The rest of the audience laughed and the ‘brayer’ was completely gobsmacked about being caught out and for the rest of the act, smiled and occasionally giggled.
      Such an enjoyable night!!!

  • JenAnn September 14, 2015, 9:21 am

    This is a tough one. I think the loud hyena woman is in the wrong, since it seems clear she was much louder than those around her – that should tell her something. Most people have enough awareness of how others are conducting themselves in a situation and adjust their behavior accordingly. She took it to a level at which she was disturbing others’ enjoyment of the performance, and I would have thought it was at least worth trying to bring it to the attention of an employee to address. It might not have worked, but worth a try in my opinion. I’m not sure if I would have confronted her myself, because I would have expected someone like her to be more likely to make a loud scene (since she is so at home with being loud and obnoxious).

  • Catherine September 14, 2015, 9:39 am

    I am in agreement with those who think it would be permissible to tell the lady that her laughter was blocking out what the entertainer was saying. She will either dial it down or she will tell you she paid for her ticket and she’ll do as she pleases. You can only try.

  • Goldie September 14, 2015, 9:40 am

    My son and a close friend of mine have both been doing standup for the last two years, so I’ve been to quite a few open mics, semi-professional shows at bars, and big-name professional shows. I’d have to check with them, but my initial reaction is to give the loudly laughing lady a break. I have the opposite problem, i.e. I have this quiet ladylike/hipstery laugh-snort that the comedians cannot hear. When most of the audience is like me, they then think they’re not getting laughs. If they’re amateur comedians, they then get upset because in their mind they’re not getting laughs. Believe me there have been nights in my last two years where I would’ve paid money to have a laugh like that woman’s just for one night. Now heckling is another story. It might be that with her laughter that would not stop, and her loud verbal comments, that what she did was actually borderline heckling and was therefore bothering the comedian, drawing the public’s attention to this woman and away from the comedian, and interrupting their performance. In that case, either the comedian or the ushers should’ve stopped it. Last comedy show my son and I went to, there was a bad heckler who would not shut up, kept interrupting the performer, and was eventually escorted out (unfortunately, later than he should’ve been.)

  • A different Tracy September 14, 2015, 10:16 am

    Laughing may be uncontrollable, but screaming “Oh my God” and “No he didn’t” are completely voluntary. And the fact that the woman was vocalizing in addition to laughing makes me suspect that she could have dialed it down a notch if she wanted to.

    • stacey September 14, 2015, 4:45 pm

      Agreed. Many of us have a voice and laugh that carries. Slips along those lines are not pleasant but can sometimes be excused. Loudly expostulating and laughing to the point that others simply cannot hear is just out of line, especially if sustained for the duration of the performance. You could try an “I’m sorry, but I cannot hear the comedian.” (It should be obvious as to why). Failing success with that, your best bet might be to request management’s choice of reseating you (if feasible) or complimentary tickets to the next showing due to a persistent patron-initiated disturbance during the performance. Seeing 2 people leave in search of assistance or redress might inspire the usher or comedian to be more proactive. (And even a few rows of buffer zone from the noise might help).

  • NostalgicGal September 14, 2015, 10:43 am

    I think I would have turned around and politely asked her to throttle back.

    Yellers in theater, restaurants… sometimes or once in a rare time it may be they are hearing impaired and don’t know they’re that loud, but.

    I lived in a big city and had bought season tickets (nosebleed, back wall up there) to the concert series, and ended up next to someone that had some sort of condition where they could NOT hold still or stay really quiet. Fidget extreme. It was so bad one could not enjoy the live concert… I went to the ticket office, made inquiries, found out Mr. Fussyfidget had season also and asked for a switch. I explained carefully why I wished that switch. They had a few ‘opens’ up there in nosebleed and did exchange… but a oneoff like the OP had, one can’t do much else. Saying something to her and missing one line might have made her throttle back, well worth it. If that didn’t work, the only other would have been going to the usher and explaining you need another pair of seats pronto!

  • EllenS September 14, 2015, 11:21 am

    I’m going to go against the grain here. I think loud laughers are part of the package at a comedy show, just like screaming fans are part of the package at a rock concert. If the performer thinks they are being disruptive, they can treat them like a heckler and tell them to tone it down.

    She was not doing anything inappropriate for the context.

    • SamiHami September 15, 2015, 8:54 am

      Laughter, yes. Even loud laughter for a particularly funny joke, sure. But if you are nonstop, over the top, shreiking loud throughout the entire show–no. She was inappropriate because she was disrupting others around her throughout the entire show. If you are laughing so loud that others cannot hear what the performer is saying, then you are being inappropriate.

      I know this one is hard to believe, but I actually had a similar problem at a hockey game! Apparently this one teenage girl either knew or really liked this one player, because she literally shreiked his name repeatedly throughout the game. Not just when he had control of the puck or when he scored, but throughout the entire game. She was ear piercingly loud! Yes, hockey games are loud by nature, but the nonstop screeching was incredibly annoying. I can’t believe the people sitting next to her didn’t tell her to dial it back.

    • Livvy17 September 15, 2015, 1:47 pm

      I get what you mean, but if I were at a rock concert where someone was continually screaming into my ear, at such a level that I couldn’t hear the concert, I’d say something. Regardless of the setting, people should modulate their reactions and noise levels to avoid disturbing or distracting those around them.
      A person might technically be ALLOWED, or even have the right to make as much noise as they want in such situations, but exercising that right isn’t very polite.

  • JD September 14, 2015, 11:38 am

    Surely the laughing lady was also missing part of the jokes. I don’t see how it can be that she didn’t block her own ability to hear. If she is that clueless, I’m not sure there’s any gentle reminder that’s going to give her a clue. However, maybe someone else commenting that they can’t hear might have helped, but I sort of doubt it. I’m sorry, OP, that your evening out included Ms. Loudmouth.
    To Angel, that annoys the heck out of me, too, but I have to say I work with three different men who KNOW they have loud, carrying voices, but cannot seem to remember to keep their voices down in public. Their normal, face-t0-face volume is well over what it needs to be. All three are nice guys otherwise, and aren’t trying to be rude; they just forget they are loud because that is their natural tone. At least at work we are all familiar enough with each other to tell them to please tone it down! Too bad that no one at that diner’s table told him to tone it down. I know how aggravated you had to have been!

    • Angel September 18, 2015, 8:52 am

      JD the guy’s dining companion didn’t say a word lol. Or at least, not that I heard! I felt a little sorry for her.

  • Block of Clay September 14, 2015, 11:51 am

    I had three roomates like this (lived in a house of five) and it didn’t matter what they were watching Archer, South Park, The Simpsons or what not, but -every- joke got a booming or shrieking laugh that the neighbors even complained about. While speaking to them several times did get them to stop when I was trying to sleep but it was annoying day after day to hear nothing but that when you were trying to do work…. We didn’t last there long.

  • Ashley September 14, 2015, 11:51 am

    I would have turned around and said “I paid to hear him tell jokes, not to hear you shrieking at the jokes. Please laugh more quietly so that I can actually hear what you are laughing at, not just you laughing”

  • Dee September 14, 2015, 11:57 am

    I don’t think it’s difficult to determine where the line is. It’s simply a matter of whether other people’s ability to reasonably enjoy the show is affected or not. If others can’t hear or enjoy the act/meal/whatever then the line has been crossed. In this situation, the person who is laughing is not being asked to stop laughing, just to do it in a way that does not prevent the others from hearing the comedian. If she can’t do that, then she needs to put aside her desire to be there in favour of the needs of everyone else in the audience.
    I wonder why there wasn’t an usher or someone the OP could go to to address this situation? Sure, she would have missed some of the show but at least the rest of the show would have been better for her and the others around her. And maybe the offender would then have been more aware of her need to “hold back” at future events?

  • delislice September 14, 2015, 12:52 pm

    Uh-oh, that makes me wonder. Hubs and I went to a political rally last night, and it was rock-star packed: 9,000 people, half in bleachers around the room and half standing on the floor. There was, of course, much loud, concerted cheering, shrieking, applause, and chants.

    The couple in front of us were applauding and doing some cheering, but even though I tried to move into the aisle so I wasn’t shrieking in the man’s ear *every time,* I still worry that I was, well, shrieking into his ear every time I joined the crowd in cheering.

    I will say, however, that the politician was good at letting the noise die down so we could hear him, and we in turn were good at responding to his hand cues and cutting off our cheers.

  • MM September 14, 2015, 1:13 pm

    I must confess: I am a loud laughing person. And I am conscious of it and will try to tone it down. If you told me you had a problem with it, I’d apologize if you said it nicely. A “stop laughing, it’s not that funny” will make me laugh harder

    • Daphne September 14, 2015, 6:09 pm

      “I’d apologize if you said it nicely.” IF you said it nicely? How about just not laughing so loud to begin with? As it’s pretty clear you know it bothers people.

  • iwadasn September 14, 2015, 2:04 pm

    Without being there ourselves, I think it’s difficult to judge whether the problem lies with the woman’s loudness or the comedian’s timing.

  • Freq Flyer September 14, 2015, 2:06 pm

    It was a comedy show and the other lady was laughing.

    However, you were not able to enjoy the comedian due to the loud laughter and did not get the full value of your ticket price.

    Here is what I suggest: When it’s obvious the woman will not modulate her voice, get up and have a quiet word with the manager. Explain that you do not want to ruin the other woman’s night by asking her to stop laughing, but on the other hand you have a right to enjoy the comedian’s show, too. There are various options. You could be reseated, possibly to better seats nearer the front. The manager might offer you comp tickets for another show or another night.

    If the manager refuses to do anything to make it right for you, decide what you want to do. Stay and enjoy it as best you can, or just get up and leave vowing to never return to that venue. You might follow up with a letter to the comedian telling him you enjoy his work, but the show was ruined for you by that one woman and a venue manager who could not or would not make it right. The comedian himself might offer you comp tickets to another show in another venue.

    • Shoebox September 14, 2015, 4:31 pm

      If there was a “like” button available on these comme, I’d give you several. Spot on in every respect.

  • NicoleK September 14, 2015, 2:47 pm

    I think she was friends with the comedian, and the comedian had had a show that bombed so she was laighing in the right places to encourage the audience and her friend.

    • Daphne September 14, 2015, 6:14 pm

      You could be right. We go to watch live stand-up all the time & have been to two shows that were simultaneously being filmed for HBO specials. And I’d be willing to bet on those nights that there were ‘professional laughers’ scattered though out the crowd. Cheaper than an actual laugh track after the fact maybe?

    • VM September 15, 2015, 9:00 am

      This. Comedians certainly don’t have any scruples against pointing out and making fun of an immoderate laugher in the audience, so if that didn’t happen…yeah, you can assume collusion, or at the very least grateful acceptance, on the performer’s part.

  • Stephbwfern September 14, 2015, 3:23 pm

    My rocker dad took my sisters and I to a Rolling Stones concert in a stadium. We were seated up in the stands, towards the back. Towards the end, as will happen at a rock concert, there was a lot of people singing along and dancing in the aisles.
    My Dad and I were dancing nearby a man who continually yelled at everyone to sit down and shut up (I’ll point out Dad wasn’t touching him or obscuring his view). Eventually the man ATTACKED MY FATHER FROM BEHIND, pulling him to the group. A dozen people lept in to free Dad and break it up, the man grabbed his wife and marched off, and everyone else continued having a good time.
    Now, it was a rock concert. A stadium rock concert. I think the man, as much as he may not have enjoyed people dancing and singing near him, needed to accept that this is acceptable behaviour for such a setting.
    Op, similarly, in your case, I KNOW how irritating a hyena laugh is, but it one of those things that is going to happen at a comedy show. Yes, you could have asked her to please keep it down a bit as others have suggested (the accompanying comments she was making were definately not necessary), it may have worked, it may not. But, I think, essentially, it’s just one of those things we need to deal with sometimes.

  • Onions September 14, 2015, 3:46 pm

    Often it feels like people like this aren’tjust laughing because they find it unselfconsciously funny. They’re making a huge production of themselves on purpose. They’re using the setting to make it all about themselves and to put themselves at thecenter of everyone’s attention. Look how with it I am! I am totally in tune with the performance! I’mthebiggest fan! And they’re selfishly detracting from other people’s enjoyment to do so.
    That doesn’t help you, OP, but may provide context!

  • Ergala September 14, 2015, 4:01 pm

    I’m a snorter. My snorts happen when I’m trying to breathe, so if you get me going good enough that just happens. I try so hard to stop it but it seems the harder I try to stop the louder it becomes which in turns makes me snort even more. However if I am losing control I will leave the room and compose myself.

    I would probably lose it with the woman though. I absolutely hate missing a punch line and if I missed it because of the hyena behind me I’d be pretty irritated. It stinks when the entire audience erupts into laughter and you’re clueless about what was so funny because you couldn’t hear it.

  • JO September 14, 2015, 4:08 pm

    Wow. That is a tough one. I think if it really was disruptive, to the point you could see many others around you shooting unhappy looks at her, you were probably within your etiquette rights to turn and (pleasantly) say “comedian sure is fun, isn’t he? You probably didn’t realize, but we are actually having a bit of difficulty hearing his jokes…could you possibly try to laugh a bit more quietly? Thanks so much.” Either hyena lady would apologize and be more conscious of her volume, or she will say “no, I paid for my ticket and will laugh as I please.” Or, she may even ramp it up (some people are nasty like that). If that happenex, it would be time to involve an usher. But you would have to decide if it was disruptive enough to deal with.

  • InTheEther September 14, 2015, 4:09 pm

    There is a definite line between having appropriate reactions to the venue (ex: screaming when something pops out at the haunted house) and making a spectacle of yourself (ex: loudly proclaiming how scary everything is during the entire tour). From what the OP has stated it sounds like the woman was in the second category. I’m sure everyone has gotten into a giggle fit where they were legitimately unable to breath for a few second or made an instinctual exclamation. But seriously, who can keep it up for the 1/2 hour, full hour, or whatever all through the preshow and the main show.

    Unfortunately I’m not sure how much you could have done. If you did confront her, no matter how nicely you asked her to tone it down, you have a 50/50 chance whether she’ll realize she’s being disruptive dial back the volume or become insulted that you don’t want her to laugh at the comedy show.

    In my experience good comics generally include pauses and breaks specifically so people won’t miss the beginning of the second joke while laughing at the first, and they’ll have build up or less funny bits so people can calm down. It would be just plain exhausting trying to react like every word out of the comedians mouth was a punch line.

  • Shalamar September 14, 2015, 4:21 pm

    I work with two ladies who have no concept of “inside voices”. Now, granted, this is in an office setting and not a comedy club, but still … While I think it’s pretty much a given that colleagues will chat every so often and laugh together, the volume of these ladies’ conversations and laughter went wayyy beyond what is acceptable. They didn’t just laugh, they shrieked with laughter – in the middle of a quiet office! The best (?) part was when one of the managers approached them and asked them to please hold it down; they obliviously answered “Oh, come on, we’re just having fun!”

    They must have gotten the message somewhere down the line, though, because they haven’t done anything like that lately.

  • Ames September 14, 2015, 4:39 pm

    This is a ‘comes with the territory’ kinda thing. Like people singing horribly beside you at a concert. I’m almost certain the comedian wouldn’t want you to tell someone laughing that hard at their jokes to pipe down 🙂

  • Rebecca September 14, 2015, 5:54 pm

    I think that given the venue, it being a comedy act and such, you have to go in with the acceptance that there will be different laughs, some laughs are absolutely obnoxious to say the least. I don’t think that it’s really acceptable to say anything to her, unless she’s involving you in it or were talking during the performance, not just reacting to the performance in this case.

    I’m probably not a good person to speak about this though given I’ve been ratted on so security at sporting events and pulled into the concourse to chat about my behavior. Some people certainly have different tolerance levels and expect different behavior at certain events, whereas other ones just forget others aren’t on the same page.

  • Daphne September 14, 2015, 6:16 pm

    This exact thing has happened to us. All you can do is ask to be moved, if it’s a big enough venue there will be seats set aside for just that purpose.

  • Barbarian September 14, 2015, 6:24 pm

    Maybe this person should audition for a laugh track?

    • Barbarian September 15, 2015, 6:12 pm

      I meant the wild laugher in the audience not the Op-if that helps

  • AJ September 15, 2015, 3:10 am

    Hand it over to the comedian to deal with it: “Speak louder; we can’t heard you!” A good comedian would roll with it.

    • The Elf September 15, 2015, 11:58 am

      Great option for a small venue.

  • EllenR September 15, 2015, 4:31 am

    I have a friend, “s”, who has a perticularly loud nasal laugh. She can’t help it, if something tickles her funny bone she starts up with the HWAAAHAHAAAHAAAs . I know she’s a little self conscious about it, even though she protests that “it’s just how I laugh” and pretends not to care what anyone says. But she would never follow it up with verbal comments like that, because she can at lest control that.
    Because of the comments she was making, I feel that this lady was doing it deliberately for the attention, but I wouldn’t have asked her to stop. If she was doing it on purpose, it wouldn’t work, and you’d just be giving her what she wants. If it was unintentional, then you might just hurt her feelings. I know if some turned to S during a comedy show asked her quiet down a little, she would feel terrible, and probably leave, missing out on a show she was enjoying. But then, S is aware of how loud she is, and really can’t help her volume. It’s hard to tell from just reading a story like this weather the lady was being a bore or just unaware. I guess you just have to go with what feels right in the moment, in situations like this, and if you’re wrong, have the grace to accept that.

  • just4kicks September 15, 2015, 4:42 am

    I went to see the movie “Beaches” way back when with my mom, my sister and one of her friends.
    At the end, when (Spoiler Alert!) Barbra Hershey dies, everyone was sniffling and digging for tissues.
    I don’t know if it was my teenage hormones or what, but, I SOBBED, and I’m an “ugly crier”–to the point when the lights came up people all around us were looking for the person who making all that noise.
    My mom was like “it’s a MOVIE!!! Are you OKAY?!?”…..while my sister and her friend were completely embarrassed and pretended they weren’t with my mom and I.
    On the way home my sister said, “that’s the LAST time you’re invited to a movie with me!!!”

  • rachel September 15, 2015, 11:16 am

    Here’s the thing with live events, they’re live and not everything can be anticipated or controlled. That’s part of what makes them fun, they’re genuine. A live album won’t sound as good as one recorded in a studio, you’re going to see it because of the energy and bragging rights.

    If this were my comedy show I would likely already know half of the jokes and the woman would just be something funny I could mention when I tell others how it went.

  • The Elf September 15, 2015, 11:57 am

    As a loud belly-laugher, one who comedians have actually pointed out, let me just say one thing: I don’t have much control over it. I laugh how I laugh, and I’ve laughed that way since childhood. It has been compared to the sound of a fan belt slipping. So far no complaints have reached me, but if someone did POLITELY or HUMOROUSLY ask me to tone it down because they couldn’t hear the show, I would do my best. In fact, I think the chastisement would probably make me self-conscious, take a lot of the humor out of the show for me, so I wouldn’t enjoy it as much, and I wouldn’t laugh as hard.

    But if someone said something nasty to me about it, or said it in a snotty tone or something, eff em. I’m going to enjoy the show and laugh. They can stew.

  • Lerah99 September 15, 2015, 1:09 pm

    I think this is just part and parcel of live entertainment.

    I recently attended a Sam Smith concert where three women a few rows down from me had turned their backs to the stage so they could hold up their cameras to record themselves in the foreground and the singer in the background while they shrieked along with one of the songs.

    It was very annoying. I’d paid to hear Sam Smith not the drunken housewives of Tampa Bay. But that is part of how things roll at a live venue. Sometimes you have to accept that going to a live show means you’ll be dealing with people and all the annoyances that can create.

  • Morgan Horse September 15, 2015, 7:03 pm

    I believe speaking to an usher or a manager would have been the right approach in this case. Speaking directly to the person could have potentially turned her attention and loudness toward you and made the rest of the evening unpleasant for a whole new set of reasons. I’m usually a fan of directness, but caution must be exercised when 1. dealing with someone who is either unable to control herself, unwilling to control herself, and/or unaware or uncaring of how her behavior is negatively affecting others and 2. you are in a captive situation. Speaking to her directly might have resulted in a sheepish apology and quieter responses to the jokes, but it’s not likely.

  • Emma September 16, 2015, 3:58 pm

    Ah, etiquette hell; the only place in the entire world whose inhabitants think laughing at a comedy show is rude. Gawd bless it.

  • SJ September 16, 2015, 9:53 pm

    There was another post a while back about where that OP was laughing, and another person kept glaring at them.

    As a performer, I LOVE hearing that an audience member is enjoying it.

    As an audience member, I can laugh very loudly. My husband is much more mild-mannered than I am, and he sometimes thinks I’m too loud. If I get glares or looks I try to tone down.

    I agree with the very nice, “it’s obvious you’re enjoying the show, but . . .” that was mentioned earlier. It can be difficult to convey that in the midst of a show, though.

  • Elisabeth September 23, 2015, 11:44 am

    This experience must have been irritating beyond belief for you! Unfortunately some people just do not know how to take cues such as glares or tittering. I was on a cruise ship once and there was a comedy show onboard. One woman sat in the front row, and decided she wanted to be the star of the show, too. Whenever the comedian asked rhetorical questions or questions meant just to show hands, like “Who here’s ever dealt with a toddler?”, she would start TALKING to him. He was pretty obviously an amateur who didn’t know how to diffuse the situation, so he just gave up and handed her the microphone so everyone else could hear her response, which was heavily accented and didn’t make any sense. She kept doing this throughout the show. People around us were muttering things like “jeez, shut up, lady!”or “we didn’t come to this show to hear some woman talk about her kids” and people closer to her were visibly rolling their eyes and glaring at her, but that didn’t keep her from pursuing her dream of being a comedian’s assistant.

  • Nina September 25, 2015, 12:53 pm

    We had a comedy show ruined like that for us. We go 2-3 times a year only and you usually have to buy the tickets 7-8 months in advance and they’re about 70$ average. I was REALLY looking forward to this one. We got there and lo and behold, the woman behind us seems pissed drunk. She keeps replying to everything the stand up guy is saying almost as though she’s having a conversation with him. It was loud enough that even HE heard it at times and would tell reply, “Ok wow it wasn’t that funny.” her laugh was weird, obnoxious and loud and I grew so frustrated, I almost wanted to strangle her at some point. Needless to say, we haven’t bought tickets since.

  • SHUT UP ! December 19, 2015, 10:40 am

    Today’s date is December 19 and I know I’m a late for this chitchat complaint post subject but, I had to mention or vent my extreme frustration on how this lady in 80% of Jeff Foxworthy’s comedy shows has completely near ruined my ability to enjoy Jeff Foxworthy’s comedy. For years it’s been the exact same lady fake laughing two or three times louder than all the other audience participants. She only comes to those events so that she can stamp her loud obnoxious laughing on Jeff Foxworthy’s comedy bits. She always starts her loud laughter just before everybody else starts laughing or after everybody else stops laughing. It’s so fake and a noxious and I think it has ruined Jeff Foxworthy’s comedy CDs you buy in the stores or online. Why couldn’t Jeff Foxworthy’s producers keep the microphones away from that lady every time she shows up at the comedy shows? Many years ago I saw an interview of a major comedian who had that exact same problem where a lady or a man would come an hour before the show and find out where the microphones are and sit him or herself right near the microphone so that his or her voice could be heard over everybody else’s laughter in the crowd. So, what the producers of the comedy act did was to wait to see where that man or lady sat and then placed a microphone near him or her allowing her or him to think that their loud laughter could be heard crystal clear. Then, the producers simply turned the microphone off so that nobody could hear their fake obnoxious laughter.