Seat and Temperature for Comedy

From Weekly I/O#70

Perfect seating arrangement and room temperature for comedy show: a little bit tighter and colder than comfortable.

Podcast: Noam Dworman on Stand-Up Comedy and Staying Open-Minded (Ep. 185) | Conversations with Tyler

Noam Dworman owns the renowned Comedy Cellar in New York City, where I once watched Louis C.K. perform live. He believes that, for an optimal comedy show, the audience should be seated slightly closer together than they might typically prefer.

The claustrophobia of the room is extremely important. Despite receiving complaints about cramped seating from time to time, Dworman said he wouldn't make changes to address this issue because the intenseness makes the comics funnier. The fact that you are enjoying it with your friends in a close and physical way helps amplify the laughter.

Laughter is contagious. In some ways, it is like a chain reaction in which you must be positioned close enough and over critical mass to create a powerful wave of shared amusement. I experienced this firsthand at Ronny Chien's show. While I don't consider him the funniest person in the world, the audience's collective laughter was so compelling that I found myself laughing to the point of physical pain.

Moreover, Bill Grundfest, the founder of the Comedy Cellar, discovered that when the room temperature gets warmer, it seriously affects how the comedians perform. Noam Dworman thinks that a little bit colder than comfortable is the best room temperature, which is supported by this article arguing that a warmer setting makes audiences lethargic, exhausting the energy and spread of collective laughter. This paper might also be related because it suggests colder temperatures make people less aligned with social norms, which can be better for comedy.

Thanks to Morris Hsu for sharing this podcast episode with me.

Want to learn 5 bite-sized cool things like this every week to understand the world better? Sign up below for my free weekly newsletter and learn together!

Weeklyio Banner

You might also like