As an entertainer so much of my job is audience training. I have to teach the audience how to react to things. I blame the internet and TV for this. I remember when I was a child if I saw something cool I would applaud or laugh or at least smile. And while I may have been a little bit of a weirdo as a child I don’t think my reactions were different then my peers.
Recently I have noticed a change in this. When I first started juggling and performing people reacted with similar reactions. Laughter, smiles and applause were what I lived for. They were what pushed me forward to learn to do cooler things. Now I am lucky if people applaud at all. Most of the time people watch and I get a general reaction of Meh.
It is entirely possibly that my act sucks and that is why I am getting those reactions. I tend not to think so as I have recently become a better juggler and have added new cooler looking tricks to my repertoire. Even when juggling fire while balancing on a Rola-Bola I get a Meh reaction. That is hard and looks cool. Protip: People love fire.
What I have started doing is at the beginning of my show I make sure to use the “It’s ok to clap at the hard ones” or “This is only 3 months of my life” type jokes to jumpstart a reaction from the audience. I also start off with really simple stuff made to get a reaction from the audience. I also make it my personal mission to call people out when they are using their electronic devices during the show.
The next time you are lucky enough to see a variety arts performer remember that they have spent a lot of time learning their skills. Sure they can’t all be as awesome as me, but they are trying, Make sure you give them your full attention and participate in the show. This allows them to spend more time amazing you and less time training you to react correctly to what is going on.