McCulloch, Richard (2011) "'Most People Bring Their Own Spoons': THE ROOM's participatory audiences as comedy mediators". Participations: journal of audience & reception studies, 8 (2). pp. 189-218. ISSN 1749-8716

THE ROOM (Tommy Wiseau, 2003) has developed the unenviable reputation as being one of the worst films ever made, yet at the same time is celebrated by ‘fans’ who take considerable pleasure from its perceived ineptitude. Considerable media attention has also been afforded to the film’s participatory theatrical screenings, which typically feature constant heckling, chants, and the throwing of plastic spoons.

Through the analysis of the film’s British audiences (in the form of surveys, interviews, observation and autoethnography), this article argues that The Room demonstrates the impact of audience participation on a film’s reception, which in this case transforms an ostensible drama into a comedy experience. These audiences function as temporary communities that encourage the search for humour in ‘badness’, creating a cycle of comedy mediation and verification that affirms the interpretive competence of all attendees.

The article begins to theorise the previously underdeveloped concept of ‘so bad it’s good’ by drawing a link between comedy and cult media audiences, as well as exploring the social functions of comedy as they relate to cultural texts.

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