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A word from our feature presentation.

November 13, 2011

If you and your friends went to a movie theater, sat down to enjoy a movie, and then another group of people got into the row in front of you and STOOD UP while the movie played, you’d probably be offended.

In fact, you’d also probably be annoyed if they sat, but started carrying on a conversation, or worse, if they started telling jokes in full voice.

You’d be justified in feeling this way.  Depending on your personality, I’m guessing you’d do one of three things:

-move to different seats
-complain to the theater
-confront the offending individuals directly

Any of these actions might remedy the situation in some way, but it’s still too late; you’ve already missed out on a portion of the performance you paid to see.  The experience has still been cheapened for you, and probably for many others as well.

I still don’t know why people accept the same rude behavior at concerts that would offend them to the point of action in a movie theater.  I’ve heard a few people attempt to defend people’s “right” to ignore a performance that they paid money for, but that’s a pant-load. Your ticket price doesn’t buy you the right to anything but access to the entertainment being offered.  The responsibility that goes along with that right is that you do not interrupt that access for anyone else.

None of this is up for debate.  It’s not about how you “feel” about it.  It’s not “relative to the situation”.  It’s commerce.  It’s a contract, and if you break it, you can be kicked out of the performance.  In some cases, such as at a performance by a comic, if you are perceived as being disruptive to the point where the comic notices, you not only risk expulsion; you have automatically opened yourself up to public ridicule by the person with the microphone who now has a bone to pick with you.

I took a page from the stand-up comic’s book on “Hecklers” a long time ago.  I don’t think defending one’s performance from the stage is a tactic solely reserved for comics, and I take exception to those who tell me I should ignore inconsiderate people in my audience.  If there is a room containing people who paid to experience me at my best, and now those people and I are being forced to distraction, the offending party is going to suffer in measure equal to the performance they are marring.

I was recently accused of being “unprofessional” for ejecting offensive audience members at one of my shows.  I maintain that it is more unprofessional to allow one of my performances to remain subpar for an entire evening because nobody else had the stones to remove the truly offensive people from the room.

However, this ideological altercation got me to thinking…  obviously there are a lot of people who buy into this double-standard about what is unacceptable at a songwriter concert vs what is unacceptable at a movie.  How to wise them up?

If people’s sensibilities are offended by my verbal handling of hecklers, maybe they’ll be more understanding if I simply treat them as though they’re disturbing a movie.

So from now until further notice, I’ll be on stage with a narrow beam, high-powered 250 lumen flashlight, ready to completely blind anyone who talks during the feature presentation.

I might even wear a bow tie and a red vest like the theatre ushers do, just to be a smartass. :)

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