Grace and aplomb in the face of Gussing and other unpleasantries


If the tone of the following message sounds too much like sermonizing (which
I have to admit even I think it does), and you find this kind of thing
offensive, I apologize now. This is just something I felt like getting off
my chest.

This discussion has done much to illuminate the sensitive and awkward
subject of unacceptable audience participation, otherwise known as gussing.
Perhaps some eyes were opened up to the degree of agitation and ill will
these practices may cause to the performers as well as to the audience. This
can only be a good thing. It could even spare someone among us from the pain
and embarrassment of becoming a gussing story. I would like to turn this
around a bit now, and talk of the responsibility that we have in these

Many have written on this list about the responsibilities of the gusser, the
potential gusser, and the would be gusser except that they are within a safe
and tolerant social setting, etc. Examples have been given of audience
members, often paid patrons, who have displayed less than exemplary
behavior, who have been downright drunk, overenthusiastic, insensitive or in
some other way obnoxious. There's no doubt that these sort of situations are
not only annoying, distracting, and in a perfect world unnecessary. They
threaten our peace and well being as well the enjoyment of the rest of our
audience. As entertainers/performers/fellow patrons, we are often in a
position to see people, ordinary people, at the best and worst times of
their lives. Whether we like it or not, situations like this often test the
limits of our own patience and goodwill. So even though it may be easy to
forget about the feelings and sensitivities of this person, a fellow human
being, I feel that we owe it to this poor schlub, to ourselves, and the rest
of our audience to display all of the grace and aplomb we can muster. How we
act at moments like these not only reflects on ourselves as people, but has
the potential to create even more harm than good. So, even though it may be
easy to dismiss this Gus, or Rube or whatever as a lower life form, we
threaten in so doing to reduce our own humanity.


Howard Chandler

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