What to do when people don’t like your show . . . or you.

One of the questions I always ask Writers pitching me shows in my Get Your Show Off The Ground seminar is, “Who do you think is the audience for your show?”

You know what answer I hear too often?


Insert game show buzzer here.


There is no show for everyone.  Not a one.  Even the most successful shows of all time have haters.  I’ve got a friend who thinks Les Miz is boring.  Another who has never even been to Wicked.  And wait for it . . . someone who just “doesn’t get” Hamilton.

So whatever your show is, and whether it is successful or not, expect there to be some audience members who can’t stand it, expect there to be some reviewers who don’t get it, and expect there to be some chat board groupies who throw e-tomatoes at it (anonymously, of course).

And unfortunately, this applies to people as well as shows.  Expect someone out there to not like your work and to be vocal about it, whether it be to their families, their friends, or more aptly today, their followers.

What do you do when you read something negative about your show or yourself?  Well, here’s what I do (cuz oh yeah, it happens to me too . . . ):

  • First, remember that it happens to everyone.  In fact, the more successful you are, the more likely you’re going to draw public criticism.  You’ve heard the expression “Imitation is a form of flattery,” right?  I like to say that “E-Hating is a form of flattery.”
  • Second, ask yourself . . . and more importantly, people that you trust . . . “Is there truth in this statement?”  Take every opportunity to learn from whatever you read or hear.  Some of the reviewers or commenters are going to be bat-guano crazy . . . but others may speak the truth.  Sort through the guano and find the gold nuggets.
  • Lastly, forget the haters and focus on the lovers.  Your job as a Producer, Marketer, or Writer is NOT to take people who don’t like your show (or you) and change their opinion.  That’s a nearly impossible task.  So why waste your time and energy on it?  Find the people who like your show and get them to love your show.  Find the people that love your show and get them to tell more people about your show.  The more lovers you have, the more they’ll drown out the haters.

Anyone who creates art for the public to consume is going to face criticism.  How you deal with that criticism can define how long and how successful of a career you will have.  So it’s best to learn how to deal with it early in your career.

You know who I use as a role model for dealing with criticism and still leading the charge?


Barack Obama won the last election with only 51.1% of the popular vote.

Bill Clinton took office with only 43.0% of the popular vote!

These people take charge . . . knowing that half or more than half of the country doesn’t like them!

So what should we care if there are a few folks who don’t like what we do?

It’s not only possible to be a success with detractors in your market, but it’s natural.  It’s what you do (or don’t do) with those detractors that separates the successes from the massive superstar successes.


(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below! Email Subscribers, click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)

– – – – –

Interested in learning more about topics like this? CLICK HERE to join The TheaterMakers Studio, an online community, certification training program, and resource for playwrights, producers, directors, actors, and theater makers of all kinds!

Keep your show organized with the Theatermaker's fool-proof management system

Improve your success rate for getting produced with daily strategy tips.

Send me the system

Related Posts


Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.