Comics are traditionally pessimistic people as it is, and sometimes that negativity can sprout up even on a good night. Sometimes we have one of our best sets in a long time, but what do we remember about it? The lady in the front row who sat stone-faced the entire time. Didn’t she see and hear everyone else laughing and applauding?
It’s extremely hard not to acknowledge her on the spot. She’s wrong for not laughing, right? You’re having a killer set and feel the need to change her mind. Don’t. The first reason is that it might interrupt your momentum. The crowd likes you and you might say something mean and change their mind. The second hazard is discovering what’s really wrong. She might answer, “My father died on Wednesday.” Good luck getting out of that one. Maybe she’s deaf (you’d be amazed at the number of deaf people who come to comedy shows). Maybe she’s laughing on the inside and doesn’t express it well, or perhaps she’s on the worst date of her life. Ignore her frown and finish your set.
If it’s bothering you that much, just give her a simple smile with some eye contact. The natural human instinct is to return that. She could snap out of it. You should be doing that to random people in the first rows anyway.
The bottom line is that you’re not going to please everyone all of the time so just get over it. As an artist it’s just something you have to get used to (I’m still learning). It’s tough because it goes against our attitude. I had a girl not even face me from the front row a few months ago. She ended up walking out and then lied to my face at the bar and said good job. Even there I could’ve gotten into it with her, but what’s the point of arguing with someone who represents <1% of the crowd? An hour later she was doing shots and making a jackass of herself. Is that someone really worth convincing you’re funny?
The flip side of this is to not cut yourself too much slack and say, “Well the crowds this week just don’t get me.” If the number of stone-faced people is higher, it’s probably you.
Going back to the original point…Forget the individuals who don’t care for you. Even Seinfeld has them. Imagine how ridiculous you’ll sound complaining about one person after a great set. It’s the equivalent of the hot girl pinching an inch on her stomach and telling everyone she’s fat in a selfie.
Speaking of stuff that a small minority still has a problem with, order a copy of Don’t Wear Shorts on Stage from one of these many options.