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12 Worst Types Of Audience Members

Last year was infamous for bad audience behavior on Broadway, with stories going viral about people trying to plug their phones in onstage, Shia LaBeouf’s meltdown at “Cabaret” and Patti Lupone — praise her — stopping a show to snatch a cell phone from an audience member.

However, bad audience behavior goes far beyond irritating cell phone use. The following are 12 of the worst types of audience members that annoy both actors and the devoted theater lovers in the audience:

1. The Talker

Unfazed by all the other silent audience members or the spotlights and microphones that indicate all action is to take place onstage, The Talker can’t help but comment on every scene and offer their own sassy remark to every single joke. The Talker is often surrounded by friends who are either Talkers themselves, or spend the entire show mortified that their friend has spoken so many lines they’ve practically landed a principal role.

2. The Texter

Nothing, I repeat, NOTHING is important enough to stop The Texter from click clickity clacking their fingers to send out a few more messages to their friends. Never mind that their lit-up cell screen is a beacon bright enough to distract the cast of “Spamalot” from their quest for the Holy Grail. The Texter is also a nightmare for actors, who have to pour their heart and soul out onstage while one eye is glued to the glowing screen waving about in the orchestra.

3. The Filmer

I know, I know, without The Filmer, we wouldn’t be able to enjoy hours upon hours of hours of bootlegged show footage on YouTube. But the practice is technically illegal, and pretty annoying for anyone sitting next to The Filmer, who is quite obviously angling their iPhone toward the stage and propping it up to get a better angle.

4. The Cuddlers

Undeterred by less-than-comfortable chairs and a prohibitive armrest, The Cuddlers are on a Tony-and-Maria mission, snuggled up so close not even a Jets and Sharks war could tear them apart. But what The Cuddlers don’t realize is that together, they’re creating a Les Miserables-level barricade that’s preventing anyone behind them from comfortably seeing the stage. WE GET IT, YOU’RE IN LOVE. But maybe keep the canoodling to intermission, like the rest of us.

5. The Muncher

You know when there’s an announcement before the show where everyone is asked  to unwrap their candy BEFORE the show and not during it and you wonder, “Who on earth would bring wrapped candy to this production?” Well, The Muncher did, along with a whole other slew of snacks guaranteed to satisfy their hunger and annoy everyone else. Nothing ruins a dramatic, powerful silence onstage like the crunching sound of chomped-up Pringles behind you — true story.

6. The Snuggler

Personal space, shmersonal shmace. The Snuggler may have bought a ticket for one, but that’s not going to stop them from taking over both armrests and leaning in super, suuuuuuper close you to get a better view of the action. Hey, Snuggler, make like Glinda and get back to traveling in your own personal bubble.

7. The World Cup Player

Presumably inspired by “Bend It Like Beckham: The Musical,” The World Cup Player has decided that the back of your chair is their own personal foot rest — and boy, oh boy, are they fidgety. The World Cup Player spends the show tapping your chair gleefully along to the beat, and even if their rhythm is impeccable, no, we do not get a kick out of you.

8. The Panicky Parker

The Panicky Parker may be physically in the theater, but mentally, they are down the street, in their car, imagining how horrible traffic is going to be after the show. The moment the stage goes black and the first audience member puts their hands together, The Panicky Parker has risen, grabbed their belongings and bolted across the row into the aisle, blocking everyone else’s view as the bows begin.

9. The Phlegm Monster

We’ve all been there. We really have. And we feel for you. But when The Phlegm Monster can’t help but let out a string of coughs longer than the showstopping belt by the leading lady, there’s a problem. Many Phlegm Monsters try to be considerate and wait until there’s applause to hack away, but others can’t help but interrupt the most dramatic moment of the show with a cough that echoes throughout the wings and makes everyone cringe.

10. The Roamer

“Excuse me…excuse me…pardon me, can I just—excuse me.” This mantra sounds all-too-familiar coming from The Roamer, who just can’t seem to get to the theater on time, or stay in their seat. The Roamer shows up at least 15 minutes after the overture and refuses to wait until a scene break to shuffle down a row of already seated, irritated patrons. The Roamer also inevitably has to use the bathroom mid-show and takes the longest route possible to weave their way around the legs of eye-rolling theatergoers.

11. The Snoozer

The snoozer’s dead give away is a constant head bobbing up and down as they drift away into lala land. And if that wasn’t enough, the violent jerk and squeal as they wake is sure to let everyone know what’s going on. Perhaps even worse is the successful sleeper that starts to accent the performance with a soft snore.

12. The Unwrapper

Almost worst than the muncher, the “unwrapper” slowly twists the packaging of the hard candy as if to say “I’m trying to be quiet and respectful”. In reality it’s creating a kind of chalkboard-screeching torture to everyone in the immediate area. The collective audience’s inner-monologue is saying “just unwrap that freaking thing already”.

What was the most annoying situation you’ve ever found yourself in? Let us know in the comments!

Written by Brianna Hand

Bri Hand is a writer, editor, and theater aficionado based out of Boston, Massachusetts. In addition to performing in musicals throughout high school, Bri spends her time doing deep research on them to fuel both her writing and conversations.

6 Comments

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  1. Can I add ‘The Mutter Alonger’ to this? This is particularly bad in jukebox shows, or ones with known songs!

    I was at Charlie and the Chocolate Factory last year and the lady in front started humming along to Pure Imagination, then started singing under her breath (even more annoying that out loud!), and when she realised she was out of time because the song was re-arranged for the show she turned to her partner and declared ‘well I don’t know what version this is, but it’s wrong!’.

    So distracting!

  2. Small children need a category of their own. They can be cute and make funny comments, but also really annoying. Once there was one (who should have been old enough to know better) in the front row when I was performing who was playing on her DS saying “THIS IS BORING” and “THEY’RE BAD SINGERS”

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