We have been performing "On The Spot" for 16 years here at the theater. Often the players are quick to blame they audience for a bad show. "They were a bad house" I have heard far too often (I may have even said it myself once or twice).
We have had sold out houses, small houses, tired houses, responsive houses, and mostly crazy fan audiences. The point is, that we have seen a ton of different audiences and only a handful have been "bad". For me, a bad audience is one that is where one person or a small group is too distracted to pay attention. If a group or individual is very drunk, self involved and vocal, I would say that is a bad audience. When someone is ruining the experience for others in the audience, making it hard for the players to play, that is a "bad" house, and more to the point, it is a bad audience person or small group in the audience.
As performers, our ego's are on the line when we go on stage. We don't want to admit that we had a bad show, that we were in our head or we weren't supporting our fellow players on stage. We are quick to blame a listless crowd. "they came in with low energy". We think a quiet crowd is a bad crowd. That is rareley the case.
I once went to see "Wicked" in Chicago with a friend. My friend told me at intermission "This crowd is a lot quieter than the house the last time I saw this show." I asked her if they got a standing ovation on the night she saw it and she said 'no'. I told her that they would get one after this show, I also promised I would not start it. At the end of the show the audience lept to their feet.
Just becasue a crowd is quiet does not mean they are disengaged. They may be tired. They may be quiet laughers. They may be taking mental notes.
No matter the house, it is our job to make the audience have a great time. How much they laugh is dependent on them.
The thing we must do as entertainers is to entertain. We must transcend the energy of the crowd. We have to give it our all each show.
Bottom Line: For the most part, there are no bad audiences, only bad shows.