Why Being A Genuine Audience Member Is A Major Social Stress At Concerts

Posted at August 1st, 2017 | by Rachit Varma | in Entertainment, Featured, Music Festivals

They often tell me… You know… That I should try stand-up comedy. While I appreciate the words of advice and their belief in me that I’m funny enough to make a hundred people laugh at a given time, I’d like to politely deny the opportunity to self-destruct in public. I doubt it will be a pleasant sight for the audience to see a 31-year-old man sweating like a pig, fainting on stage, and hitting his head on the edge only to go into a coma for 18 years, and waking up to find his wife married to Arjun Rampal (as his 4th wife) and their kids playing with Aryan Khan’s 11th illegitimate child who’s yet again adopted by SRK as his own.


I’m nervous like that.


Forget being on stage, I get nervous even when I’m a part of the audience for god’s sake! I mean, am I the only one who faces this anxiety… this performance pressure even while you’re just a part of the crowd? You know… Whether you’re appreciating the performances on stage the right way or not, or if you’re clapping at the right time, booing at the right time, et al?



Picture this, you’re out for a Qawwali… You’re not an aficionado or anything but you enjoy listening to them from time to time. You recognise the famous ones when they’re played on the radio and you get excited when they are played when you’re drunk with the boys and reminiscing about all the breakups the group has had collectively which runs into 3 digits.


So you’re out there and the group starts Qawwaliing (if this is not a word, it should be). You start tapping your feet, swaying your head, not like jazz or jive or anything but in a more traditional way where you move basis the tabla beats. You check your phone a little, yawn a bit, but you’re enjoying this experience… in your own little way. And then when you look around, you see these people going mental over some Qawwali you’ve never even heard before. Full taali scene is happening and people yelling irshaad and takalluf and janasheen and waah waah and what not.



Almost like they’re going to start a sufi mosh pit!


Doesn’t it freak you out that maybe you’re not enjoying this the right way? That just listening to music and periodically checking your Facebook is not enough and you need to be as crazy as the other audience members lest you will be left alone and people will stare at you wondering why you even came?


It nearly kills me. Every time…


And sometimes there’s this extra cool chap who’ll completely close his eyes and put his head down and move only once in 3 minutes. And when he does get up, he’s got an intense expression like he just had an orgasm or something and yells “SUBHANALLAH!!” and then goes back to his slumber. People look at this guy and I can see they’re all thinking “Bhai lagta hai ye khaandaani Qawwali listener hoga… Iska to baap bhi Qawwali sunta hoga aur dada bhi…”



So… One day I thought I should also try to be intense… I put down my head wondering “Yeah! This time I’m going to show everyone that I enjoy things the right way too!!” but then I’m suddenly nudged awake by my angry wife within 3 minutes into my failed attempt to become cool. I realise that I’d been snoring and people around me were getting pissed. My wife and I didn’t have sex for 16 days after that…


But surely I can’t be the only one facing this, right? This happens to me all the time. I watched 3 Idiots thrice only to understand why I wasn’t laughing hard enough at the mootra visarjan scene. I remember how people around me were kicking the chairs and jumping and crying all because it was so funny while I was just sitting there with genuine tears in my eyes asking God why my life was so incomplete!


The worst was when I was at a rock concert where people were head-banging and singing along and what not. I decided to be a part of the ‘rocking’ gang and lit up my cigarette lighter (I’ve seen enough rock music videos to know how cool this really is). Within a matter of a few seconds there was a burning smell around me. I looked up only to find that I’d put the ceiling on fire.



Lesson #1: Don’t light up cigarette lighters inside pubs with a low ceiling (this concept works when you’re outdoors)

Lesson #2: Don’t try to be cool if you’re not. Just don’t. Don’t even try.


I’ve given up now.


Be it stand-up comedy shows, theatre performances, even watching TV with my family; I always feel like I’m not good enough to be a spectator… Now you can’t expect a guy like me… Who’s conscious even when he’s not performing to go up on the stage and try to make people feel feelings? No can do, kind sirs and ma’ams.



Let me first get over the fear of being an audience member (I hope I do someday) and then I might just consider having sex with the lights on and eventually, maybe, just maybe, go up to my parents and tell them that I now know what masturbation is and I have been doing it since I was 29.


But performing on stage? Let’s keep that on hold for now… Amen.

Rachit Varma


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