Kevin Hart

Kevin Hart brought his comedy tour to Sioux City Saturday at the Tyson Events Center.

Provided

Do you know what I would say if I was given the chance to see the wildly successful and hilarious comedian Kevin Hart perform live onstage in Sioux City? I would say I’m too sick to go and then spend the rest of the night regretting my decision.

Well, that’s exactly what I did. My friend and co-worker had a spot left open for me to join him and offered it to me days before the comedian was scheduled to perform at the Tyson Events Events Center. I accepted, thinking my illness and overall discomfort would subside by the weekend.

I was wrong. I cancelled my plans and slept it off on the couch. Meanwhile, lines of fans were flooding into the Tyson to watch Kevin Hart perform his rousing and hyperactive standup routine. But before all that, the crowd was instructed by officials — or rather, warned — not to use their cellphones or recording devices.

In Bruce Miller’s review of the show, he presumed this precaution was to prevent fans from “posting bits from his new routines.”

Apparently these warnings were more heavy-handed than those “be courteous” cellphone prompts we’re used to seeing at the movie theaters. An ominous voice over the intercom “said anyone who even turned a phone on was going to be ejected.” To hammer in the point even further, the opening comedy act, the Plastic Cup Boyz, said people had already been ejected from the show. “At a previous concert,” Miller said in his review, “75 were sent home.”

Yikes. I don’t know which is sadder: the fact that a comedian feels the need to outright prevent the crowd from using cellphones at the cost of an ejection, or that 75 people couldn’t put down their cellphones for a few hours and just enjoy the show.

Although I think the repeated warnings are a bit much, I’m with Hart on this one, but probably for a different reason.

While it’s still unclear to me whether the precautions were set in place purely to prevent leaked jokes (remember, I wasn’t there), it’s not at all unreasonable to think a comedian would want to protect himself from joke theft — or here’s a better term: plagiarism.

Jokes are a comedian’s livelihood. Original material is safeguarded, especially when it can so easily be stolen on something as accessible as a tweet. If that’s the case with Hart, then I completely empathize with him. However, it does seem a bit harsh to throw someone out of a concert because of it.

But on the other hand, how hard is it to put away your cellphone? Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I don’t need to be attached to my phone 24/7, especially if I’m at a concert or comedy show.

It’s a topic I remember speaking with Sebastian Bach about in 2015. He would rather audiences put away their phones for a couple hours and just “be in the moment.” I agree.

“You're distracted and it's distracting to the performer as well. Like, put your f***in' cellphone away, dammit! You're never even going to watch that footage. […] It's a really backwards way to watch a band. It's a drag sometimes when I go up there and the first thing I see is everybody getting their phones out and holding them toward my face. It makes you feel intimidated.”

Think about when you watch a movie at the theaters. Remember how annoyed you get when the person in front of you is constantly texting and the bright light of screen is shining right in your face? Now you find yourself more focused on the phone instead of what’s happening on silver screen.

How is a live concert any different?

Is that shaky, vertical video really worth posting to your timeline for a few likes? Is it worth it to have a grainy video with crappy audio saved to your phone as some kind of “memory?”

If you paid a lot of money just to see a comedian and are asked to turn off your phone or be ejected from the show altogether, would it kill you to just suck up and do it?

Or is being on your phone really that important to you?

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