anxiety about raising chuckles...


"... You comics are among the most valuable people on earth."
He was moved by this, and I suddenly noticed large tears
coursing down his old cheeks, furrowed by decades of anxiety
about raising chuckles (or, as he used to put it, "titters") in
drafty music halls.

Here, is "chuckle" a low laugh out of ridicule?
And "titter" means more ridiculous than "chuckle"?
Does "anxiety about raising chuckles" mean that he was worried
about he could be ridiculed by his comedy?
It doesn't mean he tried to make people laugh as comics usually do, right?

"Drafty hall" literally means a hall which wind or air blows into.
Then what does "drafty music halls" indicate, here? There is no more
explanation on music halls in the whole context.
  • foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    Chuckles are less than laughs, and poor substitutes for same in direct proportion as the size of the crowd increases. A few chuckles from a large crowd can make any hall seem "drafty."

    "Is there an echo in here?"

    (taps microphone) "Is this thing on?"

    Archetypal moments from the fitful-half-sleep quasi-nightmares of comics and comedians from time immemorial. I'm dying out here!
    Oh, you asked questions-- I don't think the chuckles and titters are derogatory, they are a small portion of what is called for. They're not enough to bring the house down.

    It's a matter of quantity, or more accurately paucity, of laughter-- not its quality. Not unless the tittering is a prelude to out-and-out heckling. But if that were the case you'd think he'd've mentioned it.

    (re earlier threads, the "he'd've here" has a would in it, not a had. Also the "you'd" is a "you would.")


    Senior Member
    British English
    As someone who has often performed in drafty halls (of the working men's club variety, rather than the music hall variety), I feel bound to educate you on the phenomenon of the music hall. But only briefly.

    Music halls were theatres where a variety of entertainment acts were presented. Acts such as "song-and-dance" men/women/duos, comedy performers/comedians, short dramatic monologues, magicians etc. I may be wrong here, but I think they were at their most popular in the late 19th century, but were certainly still popular into Edwardian times and maybe even the 1920s/30s. I know music hall was around in England and America, but I really don't know about any other countries (shame).

    So, a "drafty" music hall could be either a ramshackle old building with lots of places where the wind could blow in, or a building without many people in it (so the lack of laughs would make it seem "drafty" and cold, as Fox pointed out), or both of the above.

    Chuckles are "less than laughs". Titters are similar to chuckles, but always seem to me to be higher pitched. The word "titter" in England would remind many people of the comedian, Frankie Howerd (height of popularity, 1960s/70s, but still a comedy icon now), who used to say "Titter ye not" (ie don't laugh) to the delight of the audience.

    "Anxiety about raising chuckles" means that the comedian is anxious that he will not raise or get any laughs from the audience. This is a common anxiety among comedians. From personal experience, I can say that "anxiety about raising chuckles" is prevalent among performers who have "played" Leicester.


    Then, my guess was wrong.
    The explanation and information about chuckle, titter, and music hall helps a lot to me.
    Fox. and emma., thanks you very much.