Oh, the dread agony of an audience liking what it sees!
Unfortunately, we cannot let the audience be our directors.
There’s a lot of things that we, as performers, know that the audience does not. We are aware of technique and craft. We know what structure or form we’re performing. We know a lot of secret things that make creating improv much easier. The audience, unless they are truly savvy, is only aware that we are making it up as we go along. Anything that looks and feels good within that parameter will be a successful show to an audience.
Think of it this way: people will say “It was made up and it was funny!” People will also say “It was made up and it was not funny.” That’s the worst. However, you will never hear “It was made up and they adhered to the standard Harold structure.” I don’t know much about classical music. But I know what in tune sounds like and I know what a missed note is. I couldn’t tell you the difference between a Baroque or Rococco piece, but I can tell you if the music moved me.
In this way, you will receive a lot of compliments after a show. However, you may be dreadfully aware of some issue that never enters the audience’s mind. You may know that you put the second beat of a scene in the wrong order, or you walked through an object work table, or you played that character you know you already did the week before. This is the curse of being an artist. We’re never effing happy.
Understanding that the audience is not savvy enough to give us proper critical feedback, we cannot look to the audience for it at all. (If artists truly listened to what the audience had to say, we’d end up with every painting like these: http://awp.diaart.org/km/painting.html)
So when an audience member says they liked it, it’s your job to say “Thanks!” and that’s it.
(I normally don’t say things like this while coaching improv, but I loosely said the following to a group I coached today (Dos Mimosas, a young and extremely talented group—they have a show at Triple Crown this Sunday at 8PM—go to it!) and it strikes me as true and I needed to jot it down before…