When you’re looking for a venue, its important to remember the three L’s. Location, longitude and latitude - technically the first L covers it. Once you’ve done that, there are some other points which you should also consider:
Darkness hides us from our fellow man and allows us to be free. I can safely say that no one should ever see me eating popcorn in a darkened cinema, its the kind of thing that would jerk them awake in the middle of night, confused and angry.
Same goes for laughing. We are all more comfortable when we have some anonymity to us, we can laugh however we like and are more likely to laugh at whatever we like without fear of being judged for our interest in more obscure jokes. Otherwise you have to explain to your mother why you laughed extra hard at that bovine mastication joke.
Is there a bar? If theres one thing that makes everything better, its alcohol. Short term that is, long term alcohol use is more of a mixed bag.
Food can be a draw card, get people in for dinner and a show, just be prepared to handle waiters bringing in food and people loudly chewing while you perform.
How many seats does it have? The temptation when I started was to get the most seats possible if it doesn’t cost extra. Makes sense right? If you’re not paying for it then you may as well maximise the potential people that can come along. What could be the risk?
Unfortunately potential people coming along is like potential adventures you’re going to have on a night out, it always ends up with you and three friends sitting alone drinking and wondering where everyone else is.
Also, empty chairs can have a surprising impact on a show. If theres an empty row or two between the audience and the performer it can create a no-mans land where otherwise great jokes just fall flat unless you have some sort of Wonder Woman-like joke. In fact it would have to be nothing but Wonder Woman jokes for your whole set which, to be honest, is a very specific demographic.
Fun fact, the reason the cinema is always cold is because people are more responsive to what they’re watching when the temperature is lower, it keeps them awake and engaged. If its too hot you don’t laugh as much, just try to find the laughing face in a bikram yoga session.
Thats why temperature can be a quietly surprising impact on how people take in your show, try to keep it cold and you’ll see the difference.