Theatre humor, of course, comes in many forms and makes fun of many of the "characters" one will find in virtually any theatre setting. Having spent most of my time in Theatre working on the technical side of things, much of my collection of theatre humor is from the point of view of a "techie," but I think I am widely enough experienced to appreciate humor relating to most any aspect of Theatre.
Anyway, here are some examples which have amused me over the years, maybe you'll find them amusing, as well.
Many of us, especially those who have been in educational theatre, have, I suspect, had to deal with fund-raising due to the often rather severe limitations on funding for such "non-essential" activities as theatre. Sports, of course, are much less "non-essential," but that's the way things are. In any event, I found this cartoon from Foxtrot to be all too much like the truth.
A Theatre Dictionary
IN is down, DOWN is front,
OUT is up, UP is back,
OFF is out, ON is in,
RIGHT is left, LEFT is right.
A Drop shouldn’t and a
BLOCK AND FALL does neither.
A PROP doesn’t,
And a COVE has no water.
TRIPPING is okay.
A RUNNING CREW rarely gets anywhere.
A PURCHASE LINE will buy you nothing.
A TRAP will not catch anything.
STRIKE is work (in fact, lots of work),
And a GREEN ROOM, thankfully, usually isn’t.
Now, BREAK A LEG!
I don't know how many possible readers may have encountered any of the various parts of "The Techie Gospel." I have run across several variant versions, and a variety of pieces. One fairly common piece is referred to as "Proverbs." As a Techie at heart, I find it amusing:
Behold, my son, here is wisdom. Pay heed to these words, and in the days of thy play, in the hours of thy performing, thou shalt not be caught short. For truly, it is said, pay heed to the errors of others and you shall not make them yourself, and again, as we have been told from on old, to thine own self be true.
I. Give not unto the actor his props before his time, for as surely as the sun does rise in the
East and set in the West, he will lose or break them.
II. When told the placement of props by the Director, write not these things in ink upon thy
script for as surely as the winds blow, so shall he change his mind.
III. Speak not in large words to actors, for they are slow of thought and are easily confused.
IV. Speak not in the language of the techie to actors, for they are uninitiated, and will not
perceive thy meaning.
V. Tap not the head of a nail to drive it; but strike it firmly with thy strength.
VI. Keep holy the first performance, for afterwards you shall party.
VII. Keep holy the last performance, for afterwards you shall strike and then party.
VIII. Remember always that the TD is never wrong. If it appears that he is, then you
obviously misunderstood him the first time.
IX. Leave not the area of the stage during the play to go and talk with the actors, for as
surely as you do, you will be in danger of missing your cue and being summarily
executed or worse.
X. Beware of the actors during scene changes, for they are not like unto you and are blind in
XI. Beware of actors when flying in walls, for they will stand and watch and get crushed.
XII. Take not thy cues before their time; but wait for the proper moment to do so.
XIII. Take pity on the actors, for in their roles they are as children, and must be led with
gentle kindness. Thus, endeavor to speak softly and not in anger.
XIV. Listen carefully to the instructions of the Director as to how he wants things done - then
do it the right way. In the days of thy work, he will see thy wisdom, give himself the
credit, and rejoice.
XV. And above all, get not carried away with the glow-tape, or thy stage will be like unto an
There is, of course, a great deal of other theatre humor. For example, I don't know if anyone remembers, as I do, the many versions of the "How many (fill in some category of person) does it take to change a lightbulb?" jokes. Here are some specifically addressed to various types of theatre folk:
How many Artistic Directors does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: Does it have to be a lightbulb?
How many Producers does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: How many did it take last time?
Alternate Answer: What's wrong with the old one?
How many Lighting Designers does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: After a long conference, it was decided to use several fresnels, an ellipsodal, warm tones for a cozy atmosphere and a strobe to effect lightning striking in the background, for that stormy effect. Also, several gobos will be used for tree patterns on the cyc. What was the question again?
How many Executive Directors does it take to change a light bulb?
A. "What do they need light back there for?"
How many IATSE electricians does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: 20 - you got a problem with that?
How many Beam-trained college student crew members does it take to change a lightbulb?
A. You don't change the light bulb, you replace the lamp!
How many volunteer crew members does it take to change a light bulb?
A: One to collect every cliplight in existence backstage, one to cut a 3x3 sheet of gel into unusable pieces, one to search for the cabinet key, one to wander through the dressing rooms asking the actors if they need theirs...
How many Actors does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: Three. One to actually do it, and two more to discuss how they would have done it better.
How many theatre critics does it take to change a lightbulb?
A. All of them - 1 to be highly critical of the design elements, 1 to express contempt for the glow of the lamp, 1 to lambast the interpretation of wattage used, 1 to critique the performance of the bulb itself, 1 to recall superb lightbulbs of past seasons and lament how this one fails to measure up, and all to join in the refrain reflecting on how they could build a better light bulb in their sleep.
How many dramaturgs does it take to change a lightbulb?
A. The lightbulb was invented by Thomas A. Edison and patented in 1880. A high- resistance carbonated filament encased in a vacuum tube is heated with electricity to the point where it will glow but not burn...
How many theatre students does it take to change a lightbulb?
A. Erm, what's the deadline, cos I may need an extension.
How many audience members does it take to change a light bulb?
A. Three. One to do it, one child to cry and another to say, "ROSE, HE'S CHANGING THE LIGHT BULB."
Having spent a great many years attempting to TEACH my students something about theatre, I was never sure if I was actually accomplishing much. When I found this cartoon, I began to understand why that might be the case.
The Ten Tech Commandments
1 - Love thy gaff tape as thou would love thyself.
2 - Honor thy SM and thy director.
3 - Thou shalt not get caught in light.
4 - Thou shalt not talk louder than a whisper.
5 - Thou shalt not covet another tech's headset / torch / blacks.
6 - Thou shalt not drop things from fly tower / catwalk.
7 - Thou shalt not crave sustenance other than coffee and cigarette.
8 - Thou shalt not kill another techie. Actors not included.
9 - Thou shalt assist the actor when walking through the wings of darkness.
10 - Thou shalt be as God-like as possible - fast, quiet, efficient.
I have a lot more of this silliness, but I think that's quite enough for this time. I MAY do this again at some point. I should acknowledge that almost all of this I acquired by looking for theatre jokes and humor on the Internet. Some of what I found is even less polite than what I have included, but I was trying to keep this at least reasonably socially acceptable.
In any event, "Break a Leg!" and