Steve Martin on dead rooms

Huge, unfunny barns

An oversized room is a killer for every event, as I have written before.

In an excellent and fascinating article in February's Smithsonian Magazine, über-comic Steve Martin makes the same observation:

"I got a welcome job in 1971 with Ann-Margret, five weeks opening the show for her at the International Hilton in Vegas, a huge, unfunny barn with sculptured pink cherubs hanging from the corners of the proscenium.

Laughter in these poorly designed places rose a few feet into the air and dissipated like steam, always giving me the feeling I was bombing*."

Remember if you are planning an event - always choose your room one size too small...

Photo from

*If you are unfamiliar with the term, "bombing" is comic-speke
for completely failing to amuse an audience. It's no fun.
And don't ask me about my last gig in Budapest...

1 comment:

kat said...

So, Adam, what about your last gig in Budapest? ;)

Do note that he says he felt he bombed because of the room's acoustics preventing feedback to him; the audience did laugh though; they were quite possibly having a good time considering this was Steve Martin before "cheaper by the dozen".
The principle "room slightly too small = better atmosphere" is absolutely right, but the gig doesn't automatically do a big fat belly flop just because the room isn't ideal. Potential killer, yes. Insta-death for someone who can still play the audience? No.

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