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This post is part of my 2022 Word Project. You can read what that’s about here.

Saturday, May 20, 2023
11:30 pm

:::We interrupt the regularly scheduled program to bring you a complaint.:::

Tonight Ralph and I went to see David Cross perform in Nashville. I was very much looking forward to going, not least of all because we forgot that we bought tickets to see Sarah Silverman and missed the show.

That’s right, forgot. Somehow we bought tickets, which you have to do several months out if you plan to get them at all, and the event never got put on our calendar.

We only knew we missed it because the venue sent an email thanking us for visiting. They wanted a review.

Here’s your review: you suck. How about next time send me an email telling me you can’t wait to see me next weekend or something, instead of thanking me for seeing a show for which my tickets were never scanned. Even the movie theater sends you reminders.

Anyway, I was not happy about that but I was happy about seeing David Cross.

I was introduced to them both through Mr. Show back in the mid 90s. Irreverent, cynical, hopeful, cerebral, awful, hilarious comedy. Not everyone’s cup of tea for sure.

We got there at 6:15 for an 8:00 show because the doors opened at 6:30 and it was open seating.

We wanted good seats.

We got good seats.

Fourth row, center stage. It was fabulous.

Over the course of an hour and a half we had ridiculously good hot dogs and also quite good beer. We debated taking a nap. We’re that age now.

The venue people were quite specific about cell phone usage. Their policy was zero tolerance. No photos, no audio or video recordings, no calls, no texts, not even so much as a game of solitaire. If you were caught with a phone during the performance you would be kicked out.

Their website said it. The guy at the door said it. The guy inside the door said it. The announcer before the show said it.

I was pleased with this approach because cell phones are the bane of our enjoyment. People in movie theaters can’t seem to figure out how to silence them even though giant words float across the screen with a booming voice telling you to silence all cell phones. Inevitably, someone’s phone rings and they have to fumble around in six pockets to find it before shutting it up.

Inevitably, someone needs to find something they dropped so they turn on their phone light in the middle of the scene where the axe murderer is just about to come out from behind the curtain.

Inevitably, some kid in front of us is bored and just has to scroll Instagram with no concept that you can actually dim the brightness on your screen to be marginally less annoying.

But maybe you’re thinking, that’s the movies. Anyone can go see a movie, it isn’t exactly the cream of humanity.

Ok. Is that what you think? Uh huh. Sure. Good point.

When we went to see Hamilton there was a kid in front of us – not a particularly young kid, not six or seven, at any rate – who spent the majority of the time playing games on a tablet. I won’t even tell you what we paid for tickets to be front and center at Hamilton only to have the glow of this kid’s game lighting up the boom of the canons.

It seems that money is not a factor when it comes to human stupidity.

So I was happy to hear that electronics usage was vehemently discouraged for tonight’s performance.

The good news is that nobody violated the Sacred Phone Trust.

Nary a phone could be seen, not a tablet, not so much as the backlight of an Apple watch face.

The bad news is that that did not prevent people from being stupid.

There was a guy in front of us and a few chairs down who decided the best way to enjoy a comedy show was fall-down drunk and shouting interruptions at intervals.

Now, if you are not familiar with David Cross, he is not a slapstick comedian. He doesn’t do jokes and one-liners. It’s more right-brained humor, the kind you have to be marginally cognizant of the world around you to appreciate. It’s less laugh-out-loud-screeching funny and more chuckle-snort-guffaw funny.

He is a storyteller. He builds up his punchlines across a narrative that doesn’t land where you expect it to, that can sometimes go on for many minutes at a time.

This guy, this drunk, stupid guy who decided the best way to enjoy a comedy show was to ruin it for everyone else, had to shout something drunk and stupid in the middle of every narrative.

At one point, David Cross nicely asked him to stop.

At another, David Cross actually lost the thread of what he was saying and ended up aborting the story entirely, the end of which is still unknown to me.

A second and third time, David Cross nicely asked Drunk Guy to stop interrupting, but this guy was not to be deterred.

Eventually Drunk Guy got up and stumbled off, to the audible relief of everyone around him. Fifteen minutes later he stumbled back, to the audible groans of everyone around him.

Drunk Guy even managed to start harassing some of the guests. He kept trying to touch one of the women next to him, who eventually got up and left with her friends.

Do you know what didn’t happen? What didn’t happen, is anyone from the venue doing anything about it, not refusing to serve him another beer, not asking him to quiet down, not asking him to leave.

Cell phones = zero tolerance.

Harassment? No problem.

By the time the show was over, I wanted to storm off the stage. I can’t imagine how a performer manages to persist.

On the plus side I enjoyed the performance. But my live show days may be numbered. I can watch the Netflix special for free and they’ll edit out Drunk Guy so he won’t interrupt anyone’s enjoyment.

By the time we arrived home after our post-show wrap-up in the car, Ralph and I agreed that there’s something wrong with people. We discussed other comedy shows we’ve been to where audience members have harassed the performers.

Some people call it “heckling.” It’s only heckling if the performer is into it. Some performers like riffing with their audience, which is fine. But when a performer either ignores it or asks the person outright to stop, it becomes harassment, and there should be a zero tolerance policy.

Sometimes people are removed. A show we saw in New York once resulted in an audience member being summarily removed when they refused to stop being stupid.

Apparently, people are not just stupid, but they will pay good money to be stupid.

Ralph and I also lamented the state of society. This is what we do when we’re not napping.

We recalled a day when going to a Broadway play was a big deal. When you’d don a suit and dress, get out your best earrings, class it up a little, and “go see a show.”

There was a certain culture about it. A certain expectation that you were at a proper event and you had to behave as such.

Not anymore.

On the plus side, I don’t even own a dress so going in jeans is not something I’m mad about. But maybe if we had to expect a little more from ourselves, people wouldn’t be so stupid. Or maybe the ones who insisted on it would be ostracized by the rest of us and removed by people with more sense.

:::We now return you to your regularly scheduled program. More food, fewer complaints.:::

Photo: early arrivals, awaiting the performance. The venue itself was pretty cool, an old engine factory with lots of cool brickwork and murals.