Adelaide’s festive season is about to roll around again and unfortunately it can be the season for some people to act like substandard human beings.

February and March are a thrilling time of the year where Adelaide city and surrounds are filled with colour, excitement, creativity and stuff that’s out of the ordinary.

For most festival-goers, it’s the best time of year where they get to experience the fruits of labour from performers and producers from both home and abroad.

But, every year, there are some audience members who ruin it for the rest of us.

Having been a performer, reviewer and audience member, I’ve heard many tales of entitled audience members who behave like shows and venues are their playground and the performers are their toys.

So I have put together a helpful guide on how not to be a total jerk during festival time.

  1. First and foremost, do not touch the performers unless you’ve been invited to. Ever.

You’d think this one was a given, but sadly it is not. A few years ago, I was performing in a comedy cabaret show where each night there was a bit where I’d call a man onto the stage, put a Don Draper mask on him and serenade him. I would always look for someone familiar or sitting with a partner so I would be safe. One night, I spotted a man in the audience that I knew through writer circles. I figured he’d be a good sport so I got him up on the stage and sang to him. As I was singing, this man made a choice to grab my breast, hard. It was painful, humiliating and people in the audience gasped audibly. I regained composure, finished my song and sent him off the stage. After all, the show must go on. Afterwards, he apologised to my husband for “getting carried away”. Not me. My husband. Let that sink in.

The bottom line is, artists are not there for your personal pleasure and amusement, they are there to entertain an entire audience with work they have put many years of practice and energy into. They perform because they love it, it gives them life, and for many it is their livelihood. For some performers, being on stage is their safest and happiest time. You have no right to take that away from them. Imagine someone coming into your workplace and grabbing your body without consent. Do not under any circumstances touch artists unless you have been invited to.

  1. Heckle at your peril

Most, if not all comedians can handle a heckle. In fact, it can be pretty funny for the audience to watch a heckler get roasted, but if you’re one of those idiots who think they can out-funny the comedian and you won’t shut up, then you’re not a heckler, you are officially an arsehole. Here’s a hot tip: Fringe Festival is open access, so if you’re really that funny, register your stand up comedy show, sell some tickets and enjoy the exciting ride of putting on your own show. If you’re not that funny, shut up and let the comedian do their thing.

Don’t get me wrong, many comedians love the challenge of a heckler and are only too pleased to throw some shade back at you. It’s just a matter of knowing the difference between hilarious banter and ruining everyone’s evening.

  1. Burlesque performers are not your personal hen’s night entertainment

There’s a reason why some burlesque shows have a ‘No hen’s nights’ policy. It’s because burlesque is a beautiful, fun and highly skilled art form that involves training and talent to perfect. Putting together a show takes time, money, energy and coordination. Therefore, when you’ve been touring wineries since 10a.m. and rock up to a 7p.m. show totally sozzled, you’re probably not in a frame of mind to sit back and appreciate the technique and flair of the performers. You probably want to drink cocktails, talk loudly and ‘woo!’ intermittently, which is completely fine. In fact, it sounds like fun! But it’s recommended that you find a cocktail lounge to celebrate in instead, or put the burlesque show at the beginning of the evening rather than the end, so you can properly appreciate it.

While we’re at it, fellas, if you hollered at dancers in a strip club the way some of you holler at burlesque performers, you’d be thrown out on your butt. Have respect for all women at all times.

  1. If you win tickets, turn up to the show

There are many giveaways up for grabs during festival time, which is great. It’s excellent publicity for the artists, a great opportunity for audience members to experience more shows, but it’s also an important way of getting bums on seats. If you are offered free tickets, please turn up to the show. If you can’t make it, give them to someone else. If you know you can’t make it to that particular show, please don’t enter the competition.

We run many competitions here at The Upside News and sometimes; artists will contact us to let us know winners didn’t turn up. Sometimes winners will contact us 5 minutes before the show starts to say they can’t make it, but by that stage, we can’t fill those seats. If you win tickets, do the artist the courtesy of going to their show. And while you’re there, give the artist, venue and source of the competition a shout out.

  1. Use your phone and your manners

If you’re told to switch off your phone, do it. If you’re told to use a hashtag and tweet/gram the bejeebus out of a show, do that. But for goodness’ sake, use your common sense in partnership with your phone. If you’re holding it up to film an entire song (seriously though, when are you ever going to watch that again?), make sure you are not obstructing the view of those behind you. Turn your screen brightness down and don’t replay the video until you are safely out of the venue after the show. Oh and if you’re on your phone during the show, be prepared to become part of the show! The best audience participation comes from the people who were distracted and not paying attention.

Festival time in Adelaide is the best time of the year and it’s an opportunity to fill the creative tank and have some serious fun. Just remember, the stage is the artists’ workplace, so let them work and you’ll get the best out of your festive season.

By Libby Parker