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And Now For Something Completely Different. Or Maybe Not.

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Okay–some breaking news.   Or something.

Last night,  one of my sons took me to see a comedian named Ron  White, live in concert (a theater, not a club) in a small city near our house.

Actually, the history of this is a lot more complicated than  I’m making this sound.  One of my sons bought the tickets for hismelf and my other son, and then couldn’t go himself.  And since neither of my sons drive, in spite of both being of age, and both of them have been at non-local schools, so they don’t have anybody in the immediate area to ask…well, there I was, with the car.

So we went.

I’m not going to complain about the performer here.  He’s what my Victorian novelists would have called “coarse,” but not so “coarse” as Larry the Cable Guy, and besides, we’ve got his albums.  I like White’s stuff well enough, and it was a decent show, and as for all the swearing–well, as my father said, if you’ve never heard it before you don’t know what it is, and if you have, you’re not dead yet.

No, what got to me about last night was the a udience.  As I said in the beginning, this was a theater, not a club.  There was a bar in the lobby, and you were allowed to bring your drinks into the theater with you, but there were no tables and no waiters.  White himself drinks from what is supposed to be a large bottle of Scotch onstage, and he’s either trying to pretend to be a high functioning alcoholic or actually is one.

But still. 

The first thing that blew me away was how many people came in late.  And not a little late.  Really late.  The first half hour of this thing was given over to a warm up guy, who was okay but not spectacular.  If people had simply come in through this guy’s act, or just when it ended–okay, I’d think that was pretty stupid, but I’d understand the rationale.  

But people not only came in during this first guy’s act, and at the end of it, but all the way through at least the first half hour of Ron White’s act itself, the one they were presumably paying to go see. 

And paying a decent amount, too.  We had very good seats, in the first three rows of the upper orchestra–if I get to choose any seats I want in a theater, I always go for first row upper orchestra right behind the rail, dead center.  We were a little off to the side, but I was still very happy.

But a big hunk of the people who were coming in late were sitting in the first three rows right in the center–in, in other words, the best and most expensive seats in the house.  And it wasn’t, as I’ve said, just a matter of five or ten minutes, so that you could say that they had had trouble in traffic (all of them? and most of them down front?) or trouble finding a place to park. 

And the thing is, it got worse.  People in all sections of the theater were constantly getting up and going out and coming back with new drinks–and that meant climbing over people in the rows, apologizing in audible whispers, and all the rest of it. 

And it went on, continuously and nonstop, throughout White’s entire performance. 

Is this something new?  I’ve never been to a comedy show in a theater before–I don’t think I’ve been to one in a club, either–is there something I’m missing here?  The streaming flow of people was really distracting and annoying, even though I was seated off to the side and therefore free of being climbed over directly.

Whatever.  It was a good enough show, with at least some new material, although bluer than most soft core porn, and I’m glad we went.

I’m just..astounded at the way people behave.

Written by janeh

October 3rd, 2009 at 10:43 am

Posted in Uncategorized

5 Responses to 'And Now For Something Completely Different. Or Maybe Not.'

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  1. This is why I haven’t been to an actual movie theater in the last 7 years or so. I got totally tired of the traffic in the seats, the talking out loud (during the movie), the cell-phone ringing & calls taken, and small children in entirely inappropriate movies asking “Mommy, why did that man’s head fall off? Mommy? MOMMY!!” while their parents feel free to ignore them entirely.

    People behave as if they were in their own living rooms, where all such activity is perfectly acceptable. There no longer seems to be any concept of polite “out in society” behavior that’s different from what people do at home. It’s so self-centered we decided that renting movies and never seeing a first run in a theater again was a necessary sacrifice.

    A movie out with snacks is so expensive I could no longer support spending $50 to have the shit annoyed out of me.

    Of course then we miss priceless moments like at the end of the first Lord of the Rings movie. Everyone was standing and gathering themselves, but the theater was still pretty quiet. Then, out of the back, loud & clear, a clearly clueless female voice rang out…. “TWO MORE MOVIES!!!??!!” The whole theater broke up laughing.


    3 Oct 09 at 12:39 pm

  2. Welcome to the 21st Century. Or the New Millenium. Or Modern America. Whatever. The notions of “five minutes early is on time” and “show some courtesy to those around you” are SO 20th Century. I’d say “prewar,” which would be more accurate, but the people involved can’t distinguish history from legend and opinion anyway. (I had a history book assigned which used Mallory to support vagrant opinions on Iron Age Celtic sexual practices, and it’s much worse today.)

    What you were witnessing are what used to be known as nouveau-riche louts–people with money, but not the remotest pretense of upbringing. I was listening to one at work recently, gleefully describe the joys of buying an expensive car and then disabling the muffler so he could wake up people and drown out conversations wherever he went. When neither parents nor schools teach courtesy, this is what results.

    Don’t be so sure this is separate from the drinking and profanity, either. Drinking is noted for reducing inhibitions, and inhibitions are something these people badly need. As for profanity, two decades as an NCO moved me from someone who didn’t swear to someone who actively disliked swearing. One reason among many is that grabbing the nearest swear word keeps you from using the word which actually and accurately describes the person or situation. If you REALLY want to cut someone up into little pieces, don’t swear: describe the person or situation as accurately as possible in good clear English. You’ll go right to the bone.
    But if by “blue” jokes, you’re describing body function humor, count me out anyway. The last person to be funny along those lines was the late “Chic” Sale, dead before I was born, and I’m getting to be an old man. Everyone else is going for the nervous titter that comes with breaking a minor taboo. It’s cheap and easy, but for actualy humor, I wouldn’t trade the least volume in the XENOPHOBE’S GUIDE series for the entire corpus of bathroom jokes.

    But of course, to enjoy the XENOPHOBE’S GUIDES, you have to actually know something, even if not much. Body function humor “works” with an audience that knows nothing at all. See Paragraphs 1 and 2 above.


    3 Oct 09 at 1:32 pm

  3. I couldn’t say. It doesn’t sound like the kind of show that would amuse me. I don’t think I’ve been to a comedy show in my life, unless you count a couple local ones that depend mainly on local jokes and, well, yes, a certain level of double entendres. I dislike profanity and I don’t find jokes about bodily functions very funny. They remind me too much of Grade 8, distinctly unamusing parts of my life. I sometimes go to movies, but always choose matinees or early mid-week shows. This avoids crowds and lineups. I haven’t noticed any reduction in behaviour standards at such events.

    The one thing that puzzles me a bit is the way that everyone gets standing ovations these days. I think thast used to be the exception rather than the rule.


    3 Oct 09 at 6:43 pm

  4. Last year I was in upstate NY during the summer and decided to go to a play at the Williamstown Summer Theater. Tickets were expensive — like $75 a pop or more. Some people older than me — 60s and 70s — were wearing “nice clothes” (men in jackets without ties, women in “outfits”), but most people in their 50s or younger were dressed as if they’d just walked out of the backyard — shorts, tshirts, flip flops. I was astounded and kept asking everyone: when did it become okay to wear shorts to a theater that costs $75 a ticket?

    Then I wondered why it bothered me so much. I think because 1) the theater is not a backyard barbeque and 2) it’s fun to dress up a bit. Both reasons seem lame to me, but there it is.

    What you’re talking about is the same sort of thing: no distinction between living room behavior and theater behavior. And no consideration for the performers or the rest of the audience.

    Man, do I sound like an old fogey…


    5 Oct 09 at 5:16 am

  5. I don’t dress up to go out to the theatre, but then I don’t think I’ve paid $75 for a seat in my life, and the ticket that came closest to that was for one of the roaming Cirque de Soleil companies, performing in an arena.

    I don’t much like dressing up, and the longer I go without doing it, the less I have around that I can dress up in…but I don’t tend to wear shorts very often.

    I consider myself a bit of an exception in that I’ve always been indifferent (or actively disliked) dressing up, but the fashion seems to have changed – there are now fewer types or styles of dressing. People don’t tend to distinguish social event by style of dress, except for weddings (if you are in the wedding party) which have become far more elaborate than they were when my age-mates were getting married.

    When I first left home, you dressed nicely to travel. Now, most travellers wear comfortable clothing that can be easily washed when you arrive.


    5 Oct 09 at 7:52 am

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