Most performers know what they give to an audience, especially stand-up comedy. We give out the funny. I like to think of it as a passionate, well thought out, well performed recounting of our jokes and twisted personalities....that's a big part of what we give.
No question the work that goes into being able to do this feat live on stage not after night is considerable.
Ever consider the gains however?
Yes the audience gives us plenty as well. If we have done our work and paid our dues the audience signals to us immediately with laughter and applause, which means we have gained their approval. (btw getting an audience's approval doesn't mean you have to sell out. approval means you are communicating well with them)
After laughter, applause, and approval, we gain their attention and trust. Once a crowd decides that the comic knows what he/she is doing they tend to quiet down, settle in and give up command...which means they put their imaginations and entertainment dollars in our hands. Once they have given up command and you come through for them we then gain the last thing and best thing they an audience can give, their devotion. Congrats you now have fans.
Devoted fans means they buy your CD or T'shirts and they sign on to your Facebook fan page or website. They talk about you to other comedy fans as well. Most importantly they come back to see you at venues everywhere..and many times act as a recruiter for future fans.
So yes there is a lot to give and work in it for you, BUT when you take into consideration all the gains both immediate and long term, it's work well worth it. ;)