MICHAEL MUSTO: The 16 Worst Kinds of Audience Members

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It’s bad enough to sit through a bad piece of pseudo art, but when the people sharing the experience with you are rude and classless, something irritating becomes unconscionable.

Here are the worst kinds of people in an audience, arranged separately according to movies, theater and both.


The ones who choose the seat right in front of you There are hundreds of empty seats all around the theater, but they just have to have the one that will unnervingly block your view. And, of course, they’ve taken pains to wear heels, style their hair into a perm and top it with a feathery bonnet. Sick!

The seat banger This person made sure to choose the seat right behind you, and for two hours, they’re planning to kick your seat out of rage, boredom, ADD and just plain ignorance. By the end of the movie, you need spinal surgery. What a fun, scintillating night out, no? Fortunately, the insurance covers it.

The ones who crunch loudly on popcorn Yes, they have a right to eat munchies. That’s part of the experience, for whatever sick reason. But they crunch down on each kernel as if they were cracking a rock quarry. It’s mind numbing. It’s even louder than the action movie! And they do it during somber flicks, too. As Lupita Nyong’o got mercilessly whipped in “12 Years a Slave,” I found the crunching a little annoying.


The ones who sing along to every word And it’s not even a musical!

The ones who ruffle through their programs every two minutes You feel a breeze — not to mention the distracting sense that these restless folk are trying to figure out how many songs are left before it’s over. Just wait it out! Or nod out! (But don’t snore, please. That’s not welcome here.)

The type who leap to their feet the second the show is over — to leave These freaks can’t wait five seconds to get through the curtain call. They have to leave now — so they stumble over you all over again so they can run out and hail a cab. I always hope they get splashed with sewage while waiting.


The fools who read texts the whole time They don’t just glance down at their phone through the corner of their eye. They brazenly pull the device out, not caring if the glare causes cornea damage for miles around, and proceed to read every mind-rotting, trivial syllable. Then they answer back. Whatever it is, it can wait! (But my telling them off can’t.)

Even worse, the dummos who answer their phones These cretins don’t even know about texting. They think you have to actually talk to a person to communicate. And they feel a stunningly banal conversation has to be dealt with immediately rather than wait till the closing credits or bows. How do I know it’s stunningly banal? Because the conversation drowns out everything else going on in the room and generally has to do with which dive bar they’ll be going to later and whether the two-for-one cocktail special is still valid after 11 p.m. STFU!

The imbeciles who discuss the plot loudly and try to figure it out, as the movie/play goes along It’s generally pretty easy — the “Transformers” franchise ain’t all that hard, nor is “The Lion King” or “Jersey Boys” — but these miscreants are compelled to talk it through at the top of their lungs to anyone who’ll listen. They love to narrate the obvious (“She’s got a gun”), question the unquestionable (“Wait. Is he having a dream or something?”) and scream at the characters (“Watch out!”), not realizing that if real-life characters don’t pay any attention to them, why would fake ones?

Spoiler trolls The ones who’ve seen the movie or play before and want to show off about just how very knowledgeable they are. “They‘re gonna drive off a cliff!” “They’re all dead.” “She’s a man!” You want to yell back, “You’re gonna get beaten up!”

The ones who wildly overreact to everything You wonder if they’ve ever experienced a piece of entertainment before. Every joke gets bellows of laughter. Every sad moment nabs wails and tissues. Every plot twist renders an, “Oh, no.” You want to turn to them and yell, “Boo!”

The ones who have a hideously intrusive hack cough, wheeze, etc. I feel for these people, I really do. But it’s quite possible that they shouldn’t have gone to a communal cultural experience until they got better. Suddenly a Strindberg play becomes about the man in the third row who is battling phlegm, not to mention a his wife, who breathes loudly through her nose like a broken foghorn. See a doctor, not a show!

The people who have to go to the bathroom every five seconds In the process, they need to climb over you in very painful heels (painful for you, that is). They also make sure to wait until you’ve just sat down before they start the climbing and pooing process again. Ugh. Get some adult diapers.

The ones who bring babies to serious events Even adults don’t know how to behave at these things, let alone infants.

The cretins who grunt at everything, clearly wanting to leave Rather than make everyone’s life easier and just head for the exit, they’ll stick it out till the end, but they’ll make sure to voice their displeasure over every second that transpires on that stage or screen. “Ugh … I’m bored … You said this was only going to be 90 minutes … [squirm, squirm] … When does this end? … It’s getting worse … I want to gouge my eyes out …” After a few hours of this, you’re desperate to help them do so.

Michael Musto is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine.

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